v1 David finished talking with Saul. Jonathan, Saul’s son, became a very close friend with David. Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself. v2 Saul kept David with him from that day. He did not let David go home to his father’s house. v3 Jonathan loved David so much that he made a special agreement with him. v4 Jonathan was wearing a coat. He took the coat off and gave it to David. He also gave David his *armour, including his sword, his bow and his belt. v5 David did whatever Saul asked him to do. And he was successful. So Saul made David an officer in his army. This pleased all of Saul’s officers and people.
The events of these verses happened over a period. Saul was happy with David because he was successful over the *Philistines. David did not go back to look after his father’s sheep any more. Instead, he lived with Saul and his family. David and Saul’s son Jonathan became good friends. Their friendship was much stronger than normal. In chapter 20, this friendship saved David’s life.
The name for the ‘special agreement’ in verse 3 was a ‘covenant’. This was a promise that they made in front of God. Therefore, they could never break this promise. They had to be loyal to each other and to their children (see 20:42).
Jonathan was the king’s son. When a king died, his son became king. In verse 4, Jonathan’s coat was his royal coat. He gave it to David. This showed that David would become king instead of Jonathan. Jonathan was not jealous of David. He even gave David his *armour. Jonathan’s *armour protected his life. But he believed that David’s life was more important than his was. Jonathan was not selfish. He was a true friend and was willing to die for David. This shows how much he loved David.
David was successful because God gave him success. Everyone liked David. They were pleased that he led Saul’s army.
Saul becomes jealous of David
v6 After David had killed Goliath, he and the soldiers returned home. Women came out from all the towns in *Israel to meet king Saul. The women sang songs of joy and danced. They played musical instruments too. v7 This is what they sang as they danced;
‘Saul has killed thousands of his enemies.
And David has killed tens of thousands of his enemies’.
v8 Saul did not like this song. He became very angry. He thought, ‘The women say that David has killed tens of thousands of men. But they say that I have only killed thousands of men. Perhaps they will want David as their king’. v9 Saul became jealous of David from that day.
v10 The next day an evil spirit from the *Lord took sudden control of Saul. He behaved like a mad man in his house. David played his *harp as he usually did. But Saul had a *spear in his hand. v11 Saul threw the *spear. He tried to pin David to the wall. But David escaped from him twice.
v12 Saul was afraid of David. The *Lord was with David. But the *Lord had left Saul. v13 So Saul sent David away from him. He made David the leader of 1000 soldiers. David led them in battle. v14David had success in everything because the *Lord was with him. v15 Saul saw that David had great success. Saul became more afraid of him. v16 All the *Israelites loved David because he was a good leader.
From this time on, Saul’s relationship with David became bad. Saul tried to kill David many times in the years ahead. But David always gave Saul honour as king and never hurt him. Saul was not a confident man. He was afraid of what other people thought about him (15:24, 30). In those days, when an army had success in a battle, the women came to meet the men. The women were proud that the men had success. They were happy that the men were still alive. So they sang and danced. They also praised the leaders of the army. Saul was the most important leader so they put his name first. But they said that David had killed ‘tens of thousands’ of his enemies. The women were not comparing Saul and David. Their song was like a poem that praised both leaders. *Hebrew poetry (poetry of the *Israelite people) used numbers to emphasise something. Usually the numbers were not exact. Deuteronomy 32:30 and Psalm 91:7 are examples of this. What the women really meant was, ‘Saul and David have killed many thousands of their enemies’. But Saul was afraid that David was more popular than he was. Saul knew that God had chosen a new king (15:28). Saul still wanted to be the king.
