Attention!
15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 18

Verses 1-16

  1. INTRO:
    1. While Saul was guarding his throne, David was being prepared for his!
    2. “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!”(16:12). This remarkable event led this young man David, not to the throne, but to a decade of hellish agony & suffering???
      1. On this day David was enrolled, not into the lineage of royalty, but into the school of brokenness! (Gene Edwards: A Tale of Tree Kings.)
      2. Last chapter David had killed another bear. However, this one was 9’ tall & human. The result of which made him an overnight folk hero!
      3. Next, David finds himself in the castle of a mad king, & in circumstances that were as insane as the king himself.
        1. King Saul was mad, jealous, & felt threatened by David, & Saul wanted to know one thing; would David ascend the throne by fair means or foul?
          1. This only drove Saul even more mad the way David handled himself.
      4. God also wanted to know something: Would David serve Me as a broken vessel? Would he be willing to live in pain?
    3. (Gene Edwards: A Tale of Three Kings; pg.13) “God has a university. It’s a small school. Few enroll, even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed. God has this school
    4. because He does not have broken men.”
      1. David was once a student in this school, & Saul was God’s chosen way to crush David. As the king grew in madness, David grew in understanding.
        1. David didn’t create problems for Saul; he revealed the deep-seated problems that were already there.
    5. Your Saul might be any authority figure you sense is attacking you: an insecure boss, a controlling pastor, a domineering parent.
      1. Are you experiencing the pain of friendly fire?
      2. Ever been attacked by someone you thought was on your side?
  2. FLYING SPEARS!
    1. LOVE! (1-4)
    2. Their relationship provides us the most inspiring pictures of friendship in all the bible.
      1. The charge that David & Jonathan’s relationship was homosexual is completely erroneous. The claim is usually the twisting of 2 Sam.1:26 “Your love to me was wonderful, Surpassing the love of women which was simply a tribute to Jonathan after his death.
      2. They were both seasoned soldiers & not young adolescents(Jon was 25-28 yrs older)
      3. This kind of manly affection that comrade in arms understand.
      4. When Jonathan gave his official garments & his armor to David, making him a friend & equal, Jonathan was acknowledging that David would 1 day take his place. (Warren Wiersbe: Be Successful; pg.100.)
        1. Remember Haman in Esther, when asked by the king what should I do to honor someone in my kingdom? Have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor. Esther 6:8,9 (Mordecai not Haman)
    3. The encouragement of a close friend makes the valleys of our lives seem less vast, less threatening, less ominous.
    4. Let’s learn from David in his 5 potential spears, in which, any one of them that could have turned him into a human shish-kebab! [Turkish: sis=skewer; kebap=roast meat]
      1. Popularity; Envy & Anger; Fear; Front lines.
    5. POPULARITY! (5-7)
    6. Prov.27:21 NIV The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.
      1. Just as the crucible & furnace test the metal & prepare it for use, so praise tests & prepares people for what God has planned for them.
      2. How we respond to praise reveals what we’re made of & whether or not we’re ready to take on new responsibilities.
      3. If praise humbles us, then God can use us, but if praise puffs up, we’re not yet ready for promotion.
        1. At this time David’s a rock star after the Goliath incident.
        2. They cheered his giant leap from the lowest rung to the highest; from raw recruit to company commander!
      4. In his attitudes, conduct, & service, David was a complete success. Everyone recognized this & praised him publicly.
    7. David’s submission to Saul is a good lesson to not push our way up life’s ladder but leave the lifting to God instead.
      1. To be exalted requires only that we humble ourselves before the Lord & respect His plan & timing.
        1. Lk.1:52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble
        2. James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
    8. ENVY & ANGER! (8-11)
    9. “It’s a dangerous crisis when a proud heart meets with flattering lips” said John Flavel, 17th cent British Presbyterian clergyman & author.
      1. What the women sang didn’t seem to affect David but their song enraged Saul
      2. (8b) What? He already gave up the kingdom! (see 15:28)
      3. When John the Baptist heard of the great success of Jesus & his disciples he said, “He must increase & I must decrease!”
        1. Saul on the other hand thought, “I must increase & he must decrease!”
      4. Envy is a dangerous & insidious enemy, a cancer that slowly eats out our inner life & leads us to say & do terrible things.
        1. Prov.14:30 rightly says, envy rots the bones!
        2. Envy is the pain we feel within when somebody achieves or receives what we think belongs to us. (Wiersbe)
        3. Envious people max out their credit cards to buy things they don’t need just to empress people who really don’t care!
      5. Often when you’re envious of others you become very sensitive to what people are saying about you. Then what starts as envy often develops into suspicion, then fear, then anger, then hatred, and can escalate to murder!
        1. This explains why Saul threw his spear at David.
        2. This would hurl David headlong into a period of mistreatment, discouragement, & pain. It didn’t seem fair. But then neither do most trials we must endure on the hard road to spiritual maturity.
