I wonder did you notice from the reading the two very different attitudes towards David? On the one hand, there’s Jonathan, who was Saul’s son, and the women in the street and the people of Israel and Judah and Michal, who was Saul’s daughter. They all loved David. And then, on the other hand, there’s Saul, who was jealous of David and who was afraid of him and wanted to kill him. It’s quite a contrast, isn’t it? Everyone seems to love David. They’re impressed by him. They’re pleased by his success. And then there’s Saul who regarded David as his enemy. And those two contrasting attitudes towards David, who was God’s Anointed King at that time, foreshadow two contrasting attitudes towards the Lord Jesus, who is God’s True Anointed King. There are those who have yielded their lives to Christ the King and who love him and who want to serve him. And there are those who are implacably opposed to the Lord Jesus and who refuse to yield their lives to him. And so, what we read here in 1 Samuel 18 speaks to us of Christ the Saviour who said in Luke 12 that he did not come to bring peace on the earth, but division, because from that time on even family members will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother. They will be divided because some in the family believe in Christ and have yielded their lives to him and want to do his will here on earth; and the others will not believe and they refuse to yield to Christ the King. Families are divided. The world is divided. It’s divided over Christ the King.
And so, let’s look at this chapter today. And, first, let’s concentrate on those who loved David.
And the first person we read about who loved David was Jonathan. It says in verse 1 that as soon as David had finished speaking with Saul — this is after the battle with Goliath and the Philistines — Jonathan became one in spirit with David. A more literal translation is that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David. So, from that moment on, Jonathan bound himself to David. They were joined together because of Jonathan’s love for David; and they would remain friends — brothers even — for life. And according to verse 3, Jonathan made a covenant with David. So, they entered into a binding agreement with one another. And then, remarkably, Jonathan took off his robe and gave it to David. And he gave David his tunic and his sword and his bow and belt. Why was this remarkable? Because Jonathan’s robe and the other things which are listed signified Jonathan’s royal status. He was the son of the king, the heir to the throne. But by giving his royal robe to David, he was in effect abdicating the throne and saying that as far as he was concerned, David should be the next king. Instead of holding on to the crown himself, he was willing to give it all up for David.
And then we read about these women who came out to celebrate the victory over the Philistines. And they were singing and dancing and they composed a little song for the occasion. And in their song, they praised King Saul, didn’t they? But they also praised David as well. In fact, while they praised Saul for killing thousands of Philistines, they praised David for killing tens of thousands of Philistines.
So, the women in the street praised David. And then, in verse 16, we’re told that all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns and was successful in all he did.
And then there was Michal, Saul’s daughter. And the first thing we ever read about her is in verse 20 where it tells us that she was in love with David. And she clearly didn’t keep it a secret, but made it known, so that her love for David was reported to her father.
And then in verse 30, we read that David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers so that his name became well known. People were talking about David and the things he had done and the victories he had won. And so, it seems clear that everyone loved David: from Saul’s children to the ordinary people and the women in the street. They loved and admired David.
But Saul’s attitude to David was very different, wasn’t it? Perhaps not at first, but his attitude changed quickly. You see, we’re told in verse 2 that from that day on Saul kept David with him. So, no more going back and forth from Saul’s court to his father’s fields to mind the sheep. David was to remain in the court at all times. This was, of course, Saul’s practice according to what we read at the end of chapter 14 where it tells us that whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service. So, perhaps at first, Saul thought he had discovered in David another mighty warrior to help him. But his attitude soon changed when he heard the woman singing their little song about Saul killing thousands and David killed tens of thousands. Saul took offence at what they sang; and we’re told in verse 9 that he began to keep an eye on David.
And then we read in verses 10 and 11 of a time when Saul was suffering because of the harmful spirit that used to bother him. David was playing some music to try to help him. And while David played his harp, Saul threw his spear at him in order to pin him to the wall. David eluded Saul, twice we’re told. And according to verse 12, Saul was afraid of David. Isn’t that interesting? We’d expect David to be afraid of Saul, because hadn’t Saul just hurled his spear at David? But it’s the other way around.
What did Saul do next? Well, we’re told in verse 13 that he made David a commander of a company of soldiers and sent him away to fight against their enemies. Perhaps he thought that if he sent David away, everyone would forget about him and the women in the street would stop singing about him. But his plan backfired, because we’re told in verse 14 that the Lord was with David and made him successful in all he did. And the people of Israel and Judah heard about it and they loved him. But Saul remained afraid of him.
So, what next? Well, according to verse 17, he was willing to give his eldest daughter to David in marriage. Now, we might think Saul was being kind and generous to David. He was willing to welcome him into the family, wasn’t he? Well no. Look at what he said and thought: ‘Serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.’ In other words: If you want to marry my daughter, that’s what you have to do. And then he said to himself: ‘I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!’ Do you see? He was hoping that David would be killed on the battlefield.
For some unknown reason, Saul’s eldest daughter was given to someone else. But when Saul discovered that Michal loved David, Saul thought of another way to get rid of him. Yes, you can marry my daughter, but the bride-price you must pay is 100 Philistine foreskins. In other words: Go and kill 100 Philistines and bring me proof afterwards. And look at the end of verse 25 where it tells us that Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines. Yes, David is a mighty warrior, but surely 100 Philistines will be too much for him? And yet, David and his men were able to kill not just 100 Philistines, but 200 Philistines. And so, we read that Saul gave Michal to David in marriage. And can you imagine how much he must have hated that. When asked, ‘Who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?’, no doubt he answered through gritted teeth.
And look at verse 29: ‘Saul became still more afraid of him, and Saul remained David’s enemy for the rest of his days.’ For the rest of his life, Saul regarded David as his enemy: someone he feared and someone he wanted to kill. And we’ll see in the chapters which follow how Saul was determined to kill David and so he pursued him from place to place.
