1 Samuel 19
Immediately after David's marriage, which one would have hoped would
secure him Saul's affection, we find his troubles coming upon him
faster than ever and Saul's enmity to him the cause of all. His death
was vowed, and four fair escapes of his from the hurtful sword of Saul
we have an account of in this chapter: the first by the prudent
mediation of Jonathan
(1 Samuel 19:1-7),
the second by his own quickness
(1 Samuel 19:8-10),
the third by Michal's fidelity
(1 Samuel 19:11-17),
the fourth by Samuel's protection, and a change, for the present,
wrought upon Saul,
1 Samuel 19:18-24.
Thus God has many ways of preserving his people. Providence is never at
|Saul's Jealousy of David; Jonathan's Intercession for David.
||B. C. 1058.|
1 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants,
that they should kill David.
2 But Jonathan Saul's son delighted much in David: and Jonathan
told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now
therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning,
and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself:
3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field
where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and
what I see, that I will tell thee.
4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and
said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against
David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his
works have been to thee-ward very good:
5 For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine,
and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou
sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin
against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?
6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul
sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.
7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those
things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his
presence, as in times past.
Saul and Jonathan appear here in their different characters, with
reference to David.
I. Never was enemy so unreasonably cruel as Saul. He spoke to his son
and all his servants that they should kill David,
1 Samuel 19:1.
His projects to take him off had failed, and therefore he proclaims him
an out-law, and charges all about him, upon their allegiance, to take
the first opportunity to kill David. It is strange that he was not
ashamed thus to avow his malice when he could give no reason for it,
and that knowing all his servants loved David (for so he had said
1 Samuel 18:22),
he was not afraid of provoking them to rebel by this bloody order.
Either malice was not then so politic, or justice was not so corrupted
as it has been since, or else Saul would have had him indicted, and
have suborned witnesses to swear treason against him, and so have had
him taken off, as Naboth was, by colour of law. But there is least
danger from this undisguised malice. It was strange that he who knew
how well Jonathan loved him should expect him to kill him; but he
thought that because he was heir to the crown he must needs be as
envious at David as himself was. And Providence ordered it thus that he
might befriend David's safety.
II. Never was friend so surprisingly kind as Jonathan. A friend in
need is a friend indeed. Such a one Jonathan was to David. He not
only continued to delight much in him, though David's glory eclipsed
his, but bravely appeared for him now that the stream ran so strongly
1. He took care for his present security by letting him know his danger
(1 Samuel 19:2):
"Take heed to thyself, and keep out of harm's way." Jonathan
knew not but that some of the servants might be either so obsequious to
Saul or so envious at David as to put the orders in execution which
Saul had given, if they could light on David.
2. He took pains to pacify his father and reconcile him to David. The
next morning he ventured to commune with him concerning David
(1 Samuel 19:3),
not that night, perhaps because he observed Saul to be drunk and not
fit to be spoken to, or because he hoped that, when he had slept upon
it, he would himself revoke the order, or because he could not have an
opportunity of speaking to him till morning.
(1.) His intercession for David was very prudent. It was managed with a
great deal of the meekness of wisdom; and he showed himself faithful to
his friends by speaking good of him, though he was in danger of
incurring his father's displeasure by it--a rare instance of valuable
friendship! He pleads,
[1.] The good services David had done to the public, and particularly
to Saul: His work has been to thee-ward very good,
1 Samuel 19:4.
Witness the relief he had given him against his distemper with his
harp, and his bold encounter with Goliath, that memorable action, which
did, in effect, save Saul's life and kingdom. He appeals to himself
concerning his: Thou thyself sawest it, and didst rejoice. In
that and other instances it appeared that David was a favourite of
heaven and a friend to Israel, as well as a good servant to Saul, for
by him the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel; so
that to order him to be slain was not only base ingratitude to so good
a servant, but a great affront to God and a great injury to the public.
[2.] He pleads his innocency. Though he had formerly done many good
offices, yet, if he had now been chargeable with any crimes, it would
have been another matter; but he has not sinned against thee
(1 Samuel 19:1),
his blood is innocent
(1 Samuel 19:5),
and, if he be slain, it is without cause. And Jonathan had therefore
reason to protest against it because he could not entail any thing upon
his family more pernicious than the guilt of innocent blood.
