I’m betwixt in my daily commentary of 1Sam. In chpt 18 are the beginnings of at least three significant stories that will stretch many years into the future, one of which will even apply to us today and future generations at least until the Second Coming of Christ and perhaps for a thousand years beyond that. That being said, I would like to focus on the conflict of Saul versus David. I will cover, Lord willing, the other two stories later: the covenant of Jonathan and David in chapter 20, and the tragedy of Michal and David in chapter 19.
It is apparent that chapter 18 begins immediately upon the conclusion of chapter 17. “And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (17:58, 18:1) All is good and well and the air is filled with the sweet smell of victory and everyone, including the king, is rejoicing over David’s defeat of Goliath along with the host of Israel’s subsequent win over the army of the Philistines. (19:5) But though the Philistines were defeated, that great enemy of God’s people, the Sun of the Morning, was not. His destruction would require the work of Christ Himself.
I mention Satan as I can see some of the telltale signs of his devices at work in chpt 18. In fact by the end of chapter 18, it says this, “and Saul became David’s enemy continually.” So what would cause King Saul to turn on his champion and future son-in-law? What traitorous deed did David do? Exactly what sin did he commit that he would eye “David from that day and forward” and eventually do his best to kill him? The answer is clear. Look in v. 8. “And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?” How about that? Envy was the cause, but ironically it was not David’s envy of Saul being king that was the sin; it was Saul’s envy of David’s popularity that was the problem. I say popularity, but would glory, or honor, or more excellent praise be more accurate? Maybe all would apply. See v. 5.
Now, I really don’t know if the Devil had a hand in this or not. Our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We do well enough on our own to do evil without instigation from the Devil. But the scripture does say to watch out and guard against him, so I mention it here. But envy is what moved King Saul against David contrary to the will of God. Unfortunately, it still moves us in the church today if we give sway to the flesh. What did Paul say “to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” at the church in Corinth? His warning to the church was, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2Cor 10:12) I think the primary application of this verses has to do with schism in the church, but all too often we find ourselves looking at what other brethren are doing or have done with the same evil eye of envy that Saul had towards David.
We forget Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1Cor 3:1-6)
Remember a guy named Diotrephes? “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” Man, that sounds ugly. Well, envy is just that. Ugly. At the crucifixion of Christ we can read these words describing Pilate’s evaluation of the Jews motivations, “For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” How can anything so ugly be found in the church? Oh yes, I know, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal 5:17) The works of the flesh are then listed in Galatians, but it’s too long a list for our purposes here. Just know this, that envy is one of them. (v. 21)
Other than not fulfilling the works of the flesh, but instead walking in the Spirit, how does this apply? Two things come to mind. One, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Rom 12:15) Edify, build up the brethren. Trust in the Lord to honor you in due time and if He pleases. Ditch the “It’s all about me” attitude. Two, Look for things that the church needs you to do. Make yourself available. Clean toilets. Vacuum floors, Wipe tables. Fix a door. Visit someone in the hospital. Teach a class. Whatever is needed. I remember when a dog had crawled into the bushes next to the assembly building and died. And days later you could smell it the second you entered the building. The word putrefaction comes to mind. Brother Brian, an elder at the time, removed the dog before service and in time to make things liveable for the meetings. I remember overhearing a comment he made about it later. “If I’m not willing to do it, then how can I ask someone else to do it?” That’s leadership. That’s being a servant. That’s a pattern for us to follow.
Let’s not ever find ourselves being like Saul. Let’s be a David. “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.” 1Sam 18:14