Saul became jealous of David. He was angry enough with David to kill him. In Genesis chapter 4, Cain became jealous of his brother Abel and killed him. In the *New Testament, Jesus warns us that anger is like murder (Matthew 5:21-22). This time when the evil spirit controlled Saul, David’s music did not make Saul calm. Instead, Saul twice tried to kill David. Verse 12 says that Saul was afraid of David. In fact, Saul was afraid of the *Lord who protected David. Saul had known the *Lord’s success and protection in the past. But the *Lord had left him. Saul was afraid that everyone would leave him and follow David. Saul did not want to see David so he sent him away. Saul hoped that David would die in his battles. But God gave David more success and he became more popular. This made Saul more afraid.
David marries Saul’s daughter
v17 Saul said to David, ‘Here is my oldest daughter Merab. I will let you marry her. But you must be a brave soldier and fight the *Lord’s battles’. Saul thought to himself, ‘I will not have to kill David. The *Philistines will do that’.
v18 But David said to Saul, ‘I, my family and my father’s *tribe are not very important in *Israel. I can not become the king’s son-in-law’. v19 The time came for Merab to marry David. Instead, Saul gave her to Adriel from Meholah as his wife.
v20 Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David. When Saul heard about this, he was very pleased. v21 He thought, ‘I will let David marry her. She will be a trap for him. Then the *Philistines will defeat him’. So Saul said to David, ‘Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law’.
v22 Saul told his servants to talk to David in private and say, ‘The king is pleased with you. His servants like you. You should be his son-in-law now’.
v23 Saul’s servants said this to David. But David said, ‘It is a great honour to become the king’s son-in-law. But I am poor. I am not an important person’.
v24 Saul’s servants told Saul what David had said. v25 Saul said, ‘Tell David this. The king does not want him to pay money for his bride. He can pay for his bride with the foreskins of 100 dead *Philistines. This will punish Saul’s enemies’. Saul planned all this. He thought that the *Philistines would kill David.
v26 Saul’s servants told David these things. David was pleased that he would become the king’s son-in-law. They arranged a date for the wedding. v27 Before this date David and his men went and killed 200 *Philistines. He brought all their foreskins to Saul. David could become the king’s son-in-law. So, Saul had to let David marry his daughter Michal.
v28 Saul realised that the *Lord was with David. He knew that his daughter Michal loved David. v29 Saul became more afraid of him. Saul was David’s enemy for the rest of his life.
v30 The *Philistine army leaders continued to go and fight the *Israelites. In every battle, David had more success than Saul’s other army leaders. So David became famous.
Saul had not yet kept his promise to the man who killed Goliath (17:25). Now, he offered his daughter to David as his wife. But Saul did not do it as David’s reward. Saul said that he wanted a brave son-in-law. Instead, he wanted the *Philistines to kill David. It was a very great honour to marry the king’s daughter. David was not part of a royal family. He looked after sheep. He had earned this reward but he was a humble man. Saul accepted what David said and gave his daughter to another man. (2 Samuel 21:8-9 says that Adriel and Merab had 5 sons.)
David had a second chance to marry one of Saul’s daughters. And Saul saw this as another chance to kill David. Saul sent his servants to persuade David to marry Michal. Although Saul had tried to kill David, David wanted to become his son-in-law. Michal loved David. David repeated that he was not an important person. But he also said, ‘I am poor’. In this country, a woman was valuable to her father because she did work. So a man had to pay money to the father of his new wife. This is still a custom in some countries today. The man had to pay more money if his wife came from an important family. Saul did not want money. He wanted David to kill 100 *Philistines before the wedding. This time Saul was certain that the *Philistines would kill David. But David killed twice as many *Philistines as Saul had asked. He brought their foreskins to Saul as evidence. A foreskin is the loose piece of skin at the end of a man’s sex part. So David married Michal.
Saul became more and more afraid. The *Lord was with David. He gave him more success than any other leader. Saul’s son and daughter (Jonathan and Michal) both loved David. All the *Israelites loved David too (verse 16). Saul never started to follow God again. He did not admit that he had *sinned. Instead, he became more jealous and more afraid. He never had peace from God. Verse 29 says that Saul was David’s enemy for the rest of his life. However, David was never Saul’s enemy. He always gave Saul honour.