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We learned last week that everything David did turned to gold. 18:21 says, In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. He did all he was asked, and then some. He went from shepherd boy who delivered food to his brothers in battle, to being the hero of it all. He was taken into the palace, became the king’s number one musician, his most successful warrior, his son’s best friend, and his daughter’s husband.
David went from zero to hero with one swing of a stone, and was forced to run for his life from the king himself who couldn’t control his envy, seeking to kill him.
Today I want to focus on two themes: loss from jealousy, and friendship through hard times.
I heard once that jealousy is something that has two victims, and that is certainly true here. Once again Saul attempts to pin David to the wall with his spear while playing the harp, barely escaping with his life (19:9) just as he had in the previous chapter (18:10-11).
The morning after this second attempt, Saul sent men to David’s house to spy and ultimately kill the young warrior. Michal, his wife, must have been observant enough to see her father’s plans unfolding outside her front door and warned, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” Letting David down through a window, the brave Michal saved her husband, allowing him to escape.
Stuffing the household teraphim (a clay figuring which represented household spirit guardians), beneath bed coverings and placing goat’s hair at the head, the dim light of a flickering candle or oil lamp would be enough to convince the soldiers David was too weak and ill to move.
Michael’s plan was nearly a success, though in the end, the ruse was realized as the soldiers returned with an attempt to kill him in bed. Switching gears, Michal instead convinced the men she was afraid for her life and allowed her husband to get away because he threatened her.
She had no idea of course, but the moment Michal let David down that window, she lost the man she loved dearly. Eventually her father would remarry her to someone else and it wouldn’t be ‘till years later (after David had several more wives), that he would seek to reclaim her. Michal never had children with either husband.
Saul’s jealousy ruined a marriage. He forced a young man to run for his life. He turned his greatest warrior into a fugitive who ran for his life, living in caves, and even fleeing to Gath (the enemy land where Goliath was from). All this because Saul simply couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that David was not out for his throne. The young man who brought joy and support to the king suddenly became a source of anger and resentment. The king’s jealousy went unchecked and boiled over to a point that he simply couldn’t reign it in himself.
Fleeing to Ramah, David first seeks solace in Samuel’s home and then joins the aging priest to Naioth, which means dwelling or tents. Not only is David able to conceal himself through security in numbers, but has the opportunity to live within a body of men who have committed their lives to worshiping God.
I love that the former shepherd hid himself here, of all places. It’s so important that when we’re struggling with something, we run into the arms of a body who will love and support us in Jesus’ name. David’s situation is likely nothing we’ve ever experienced, but even so…our strife and wounds are still best supported within a body of Jesus-loving people who will empathize and fall to their knees in prayer over us. People who will encourage, inspire, and embolden us as we grow closer with Him through it.
David seemed to understand the need of this, escaping to a place he knew his thirst for wisdom, discernment, and protection would be quenched as he was poured into by Samuel and the rest of the God-fearing men in this tented community.
It didn’t take long however for word to get back to Saul, who immediately sent men to capture David. Whether Samuel led a group of prophets on a daily basis, or this was some sort of special assemblage, we don’t know. But just as the king’s soldiers saw the group of holy men prophesying, the spirit of God came upon them and they also started prophesying. Saul was told about what happened and sent several more groups of men out to bring back David as prisoner but each time, they too were overcome by the Spirit, forgetting the king’s errand and remained in Ramah prophesying.
Finally, Saul had enough, traveling to Ramah himself. But “the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all day and night.” (1 Samuel 19:22-24)
This scene is just so hilarious to me and is a fantastic reminder that if God wants to block something from happening, He most certainly will. Saul was on an unworthy mission and God didn’t allow it to come to fruition. The Lord protects David, giving him the chance to journey back to his best friend Jonathan, seeking advice about Saul’s intentions.
Jonathan simply couldn’t comprehend his father acting in such a way and clung tightly (albeit naively) to his father’s proclamation on oath that David would not die (19:6). Because he and David’s friendship was one built with a firm foundation however, Jonathan couldn’t ignore his friend’s insistence and decided devise a plan to pursue King Saul’s true intent.
Read chapter 20 to understand exactly how their plan unfolded…and how Saul’s jealousy and anger once again reared its ridiculously ugly head. Jonathan was aghast at his father’s posture toward David was forced to pick a side, something that I’m sure it pained him to have to do. Having his eyes opened to Saul’s intent, the prince continued with the plan, sending word to David that he was indeed correct that his life was in danger.
The two had a tear-filled goodbye (20:41b says David wept the most) as an era ended. David was no longer the harpist and prized warrior for the king. His former life was lost, for no reason other than unwarranted envy and resentment.
As David turned to leave, Jonathan said “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’” (1 Samuel 20:42)
They parted, though their friendship remained. So much so in fact that they promised one another to take care of their offspring if death came too early. In those days, if someone (like David) was to strip a king of his throne, every family member would also be put to death to ensure the safety of the new royal line. The thought was, if they were all gone…there would be no one in a line of succession to try and reclaim the crown.
Believing David will one day rule and he will not, Jonathan implores his dear friend to go against custom and instead care for his family. And David did just that. We learn in 2 Samuel that after Saul (and Jonathan) had died and the kingdom was officially David’s, he sought out Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.
Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always. (2 Samuel 9:7)
Are we willing to go against cultural stigma and invite others in like this? Would we take in our friend’s children because of the deep love and care we have for our deceased friend? What about simply going against cultural norm in how we open our door…who have you invited in lately that made you feel out of your comfort zone?
One of our girls has a friend whose family recently moved here from Japan. The mom doesn’t know much English and every time I saw her at school pick up and drop off, I could sense loneliness and a desire to connect in her eyes. One day I decided to get over my own comfort and invited her over for coffee. It wasn’t easy, conversation was forced and strained at times during our time together as we searched for a topic that was easily conversed through limited English. But you know what? We laughed at our struggle, we tried our best to understand one another and desired to dive in deeper than simply the weather.
As my new friend shrugged into her jacket and we said goodbyes, she hugged me and looked me right in the eyes, a smile no longer on her lips as seriousness took hold. “Thank you”, she said. “Thank you for this.”
Friendship...true friendship isn't talking about the weather and keeping it all at the surface. Making new friends is sometimes awkward (head here for another post on that topic). Even friendship that has been a constant for decades goes through seasons and struggle.
Struggle is sometimes good. It reminds us we're fighting for one another.
Choosing a friend over a parent who is doing wrong is difficult. Supporting a friend who will receive the blessing that you’re technically supposed to receive, takes selflessness. Bringing your friend’s disabled child into your home is challenging.
David and Jonathan went through each of these (and gosh, so much more)!
We often need to press through the hard to be a good friend.
We need to get to the place where we’re ready to connect through discomfort. Through hard times. What kind of friend are you? What kind of friend do you want to be?
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I can't wait to continue on next week!