Last week, when we were studying 1 Samuel 18, we saw how everyone — apart from Saul — loved David. Jonathan, Saul’s son, loved him and gave him his royal robe to wear. The women in the street loved him and sang a little song to celebrate his victory over the Philistines. All of Israel and Judah loved him because he enjoyed so much military success. And Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him and wanted to marry him. Everyone loved him, apart from Saul, who hated him. And Saul was hoping that the Philistines would get the better of David and would kill him on the battlefield. But the Philistines were unable to kill David, because God was with him to help him.
In today’s chapter Saul’s opposition to David becomes more obvious, more blatant, more public. Instead of leaving it to the Philistines, he takes matters into his own hands. And so, in this chapter, we read of four times when Saul tried to get David. But in each of the four times, David survived. And the point of this chapter is to show us how the Lord God Almighty, who had chosen David to rule over his people in place of Saul, kept his Anointed King safe. He kept his Anointed King safe.
And as I’ve said before, David — who was God’s Anointed King at that time — points to and foreshadows Jesus Christ, who is God’s True Anointed King, who was to come into the world. And therefore this chapter should make us think of the ways that God the Father kept Jesus Christ safe when he was faced with enemies who hated him. He was kept safe, until the time came for Jesus Christ to die on the cross. But even then, God did not abandon his True Anointed King, but he kept his body from decay and he raised him up on the third day.
So, that’s where we’re headed today. We’ve going to end up thinking about Christ the King. But first, let’s look at these four occasions when Saul tried to kill David.
Verses 1 to 7
And the first occasion is in verses 1 to 7 where Saul told his son, Jonathan, and all his attendants, to kill David. Do you see? He’s no longer relying on the Philistines. And he’s no longer keeping his enmity towards David a secret. He’s been completely open and public about it; and it’s a very simply and direct approach: ‘If you see him, kill him.’
However, as we learned last week, and as the end of verse 1 tells us, Jonathan loved David. And so, instead of doing what his father wanted, and killing David, he warned David and he explained to David that he would go and speak to his father on David’s behalf. And so, according to verse 4, Jonathan spoke well of David to his father. And you can read what he said in verses 4 and 5. But look at verse 6 where it tells us that Saul listened to his son and made an oath that David will not be put to death. So, Jonathan convinced his father not to kill David. And according to verse 7, Jonathan called David and told him everything he and his father said. So: ‘There’s nothing for you to worry about. It’s all been sorted.’ Jonathan has done a great job of conciliation and he ought to be signed up straightaway as a mediation counsellor.
Verses 8 to 10
However, time passes and we read in verse 9 that Saul was once again suffering from that evil or harmful spirit which used to bother him from time to time. And David was there, playing his harp to soothe Saul’s troubled soul. But just as he did in chapter 16, so here in chapter 19, Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear which he was holding. But, just as he did on chapter 16, David once again eluded Saul’s spear.
What about Saul’s oath? Well, that seems to have gone out the window, hasn’t it? And David is not taking any more chances, because verse 10 tells us that he made good his escape.
Verses 11 to 17
And that takes us to the third time when Saul tried to take David’s life. We read in verse 11 that Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But somehow or other, Michal — David’s wife and Saul’s daughter — knew what was happening and warned David. And she let him down through a window and he managed to avoid capture and to make a run for it. Then we’re told that she took an idol and laid it on the bed. We’re not told why she had an idol in her house, but she had one and she put it under the bed covers and covered its head with some goats’ hair so that it would look as if David was in bed, asleep. I was rewatching ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ recently and you might remember how Clint Eastwood made a head out of papier-mache and a wig to fool the guards so that he could escape in the night. Well, Michel did the same kind of thing and it too fooled the guards, because when they came to get David, she was able to point to the bed and say that David was unwell. When they reported back to Saul, he told them to arrest him anyway: Bring him in his bed if necessary. But get him and kill him. And that’s when they discovered that the figure in the bed was an idol and not David.
Saul wanted to know why Michel, his daughter, deceived him like this. ‘He was going to kill me!’, she lied. Well, we might raise an eyebrow because of Michel’s lie. But the text doesn’t comment on her lie; and it simply reports that this is what happened without making any judgment on it. And, of course, she deceived her father three-times, didn’t she? She deceived him with the idol which she pretended was her husband; she deceived him when she said David was ill; and she deceived him when she said that David was going to kill her. But the point of the story is not to teach us about lying, but to tell us how David was kept safe.
Verses 18 to 24
And so, we come to the fourth time when Saul tried to kill David. Verse 18 tells us that David fled to Samuel who was at Ramah. We haven’t heard much about Samuel recently, but here he is again. David and Samuel made their way to this place called Naioth. No one now knows where it was, but Saul heard that David had gone there and so he sent men to capture him. But his men came across a group of prophets led by Samuel who were prophesying. And we’re told that the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men and they began to prophesy too. Saul therefore sent more men and the same thing happened to them: they began to prophesy. So Saul sent even more men, a third group of men, and the same thing happened to them. Finally, Saul went himself. He first went to Ramah and was told to go to Naioth. And as he made his way to Naioth, the Spirit of God came upon him and he too prophesied all the way to Naioth, where he stripped off his robes, and prophesied in the presence of Samuel. And we’re told he lay like that all day and all night.
And the point is that the Lord, by his Spirit, prevented Saul from carrying out his plan to kill David. The Lord kept his Anointed King safe. And that’s true of the three previous occasions as well. Why was Jonathan able to persuade his father not to kill David? It’s not so much that Jonathan was a great persuader, but — as the proverb tells us — it’s because the king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, so that he turns it where he wills. God used the words of Jonathan to convince Saul not to kill David.
And how did David manage to elude Saul and his spear? David, of course, was a young man and very agile. But we believe God is sovereign and he rules over all his creatures and all their actions. And so, he enabled David to get out of the way.
And God was watching over David when he was in his home; and he ensured Michel was forewarned about Saul’s plan so that David was able to make his escape.
This whole chapter shows us that God was able to keep safe his Anointed King. Hadn’t God chosen David to be king? Hadn’t he said that David would be king in place of Saul? Well, since that was God’s will for David and for Israel, then God kept David safe, so that — when the time was right — he was installed as king over Israel.
Keeping Christ Safe
And David — who was God’s Anointed King at that time — points to and foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God’s True Anointed King. And think of how God the Father kept the Lord Jesus safe from the time of his birth and throughout his life on earth.
When was was born, King Herod wanted the wise men to tell him where to find the Lord Jesus so that he could kill Jesus; and then he gave the order to kill all the infant boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity. But the Lord warned Joseph in a dream so that Joseph took Mary and the child and escaped.
In Mark 1 we’re told how the Spirit sent the Lord Jesus into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan and where he was with the wild animals. But his Father did not leave him on his own, because we’re told that angels attended him.
And then in Luke 4 we read of the time when the Lord Jesus went to Nazareth. But instead of honouring him, which is what they should have done, the people took offence at the things he said. And we’re told they were furious with him and they took him to the brow of a hill in order to throw him down the cliff. But somehow or other, he was able to walk right though the crowd and went on his way.
In John 7 we’re told of a time when the Lord Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And again, the people took offence at what he was saying, and we’re told that they tried to seize him, but no-one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. And John tells us of other occasions when the Jews picked up stones in order to kill the Lord Jesus. But again and again, his Father in heaven kept him safe.
And Mark tells us in chapter 3 of his gospel how the religious leaders began to plot his death after he healed the man with a shrivelled hand on the Sabbath Day. And, of course, we know how the religious leaders used to come to him with their questions, trying to trap him with words to see if he would say something incriminating. But he was able to avoid their traps again and again.
Do you remember when the Devil was tempting him in the wilderness? One time the Devil quoted Psalm 91 and applied it to the Lord Jesus. It says:
He [God] will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Though the Devil was using those words from Psalm 91 to tempt the Lord Jesus, the words of the psalm are true. God commanded his angels to guard the Lord Jesus. God kept his Anointed King safe, just as he kept David safe when his life was in danger.
But hang on, you’re perhaps wondering. Hang on. If God was able to keep his Anointed King safe again and again and again, why did he not keep him safe when the guards came to arrest him? And why did God not keep him safe when he stood trial before Pilate? And why did God not keep him safe when the soldiers took him and crucified him on the cross? Why did God not keep him safe then? Why didn’t he send down an army of angels to lift him from the cross and to carry him away?
Well, you know the answer, don’t you? It’s because there was no other way. There was no other way to save you. You’re a sinner who sins against God continually. And because you’re a sinner who sins against God continually, then you deserve God’s wrath and curse. You deserve to be punished forever for all that you have done wrong and for all the ways that you’ve fallen short from doing God’s will. You know this is true, because God’s word accuses you and your own conscience accuses you and it tells you that you’re a sinner. But God the Son was willing to come to earth as one of us and to suffer and to die on the cross for sinners, taking the blame for them, suffering in their place the punishment they deserve, dying the death they deserve, so that whoever trusts in him as the only Saviour of the world receives God’s forgiveness and the hope of eternal life.
God the Father kept his Anointed King safe right up until the time came for him to lay down his life to pay for your sins. God could have sent angels to save his Son. But because he wanted to save sinners, he sent his Son to die.
But, his death was not the end, was it? God did not abandon him to the grave and he did not let him see corruption, but he raised his Anointed King from the dead and exalted him to the highest place, far above all his enemies and above every power, seen and unseen. And from his throne in heaven, he sends out his Spirit into the world. And the Holy Spirit enables sinners to enter his kingdom by turning from their sins in repentance and by trusting in the Saviour for forgiveness.
Through repentance and faith we’re added to his kingdom. And as members of his kingdom, Christ our King promises to keep his people and to protect them. Didn’t he say in John 10 that he gives eternal life to his people so that they will never perish and no one can snatch his people from his hand? No one can snatch us from his hand, but he keeps us forever. And don’t we have the words of the Apostle Peter that we are shielded by God’s power through faith? So, while we may have to suffer trials of various kinds in this life — as David did, and as the Lord Jesus did — nevertheless God is shielding us, because we’re now members of Christ’s kingdom. And don’t we have that wonderful vision in Revelation 7 of the church on earth which has been sealed by God? And the image of being sealed is a way of conveying to believers on earth that we belong to him and are under his protection. And while you may have to suffer trials and tribulations in this troubled life — as David did, and as the Lord Jesus did — you know that God your Father and Christ your King are watching over you and they’re able to work all things together for your good, even the bad things. They’re able to work all things together for your good; and they will because you belong to Christ by faith and have come under their protection.
And even when the worst thing happens, and you die, he’s able to turn that to your good, because he’ll bring you into his presence in heaven, where he’ll wipe the tears from your eyes, while you wait for the resurrection of your body and everlasting peace and joy in that new and better world to come, where you’ll reign with Christ your King forever and where no one will ever be able to hurt you or make you weep; and you’ll have everlasting joy and pleasures forevermore in the presence of Christ your King.