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Steadfast Love (1 Samuel 18-20)

Series: 1 Samuel

As Saul, David, and the armies of Israel returned home from the decisive victory over Phil is tia, the crowds were roaring and the women were singing and dancing. All Israel had been in terrible fear, but God was with David and he slayed Goliath - enabling Israel to put the whole Philistine army to flight. But as they drew nearer to the city, the chorus of the women's victory song became dear, "Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

 

The women meant no criticism against Saul, but that's how he heard it. He was furious. "What more can David have but the Kingdom?" And from that day on, Saul eyed David.

 

The very next day, a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul. He was raving in his house while David played the lyre. In his rage and jealousy, he hurled his spear at David, but David evaded him twice.

 

But even when Saul was not afflicted by the spirit, he was not in his right mind. He saw the LORD was with David, but not him, so he removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. But Saul continued to hear of David's success in all his battles because of God's presence with David. Saul's jealousy grew into fearful awe. David meant him no wrong, but Saul only saw him as a threat. At this point, you can start to see clear parallels between the religious leaders in Jesus' day and Saul.

 

David was supposed to marry Saul's eldest daughter, but she was given to another man. But Saul heard that his younger daughter, Michal, loved David. So he devised a plan. He sent messengers to David, "Saul loves you and he wants you to be his son-in-law." David was perplexed. Saul tried to kill him, then gave his daughter to another man, now he wants David to be his son-in-law?" Who am I anyway that I should marry the king's daughter." We must remember: David has done great stuff, but he's still probably a teenager and considers himself to be a poor nobody. A lot of this has happened really, really quick.

 

So, Saul sent messengers again: provide me 100 foreskins of Philistines, then you can have my daughter. Saul thought the Philistines might kill him. But no, David and his men slew 200 Philistines and brought 200 foreskins to Saul. So David married Michal, but when Saul saw that the Lord was still with David and that Michal loved David, Saul became even more afraid of him. And they became enemies of each other.

 

Now, Jonathan, the son of Saul, loved David. David and Jonathan had made a covenant with each other. Jonathan had even given David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt-symbolizing a giving up of his position to David.

 

David's success against the Philistines grew and grew, and so did Saul's paranoia. He finally took council with Jonathan and his servants — no more covert plans, it was time to kill David. But Jonathan went to Saul," what has David done against you? the Lord worked salvation through him and you are benefitting from his work, why would you sin against innocent blood?"

 

Saul listened and swore, "As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death. So David returned to playing the lyre for Saul. But war arose again and David struck the Philistines with a great blow. Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, so David played the lyre for him. Then Saul sought to strike David, but David fled and escaped to his home. Michal loved David, but she knew he couldn't stay. Saul's messengers were outside his home watching him. "David, if you do not escape tonight, you will be dead by the morning." David has to be wondering "what is going on, man?" He escaped out the window while Michal covered for him — putting an image under the blankets in the bed and telling the men he was sick.

 

David escaped to the prophet Samuel. when Saul discovered where David was, he sent messengers to take David. Except when the messengers arrived and saw Samuel and the company of prophets prophesying, the Spirit of God came on the messengers and they started prophesying. When Saul heard what happened, he sent more messengers and they prophesied. He sent a third group of messengers and they also prophesied. Saul was bound and determined to kill David. Neither David nor Samuel nor God will stand between him and his throne. So Saul went to get the job done himself. Except the spirit of God came upon Saul too! He stripped off his clothes and lay naked all that day and night-prophesying before Samuel.

 

This embarrassing delay gave David the opportunity to run to the only other person he could truly trust: Jonathan, son of Saul. "Surely not!" said Jonathan.." My father tells me everything — there's no way he wants to harm you! why would he hide this from me?" "Jonathan, your father knows of your love for me. I swear-there is only a step between me and death." Finally, Jonathan said, "I’ll do anything." David replied, "Our monthly feast with your father is tomorrow, and I never miss it, but this time I will skip it. Tell him I just went home for an annual celebration with my family and see how he reacts. Jonathan, you have cut a covenant with me, if I have sinned, kill me right now yourself."

 

Jonathan swore, "David, may this never be so. Lord, God of Israel, be a witness between us! if my father wants to harm you, I will tell you. Furthermore, I know that one day the LORD will cut off every one of your enemies - may he take vengeance on them! But David, whether I am alive or dead, you had better not stop showing your covenantal, loyal love to me and my house. "David swore to it. And so, David and Jonathan prepared a plan for Jonathan and David to meet so Jonathan could tell David if Saul really planned harm, against David, or if Saul was just having more bad "episodes!

 

The next day came and David was — as planned — missing from the monthly new moon feast with Saul, Jonathan, and Abner. Saul thought, "Surely he is just ceremonially unclean, surely," and he said nothing. But when David was missing the second day he said, "Jonathan, why hasn't the son of Jesse come yesterday or today?" So Jonathan said, "Oh, he has an annual feast with his family he asked to go to." And with that, Saul lost it. "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman — you think I don't know you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and the shame of your mother? As long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Bring him to me, he will surely die!” Jonathan was furious. "Why? what has David done?!" And Saul launched his spear and narrowly missed Jonathan. Jonathan left in anger and ate no food.

 

The next morning Jonathan went out into the field where David was to secretly give him the news. When they knew none of Saul's minions were around, David and Jonathan fell on each other and wept, but David wept all the more. Then Jonathan said, "Go in peace. We have sworn that the Lord is between my offspring and your offspring forever.” And with that, David fled. And it was years before he ever had any peace again.

 

SUBMITTING TO 1 SAMUEL 18-20

So much happens in this episode, but I believe it has been carefully crafted to show us the devastating grip of sin through Saul and the beautiful comfort of steadfast love through Jonathan. It shows us how we actually destroy ourselves by fighting for ourselves, but we find love and security when everything around us falls when we selflessly love those we are committed to. Let’s take it one step at a time. This text teaches us to...

1. Beware of Satan's grip.

2. It’s not about you or me, but God's will and God's kingdom.

3. Embody self-giving, steadfast, covenant love (not contract)

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