Two Spears and Two Daughters

(Concerning First Samuel Chapter Eighteen)

Chapters eighteen, nineteen and twenty constitute another triad of chapters. They are the “Spears of Saul” triad.

First Samuel 18

“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”
(1 Samuel 18:1)

Saul talked. Jonathan became one in spirit.

A question presents itself: If Jonathan had been willing to climb a cliff with a virtual “firing squad” of twenty Philistines at the top, why didn’t he take on Goliath?

I believe Jonathan had made the connection in his spirit that every time he trusted God, and God really moved, something weird would happen to his father. In chapter thirteen, Jonathan attacked the Philistines, and his father was rebuked by Samuel shortly thereafter. Jonathan then tried to fix things by taking his armor bearer with him and attacking the Philistines again. The result was that his father spoke a death curse that was supposed to result in the death of either Saul or Jonathan. I don’t think it was clear in Jonathan’s mind, but the presence of the Lord was consistently bringing Saul to a place of judgment that was painful for his loving and loyal son to see. I believe he hesitated when Goliath challenged Israel because he couldn’t bear to see a rerun of the kind of fiascos that had transpired in chapters thirteen and fourteen.

Jonathan was extremely courageous. He did not, however, fully understand a concept that Jesus later spelled out for us. It goes something like this: “if you’re going to love God, you will have to be ready to do some things that will make it appear that you hate some of your family members,” (my translation). If Jonathan could have mustered the faith to “hate” his father, he would have been able to save him, as we will see. He would also have saved himself.

“From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house.” (1 SAM 18:2)

(This was supposed to have been David’s reward when he got rid of Saul’s demon.)

“And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” (1 SAM 18:3)

Jonathan’s again gave away his sword. He would have given David his position as heir to the throne, had he that option. Jonathan’s “David heart” guided him faithfully.

“Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well. When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with tambourines and lutes. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” (1 SAM 18:5-9)

Again, Saul’s god was the praise of man, (in this case, of women!) The kingship for Saul was only a means to the end of receiving the adulation of the masses.

“The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand.” (1 SAM 18:10)

Most commentators say “prophesying” in contexts like this has reference to an ecstatic utterance of praise. (See First Samuel 10:5). This seems to fit. Saul was “prophesying” while David was playing. “As he usually did” means this was not the first time this had happened. I believe Saul got free from the evil spirit that was “terrifying” him by worshipping God with David, but Saul wasn’t able to worship the Lord when a sacrifice of his own flesh was being called for. He desired more than anything else to be praised by his men. Though David’s ratings with the singers put murder in Saul’s heart, somehow this didn’t stop Saul from “prophesying”. Sadly, the one thing that was delivering him from fear before (the worship of God) had now become something he was faking in order to try to “rub out” his main competition for the people’s praise! Thus, his fear of man had cut off his only avenue of deliverance from the fear of man.

Consequently, the “evil spirit” (an intelligent, though diabolical entity) came on him forcefully. The spirit was “from God” because it was coming because of Who God Is. (At the same time, because of “Who God Is,” it was thwarted in its effort to kill David!) The original Hebrew here is something like, “David was playing the harp with his hand, while Saul held a spear in his hand.” The contrast is dramatic. The thing in their hands was also in their hearts.

“and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.” (1 Samuel 18:11)

Pinning someone to the wall is an extreme picture of ultimate control, which is witchcraft. Saul was trying to control his perceived problems by his carnal strength. Also, he was attacking David with a spear while the boy was worshipping Jehovah. This was Tall Goliath’s mistake. The giant intended to skewer the boy carrying an altar, (wood, stones, and an animal skin). All the confidence of Philistia was vested in Goliath.

Similarly, Israel had asked for a king …”such as all the other nations have….” Enter Tall Saul, the one in whom they had vested all their hopes. The “wrath of God” on Israel was to give them what they asked for. Goliath was the logical end of a road on which a Saul is the beginning. By insisting on a king …”such as all the other nations have…” Israel, God’s Covenant people, got a king who persecuted the king God had intended to give them. If Abraham and Sarah could have stood being childless a little longer, Isaac would not have had to grow up in the dark shadow of “tall Ishmael.” The Nation Israel in Saul’s day bumped its head on the same rock that their forebears had when they refused to wait for a king. At this point in Israel’s history they were being confronted with the consequences of their impatience.

…”David eluded him twice.”

David believed that if God had promised him something that was as yet unfulfilled, then he couldn’t die till it happened. David was totally aware that he had been promised the kingship, insofar as being unafraid of death was concerned. On another level, David was oblivious to the fact that he was supposed to be king. He acted as though Saul was the best thing since sliced bread! He was continually trying to shepherd Saul from a stance of total meekness. Though Saul threw the spear twice, David didn’t even leave the premises. He was totally devoid of fear. Saul, by contrast:

“Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had left Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:12)

David seemed to have much to fear, and feared nothing. Saul had nothing to fear, and feared the very one trying to help him most!

“So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns.”(1 Samuel 18:13)

This verse confirms that David did not even leave Saul’s presence when he threw the spear at him a second time. David was still there for Saul to send out.

“In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.” ( (1 Samuel 18:14-15)

David was destroying the thing that threatened Saul most, the Philistines, and yet this made Saul more afraid.

“But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord .” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!” (1 Samuel 18:16-17)

Merab was supposed to have been given to David as part of his reward for killing Goliath. Saul did not have enough character to keep his word. David had too much character to remind him of his obligation, though he had twice confirmed what his reward was to be before he slew the giant. Saul was saying, “If you will keep killing lots of Philistines, I’ll give her to you. “Merab” means “increase.” Saul presumed David was like himself. He presumed he would jump at the chance to “increase” his status by marrying the king’s daughter. Saul also believed in odds. He thought that if he could keep David on the front lines, his luck would run out and eventually he’d be killed. David didn’t believe in odds. He believed in God.

“But David said to Saul, ‘Who am I, and what is my family or my father’s clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?’”
(1 Samuel 18:18)

It is clear that David knew Merab was owed to him, and yet his humility was so great that he did not let himself know what he knew too much. This was similar to his full awareness that he was to be king, and yet on another level, it was the furtherest thing from his mind. The David heart is a pure heart. He considered himself and his family totally unqualified for royalty, and yet he, along with most of Israel, was aware that the first king was supposed to come from Judah, David’s tribe. (Genesis 49:10). It is a good thing not to know what you know too much. The father of John the Baptist was told that John was the fulfillment of the one coming in the spirit of Elijah, (Luke 1:17). So John, doubtless, also knew. Yet when he was asked if he was the “Elijah,” he seemed to not know that he was, (John 1:21). Did you hear about the guy who received a medal for being humble, but he was wise enough not to wear it? Don’t know what you know too much.

“So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.”
(1 Samuel 18:19)

David’s humility delivered him from a snare, (being married to Saul’s daughter), and it is implied that Saul agreed that, “Yeah, David’s right. He probably isn’t good enough to be my son-in-law.”

“Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.’” (1 Samuel 18:20-21)

Saul at this point set a new record for attempts at manipulation. His plan was to kill David by the Hand of Jehovah! His concept of God was so low that he didn’t believe God knew what he, (Saul), was doing or why. He saw God as an angry, raging force to be controlled to one’s own advantage. Though he surely wasn’t thinking about it this way, he was trying to trick Jehovah like David tricked Goliath! He believed that if David became one flesh with a wicked woman, (Michal, his daughter, was a full fledged idol worshipper, as we will see), that God would blindly pour out His wrath on him! This was extreme presumption! It is similar to the attitude of a person who might rub blood on someone and then throw them into a shark tank in order to kill them. Saul saw God as a mindless shark, an impersonal, unreasoning force! Wild as this mindset sounds, it’s not so very far from the madness of the man who can praise God while taking aim at the worship leader! Have you ever gone through the motions in a worship service while resenting, or lusting after, or envying someone on the worship team? I have. God help me! Saul was terribly and tragically wrong about Who God Is. And yet he had a basic insight in another area we would do well to partake of ourselves: Few of us understand how true it is that in marital union the souls of the partners are somehow mingled.

For example:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16)

Obviously these passages do not mean two people are physically grafted into one body. This means that somehow the flesh minds, (the souls), of sex partners become one. The single most difficult concept in this book for you to accept will likely be this: God chose to let Saul succeed in doing something to David that was exceedingly useful in demonstrating His ways. Said differently, what happens to David will show us dramatically Who God Really Is, and what a heart that is after His Heart looks like. The thing Saul succeeded in doing was this: he made David temporarily like himself. Sleeping with Michal caused David to temporarily believe in outward appearances. After he was away from her for a time, (maybe three days), David would suddenly wake up and revert to the David heart again. More on this later. Consider also the following verses where the marital relationship is compared to drinking water:

Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. (Proverbs 5:15-18)

An hour after you drink a glass of water, it is present in every cell of your body. You and the glass of water will have become one. Now, back to our story:

“Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king is pleased with you, and his attendants all like you; now become his son-in-law.’ ” They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.” (1 Samuel 18:22-23)

Insofar as David was “poor,” it was only so because the “great wealth” promised him for killing Goliath had not been forthcoming. However, the fact that Saul was his debtor was far from David’s mind. He was also well-known for his exploits by this time, though he desired man’s praise so little, he had not noticed his new status. Also, he was again oblivious to the fact that Saul already owed him a daughter.

“When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’ ” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.
(1 Samuel 18:24-25)

Though David had already paid for Michal with Goliath’s head, Saul offered him a conditional sales contract whereby he could pay for her again. He believed that the odds would have to catch up with David, his luck would run out, and a Philistine spear would find the target his own spear had missed. We will see in verse 26 that in addition to these conditions, Saul actually put a time limit on his offer in order that David would be under time pressure.

In chapter fourteen Saul called a carnal fast in which he said: “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” He had spoken of his motive as holy vengeance, though it was really a hunger for status. The result was that a tremendous move of God was hobbled, partly because his troops were made physically weak. In this passage he was again giving holy vengeance as his motive and he was again actually working to shore up his status. The result this time was going to turn out to be similar to the previous time, for David, a living, walking, breathing “move of God,” was about to be made spiritually weak. Before, the fast resulted in Saul pronouncing a death curse on himself. This time, the curse he is able to put into effect on David will weaken David’s ability to oppose the Philistines. Thus the Philistines were restrained less than they would have been, and they were ultimately able to kill Saul, which fulfilled the curse Saul had spoken on himself in chapter 14. This is how curses actually work. To defy the ways of the Giver of Life is to embrace death.

“When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.” (1 Samuel 18:26-27)

Saul must have been stunned that David’s luck had not run out, even when David killed twice as many Philistines as he had asked for, and within “the allotted time.” But he still had another card up his sleeve. He believed that when David actually began to sleep with Michal, he would become like her, and thus he would incur the wrath of Jehovah.

As an aside, I believe David taking 200 Philistines foreskins is a picture of the Son of David. The Christ had to be able to deal with the filth of the flesh in order to take a bride to His side. He will do twice as good a job as the flesh ever dared ask for, and He will do it …”before the allotted time [has] elapsed.” He will have a bride …”without spot or wrinkle.”

“When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days. The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.” (1 Samuel 18:28-30)