Associated with the Royals

1 Samuel 18:1-16
1 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.
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.”
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.
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.

There is an old cliché that says, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” David has now been drawn into the royal family by both King Saul and his son, Jonathan. Saul wanted the national hero next to him and Jonathan was drawn to David in friendship by God himself. David learns what it means to be a leader.

One of the reasons David’s story is so intriguing is because we are given so many details and information regarding what is going on inside the heart of the people involved. Saul takes David into the palace because he is a hero and clearly someone who can prove useful in the kingdom. But as Saul’s madness grows deeper, David becomes the literal target of Saul’s rage and several attempts are made on David’s life by Saul. At the same time, we are made aware of a wonderful friendship that grows between David and Jonathan. While we are never told that Jonathan knows he will never be the next king, we get the sense that he already knows who the next king will be as he embraces Jonathan as friend and future leader. He passes his robe (princely), his belt, even his sword to David. While not too much can be made of this, it does indicate an understanding by Jonathan of how important David is to the nation.

[Let me just take a moment to discuss an allegation that has been made about the relationship between David and Jonathan. There are some who have suggested that this “love” was more than friendship, but an actual homosexual relationship. The Hebrew text does not support such a claim. Had there been a sexual relationship between them the word “know” would have been used instead. This “love” used here in the text depicts friendship; almost a brotherly connection. Those who would use this connection between Jonathan and David to promote the homosexual agenda misunderstand the text.]

As Saul’s madness grows, so does his jealously over David’s successes. It is important to note that David’s success was a direct result of God’s blessing, lest we give David the credit that belongs to God. Saul even becomes so fearful of David’s success that he put him on the front lines, leading men in battle. It is easy to leap to the conclusion that Saul would not be sad to see David killed in the line of duty. I am fascinated by the fact that at this point in the story the general public does not know that Saul’s family will not continue on the throne. But both David (his brothers and father) and Saul know what the future of the monarchy holds. Did they share that information with anyone else? It doesn’t appear so. So this whole drama between them plays out as the kingdom watches and is none the wiser. As readers, we have inside information. The advantage this gives to us is that we are allowed to see as God moves His plan forward in the lives of His people without the majority even knowing what’s going on. It makes me wonder how often that happens in my own life. Probably quite frequently.