And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
1 Samuel 19:11-12
In this passage there is a minute account of an appalling danger to which David was exposed.
I. God's servants are frequently exposed to alarming dangers. (1) This danger came at an unexpected time. (2) This danger proceeded from a powerful enemy. (3) This danger assumed a most alarming aspect.
II. God's servants are frequently warned of approaching danger. (1) David's warning came from different sources. (2) David's warning demanded immediate attention. (3) David's warning led to decisive action.
III. God's servants are frequently delivered from impending dangers. The context shows that God delivers His servants in four ways: (1) By friendly mediation. (2) By personal watchfulness. (3) By conjugal fidelity. (4) By Divine interposition.
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 81.
References: 1 Samuel 19:11-12 and 1 Samuel 19:18.—F. W. Krummacher, David the King of Israel, pp. 68, 86. 1 Samuel 19:18-20.—G. B. Ryley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii. p. 285; Payne-Smith, Bampton Lectures, 1869, p. 128.
1 Samuel 19:20Prophecy, according to the notions popularly entertained of it, might be defined to be a mere prediction of future events, and the prophet one who utters such prediction. This definition, however, does not embrace the essentials of the thing defined. The prophet of former days was, in all substantial points, identical with the preacher of these. The commission of both prophet and preacher is to set forth the Divine oracles; to speak to their fellow-sinners the word which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord. Prediction and instruction are only different portions of the Divine word. Our text presents to us two great subjects for consideration. (1) A spiritual influence exerted upon certain persons. (2) The instrumentality employed in making this impression.
I. Both the messengers of Saul and Saul himself were constrained by a strange and irresistible influence to prophesy before Samuel. Saul stripping off his royal apparel and lying down in the dust before Samuel presents to us a picture of the sinner's self-abasement, when the convicting and converting influences of the Holy Spirit first pour in upon his heart. It was marvellous that a hard and bad man should thus be absorbed into the vortex of a spiritual influence; that he should be turned aside from his purpose by the coming in upon him of a holy ecstasy, which rapt him into compliance with the suggestions of the Spirit.
II. It was the sight of the Church's ministers uttering under the Spirit's influences the mysteries of the Divine word, which made so great an impression on Saul and his messengers. It is not, however, by any mere power of moral persuasion that the alienated heart of man can be effectually turned to God. The Spirit must second the prophet's testimony, putting life and energy into the preached word and causing it to penetrate into the springs of the character.
E. M. Goulburn, Occasional Sermons, p. 97.
Reference: 1 Samuel 19:22.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 72.
1 Samuel 19:24We are not told any remarkable points in the character or early discipline of Saul; there were probably none to tell. As we have often had occasion to notice in the earlier Scripture narratives, a man not distinguished from his fellows by any peculiar gifts, merely a specimen of the ordinary human material, may nevertheless be brought most livingly before us; we may be compelled to feel that he is an individual man, one of ourselves, and as such to care for him.
I. There are moments in the mind of the dullest, most prosaic man, when unknown springs seem to be opened in him, when either some new and powerful affection, or quite as often the sense of a vocation, fills him with thoughts and causes him to utter words which are quite alien from his ordinary habits, and which have yet in them a pledge and savour of originality. It is a fact of this kind which the record discloses to us. "God gave him another heart—the Spirit of God came upon him"—these are the words which tell us what that prophetic impulse denoted. However unwonted might be the thoughts which stirred in him and the words which he poured forth, they could not have come from some irregular tumultuous excitement, they must have proceeded from the very spirit of calmness and order. Saul was among the prophets precisely because he confessed the presence of such a spirit of calmness and order.
II. Saul is no monster who has won power by false means and then plunges at once into a reckless abuse of it—no apostate who casts off the belief in God, and sets up some Ammonite or Phoenician idol. He merely forgets the Lord and the teacher who had imparted to him that new life and inspiration, he merely fails to remember that he is under a law and that he has a vocation. The calm spirit of trust and hope has been resisted and grieved, and there comes upon him an evil spirit from the Lord, an accusing conscience warning him of what he had been, throwing its dark shadow upon the present, making the future look dim and gloomy.
III. There are glimpses of light in the later life of Saul, which we refer at once to a Divine source, which it would be sinful to refer to any other. The love and loyalty of David, in sparing his life, were not unrewarded. They struck out sparks of love in him, they made it evident that there was something deeper and healthier beneath all his strangest distortions of mind. And that sacred inspiration, of which our text speaks, which recalled the almost forgotten question: "Is Saul among the prophets?" though it came mixed with a wild kind of insanity, yet proclaimed that God's Spirit, which bloweth where it listeth, had not left this building to be a mere possession for the birds of night.
F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 17.
References: 1 Samuel 19:24.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 1st series, p. 90. 1 Samuel 20:3.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1870; J. Sherman, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. v., p. 337. 1Sam 20-22.—W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, p. 65.
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:
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.
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 theeward very good:
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?
And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.
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.
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.
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 his hand.
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 night.
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 be slain.
So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.
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 a cloth.
And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick.
And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.
And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster.
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?
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.
And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 prophets?