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Friday, June 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 19

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Verses 1-7

Jonathan Pleads for David

We see in Saul and Jonathan a great contrast between two people in their attitude opposite David. This speaks of the relationship that every human being has with Christ. It is for or against Him. The relationship to Christ is all-determining for the present and the future. The separation that that triggers runs through families (Luke 12:51-2 Thessalonians :).

Saul speaks openly for the first time about killing David (1 Samuel 19:1). It is no longer during an attack of anger, but deliberate. He does it in the presence of Jonathan and all his servants. In this company David has only one friend, Jonathan. The servants seem to symbolize the silent majority. They are neither for David nor against him. They do not have their own opinion but go along with the party that offers them the most benefits. There is a certain esteem with them for David, of which Saul is also aware (1 Samuel 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:22), but they do not speak openly for him, like Jonathan.

Jonathan is “greatly delighted in David”. Saul seems to have forgotten that. He will think that Jonathan is as afraid of his position as he is and will therefore benefit from killing David. But Jonathan informs David of the intentions of his father and urges him to exercise caution. He also informs him that he will let him know what his father really intends to do. He does not urge David to flee but seeks an opportunity to return to his father’s court. Despite all the difficulties that is still David’s place.

In what Jonathan says in 1 Samuel 19:4-Deuteronomy : of David, we can almost hear the Christian speak of a fellow believer and of Christ. It is good to be a friend who speaks well of a friend. Above all, it is good to speak well of the Lord Jesus before the ears of the world.

The first thing Jonathan says is that Saul, as king, should not be tempted to sin against David. He may only kill David if sin is found in him. But, Jonathan testifies, David hath not sinned against the king. On the contrary, he has done what is good for him. Jonathan reminds his father of David’s victory over Goliath, putting his life at risk (cf. Judges 12:3). That victory the LORD has given and has benefited all Israel. Saul saw it himself and rejoiced.

Jonathan’s testimony to Saul shows how much David is a servant of the LORD and not just of Saul. David is hated without cause, as was and is the case with the Lord Jesus. The natural man can sometimes admire the Lord Jesus for His deeds. But if he does not choose Him, he hates Him and also all who are in connection with Him.

Jonathan concludes his plea with an appeal to Saul’s common sense. There is no reason to kill David, he is innocent. Therefore, Saul must refrain from killing David, otherwise he will shed innocent blood.

The heart of Saul is getting soft and he reassigns David, just like before. It characterizes David that he returns to the court of Saul. This can only be done by someone who lives with and for the LORD and not for the eyes of men. There is no resentment or revenge on his part. Despite all the injustice done to him and the permanent threat of death, David returns to perform his humble service with an intractable king.

Every time we find such moments of the becoming soft of the heart of Saul (1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Samuel 26:21). Each time it turns out to be only a transient condition and not the conviction of his heart. His jealousy for David remains and with it his hatred and his attempts to kill him. David remains for him the competitor of his throne, from which he does not want to renounce.

David escapes the sword of Saul four times in this chapter alone. First through the intervention of Jonathan. Next time by his own speed to dodge the spear Saul throws at him (1 Samuel 19:10). The third time by the help of Michal (1 Samuel 19:12) and the fourth time by the protection of Samuel (1 Samuel 19:23).

Verses 8-10

Saul Tries to Kill David

When there is war with the Philistines, David attained a great victory, that the Philistines may flee from him. Instead of rejoicing over it, the evil spirit of the LORD comes over Saul. Then David leaves his place of celebrated general and takes again the place of the humble minstrel to calm down a king tormented by an evil spirit. He knows that in that place he should not be on his guard of the Philistine spear, but of Saul’s spear (1 Samuel 18:10-1 Kings :).

Because in addition to David's victory, it is mentioned that an evil spirit takes possession of Saul, we can assume that David’s victory makes Saul jealous. Jealousy offers demons an opening to gain control over a human being. Saul again tries to kill David with his spear. Because David is always on his guard, he dodges the spear with a presence of mind given to him by the LORD. Then he flees and escapes.

