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The history of David, and Saul's enmity against him, is prosecuted in this chapter. Saul throws of the mask, and openly commands his son and servants to kill David. Jonathan expostulates with his father on the subject, and for a time obtains a promise, that David shall not be hurt. But his malice breaks out afresh, and he is obliged to flee for his life. Saul pursues him; but his design is overruled, and David again escapes. These are the principal things contained in this chapter.
1 Samuel 19:1
(1) ¶ And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
We should again remark in the character of Saul, the progress of sin. In his example indeed, it is most awful. Having not been able to accomplish his bloody design upon David by private stratagem, he now proceeds by open command. So Herod, in his intention to crush the Lord Jesus, desired the wise men, when they had found Christ, to tell him where he was, that he might go and worship him also; but when he found that scheme failed, he sent out an order to kill all children under two years old, concluding that that must subject the Lord Jesus to the power of the sword. Matthew 2:16; Matthew 2:16 .
(2) But Jonathan Saul's son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself: (3) And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee. (4) And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: (5) For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? (6) And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain. (7) And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.
While we behold the friendship of Jonathan to his beloved David, let us not overlook His friendship, concerning whom it may truly be said, as it relates to us and our rescue from everlasting destruction, a greater than Jonathan is here. Jonathan was made useful to David, in communicating to him his unkind father's designs concerning him; and he pleaded for David with his unnatural father. But our Jesus's friendship to us and our fallen nature, was, and is, manifested in communicating to us the blessed intentions of our most merciful and kind Father, in redemption work. He lay in the bosom of the Father, and was intimately acquainted with all his gracious designs towards us from everlasting, and hath communicated them: I have called you friends, (saith Jesus) for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known to you. John 15:15 . Yes! thou dear Lord, thou art a Friend indeed, a Brother born for adversity, that lovest at all times, and one that sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 17:17 .
(8) ¶ And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him.
How lovely David appears in the field against the common enemy of Israel! How infinitely surpassing all loveliness, doth Jesus the Captain of our salvation appear, when he goeth forth to the renewed assaults of sin and Satan!
(9) And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. (10) And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
What sad breaks in the history, are those melancholy instances of the evil spirit's dominion over Saul. And such, Reader, would be his dominion over you and me, did not sovereign grace restrain. It is Jesus that binds up his power, restrains the malice of the foe, and subdues by his grace, the influences of his malignant venom upon our corrupt and lustful nature.
(11) ¶ Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, tomorrow thou shalt be slain. (12) So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. (13) And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. (14) And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. (15) And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him. (16) And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster. (17) And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee?
These several narrow escapes of David are soon related, and we rest satisfied in the account, seeing he is safe. But they were very trying moments with him, as appears by his writings. The 59th Psalm (Psalms 59:0 ), we are told by the title of it, was written by David, upon this very occasion. And if the Reader would wish to enter deeper into the view of what David's feelings were upon this occasion, he will there behold, in the fervent breathings of his soul, his fears, and how the Lord strengthened him with faith. But while we look at David, let us not overlook David's Lord. Few of the holy men of old were more lively types of Jesus, in his unequalled persecutions, than David. And therefore, we should never read of the one in his seasons of trial, without having our minds directed to the other. Many of the most earnest expressions we meet with in David's Psalms, certainly had no reference to his own personal sufferings, for they could not be applied to him. And in many others, they are abundantly heightened and made interesting in their application to Jesus. See particularly Psalms 16:0 and Psalms 22:0 .
(18) ¶ So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.
It is pleasing to hear again of Samuel, who had long retired from the bustling scenes of government, to the college of the prophets, and presided over them. David's retreat to Samuel was, no doubt, with a view to ask counsel from God, how to act in the present juncture. Reader! doth not Jesus sometimes, and perhaps not unfrequently, unsettle our rests, and stir up matters to shake the earthly props of his people, on purpose to drive our hearts to him? But beside this retreat of David to Samuel at Naioth, to seek counsel from God, it should seem that he fled there as a place of safety. For there is reason to conclude, from what is related both in this place and in a former chapter, that the general opinion concerning the schools of the prophets was, that the spot was sanctified: and that those who came within its region were under particular impressions. Oh! that it could be said so now! See 1 Samuel 10:10-13 .
(19) And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah. (20) And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. (21) And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. (22) Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah. (23) And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. (24) And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?
Those effects wrought upon the mind of Saul and messengers, seem to confirm what was said before, that certain impressions were wrought upon the minds of men according to the pleasure of the Lord, from the exercises of the prophets in their schools. In this instance, at least, it was made the means, in the Lord's hands, to deliver David from the power of Saul. The Lord hath a thousand methods, in the stores of omnipotency, to answer the purposes of his grace. And he knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation. And let not the Reader be surprized that the Lord should cause the same influence to work upon the mind of Saul. In all ages, bad men have been sometimes made the unwilling instruments of his pleasure. We read of New Testament Prophets, who shall be commissioned to much good to others, but in the end be found unrenewed in themselves, and rejected of God. Matthew 7:22-23 .
WHAT an awful contrast marks the characters of Saul and Jonathan this son! While the Father manifests the malignity of an evil spirit, breathing out nothing but hatred, malice, and death, against a faithful servant, who had gone with his life in his hand, to deliver him and his kingdom from ruin; see how the son's heart is influenced with all the kinder feelings of love, and brotherly affection towards him, so as to love him as his own soul! Reader! remark with me, the precious, blessed properties of distinguishing grace.
But while we admire and praise the friendship of Jonathan towards David, let my soul take wing, and fly to the contemplation of the unequalled friendship of Him, whose love as far exceeds the love of Jonathan, as the light transcends the darkness. In the loves of Jonathan and David there was a congeniality of soul, of manners, of age, and of mind. But in thy love and friendship towards our fallen nature, O blessed Jesus, thou wast a Brother born for adversity. Thy love, to us was when our persons were not only totally opposite to thy pure nature, but loathsome; and no congeniality, no one thing to form a likeness, prompted thine infinite mind to such stupendous acts of mercy. Never forget, my soul, that it was while we were enemies, Christ died for us. And when we come to estimate the acts of Jesus' friendship, how doth all human friendship fall to the ground before it. Thy friendship not only led thee to engage as our surety, to pay all our debts, to supply all our wants, to answer all our demands, to purchase by thy blood and righteousness an inheritance for us; but thou didst give thyself a ransom to deliver us from captivity: didst place thyself in the very state of vassalage in which thou didst find us, and though unconscious of sin in thyself, didst become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in thee. Oh! matchless love, unparalleled friendship! Oh! be thou, blessed Jesus, to me ever dear, ever precious; and cause my soul to love thee, who hast so loved me, that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, may be able to separate my soul from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany