1 Samuel 18:1 Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
Jonathan was Saul’s son, and the natural heir to his father’s throne. He could have seen David as a rival, but their mutual respect led to one of the greatest friendships in the Bible. In a private ceremony, Jonathan gave David his sword, showing he accepted David’s right to be king. Unlike many, Jonathan was willing to accept the role God had for him, instead of grasping for more.
This is an important lesson for everyone. A person can receive only what is given them from heaven (John 3:27), said John the Baptist. Many have overreached, and hurt themselves in the process. It is better and wiser to submit to God’s will, and do our best at the role he has for us. It is not wrong to become all that we can be for God, but God has a limit for everyone. And godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6), wrote Paul.
1 Samuel 18:5 David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army.
David was still a young man, but was rising quickly in Saul’s army. He was so successful, in fact, that some of the women sang, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands (1 Samuel 18:7). This made Saul so jealous that he wanted David dead. He even threw his spear at him, hoping to pin David to the wall (1 Samuel 18:11).
Then Saul offered his daughter in marriage to David, for the price of a hundred Philistine foreskins (1 Samuel 18:25). Saul hoped David would die in battle, but David returned with two hundred Philistine foreskins, and married into the royal family (1 Samuel 18:27). When Saul saw that God was with David, he was even more determined to kill him.
In one of the strangest stories in the Bible, Saul went looking for David, and found him with the prophet Samuel. Saul wanted to kill David, but the Spirit of God came on Saul, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, Is Saul also among the prophets? (1 Samuel 19:24).
It is difficult to know what was happening to Saul, but it seems that he was so overcome by God’s Spirit, that he could not harm David. David must have been amazed to see the one who wanted to kill him lying on the ground prophesying. There is no limit to what the Spirit of God can do.
But a spiritual experience is not the same as saving faith. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers! (Matthew 7:22-23), said Jesus. The best indication of saving faith is not a spiritual experience, but obedience to the one who saves (Matthew 7:21).
1 Samuel 20:4 Jonathan said to David, Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.
David was suspicious of Saul, so he went to Jonathan for help. Jonathan agreed to warn David if he learned that his father was still against him. This became clear soon enough.
You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with [David] to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die! Why should he be put to death? What has he done? Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him (1 Samuel 20:30-33).
Saul’s rebellion against God was affecting his mental health. God is the rational center of the universe, so our best hope for a sound mind is to agree with God about everything. Whenever we disagree with God, we are being irrational. This leads to instability, and creates a miserable environment for those around us.
Saul was the most powerful person in Israel, and probably the wealthiest. We might think his power and wealth would make him happy, but such was not the case. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous (Proverbs 3:33), says Proverbs.
Some people live in a beautiful house, but are miserable because of God’s curse. They have everything the world has to offer, but cannot find happiness apart from God. Other homes are humble by comparison, but may be filled with joy because of God’s blessing. It is not the size of the house that matters, but the blessing or curse of God.
Reflection and Review
Why was Jonathan willing to yield his throne to David?
What can we learn from Saul’s encounter with God’s Spirit?
Why was Saul becoming unstable?