1One day, Saul told his son Jonathan and his officers to kill David. But Jonathan and David were best friends, 2-3and he warned David, “My father is trying to have you killed, so be very careful. Hide in a field tomorrow morning, and I'll bring him there. Then I'll talk to him about you, and if I find out anything, I'll let you know.”
4-5The next morning, Jonathan reminded Saul about the many good things David had done for him. Then he said, “Why do you want to kill David? He hasn't done anything to you. He has served in your army and has always done what's best for you. He even risked his life to kill Goliath. The Lord helped Israel win a great victory that day, and it made you happy.”
6Saul agreed and promised, “I swear by the living Lord that I won't have David killed!”
7Jonathan went to David and told him what Saul had said. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in Saul's army just as he had done before.
8The next time there was a war with the Philistines, David fought hard and forced them to retreat.
Michal Helps David Escape
9-10One night, David was in Saul's home, playing the harp for him. Saul was sitting there, holding a spear, when an evil spirit from the Lord took control of him. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but David dodged, and it stuck in the wall. David ran out of the house and escaped.
11 Saul sent guards to watch David's house all night and then to kill him in the morning.
Michal, David's wife, told him, “If you don't escape tonight, they'll kill you tomorrow!” 12She helped David leave through a window and climb down to the ground. As David ran off, 13Michal put a statue in his bed. She put goat hair on its head and dressed it in some of David's clothes.
14The next morning, Saul sent guards to arrest David. But Michal told them, “David is sick.”
15Saul sent the guards back and told them, “Bring David to me—bed and all—so I can kill him.”
16When the guards went in, all they found in the bed was the statue with the goat hair on its head.
17“Why have you tricked me this way?” Saul asked Michal. “You helped my enemy get away!”
She answered, “He said he would kill me if I didn't help him escape!”
Samuel Helps David Escape
18Meanwhile, David went to Samuel at Ramah and told him what Saul had done. Then Samuel and David went to Prophets Village and stayed there.
19Someone told Saul, “David is at Prophets Village in Ramah.”
20Saul sent a few soldiers to bring David back. They went to Ramah and found Samuel in charge of a group of prophets who were all prophesying. Then the Spirit of God took control of the soldiers and they started prophesying too.
21When Saul heard what had happened, he sent some more soldiers, but they prophesied just like the first group. He sent a third group of soldiers, but the same thing happened to them. 22Finally, Saul left for Ramah himself. He went as far as the deep pit at the town of Secu, and he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”
“At Prophets Village in Ramah,” the people answered.
23Saul left for Ramah. But as he walked along, the Spirit of God took control of him, and he started prophesying. Then, when he reached Prophets Village, 24 he stripped off his clothes and prophesied in front of Samuel. He dropped to the ground and lay there naked all that day and night. That's how the saying started, “Is Saul now a prophet?”
How does this story relate to the commandment “Honour your father and your mother”? (Deuteronomy 5:16) What if one of your parents is an addict, mentally ill or demonized? How can you honour them? The obvious and general teaching is to honour your parents, but there are limitations to honouring parents that are incapacitated in some way. Jonathan understood this principle as he respectfully but persistently challenged his father Saul.
The violent jealousy of Saul persists, creating great tension and problems for his son Jonathan and for his daughter Michal who had become David’s wife (18:27, 28). Saul is in a “no win” situation with his own family. Michal deceives him to protect her husband David who flees to the prophet Samuel who had anointed him to be the next king about 15 years prior to this crisis.
God protects David supernaturally by causing Saul’s messengers and even Saul himself to prophesy in spite of their intended mission of death. Mathew Henry says, “They joined with the rest in praising God. Instead of seizing David, they themselves were seized.” They were overcome by the Spirit of God who caused them to declare the good things of God instead of the words of deadly mission they set out to accomplish.
From a human perspective David’s rise to power is chaotic and full of unexpected and strange turns. But God is accomplishing his purposes. In this respect David’s story is like the story of Joseph in Genesis. “God was with him.” (Genesis 39:2; compare 1 Samuel 18:14). If we are Christians this promise is for us too (John 14:16).
Father, even if I can’t understand everything that happens to me, help me to see my life as an unfolding of your purposes for me. Amen.