And so, there you are. Jonathan and Michal and all of Israel and Judah loved David. They loved him. But Saul was afraid of him and wanted to kill him.
And why was Saul so afraid of David? Why did he want to kill him? Well, the answer is found in verse 12 and in verse 28 where we’re told that the Lord was with David and Saul knew it. Once the Lord had been with Saul. But the Lord had left Saul; and he was now with David. Think of an election to become Prime Minister or President. And one candidate once enjoyed the help of a powerful supporter, but something happened, and that powerful supporter has now changed his allegiance and is willing to put all his resources behind the other candidate. Well, it seemed to Saul that the Lord, who once supported and helped him, was now putting all his resources behind David. And so, if Saul did not kill David, David would soon be king in his place.
The way Jonathan and the others loved David and the way Saul was afraid of David and hated him foreshadows the ways people reacted to the Lord Jesus when he was on the earth.
Many people loved the Lord Jesus and they followed him and they listened to him gladly as he preached about the kingdom of heaven. Think of that crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children who were prepared to listen to him all day long before he fed them with the loaves and fish. Or think of the woman who anointed his feet with her tears and with perfume as a sign of her love for him. Think of the disciples who had followed him for three years and who were full of sorrow when one day he said to them that he would soon be leaving them to go to his Father’s house. Think of the woman who loved him and who went to his tomb to anoint his body for burial. And think of their joy when they discovered he was alive. Lots of people loved the Lord Jesus.
And yet the Lord Jesus did not come to bring peace, but division. And so, not only were there many who loved him, but there were many who were jealous of him and who were afraid of him and who wanted to kill him. Think of the religious leaders who plotted against him and who brought him to Pilate to be crucified. And when he was brought before Pilate, we’re told that Pilate understood that the religious leaders were acting out of envy, out of jealousy. And, of course, they were afraid of him, because it seemed to them that the whole world would end up following him and they would lose their own position of authority. And so, they plotted together how to kill him, because they did not want the Lord Jesus to rule over them.
Think again of the Lord’s parable of the wicked tenants which we heard earlier. After the wicked tenants killed some of the servants the landowner sent and beat up others, the landowner decided to send his son. ‘Surely they will respect my son?’ he thought. But when they saw his son, they recognised him as the son, and as the one who would one day rule over them. And so, they murdered him. And do you remember the point of the parable? After sending his prophets to preach to the people, God then sent his Son into the world. ‘Surely they will respect my Son?’ But they hated his Son; and they killed him. And they killed him because he was the Son and they did not want him to rule over them.
Jonathan was willing to give up the throne and to yield his life to David. He was prepared to serve David always. But Saul was unwilling to give up the throne and to yield his life to David. He did not want David to rule over him. And when the Lord Jesus came into the world, there were those who loved him and yielded their life to him. He was God’s Anointed King, sent to save them; and they were willing to love and serve him. But many others hated him and they would not submit to him.
And it’s been the same ever since. The Lord Jesus is God’s Anointed King, who was sent to save sinners. Because of his obedience to his Heavenly Father, even to the point of death on the cross, he was exalted to the highest place as King of kings and the Lord of lords to rule over all. And through the preaching of his word, he calls on people everywhere to come into his kingdom by turning from their sins in repentance and by trusting in him for forgiveness. And many who hear respond to his call and they repent and they believe and they become members of his kingdom and they spend their lives trying to obey him, because they love him and are willing to yield to him.
But then there are many others who hear of him. And though they should bow before him and acknowledge him as King, and though they should do as he says and repent and believe and offer to love and serve him all the days of their life, they refuse. They will not yield their lives to anyone, least of all to him. They refuse to submit themselves to him, even though he is God’s Anointed King, who rules and reigns over all people everywhere and who will come again one day to judge the living and the dead and to send away into eternal punishment those who refuse to yield to him; and to give eternal life and peace and joy to those who yield to him. There are many who refuse to submit to him or to yield their lives to him, even though he offers peace and rest to all who come to him and everlasting life in his everlasting kingdom. He invites them to come to him for rest, but they will not come, because they do not want him to rule over them.
If you have not yet yielded your life to Christ, then Jesus Christ is saying to you today: Come to me. Trust in me. Yield your life to me. Why will you perish when you can have the assurance of sins forgiven and the hope of everlasting life in my everlasting kingdom? And so, turn to God in prayer. Confess your sins. Ask for his forgiveness for the sake of Christ who died for sinners. And ask for God’s help to live your life, no longer for yourself, but for Christ the King.
And here’s the thing for those who have already yielded to Christ. You have no reason to be proud, but you have every reason to be humble and to give thanks to Christ the King, because you would never have yielded to him if he did not first love you. You would never have yielded to him, because by nature, by birth, you’re a sinner. And as a sinner, you were incapable of believing in the Saviour; and you were incapable of loving him; and you were unwilling to live for him, because as a sinner you are — by nature — only willing to live for yourself. But how wonderful. How wonderful. Before you loved him, he loved you. And he was willing to lay down his life to pay for your sins and to save you from the condemnation you deserve because of your many sins. And then, after he was raised and exalted to heaven, he was willing to send his Spirit into your life to give you a new heart so that you would believe in him and love him and yield to him. Once you were his enemy, but now you have been reconciled to him because Christ the Saviour died to pay for your many sins and he sent his Spirit into your life to enable you to repent and believe. And so, you owe it all to Christ the King, who loved you before you loved him; and who has brought you in his kingdom, which is an everlasting kingdom, where you will enjoy perfect peace and rest forever. And so, you should give thanks to God for him; and you should serve him, and not yourself, all the days of your life.