The Word Made Fresh
1Saul tried to persuade his son Jonathan and his other servants to kill David, but Jonathan and David were best friends 2and he told David, “My father Saul is planning to kill you, so be on guard tomorrow morning and hide in a safe place. 3I will take my father out to the field where you are hiding to speak with him about you. I’ll let you know if I find out anything.”
4Jonathan praised David to his father. He said, “The king should do no harm to his servant David because he has done nothing against you and has done things that benefit you. 5He risked his own life to fight the Philistine and the LORD gave Israel a great victory that day. You saw it yourself and you were pleased with what David had done. Why then harm an innocent man? You would be killing David for no good reason whatever.”
6Saul listened to Jonathan and was convinced and told him, “As the LORD lives, David shall not be put to death.”
7Then Jonathan found David and told him what Saul had said. He brought David to Saul, and David served Saul as he had before.
8War with the Philistines erupted again and David went out to fight. He led an attack on them and they ran from him. 9But the LORD put Saul in a bad mood as he sat in his house one day, spear in hand, while David was playing music. 10He tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but David ducked, and the spear went into the wall. David slipped out that night and ran.
11Saul planned to kill David the next morning and sent men to David’s house to watch him. David’s wife Michal said to him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, you’ll be dead tomorrow.” 12She let him out through a window and he ran away. 13Then she placed a religious idol in the bed, put goats’ hair on its head and covered it with some of David’s clothes. 14When Saul sent men to capture David, she told them he was sick. 15Saul sent them back to see David for themselves and told them, “Bring him to me in the bed, and I’ll kill him myself.”
16They returned to Michal and went in to get David and found the idol in the bed with the goats’ hair wig. 17Then Saul asked his daughter, “Why have you tricked me? You let my enemy escape.”
Michal answered, “He told me he would kill me if I didn’t let him go.”
18David ran to Samuel at Ramah and told Samuel what Saul was trying to do. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and hid there. 19But Saul got word that they were there, 20and sent men to capture David. When they arrived, they saw a group of prophets in a spiritual trance, with Samuel in the middle of them, and God’s spirit overcame Saul’s men and they fell into a trance as well. 21When word got back to Saul he sent other messengers, and the same thing happened to them. 22So, Saul went to Ramah himself. When he got to the well outside the city he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” They told him, “At Naioth in Ramah.”
23Saul went toward Naioth and God’s spirit overcame him while he was going, and he fell into a trance while he traveled to Naioth in Ramah. 24He stripped off his clothes and fell to the ground, shaking, before Samuel. He lay there naked all that day and all night.
Then people everywhere were asking, “Is Saul a prophet, too?”
1-7: Saul speaks of killing David, but Jonathan defends him, reminding Saul of David’s victory over Goliath. Momentarily Saul relaxes and David is able to go about freely.
8-10: A lot happens in these three verses. War flares again with the Philistines. David drives them back in a pitched battle. Then, obviously much later, David is playing music in Saul’s presence and Saul slings a spear at him, but David dodges it. This is not the first time Saul’s rage has become murderous (see 18:11). David runs out of the house.
11-17: Saul has David’s house watched, but Michal helps him escape. In a scene that should throw up all kinds of red flags, she places an idol in the bed to make it appear David is sleeping. The life-sized idol is a teraphim, a totem-pole representation of a pagan Canaanite god. Since the time of Jacob and Rachel household gods have been worshiped by the Israelites. They have never been able to completely rid the land of the worship of other gods. What’s worse for David at the moment is that his wife has told her father that he threatened to kill her if she didn’t help him escape. You just don’t tell your father that your husband has threatened to kill you if you’re trying to protect your husband!
18-24: What a strange story! David is at Naioth in Ramah with Samuel. Saul sends messengers to take him, but as soon as they arrive, they are overcome by a “prophetic frenzy” and cannot carry out their orders. A second group is sent with the same result, then a third. Finally, Saul himself goes, but before he arrives at Naioth, he, too, is in the same kind of trance, and falls naked and harmless at Samuel’s feet. Thus, the statement made earlier (15:35), that Samuel never saw Saul again, seems to have been inaccurate. However, the way the text reads we wonder if Saul realized he was in Samuel’s presence.
Saul has been in a prophetic frenzy before (see 10:10ff). That time the people asked, “Is Saul, too, among the prophets?” The rhetorical answer seemed then to be, “perhaps so.” But now it appears he has completely lost his sanity, and when the people ask, “Is Saul, too, among the prophets?” the rhetorical answer seems to be, “No. Saul is a sad, royal madman.”
Saul’s immaturity is his downfall. He simply cannot abide anyone else being more popular. Jealousy is a sinful attitude that arises out of self-doubt. Saul is guilty of thinking that his position as king is more important than his life as a child of God. Never elevate your position above yourself. You are a child of God; there is no higher station.