The purpose of this lesson does not center on a chronological timeline concerning the earliest contacts between King Saul and David. Three factors are suggested for consideration of those earliest contacts: (1) the purpose of the writer in that material; (2) the nature of servant/royalty relationship at that time; and (3) the author's condensing of material of interest to us but not of interest to the intended original readers. Today we need to avoid the temptation to make scripture say more than scripture says. Often our motives for knowing are not identical to the author's motives in revealing.
Obviously, after David killed Goliath he rose to prominence quickly as an important person among Saul's valiant men. Though David declared he was a son of Saul's servant (1 Samuel 17:58), he rapidly became a close friend of Saul's son, Jonathan. What began as an amiable relationship between friends became a relationship Saul held in contempt.
Each student is asked to consider this reality: the problems that existed between Saul and David were instigated by Saul's weak faith and character flaws, not by David. Saul came to hate and fear David, but David only served Saul. Though David had many "self" justifications for despising Saul, David kept only a sense of respect for Saul because King Saul was chosen by God to be Israel's king. Though Saul attempted to provoke and destroy David in numerous ways, David refused to act as Saul's enemy. Literally, Saul lived as long as he did because David refused to function as Saul's enemy.
The problem in the King Saul-David association began with Saul's jealousy. David served a dual role to Saul: (1) a valiant man in Saul's military (especially in trying to break the Philistine's control over Israel); and (2) a musical comforter to Saul when he was controlled by the depression of his dark moments. Once as David returned from a victory over Philistine forces, he was greeted by some Israelite women singing and dancing. Their song declared Saul had killed thousands and David had killed ten thousands. David was popular with and admired by many of the Israelite people.
King Saul was deeply offended by David's reception. He wanted to be seen and honored by the Israelite people as Israel's deliverer. The fact that these Israelite women made David more prominent than King Saul angered the king. From the moment of that incident onward, King Saul looked at David with suspicion.
Amazingly, we always use our attitudes and motives to explain the actions of people we distrust. If "that" would have been "my" motive, "that" must be "his or her" motive. If "I" would have acted in "that" way, "he or she" must be acting in "that" way. Though King Saul had nothing to fear from David, King Saul's suspicion became jealousy and anger, his jealousy and anger became hate, his hate become imagined danger, and imagined danger made David an enemy to be destroyed. He intended to destroy David before David could destroy King Saul and his family.
David was the opposite of Saul. David had absolute confidence in God (as demonstrated in his facing Goliath). Saul did not include God as a factor in his decisions (all he wanted was God's protection; he did not think in terms of honoring God). David was a man of faith who placed matters in God's hands. Saul was faithless and took matters in his own hands. David had such confidence in God that he believed God was at work in his dire distress--he often asked for more faith and protection, but he frequently declared his God knew what He was doing. Saul commonly questioned God's decisions/actions and sought to justify his own. King Saul seemed to think God operated capriciously, but he (Saul) functioned on the basis of reality.
It was obvious to the fearful King Saul that God was with David (1 Samuel 18:12). Samuel earlier told King Saul in unmistakable terms that God was no longer with him, and God's decision was not reversible (1 Samuel 15:26-29). As the situation unfolded, King Saul knew David, not his son Jonathan, would be the next king of Israel (see 1 Samuel 20:30, 31 and 24:16-20).
Though King Saul made David's life miserable, David refused to function as King Saul's enemy. Though King Saul sought opportunity to kill David, David showed nothing but respect for King Saul. Though David had opportunities to kill King Saul, David refused to kill the king. David also prevented his followers from killing King Saul.
It is essential for us to understand that David's attitude toward King Saul was founded on his attitude toward God. David's attitude toward God: "God knows what He is doing; a person must not 'second guess' God!" Thus, when God makes Saul King of Israel, that was God's decision, not David's. Though David was anointed by Samuel to be Israel's future king, his anointing did not give David the right to kill God's present anointed.
On the two occasions David had opportunity to kill King Saul (who was seeking to kill David). David declared that he could not kill God's anointed (1 Samuel 24:8-12; 26:6-12). The fact that King Saul served as King of Israel was God's business, not David's. David understood that in spite of King Saul's actions, there was no justification for David killing King Saul.
David understood this truth: leave God's affairs in God's hands!
For Thought and Discussion:
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 3
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