Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Friday, March 31, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Apr 1, 1 Sam 18-20

Today's readings are 1 Sam 18-20.

A curious exchange takes place at the end of 1 Sam 17 where Saul asks who David’s father is (1 Sam 17:55-58). In light of the great love Saul expressed for David in 1 Sam 16:21-22, some interpret this to mean Saul does not recognize David. That may be true but a far better explanation is that earlier, prior to the incident with Goliath, David was a fairly low-level court musician. Beloved as he was by Saul, no one would have troubled themselves to find out too much about who David was, much less his family. Yes, Saul sent letters to Jesse concerning David (1 Sam 16:19), but those were undoubtedly messages sent from the king’s court along with hundreds of others and would not have garnered much attention. Now, Saul wants to look deeper into David’s past and lineage. After all, David has rescued Israel and will almost certainly gain prominence. It’s almost as if Saul is saying in 1 Sam 17:55-58, “Remind me who this boy is again. Let’s find out more about him!”

In 1 Sam 18, David, now entrenched in the inner circle of the king, forms a close relationship with Saul's son Jonathan. Note how God continually blesses David and how Saul continually responds to those blessings with jealousy, envy, and anger.

It says much about our culture that there are many who would use David's relationship with Jonathan as an example of an unnatural relationship between two men. Scripture clearly condemns such a perversion. The Scriptures also portray their relationship in a positive light, inferring that God blesses it. David and Jonathan’s relationship was one of personal friendship and political affiliation as we see in 1 Sam 18:4 where Jonathan symbolically and prophetically hands over his right of succession to the throne. They were truly “best friends.”

Saul’s jealousy takes control of him again when he gets so angry at David, he begins to devise ways to kill him (1 Sam 18:6-12). Saul is so blinded by his rage that he uses his daughter, Michal, to trap David (1 Sam 18:20-25). The scheme fails spectacularly when David returns with double honor for Saul’s request (1 Sam 18:27-29). Saul wants to kill David. David works to honor and respect Saul!

The author wants us to see the contrast between David, a godly man, and Saul, a self-consumed man. Saul has let his bitterness take such a strong hold on his heart, that he is unable to align himself with David, even though he knows the Lord is with David (1 Sam 18:29). Saul’s struggle should cause us to look inward, examine ourselves to see if there are any areas where pride or jealousy are denying us a fuller blessing from God as they are Saul. The king Israel asked for is losing his kingdom and, more importantly, his peace and joy because of his stubbornness and pride.

In 1 Sam 19-20, the bond between Jonathan and David strengthens while the relationship David has with Michal grows stronger as well (1 Sam 19:11-17). Saul's son and daughter are forging strong ties to David while Saul grows more distant. Because of all this and because of David's popularity and success, Saul becomes increasingly vexed by David. Saul’s anger eventually forces Jonathan to decide who he will support, as it did Michal. Jonathan wisely sides with David, the man who has exhibited godly qualities (1 Sam 20:12-16).  David decides he will trust Jonathan with his life and makes a covenant between his family and Jonathan’s offspring (1 Sam 20:35-42).

Saul's anger is consuming him. It will ultimately be his undoing. Instead of rejoicing in how God is using David, Saul is selfishly opposing all David does, thereby opposing God Himself. Saul’s story is another sobering lesson in how petty jealousy and anger can devastate our hearts. 

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