1 Samuel 18:29
And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.
1. The possible doings of one sinful feeling. Jealousy was first awakened in the heart of Saul on that day when Hebrew females sung the praises of the young conqueror of Goliath. "Jealousy is cruel as the grave." So it proved. At that moment when the dark feeling rose to consciousness it might not seem as if the new guest were endowed with any special capacities. But it soon swelled out to a proportion which dwarfed and overshadowed all the rest. What tremendous energies of evil lurk in our fallen natural. If God judicially let one slip, and cease to hedge it round with inward remonstrances and providential restraints, it will quickly grow to a tyranny beyond resistance, that shall desolate the soul, and sweep away before it the scruples of conscience, the dictates of prudence, the lingering power of affection, friendly counsels, and the pleadings of honour, interest, or decency. Oh, there are within us materials enough to make earthquakes and volcanoes of the soul! Let us pray that they be not "set on fire of hell." Think not that you are not in danger because neither Saul's circumstances nor special tendencies are yours. Jealousy is one of a gang. Envy, pride, lust, intemperance, love of money, are notorious confederates. They operate singly or in company. Often quarrelling, they are horribly unanimous in destroying the soul's purity and joy. O for Heaven's healing hand to keep them down, to preserve the soul in holy equipoise, to stablish it in self-governing power, and impel it by restraining love.
2. The reality of an invisible power of evil. This is affirmed plainly and frequently. "The Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him." The Holy Spirit who had been striving with him for good was provoked away. His deserted soul was occupied by an evil spirit. And how untiring! The foul and cruel inspiration was no passing breath. It prompted many efforts. It suggested many varieties of operation. It absorbed all other energies into one lordly passion. And all this is sustained for years, in growing power, in spite of many obstacles. How awful this persistent malevolence! O what shall break the spell of this terrible witchery? Who shall put an end to this terrible possession? What power shall awaken fear, and bestow a scrupulous caution, and inspire a holy ardour to be free from the galling thraldom, and endow with a holy strength to resist it and to shut up all those avenues of indulgence through which on-waiting spirits of evil issue from their dwelling of darkness! "Thanks be unto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." "He hath destroyed the works of the devil."
3. The beautiful character to which Divine grace can frame the human soul. I suppose it will be regarded as sober truth to say that the world's annals present no parallel to the character which the great persecution developes in David. Whence came that marvellous self-government, which kept him equally from despair and violence? The power that girt up all his faculties was from above. Men speak of virtue and its endurance, of heroism and its daring deeds. Both are good — but in the balance of the sanctuary they are electroplate, and nothing more. To be even ideally complete, a human character must have godliness as its central power. Practically to reach the highest level of what men call the virtues is impossible without the mighty presence of supreme regard to God, maintained by His own quickening Spirit. This it was that nerved the heart of the Hebrew outlaw with an enduring vigour that bore him on amid floods of sorrow, and formed his heart to a fortitude beside which the models of Greece and Rome look dim. Did ever Stoic endure so much with meekness so conspicuous? Did ever Epicurean show a sensibility so delicate and so pure as that which wept on the neck of Jonathan? Did the world's men of honour ever spare an enemy as David did the tyrant who thirsted for his blood? I trow not. Such triumphs of noble feeling are wrought only by heavenly grace.
4. The opposition between the Church and the World. It will not be questioned that Saul belonged to the latter and David to the former. Nor, on reflection, will it be doubted that this is the secret of Saul's irreconciliable enmity. The two are ranged on opposite sides. Grace would have quenched the smouldering embers of jealousy. Had the feeling not been rooted in an unsanctified nature, prayer and pains would have dug it up to wither on the surface. And in the bitter, impious and unrelenting nature of this persecution we may see mirrored forth in fearful clearness the world's irreconciliable opposition to the Church. The circumstances of Saul give us the advantage of seeing this feeling honestly displayed. He did not fear God; and as an absolute monarch he did not need to regard men. But, one way or other, the body of believers may count on meeting the world's opposition, aye and until the conflict ceases by the everlasting separation of the parties. Every step of her earthly way lies through a wilderness haunted by enemies, whose hostility is sincere and operative, whether they strive to corrupt her like Midian, or meet her boldly with the Amorite.
5. God's benignant care of His people. To one who looked only on the surface, and took into view nothing more than ordinary human probabilities, it would no doubt have appeared a hopeless folly for David to seek escape from Saul. A private man against a king; a Solitary man against one who had a nation's forces at his back; a scrupulous man, whose conscience forbad violent resistance, against a reckless man, under the impulse of an over-mastering passion. David's life lay constantly in the vicinity of death. He walked as if on a narrow ledge, over a frowning gulf. That he was "preserved from falling" is attributable to nothing but an over-ruling care which could not be surprised, defeated, or wearied out. Almighty energy, working in the service of love, wove the tangled texture of events round the living David, and secured his perfect safety.
(P. Richardson, B. A.).
Parallel VersesKJV: And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.