(2.) His intercession, being thus prudent, was prevalent. God inclined
the heart of Saul to hearken to the voice of Jonathan. Note, We must be
willing to hear reason, and to take all reproofs and good advice even
from our inferiors, parents from their own children. How forcible are
right words! Saul was, for the present, so far convinced of the
unreasonableness of his enmity to David that,
[1.] He recalled the bloody warrant for his execution
(1 Samuel 19:6):
As the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain. Whether Saul swore
here with due solemnity or no does not appear; perhaps he did, and the
matter was of such moment as to deserve it and of such uncertainty as
to need it. But at other times Saul swore rashly and profanely, which
made the sincerity of this oath justly questionable; for it may be
feared that those who can so far jest with an oath as to make a by-word
of it, and prostitute it to a trifle, have not such a due sense of the
obligation of it but that, to serve a turn, they will prostitute it to
a lie. Some suspect that Saul said and swore this with a malicious
design to bring David within his reach again, intending to take the
first opportunity to slay him. But, as bad as Saul was, we can
scarcely think so ill of him; and therefore we suppose that he spoke as
he thought for the present, but the convictions soon wore off and his
corruptions prevailed and triumphed over them.
[2.] He renewed the grant of his place at court. Jonathan brought him
to Saul, and he was in his presence as in times past
(1 Samuel 19:7),
hoping that now the storm was over, and that his friend Jonathan would
be instrumental to keep his father always in this good mind.
|David Escapes from Saul.
||B. C. 1058.|
8 And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with
the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they
fled from him.
9 And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in
his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with
10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the
javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote
the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that
I. David continues his good services to his king and country. Though
Saul had requited him evil for good, and even his usefulness was the
very thing for which Saul envied him, yet he did not therefore retire
in sullenness and decline public service. Those that are ill paid for
doing good, yet must not be weary of well doing, remembering
what a bountiful benefactor our heavenly Father is, even to the froward
and unthankful. Notwithstanding the many affronts Saul had given to
David, yet we find him,
1. As bold as ever in using his sword for the service of his country,
1 Samuel 19:8.
The war broke out again with the Philistines, which gave David occasion
again to signalize himself. It was a great deal of bravery that he
charged them; and he came off victorious, slaying many and putting the
rest to flight.
2. As cheerful as ever in using his harp for the service of the prince.
When Saul was disturbed with his former fits of melancholy David
played with his hand,
1 Samuel 19:9.
He might have pleaded that this was a piece of service now below him;
but a humble man will think nothing below him by which he may do good.
He might have objected the danger he was in the last time he performed
this service for Saul,
1 Samuel 18:10.
But he had learned to render good for evil, and to trust God with his
safety in the way of his duty. See how David was affected when his
enemy was sick
which perhaps refers to Saul's sickness.
II. Saul continues his malice against David. He that but the other day
had sworn by his Maker that David should not be slain now
endeavors to slay him himself. So implacable, so incurable, is the
enmity of the serpent against that of the woman, so deceitful and
desperately wicked is the heart of man without the grace of God,
The fresh honours David had won in this last war with the Philistines,
instead of extinguishing Saul's ill-will to him, and confirming his
reconciliation, revived his envy and exasperated him yet more. And,
when he indulged this wicked passion, no marvel that the evil spirit
came upon him
(1 Samuel 19:9),
for when we let the sun go down upon our wrath we give place to the
we make room for him and invite him. Discomposures of mind, though
helped forward by the agency of Satan, commonly owe their origin to
men's own sins and follies. Saul's fear and jealousy made him a torment
to himself, so that he could not sit in his house without a javelin in
his hand, pretending it was for his preservation, but designing it for
David's destruction; for he endeavored to nail him to the wall, running
at him so violently that he struck the javelin into the wall
(1 Samuel 19:10),
so strong was the devil in him, so strong his own rage and passion.
Perhaps he thought that, if he killed David now, he would be excusable
before God and man, as being non compos mentis--not in his
right mind, and that it would be imputed to his distraction. But
God cannot be deceived by pretences, whatever men may be.
III. God continues his care of David and still watches over him for
good. Saul missed his blow. David was too quick for him and fled, and
by a kind providence escaped that night. To these preservations, among
others, David often refers in his Psalms, when he speaks of God's being
his shield and buckler, his rock and fortress, and delivering his
soul from death.
11 Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him,
and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him,
saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt
12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and
fled, and escaped.
13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put
a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with
14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He
15 And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying,
Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.
16 And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an
image in the bed, with a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster.
17 And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and
sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered
Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee?
I. Saul's further design of mischief to David. When David had escaped
the javelin, supposing he went straight to his own house, as indeed he
did, Saul sent some of his guards after him to lay wait at the door of
his house, and to assassinate him in the morning as soon as he stirred
1 Samuel 19:11.
Josephus says the design was to seize him and to hurry him before a
court of justice that was ordered to condemn him and put him to death
as a traitor; but we are here told it was a shorter way they were to
take with him: they were ordered to slay him. Well might David
complain that his enemies were bloody men, as he did in the
psalm which he penned at this time, and upon this occasion
when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. See
1 Samuel 19:2,3,7.
He complains that swords were in their lips.
