[1-Samuel 18:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN HE HAD MADE AN END OF SPEAKING UNTO SAUL, THAT THE SOUL OF JONATHAN WAS KNIT WITH THE SOUL OF DAVID, AND JONATHAN LOVED HIM AS HIS OWN SOUL.
"THE SOUL [Hebrew: nefesh] WAS KNIT [neKshurah]" The Hebrew uses the same terms here as are used in the Book of Genesis to describe the love that Jacob had for his son Benjamin:
"HIS LIFE [Hebrew: nefeshoy] IS BOUND UP [neKshurah] IN THE LAD'S LIFE" [Genesis 44:30]. Jonathan loved David as himself. Saul loved David when David came to serve as his weapon bearer and personal musician:
Cf. "AND DAVID CAME TO SAUL, AND STOOD BEFORE HIM: AND HE LOVED HIM GREATLY; AND HE BECAME HIS ARMOUR BEARER" [1-Samuel 16:21].
Jonathan must have already been acquainted with David but only at this instance did he come to love him. He recognized a kindred spirit when after killing Goliath for the sake of the glory of the God of Israel and the honor of the Israelite people David in effect (1-Samuel 17:58) forwent any claim on the promised reward and was prepared to accept whatsoever status Saul would bequeath upon him. The daughter of Saul would also fall in love with David and David would keep faith with the House of Saul as we shall see. Certain lowlife scumbag no-goods have tried to claim that the connection between David and Johathan was homo-erotic. This is a lie. David and Jonathan kept the Law and when David transgressed (with the woman of another man) he was punished for it and his transgression is recorded in detail by the Bible. There are no secrets. Homosexuality is one of the worse sins that can be committed according to the Bible. Homosexuality should be severely forbidden by society. As human beings any system or prohibition is going to hurt somebody but the aim of a regulated community should be to minimize harm. It may be that a lot of people have some homosexual inclinations at some stage in their lives but left to themselves they would overcome them. By legalizing homosexuality, society in effect opens the door for the seduction of males and minors, the committing of bestial perversions, coercion, sexual harassment, and the ruination of lives that otherwise would be productive. Those who practise a homosexual lifestyle are more often diseased, severely mentally disturbed, die younger, and live a life of regret and suffering. They also bring the wrath of the Almighty down upon the whole community. "IF A MAN ALSO LIE WITH MANKIND, AS HE LIETH WITH A WOMAN, BOTH OF THEM HAVE COMMITTED AN ABOMINATION: THEY SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH; THEIR BLOOD SHALL BE UPON THEM" [Leviticus 20:13].
[1-Samuel 18:2] AND SAUL TOOK HIM THAT DAY, AND WOULD LET HIM GO NO MORE HOME TO HIS FATHER'S HOUSE.
Until now David had been serving Saul but apparently had been taking regular leave of absence when his family had need of him (cf. 1-Samuel 17:15).
[1-Samuel 18:3] THEN JONATHAN AND DAVID MADE A COVENANT, BECAUSE HE LOVED HIM AS HIS OWN SOUL.
[1-Samuel 18:4] AND JONATHAN STRIPPED HIMSELF OF THE ROBE THAT WAS UPON HIM, AND GAVE IT TO DAVID, AND HIS GARMENTS, EVEN TO HIS SWORD, AND TO HIS BOW, AND TO HIS GIRDLE.
"Clothes make the man": As someone who has often personally not paid sufficient attention to this principle I can nevertheless testify that it is important. As the son of the King, the chief military leader (1-Samuel 13:3) and the foremost hero of Israel (remember how he almost single-handedly defeated the whole Philistine army 1-Samuel chapter 14) the garments and arms of Jonathan would have been distinctive and the best available. In giving these accouterments of his to David Jonathan was declaring before everybody that David was to be accorded respect and status almost equivalent to his own. Shimeon ben-Ephrat ("Shmuel-A" in the series "Mikra Yisrael") points out in that in those times garments were very valuable. They were made well, took a lot of time and labor to produce, and were very valuable. Garments could be presented as tribute or as gifts to rulers and symbolized a recognition of status, cf. 2-Kings 5:5.
