1 Samuel 19
Saul Tries to Kill David (19:1–24)
1–8 In this chapter we see Saul’s continued mental and spiritual deterioration. Saul had said he would not raise a hand against David (1 Samuel 18:17); but when his plan to have the Philistines kill David failed, he abandoned all pretense and ordered Jonathan and all the royal attendants to find David and kill him.
Jonathan immediately warned David about his father’s intentions and told him to be on his guard. Then Jonathan tried to persuade his father not to harm David, and temporarily, at least, Saul came to his senses and swore an oath that David would not be put to death (verse 6). Saul, however, would not keep this oath for long (verses 10–11).
9–17 Once again an evil spirit came upon Saul, and as had happened twice before (1 Samuel 18:10–11) Saul tried to kill David with his spear (verse 10). At that point David had no choice but to flee for his life. No longer could he trust Saul’s vows not to kill him.
Wisely David did not delay. On the advice of his wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, David left that very night (verses 11–12). Then, in order to give David extra time to get far away from his pursuers, Michal devised a way to delay them. She took an idol74—perhaps a life-size statue—and placed it in David’s bed to give the impression that he was sleeping there. When the men came in the morning to seize him, Michal tricked them into thinking David was very ill and should not be disturbed75 (verse 14).
Saul sent the men right back and told them to bring David, bed and all! Then the deception was uncovered. Saul rebuked his daughter Michal for deceiving him, but she justified herself with another lie: she told her father that David had threatened to kill her if she didn’t help him escape (verse 17).
From that time on until the day of Saul’s death, David remained a fugitive, in constant danger of being captured by the king and his men.
18–24 After David escaped, he went to Ramah, Samuel’s hometown, and reported to the old prophet all that Saul had done. Samuel and David then went to Naioth, which means “dwellings,” and stayed there; Naioth was probably a section of Ramah where the dwellings of a group of prophets were located.
Three times Saul sent men to capture David, but each time the men drew near Naioth and saw the prophets prophesying, they began to prophesy themselves.76 Finally Saul himself went, and the same thing happened to him! The writer explains that the Spirit of God came upon them (verses 20,23). Usually the Spirit of God empowered men for action, but in this case the Spirit immobilized these men and prevented them from taking action! Instead of seizing David, they themselves were “seized.” Saul’s case was so bad that he took off his royal robes and lay that way (virtually naked) all day and night! Thus God’s Spirit, in this unusual way, prevented Saul and his men from capturing David. And people again began to mock Saul by asking if he was now among the prophets (see 1 Samuel 10:11).
Saul was frustrated on every side. His schemes were being thwarted by his son’s love for David, his daughter’s love for David, and now by God’s love for David. From then on, Saul was to become increasingly desperate and irrational. Meanwhile, God would continue to protect David and prepare him to become king.