II. David's wonderful deliverance out of this danger. Michal was the
instrument of it, whom Saul gave him to be a snare to him, but she
proved to be his protector and helper. Often is the devil out-shot with
his own bow. How Michal came to know the danger her husband was in does
not appear; perhaps she had notice sent her from court, or rather was
herself aware of the soldiers about the house, when they were going to
bed, though they kept so still and silent that they said, Who dost
hear? which David takes notice of,
She, knowing her father's great indignation at David, soon suspected
the design, and bestirred herself for her husband's safety.
1. She got David out of the danger. She told him how imminent the peril
(1 Samuel 19:11):
To-morrow thou wilt be slain. As Josephus paraphrases it, she
told him that if the sun saw him there next morning it would never see
him more; and then put him in a way of escape. David himself was better
versed in the art of fighting than of flying, and had it been lawful it
would have been easy for him to have cleared his house, by dint of
sword, from those that haunted it; but Michal let him down through a
(1 Samuel 19:12),
all the doors being guarded; and so he fled and escaped. And now
it was that, either in his own closet before he went or in the
hiding-place to which he fled, he penned that
which shows that, in his fright and hurry, his mind was composed, and,
in this great danger, his faith was strong and fixed on God; and,
whereas the plot was to slay him in the morning, he speaks there
with the greatest assurance
(1 Samuel 19:16),
I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning.
2. She practised a deception upon Saul and those whom he employed to be
the instruments of his cruelty. When the doors of the house were opened
in the morning, and David did not appear, the messengers would search
the house for him, and did so. But Michal told them he was sick in bed
(1 Samuel 19:14),
and, if they would not believe her, they might see, for
(1 Samuel 19:13)
she had put a wooden image in the bed, and wrapped it up close and warm
as if it had been David asleep, not in a condition to be spoken to; the
goats' hair about the image was to resemble David's hair, the better to
impose upon them. Michal can by no means be justified in telling a
lie, and covering it thus with a cheat. God's truth needed not her lie.
But she intended hereby to keep Saul in suspense for a while, that
David might have some time to secure himself, not doubting but those
messengers would pursue him if they found he had gone. The messengers
had so much humanity as not to offer him any disturbance when they
heard he was sick; for to those that are in this misery pity should be
shown; but Saul, when he heard it, gave positive orders that he should
be brought to him sick or well: Bring him to me in the bed, that I
may slay him,
1 Samuel 19:15.
It was base and barbarous thus to triumph over a sick man; and to vow
the death of one who for aught that he knew was dying by the hand of
nature. So earnestly did he thirst after his blood, and so greedy was
his revenge, that he could not be pleased to see him dead, unless he
himself was the death of him; though awhile ago he had said, Let not
my hand be upon him. Thus when men lay the reins on the neck of
their passions they grow more and more outrageous. When the messengers
were sent again, the cheat was discovered,
1 Samuel 19:16.
But by this time it was to be hoped that David was safe, and therefore
Michal was not then much concerned at the discovery. Saul chid her for
helping David to escape
(1 Samuel 19:17):
Why hast thou deceived me so? What a base spirit was Saul of, to
expect that, because Michal was his daughter, she must therefore betray
her own husband to him unjustly. Ought she not to forsake and forget
her father and her father's house, to cleave to her husband? Those that
themselves will be held by no bonds of reason or religion are ready to
think that others should as easily break those bonds. In answer to
Saul's chiding, Michal is not so careful of her husband's reputation as
she had been of his person, when she makes this her excuse: He said,
Let me go, why should I kill thee? As her insinuating that she
would have hindered his flight was false (it was she that put him upon
it and furthered it), so it was an unjust unworthy reflection upon him
to suggest that he threatened to kill her if she would not let him go,
and might confirm Saul in his rage against him. David was far from
being so barbarous a man and so imperious a husband, so brutish in his
resolves and so haughty in his menaces, as she here represented him.
But David suffered both from friends and foes, and so did the son of
|Saul Prophesies before Samuel.
||B. C. 1058.|
18 So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and
told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went
and dwelt in Naioth.
19 And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth
20 And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw
the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as
appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of
Saul, and they also prophesied.
21 And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and
they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the
third time, and they prophesied also.
22 Then went he also to Ramah, and came to a great well that
is in Sechu: and he asked and said, Where are Samuel and
David? And one said, Behold, they be at Naioth in Ramah.
23 And he went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of
God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied, until he
came to Naioth in Ramah.