[1-Samuel 18:5] AND DAVID WENT OUT WHITHERSOEVER SAUL SENT HIM, AND BEHAVED HIMSELF WISELY: AND SAUL SET HIM OVER THE MEN OF WAR, AND HE WAS ACCEPTED IN THE SIGHT OF ALL THE PEOPLE, AND ALSO IN THE SIGHT OF SAUL'S SERVANTS.
David became the leading warrior and trouble-shooting fighter in the army of Saul.
"BEHAVED HIMSELF WISELY": Hebrew YaSKIL from the root "SKL" (Skil) connoting intelligent behavior. This is the source of the English word "skill" meaning ability usually in the sense of proficiency acquired through practice or natural aptitude. All languages contain words similar to those found in Hebrew but English possibly has more of them and on a psychological level is much closer to Hebrew than other languages. The first translator of the Bible into Latin was William Tyndale (1494-1536)
"Tyndale also believed that the English vernacular was closest to God's own language, that is, Hebrew. Tyndale argued that English agrees with the Hebrew a great deal more than with Latin." Tyndale actually said that English was a hundred times closer to the Hebrew than the Greek and a thousand times more so than the Latin.
[1-Samuel 18:6] AND IT CAME TO PASS AS THEY CAME, WHEN DAVID WAS RETURNED FROM THE SLAUGHTER OF THE PHILISTINE, THAT THE WOMEN CAME OUT OF ALL CITIES OF ISRAEL, SINGING AND DANCING, TO MEET KING SAUL, WITH TABRETS, WITH JOY, AND WITH INSTRUMENTS OF MUSICK.
"TABRETS": Hebrew "toopim" meaning drums. Probably means the small drums such as those that can still be obtained in the market and which can have a quite impressive effect.
[1-Samuel 18:7] AND THE WOMEN ANSWERED ONE ANOTHER AS THEY PLAYED, AND SAID, SAUL HATH SLAIN HIS THOUSANDS, AND DAVID HIS TEN THOUSANDS.
From this we learn that David achieved great victories not all of which are mentioned in Scripture. The women were not speaking in denigration of Saul. They were praising both Saul and David, saying that Saul had done great things and David had continued in his footsteps even more so. Saul however chose to interpret the words as a belittling comparison.
[1-Samuel 18:8] AND SAUL WAS VERY WROTH, AND THE SAYING DISPLEASED HIM; AND HE SAID, THEY HAVE ASCRIBED UNTO DAVID TEN THOUSANDS, AND TO ME THEY HAVE ASCRIBED BUT THOUSANDS: AND WHAT CAN HE HAVE MORE BUT THE KINGDOM?
[1-Samuel 18:9] AND SAUL EYED DAVID FROM THAT DAY AND FORWARD.
"EYED": Hebrew "oyen" and in Modern Hebrew used in the sense of being antagonistic.
[1-Samuel 18:10] AND IT CAME TO PASS ON THE MORROW, THAT THE EVIL SPIRIT FROM GOD CAME UPON SAUL, AND HE PROPHESIED IN THE MIDST OF THE HOUSE: AND DAVID PLAYED WITH HIS HAND, AS AT OTHER TIMES: AND THERE WAS A JAVELIN IN SAUL'S HAND.
"HE PROPHESIED": Hebrew "YiTNaBeA" which can mean "attempt to make oneself prophesy". The Commentators say, .He spoke like a deranged person who is possessed and not in his own mind.
[1-Samuel 18:11] AND SAUL CAST THE JAVELIN; FOR HE SAID, I WILL SMITE DAVID EVEN TO THE WALL WITH IT. AND DAVID AVOIDED OUT OF HIS PRESENCE TWICE.