          1. Wow, who would have thought killing a giant would bring such intense opposition from Saul, whom he was killing him for?
    10. (11) Almost getting pinned to the wall!
    11. One of the simplest, most effective, & universal of the ancient weapons is the spear.
      1. It is so easy, pretty much anyone can learn to throw one. (Yes, a physical one...but also emotional one’s are just as easy)
    12. What do you do when someone throws a spear at you? (David didn’t know)
      1. David it’s easy, you pull it out of the wall & throw it back! Everyone else does it
      2. Why? Because you’ll prove a number of things: That…
        1. You are courageous. You stand for the right. You boldly stand against the wrong. You are tough & can’t be pushed around. You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment done against you. You are a defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of heresy. You will not be wronged.
          1. Thus proving you are also anointed...but after the order of King Saul!
          2. And maybe just maybe, in 20 years you will be the best spear thrower in all the kingdom!
      3. David was different. He didn’t seem to know what to do when someone threw spears at him. He didn’t throw them back. He didn’t make spears of his own. He didn’t start packin spears when he came to work. All he did was dodge.
        1. Note contrast in 10b: What was in David’s hand? What was in Saul’s?
    13. Do you have a spear throwing Saul in your life? One who can throw spears at you simply because he/she can? Saved or not saved? It really doesn’t matter. God probably wont even tell you, because its not the point.
    14. FEAR! (12)
    15. Now Saul was afraid - The Lord protected His servant David from Saul’s murderous hand, a fact that frightened Saul even more. (also see vs.15, 29)
    16. FRONT LINES! (13-16)
    17. Since David was an excellent soldier & a born leader, the logical thing was to give him assignments that would take him away from the safety of the camp to the front lines where the enemy could kill him.
      1. Thus, if David was killed in battle, it was the enemy’s fault right?
      2. And, if he lost a battle, but lived, his popularity would wane.
        1. But the plan backfired...he won all the battles! - Remember, the Lord was with him & the power of God was upon him!
        2. This just made him into a greater hero!
    18. In all this, David never considered Saul his enemy, which kept David in the place of God’s blessing.
      1. David remained a humble servant in spite of his great victories, for he knew that God’s anointing was upon him.
      2. God used those difficult experiences of conflict to help make David a great man of faith.
      3. As one said, “Faith is living without scheming” [Saul was better at scheming than trusting!]
    19. Ps: 3 reminders: #1 Never learn anything about the fashionable, easily-mastered art of spear throwing. #2 Stay out of the company of all spear throwers. #3 Keep your mouth tightly closed.
      1. In this way, spears will never touch you, even when they pierce your heart.
    20. Ps #2: You may have your eyes on the wrong King Saul!
      1. As long as you look at him, you’ll blame him, & him alone, for your present hell or hardship.
      2. Be careful, for God has His eyes fixed sharply on another King Saul.
        1. Not the visible one standing up there throwing spears at you. No, God is looking at another King Saul. One just as bad...or worse! God is looking at the King Saul in you!
      3. You are King Saul! And there is only 1-way to get rid of him...he must be annihilated.
      4. And, how does God get rid of this inner Saul? God uses the outer Saul.
    21. “You can tell when someone has been hit by a spear; they turn a deep shade of bitter.”
      1. Jesus offers you Himself as the communion bread to dispel any & all bitterness this morning.
      2. Jesus offers you the communion cup of His blood this morning to clean away any spear marks on your heart.

Verses 17-30

  1. INTRO:
    1. Martin Luther: I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
    2. Last week we talked about “Flying Spears!” And how David was enrolled, not into the lineage of royalty yet, but 1st into the school of brokenness!
      1. David, 1st having to serve the Lord as a broken vessel.
      2. i.e. Learning the way of the cross before the weight of the crown!
    3. Outline: The Injustice of Broken Promises; Fighting for a Princess; The Lord was with David
  2. SOMETIMES THE GIANT WINS!
    1. ​​​​​​​THE INJUSTICE OF BROKEN PROMISES! (17-19)
    2. We live in an era of unkept promises. Nations sign important treaties and then break them at will. And, many couples show little regard for their wedding vows.
      1. Has someone broken their promise to you this last week/month?
    3. (17) Saul had already promised whoever killed Goliath would be given his daughter(17:25)
      1. He never made good on that. Such a cold calculated insult!
      2. Saul’s actions had humiliated David before all who knew of the king’s offer.
        1. If he gave way to anger & led his 1000 men against the king, he would be guilty of treason!
        2. If he repressed his anger & turned it inward he might act with reckless disregard for his own welfare in fighting the Philistines.
        3. But his inner trust in God kept him from falling into Saul’s trap. Maybe this is when he penned…
          1. Ps.16:8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
            1. To set God before us is nothing less than to keep all our senses bound & captive, that they may not run out & go astray after any other object.
            2. If you've made a habit of communing with God when the sun is shining, you'll find it much easier to sing in the rain.
          2. Ps.7:1,2 O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.
    4. (18) Who am I, & what is my life? - such beautiful humiliation.
      1. Had he been motivated by fleshly concerns, the story might have had a very different ending.
      2. Humility - Dr. Harry Ironside was once convicted about his lack of humility. A friend recommended as a remedy, that he march through the streets of Chicago wearing a sandwich board, shouting the scripture verses on the board for all to hear. Dr. Ironside agreed to this venture and when he returned to his study and removed the board, he said “I’ll bet there’s not another man in town who would do that!”
    5. (19) We preachers love to preach about David and Goliath. It’s always a strong message about trusting God and overcoming the giants before you…We like to win!
      1. ​​​​​​​But, what happens when your life isn’t like that?
      2. What happens when you go out to the battlefield and instead of winning…you lose? And, you lose big?
      3. What happens when, even as you’re trusting the Lord, you lose a job, a dream, a friend, a loved one, your marriage, or lose some struggle?
        1. The dirty little secret that most preachers don’t like to talk about is that…Sometimes The Giant Wins!
        2. Sometimes, even when you’ve done all you can: you’ve prayed, you’ve committed it to the Lord, you’re staring down your challenge eyeball-to-eyeball, you’re trusting God’s grace to get you through…and you lose!
        3. What you were afraid might happen, happens…and maybe even worse.
        4. Or…maybe you’re living your life, doing what you believe God has called you to do. Loving people, serving the Lord, walking with God…and then some terrible thing just drops on you & lays you flat. Sometimes The Giant Wins.
    6. We’ve all experienced times like that, haven’t we?
      1. Not only do we need to learn lesson of challenges, but also lesson of loss.
      2. The lesson of loss is the last thing we would expect after the Giant-killing.
        1. David is on top of world. He slayed the Giant. He’s recognized by the King. He is made a commander of 1000. He has his own theme music (Saul has slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands). He’s a successful military commander. He’s gained great fame w/the people. He’s about to marry a princess. David is on top of world…then came a couple spears. And now the spear of humiliation!
          1. ​​​​​​​As is true about the geography of the physical world so is true about the terrain of the spiritual life…Mountain tops have valleys in-between!
          2. In the coming chapters, David is going to experience a series of losses that will leave him afraid, alone and running for his life in the wilderness of Judea.
    7. I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
    8. FIGHTING FOR A PRINCESS! (20-27)
    9. Wow, how many stories have been written about a man winning a princess?
      1. Romeo has his Juliet, King Arthur fights for Guinevere, Robin rescues Maid Marian. As John Eldridge called it, every man needs a beauty to rescue!
        1. Indiana Jones, James Bond, Titanic, so many films with the same story at its core!
        2. Adventure is written into the heart of a man, & it’s not just about having "fun." Adventure requires something of us, puts us to the test.
        3. The beauty will make you want to charge the castle, slay the giant, leap across the parapets, or in this case chop off a few hundred foreskins.
    10. (27) In full count! - 1, 2, 3…
    11. 200, double the dowry - “Let us fight as if all depends on us, but let us look up & know that all depends on Him!” [David shows his loyalty to the crown delivery twice the requested quota!]
      1. "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." John Shedd
      2. Onward! “For the battle is not yours but God’s!”
      3. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Eph.3:20
    12. I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
    13. THE LORD WAS WITH DAVID! (28-30)
    14. (29) Saul was still more afraid of David - we’ve seen this before(12,15), but now Saul’s twisted emotions so controlled him that he was obsessed with the desire to kill his son-in-law
    15. Saul became David’s enemy continually/all the days –
      1. David probably hoped his marriage to Michal would heal the breach, but instead Saul became David’s enemy continually.
    16. (30) Rom.8:31 “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
    17. Through all of the difficulties David faced after killing Goliath, he conducted himself wisely. Although he was the object of the kings unmerited hatred, the victim of his unbridled fears & ungoverned fury, David continued to remain steadfast in his allegiance to the crown. (Cyril Barber: The Books of Samuel; pg.222)
    18. Some years ago - A group of scientists & botanists were exploring remote regions of the Alps in search of new species of flowers. One day they noticed through binoculars a flower of such rarity and beauty that its value to science was incalculable. But it lay deep in a ravine with cliffs on both sides. To get the flower someone had to be lowered over the cliff on a rope. A curious young boy was watching nearby, and the scientists told him they would pay him well if he would agree to be lowered over the cliff to retrieve the flower below. The boy took one long look down the steep, dizzy depths and said, “I’ll be back in a minute.” A short time later he returned, followed by a gray-haired man. Approaching the botanist, the boy said, “I’ll go over that cliff and get that flower for you if this man holds the rope. He’s my dad.”
      1. Do you trust your heavenly Dad to hold your rope?
      2. Do you trust your heavenly Dad?
      3. Do you trust?
    19. I have held many things in my hands and I have lost them all; But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-samuel-18.html. 2017.