1 Samuel 18-20 Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands

From 1 Samuel 18-20

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Post Goliath, David becomes everyone’s golden boy and jealousy rears its ugly green head in Saul. Women sign his praises comparing the two. Saul tries to kill him and fails. Saul demoted him. But he cannot stop what’s happening. David is a success and none can stop him because the LORD is with him. In the gospel, Jesus condemns jealousy. Are you jealous?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

David has just killed the giant Philistine Goliath and everyone knows it. Jonathan in particular recognises a kindred spirit. Someone who is follows the LORD with his whole heart.

18 As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. (1 Sam 18.1-4)

The passage communicates a lot of affection between Jonathan and David. Friendship or something more the text is not clear. Saul in particular will not let David return to his father’s house. We could say David’s act has changed his life.

Jonathan impressed by David’s bravery makes a covenant with him and gives him many of his own possessions (robe, armour, sword, bow and belt). As the king’s son, Jonathan probably had access to much more where David did not. The text doesn’t say what the nature of the covenant was. I suggest Jonathan offered his friendship, loyalty and support.

Seeing a brave and obviously skillful warrior, Saul puts David to work. He sends him out raiding Israel’s enemies.

5 And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

6 As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (1 Sam 18.5-7)

David is successful wherever he goes because the LORD is with him. Saul puts him in charge of all his armies. There David develops his leadership skills and ammasses some significant victories.

Women begin to sing of his exploits comparing him to Saul. Saul gets jealous.

8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.

10 The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. 11 And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice. (1 Sam 18.8-11)

Not only jealous, but worried as well. Saul is the anointed king. But he places too much stock in the opinion of the people round him. He’s a people pleaser. He believes David will take the kingdom and tries to kill him. Talk about over reaction!

How should he have viewed David’s success? How do you view the success of others?

12 Saul was afraid of David because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him. 15 And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them. (1 Sam 18.12-16)

Saul grows in fear of David, the golden boy and attempts to reduce his influence and power. None the less the LORD is with David. He prospers.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

 Jealousy is a strong feeling of possessiveness, often caused by the possibility that something which belongs, or ought to belong, to one is about to be taken away. The word can be used in a positive sense (e.g., the jealousy of God), meaning a passionate commitment to something which rightly belongs to one. It can also be used in a negative sense (e.g., human jealousy), to mean a self-destructive human emotion similar to envy.

Saul’s jealousy is destructive.

In the Old Testament some notable examples of jealousy include Cain and Abel (Gen 4:3–5), Esau and Jacob (Gen 27:41), Rachel and Leah Jacob’s wives (Gen 30:1), and Joseph’s brothers (Gen 37:4). Now we have seen Saul succumbing to this all too easy sin.

Story of Jesus

In the gospel, Jesus condemns jealousy (envy) saying it comes from the heart.

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy [jealousy], slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mk 7.14-23)

Saul’s jealousy was another step towards his undoing. Jealousy defiles a person.

Are you afflicted with jealousy? Ask Jesus for help and forgiveness. Cut it out.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.