1 Samuel 18

Listen to 1 Samuel 18
1 After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.
2 From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home.
3 And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself.
4 Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
5 Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike.
6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.
7 This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!”
8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!”
9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
10 The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand,
11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.
12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the LORD was with David and had turned away from Saul.
13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.
14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the LORD was with him.
15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him.
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.
17 One day Saul said to David, “I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the LORD ’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.”
18 “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!”
19 So when the time came for Saul to give his daughter Merab in marriage to David, he gave her instead to Adriel, a man from Meholah.
20 In the meantime, Saul’s daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it.
21 “Here’s another chance to see him killed by the Philistines!” Saul said to himself. But to David he said, “Today you have a second chance to become my son-in-law!”
22 Then Saul told his men to say to David, “The king really likes you, and so do we. Why don’t you accept the king’s offer and become his son-in-law?”
23 When Saul’s men said these things to David, he replied, “How can a poor man from a humble family afford the bride price for the daughter of a king?”
24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king,
25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight.
26 David was delighted to accept the offer. Before the time limit expired,
27 he and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines. Then David fulfilled the king’s requirement by presenting all their foreskins to him. So Saul gave his daughter Michal to David to be his wife.
28 When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him,
29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life.
30 Every time the commanders of the Philistines attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul’s officers. So David’s name became very famous.

1 Samuel 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

Jonathan's friendship for David. (1-5) Saul seeks to kill David. (6-11) Saul's fear of David. (12-30)

Verses 1-5 The friendship of David and Jonathan was the effect of Divine grace, which produces in true believers one heart and one soul, and causes them to love each other. This union of souls is from partaking in the Spirit of Christ. Where God unites hearts, carnal matters are too weak to separate them. Those who love Christ as their own souls, will be willing to join themselves to him in an everlasting covenant. It was certainly a great proof of the power of God's grace in David, that he was able to bear all this respect and honour, without being lifted up above measure.

Verses 6-11 David's troubles not only immediately follow his triumphs, but arise from them; such is the vanity of that which seems greatest in this world. It is a sign that the Spirit of God is departed from men, if, like Saul, they are peevish, envious, suspicious, and ill-natured. Compare David, with his harp in his hand, aiming to serve Saul, and Saul, with his javelin in his hand, aiming to slay David; and observe the sweetness and usefulness of God's persecuted people, and the barbarity of their persecutors. But David's safety must be ascribed to God's providence.

Verses 12-30 For a long time David was kept in continual apprehension of falling by the hand of Saul, yet he persevered in meek and respectful behaviour towards his persecutor. How uncommon is such prudence and discretion, especially under insults and provocations! Let us inquire if we imitate this part of the exemplary character before us. Are we behaving wisely in all our ways? Is there no sinful omission, no rashness of spirit, nothing wrong in our conduct? Opposition and perverseness in others, will not excuse wrong tempers in us, but should increase our care, and attention to the duties of our station. Consider Him that endured contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be weary and faint in your minds, ( Hebrews 12:3 ) . If David magnified the honour of being son-in-law to king Saul, how should we magnify the honour of being sons to the King of kings!

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. The type of instrument represented by the word cymbals is uncertain.
  • [b]. Or an evil spirit.
  • [c]. Or But.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 18

This chapter gives an account of the respect shown to David by Saul and Jonathan, by the servants of Saul, and all the people, and of what was said in his praise in the songs of the women, 1Sa 18:1-7; which latter gave Saul a great offence, and upon which he envied him, and eyed him, and indeed sought his life, and removed him from him; and yet still he continued the darling of the people, behaving wisely among them, which greatly embarrassed Saul, that be knew not what to do, 1Sa 18:8-16; he proposed his eldest daughter to him in marriage, which he had a claim to by killing the Philistine, and then he cheated him by giving her to another, 1Sa 18:17-19; and then he offered his youngest daughter to him, on condition that he would bring him an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, execution of which he thought his life would be exposed to danger, which yet he performed, 1Sa 18:20-27; and having the affection of his wife, and the good esteem of the servants of Saul, Saul was more afraid of him, and became his enemy, 1Sa 18:28-30.

1 Samuel 18 Commentaries