1 Samuel 18: Let Your Light Shine

saulthrowsspearatdavid

As I was reading 1 Samuel 18, it struck me that there were a lot of repeated words and phrases in this chapter – and anyone who has done an in-depth Bible study knows that these repetitions often hold key themes and ideas.

So here’s a list of some of these repetitive elements:

Loved

  • “Jonathan loved him [David] as his own soul” (vs. 1).
  • “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul” (vs. 2)
  • “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (vs. 16).
  • “Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David” (vs. 20).
  • “And Saul commanded his servants, ‘Communicate with David secretly, and say, ‘Look, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you’ (vs. 22).
  • “Thus Saul saw and knew . . . that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him” (vs. 28).

Wisely

  • “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely” (vs. 5).
  • “And David behaved wisely in all his ways” (vs. 14).
  • “Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely . . .” (vs. 15).
  • “And so it was, wherever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul” (vs. 30).

Afraid

  • “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul” (vs. 12).
  • “Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him” (vs. 15).
  • “and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually” (vs. 29).

Pleased / Displeased

  • “Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” (vs. 9)
  • “Now Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. So Saul said, ‘I will give her to him, that she may be a snare to him . . . ‘” (vs. 20-21)
  • “So when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to become the king’s son-in-law” (vs. 26).

The LORD was with him

  • “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul” (vs. 12).
  • “And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him” (vs. 14).
  • “Thus Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David” (vs. 28).

Esteemed

  • “And David said, ‘Does it seem to you a light thing to be a king’s son-in-law, seeing I am a poor and lightly esteemed man?'” (vs. 23)
  • “And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (vs. 30).

What’s also interesting is that a lot of these words are grouped together; they are all interrelated. Compare the following chunks:

“Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them” (vs. 12-16).

“Thus Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him; and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David’s enemy continually. Then the princes of the Philistines went out to war. And so it was, whenever they went out, that David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul, so that his name became highly esteemed” (vs. 38-30).

 

The repetitive words actually serve to show stark contrasts in this chapter.

Who loved David?

Jonathan did. All Israel and Judah did. Michal did. Presumably Saul’s servants did. Basically everyone did except King Saul, the person that you would think should love him the most.

Who was afraid, and why?

Saul was afraid of David because (1) the LORD was with David, but not with Saul, (2) David behaved very wisely, and (3) David had earned the love of even Saul’s daughter Michal.

What caused pleasure and displeasure in this chapter?

Saul was displeased when David was honored over him, but he was pleased when a plan seemed to present itself to get David out of the way. On the other hand, David was pleased to “earn” his wife by taking vengeance on the enemies of his king.

What is said about esteem?

Even though David was rising in fame and popularity, he remained humble, even referring to himself as “poor and lightly esteemed.” Perhaps that was because he realized Saul did not esteem him. But yet, he had a standing offer to become Saul’s son-in-law, and he did not see himself worthy to take on the offer – in spite of the fact that it was his due reward for killing Goliath in the previous chapter (see 17:25, where the champion was promised rewards of great riches, Saul’s daughter as wife, and exemption from taxes).

But as the last verse points out, David was in fact “highly esteemed” because of his great wisdom. Someone said to me recently that a good leader doesn’t realize he’s becoming a leader – I don’t know if that’s always the case, but I think that may have been at least somewhat true in David’s.

What was the result of the LORD being with David?

Almost everyone was drawn to David. Everyone, that is, except Saul. The king realized that God was with David, but not with himself, and he responded by pushing David away. He

  • attempts to kill him openly (vs. 9) and secretly (vs. 17-25),
  • demotes him from being in charge of the entire army to being the captain of only a thousand (assuming I’m understanding vs. 5 and 13 correctly), and
  • removes him from his presence (vs. 13), and
  • fears him (vs. 12, 15, 29).

I was reminded of John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

I think Saul was afraid of David, not only because he thought David was going to take over the kingdom, but because he was convicted by the light he saw in the young man’s life.

If we are truly lights shining in the darkness, we will experience the same reactions that David did. Some people will be drawn to the light – and others will push us away and retreat further into the darkness. It is not within our control to determine how people will respond. All we can do is keep shining – don’t hide your lamp under a bushel; don’t let Satan blow it out. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

David is a great example of someone to look up to. After all, he was “the man after God’s own heart.” He was filled with the Spirit. He walked in wisdom. He lived in humility – demonstrated both by his words and his hesitation to be married to the princess. He was diligent, going above and beyond what was required – when Saul asked him to kill 100 Philistines, David killed 200 (in contrast to Saul, David not only fulfilled the command, but exceeded it).

And think how loyal, forgiving, and compassionate he was! In this chapter alone we have seen Saul try to kill, demote him, and remove him from his presence. In addition to that, Saul has not been very good at keeping his promises. David calls himself a poor man, and so Saul doesn’t ask a dowry of him – but how could David be so poor if Saul had given him the “great riches” promised in chapter 17? Also, the second part of that reward was to marry Saul’s daughter, but daughter #1 gets married off to someone else, and in the case of both daughter #1 and daughter #2, Saul wants David to go off and fight some battles first. I doubt all those extra requirements were written in the fine print of his reward notices back in chapter 17.

And yet, in spite of all that Saul does to him, David remains loyal! He truly “turns the other cheek,” which is remarkable especially in Old Testament times, when people still lived by the Old Covenant principle “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

David had amazing character!

Just as David represented the LORD well, so should we.

I ask myself:

  • Am I reflecting Christ in my life as well as David reflected God in his?
  • Would people be able to say of me, “The LORD is with her?”
  • Does my light so shine before men that they see my good works and glorify my Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16)?

 

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