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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 19

 

 

Verses 1-24

When Saul told Jonathan and all his servants to put David to death, no sensible servant would have approved of this. Jonathan however, positively loved David and warned him of Saul's intentions. Still, Jonathan thought He could reason with Saul and persuade him that David was not an enemy, but a true friend. He advised David to remain hidden from Saul, while Jonathan interceded for him with his father. Then Jonathan "spoke good of David to Saul his father" (v.4). How appropriate it is if we today will speak good of the Lord Jesus before others who oppose Him! He speaks of the negative fact that David had in no way harmed Saul, then of the positive fact that David's works had been very good, including venturing his life against Goliath, which had caused Saul and all Israel to rejoice.

Jonathan urges his father that, since he had himself rejoiced in David's victory over Goliath, he should surely not now change his mind and give orders for David's death. He tells him that this is sin against innocent blood, for there was no cause. Jonathan's reasoning is of course plain and right, and on this occasion has a good effect upon Saul. Not only does he give way but swears by the Lord that David would not be killed (v.6). Jonathan therefore brings David back again to his former position in Saul's company. We may be sure that David would be continually on his guard at this time, for experience would teach him to be cautious.

Another war takes place (v.8). David leads the armies of Israel, accomplishing a great victory, with many Philistines slaughtered, the rest retreating in confusion. Instead of this causing Saul to appreciate and honor David, it rather incurred his deeper jealousy. His real enemy was only his own pride which opened the door to the evil spirit to influence him hatefully toward David. Yet it is again made clear that the evil spirit could not do this without God's permission. God in His sovereign government allowed this because of Saul's stubbornness. Saul had refused God's Spirit, therefore he must learn by experience that he has actually chosen a spirit of evil. This experience ought to have awakened his conscience and driven him to the Lord, but he would not yield to God.

Again Saul threw his javelin at David, intending to kill him. What was the value of his sworn oath that David would not be killed (v.6)? This breaking of his oath shows Saul's painful incapacity for ruling over men. David was on guard, however, and again dodged the javelin and escaped from Saul's house (v.10).

Now he was not safe even in his own house. Michal knew that Saul had sent messengers to watch David's house through the night and she realized that Saul had given them orders to kill David in the morning. She warned him to escape during the night and let him down (perhaps with a rope) through a window. He was able to avoid being seen by Saul's servants and escaped for his life.

Michal, to gain time for David, had put a "teraphim" in David's bed (v.13). This was a image in human form, actually idolatrous yet too often used by Israelites alongside of the worship of God. Poor Michal! She did not know the power of God, nor did she have real faith in His faithfulness. She thought it necessary to at least partly trust in idols! but we all may too easily become adept at practicing deception.

Michal did not gain her desired end by telling Saul's messengers that David was sick. Saul was so determined to kill him quickly that he ordered his servants to bring David to Saul in his bed. Then of course they discovered the deception, and Saul was upset with his daughter because she had been helpful to her own husband! Instead of calling David HER HUSBAND, Saul calls him "my enemy," which was not true, for David had no enmity toward Saul. He demanded of her why she had let David escape.

Why did Michal not tell Saul frankly that she did not want her husband to be killed? Evidently her love for David took second place to her fear of Saul. For she lied to her father, telling him that David had threatened to kill her if she did not let him go. What pathetic weakness was this, in contrast to her brother Jonathan's bold defense of David before Saul (vs.4-5).

From this time David no longer served Saul in fighting his battles or in playing the harp for him. Mere jealousy had made Saul a cruel enemy of David, and David is practically driven away as a fugitive in the wilderness. He came to Samuel at Ramah and reported Saul's activities against him. Samuel does nothing about this, not even sending a reproof to Saul, nor interceding with him for David. He knew that Saul had committed himself to his senseless course, and nothing would stop him. For the time, David lived with Samuel at Naioth, in the vicinity of Ramah.

News of David's whereabouts reached Saul, who sent men to take him captive. However, they find Samuel in charge of a company of prophets, all of whom were prophesying. This was actually the work of the Spirit of God, who also influenced Saul's messengers to prophesy rather than to arrest David.

When Saul learned that his messengers had come under the power of God's prophetic Word, rather than having his conscience exercised to remember this had happened to him before (1 Samuel 10:10), he sent more messengers to apprehend David. But they too prophesied when they came to Samuel. Therefore Saul sent another group, who were also affected in the same way.

But even this did not reach Saul's hardened conscience. Consequently he must learn by a humiliating experience. He went himself to Ramah, and asking directions found his way to Naioth where Samuel was, but before reaching Samuel he was laid hold of by the Spirit of God to prophesy as the others had. His weapons here were useless. In fact, he stripped off his clothes, at least his outer garments, and laid down without defense of any kind all that day and all night. God was showing Saul His superior power, not in judgment, but in kindness. Yet this rendered Saul helpless to do harm to David, for it was spiritual power. This ought to have spoken deeply to Saul's conscience, and also ought to have encouraged David to realize that God's sovereign hand could always be depended upon to provide protection for him.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 19:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-samuel-19.html. 1897-1910.

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