Verses 11-17

Michal Helps David to Escape

While Saul’s servants surround the house, David writes Psalm 59 (Psalms 59:1). In it he prays for deliverance (Psalms 59:1-Exodus :). He is therein a type of the remnant. In such circumstances we may trust in God and say that in the morning we will praise Him. At the same time David uses the opportunity offered to escape. He flees in a way like that of Saul, later Paul (Acts 9:24-Lamentations :).

The use of the idol means that there is an idol in the house of David. Perhaps the application is allowed that this is the way Michal looks at David: she adores him, he is her idol. It leads her to help her husband stay out of her father’s hands. There are women who adore their husbands so much that they support him through thick and thin, even in evil. We do not know whether Saphira, for example, worshipped her husband Ananias, but she did support him in evil and shares his judgment (Acts 5:1-Exodus :; Acts 5:5Acts 5:9-2 Samuel :).

The illness that David is said to have is no obstacle to Saul to let him bring to him. He is now so keen on the death of David that he wants to kill him by himself to have the certainty of his death.

Michal has a certain love for David, but it is a selfish love. She is not a Saul, but neither is she a woman who follows her husband. Her help to the refugee resembles in the distance the help Rachab gave to the spies (Joshua 2:4-:).

The deceit is discovered. Saul blames Michal very much and calls David “my enemy”. Then Michal’s self-love appears. She introduces David to her father as someone who has threatened to kill her if she would not help him escape. Michal is not Saul, but certainly also not Jonathan who spoke well from David to his father Saul (1 Samuel 19:4).

Verse 18

David Flees to Samuel

David does not flee to his family in Bethlehem, but to the old prophet Samuel. In picture he resorts to the Word of God. He chooses that as his hiding place. By this Word he has been told that he will become king. He does not see much of that yet. He therefore needs to be reminded of this. He also needs the Word to guide him in the journey that is about to begin.

Here we hear about Samuel again for a long time. We last heard of him in 1 Samuel 16, when he anointed David king. Then David came to the fore and Samuel withdrew to Ramah. That does not mean that he has become useless, because we see that he is leading a prophet school here. He will also have certainly kept his word, that he said to the people that he would not cease to pray for them (1 Samuel 12:23).

Verses 19-24

Under the Protection of Samuel

Samuel and David withdraw to “Naioth”, which means “houses”, which probably refers to the houses of prophets, where prophet schools are located. Under Samuel’s guidance, the prophets are busy becoming familiar with God’s thoughts. There comes David. He, and Samuel, may have thought that Saul would not venture to get there. But Saul does not shy away from it. He sends his messengers out to pick up David from there. Then we see what happens to the messengers when they come into that sacred environment.

The prophets, led by Samuel, are under the power of the Spirit. That power is also exercised over those who come into that sphere. This also happens with the next messengers and with a third group of messengers. Instead of laying hold on David they are laying hold on themselves. They experience that God is truly among them (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:24-Lamentations :). It is not about conversion, but about an influence from which one cannot escape. We see something similar in Balaam who wants to flow God’s people but is forced to bless it (Numbers 22:2-Joshua :; Numbers 23:11-2 Kings :Numbers 23:25-Ezekiel :; Numbers 24:10-1 Chronicles :).

Then Saul himself goes. It does not realize at all that David is under the special protection of heaven. His journey to Naioth is described in detail. When he comes to Ramah, he asks not only for David, but for Samuel and David. He connects the two names as the conspirators against the throne on which he sits. When he is on his way, the Spirit of God already comes upon him. The Spirit remains on him and as he goes, he prophesies, until he comes to Samuel. It seems that this is God’s last attempt to make Saul aware he must repent.

The Spirit of God works wherever the Word of God is preached. Everyone who hears it comes under its seizure. It leads to an action that one would not first think possible: sing, be moved. Yet the heart remains dark and cold.

Saul stripped off his upper garment of royal dignity and only has his underclothes on. He is completely under the seizure of the Spirit, but not with his mind. Thus, men can have great gifts and prophesy in the Name of Christ and cast out demons, but without knowing grace (Matthew 7:22-Isaiah :).

Mockingly, later is told of him that he is also among the prophets, as something considered impossible and not recognized as true, but as an untrue matter. Even an unbelieving man like Balaam came under the seizure of the Spirit, but without repentance. Thus, a person can come under the seizure of God’s Spirit, but without affecting his relationship with God.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Samuel 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-samuel-19.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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