24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before
Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all
that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the
I. David's place of refuge. Having got away in the night from his own
house, he fled not to Bethlehem to his relations, nor to any of the
cities of Israel that had caressed and cried him up, to make an
interest in them for his own preservation; but he ran straight to
Samuel and told him all that Saul had done to him,
1 Samuel 19:18.
1. Because Samuel was the man that had given him assurance of the
crown, and his faith in that assurance now beginning to fail, and he
being ready to say in his haste (or in his flight, as some read
All men are liars ("not only Saul that promised me my life, but
Samuel himself that promised me the throne"), whither should he go but
to Samuel, for such encouragements, in this day of distress, as would
support his faith? In flying to Samuel he made God his refuge, trusting
in the shadow of his wings; where else can a good man think
2. Because Samuel, as a prophet, was best able to advise him what to do
in this day of his distress. In the psalm he penned the night before he
had lifted up his prayer to God, and now he takes the first opportunity
of waiting upon Samuel to receive direction and instruction from God.
If we expect answers of peace to our prayers, we must have our ears
open to God's word.
3. Because with Samuel there was a college of prophets with whom he
might join in praising God, and the pleasure of this exercise would be
the greatest relief imaginable to him in his present distress. He met
with little rest or satisfaction in Saul's court, and therefore went to
seek it in Samuel's church. And, doubtless, what little pleasure is to
be had in this world those have it that live a life of communion with
God; to this David retired in the time of trouble,
II. David's protection in this place: He and Samuel went and
dwelt (or lodged) in Naioth, where the school of the
prophets was, in Ramah, as in a privileged place, for the Philistines
themselves would not disturb that meeting,
1 Samuel 10:10.
But Saul, having notice of it by some of his spies
(1 Samuel 19:19),
sent officers to seize David,
1 Samuel 19:20.
When they did not bring him he sent more; when they returned not he
sent the third time
(1 Samuel 19:21),
and, hearing no tidings of these, he went himself,
1 Samuel 19:22.
So impatient was he in his thirst after David's blood, so restless to
compass his design against him, that, though baffled by one providence
after another, he could not perceive that David was under the special
protection of Heaven. It was below the king to go himself on such an
errand as this; but persecutors will stoop to any thing, and stick at
nothing, to gratify their malice. Saul lays aside all public business
to hunt David. How was David delivered, now that he was just ready to
fall (like his own lamb formerly) into the mouth of the lions? Not as
he delivered his lamb, by slaying the lion, or, as Elijah was
delivered, by consuming the messengers with fire from heaven,
but by turning the lions for the present into lambs.
1. When the messengers came into the congregation where David was among
the prophets the Spirit of God came upon them, and they
prophesied, that is, they joined with the rest in praising God.
Instead of seizing David, they themselves were seized. And thus,
(1.) God secured David; for either they were put into such an ecstasy
by the spirit of prophecy that they could not think of any thing else,
and so forgot their errand and never minded David, or they were by it
put, for the present, into so good a frame that they could not
entertain the thought of doing so bad a thing.
(2.) He put an honour upon the sons of the prophets and the communion
of saints, and showed how he can, when he pleases, strike an awe upon
the worst of men, by the tokens of his presence in the assemblies of
the faithful, and force them to acknowledge that God is with them of
1 Corinthians 14:24,25.
See also the benefit of religious societies, and what good impressions
may be made by them on minds that seemed unapt to receive such
impressions. And where may the influences of the Spirit be expected but
in the congregations of the saints?
(3.) He magnified his power over the spirits of men. He that made the
heart and tongue can manage both to serve his own purposes. Balaam
prophesied the happiness of Israel, whom he would have cursed; and some
of the Jewish writers think these messengers prophesied the advancement
of David to the throne of Israel.
2. Saul himself was likewise seized with the spirit of prophecy before
he came to the place. One would have thought that so bad a man as he
was in no danger of being turned into a prophet; yet, when God will
take this way of protecting David, even Saul had no sooner come (as
bishop Hall expresses it) within smell of the smoke of Naioth but he
prophesies, as his messengers did,
1 Samuel 19:23.
He stripped off his royal robe and warlike habiliments, because they
were either too fine or too heavy for this service, and fell into a
trance as it should seem, or into a rapture, which continued all that
day and night. The saints at Damascus were delivered from the range of
the New-Testament Saul by a change wrought on his spirit, but of
another nature from this. This was only amazing, but that
sanctifying--this for a day, that for ever. Note, Many have great gifts
and yet no grace, prophesy in Christ's name and yet are disowned by
Now the proverb recurs, Is Saul among the prophets? See
1 Samuel 10:12.
Then it was different from what it had been, but now contrary.
He is rejected of God, and actuated by an evil spirit, and yet among