"I WILL SMITE DAVID EVEN TO THE WALL WITH IT": The Hebrew literally says "I will strike David and the Wall". This can mean "smite David to the wall" as the KJ translates. Alternately,
Eliysahu Yedid ("Shaul, Bechir HaShem") says that Saul intended to throw the javelin at David and pretend it was an accident and that he had been aiming at the wall.
[1-Samuel 18:12] AND SAUL WAS AFRAID OF DAVID, BECAUSE THE LORD WAS WITH HIM, AND WAS DEPARTED FROM SAUL.
David was saved twice miraculously from the javelin of Saul. David had defeated Goliath and now headed the special military force of Saul that was wondrously successful time and time again in a miraculous manner.
[1-Samuel 18:13] THEREFORE SAUL REMOVED HIM FROM HIM, AND MADE HIM HIS CAPTAIN OVER A THOUSAND; AND HE WENT OUT AND CAME IN BEFORE THE PEOPLE.
David was the main warrior and fought most of the battles even though he was in charge of only a thousand troops. Nevertheless David was consistently overwhelmingly successful in what he did because God was with him. One of the secrets of the success of David was his great humility combined with the use of native instinctive intelligence as directed by the Almighty.
[1-Samuel 18:14] AND DAVID BEHAVED HIMSELF WISELY IN ALL HIS WAYS; AND THE LORD WAS WITH HIM. "BEHAVED HIMSELF WISELY": Hebrew "MaSKiL" literally meaning "act with intelligence" (cf. English "skill") but the Commentaries say it means he was successful. In other words he understood what was happening and used his intelligence to act accordingly.
[1-Samuel 18:15] WHEREFORE WHEN SAUL SAW THAT HE BEHAVED HIMSELF VERY WISELY, HE WAS AFRAID OF HIM.
"HE BEHAVED HIMSELF VERY WISELY": Hebrew "maskil maod" meaning the same as in the previous verse but even more so. The Commentators say it means he was very succesful. "MAoD" in Hebrew means "very much". It is the source of the English word "might". David was "mightily skillful".
[1-Samuel 18:16] BUT ALL ISRAEL AND JUDAH LOVED DAVID, BECAUSE HE WENT OUT AND CAME IN BEFORE THEM.
"ALL ISRAEL AND JUDAH": From the very beginning in many ways Judah and the rest of ISRAEL were separate entities.
"HE WENT OUT AND CAME IN": Radak: He was their leader.
David will be the future King of Israel. He will rule over the COMBINED entities of Judah and Israel:
"AND THEY SHALL DWELL IN THE LAND THAT I HAVE GIVEN UNTO JACOB MY SERVANT, WHEREIN YOUR FATHERS HAVE DWELT; AND THEY SHALL DWELL THEREIN, EVEN THEY, AND THEIR CHILDREN, AND THEIR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN FOR EVER: AND MY SERVANT DAVID SHALL BE THEIR PRINCE FOR EVER" [Ezekiel 37:25] .
[1-Samuel 18:17] AND SAUL SAID TO DAVID, BEHOLD MY ELDER DAUGHTER MERAB, HER WILL I GIVE THEE TO WIFE: ONLY BE THOU VALIANT FOR ME, AND FIGHT THE LORD'S BATTLES. FOR SAUL SAID, LET NOT MINE HAND BE UPON HIM, BUT LET THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES BE UPON HIM.
"MERAB": In Modern Hebrew pronounced as "May-rav".
[1-Samuel 18:18] AND DAVID SAID UNTO SAUL, WHO AM I? AND WHAT IS MY LIFE, OR MY FATHER'S FAMILY IN ISRAEL, THAT I SHOULD BE SON IN LAW TO THE KING?
"AND WHAT IS MY LIFE" In Hebrew the word translated here as "my life" is "chai" and that is how most people would indeed translate it. Shimeon ben-Ephrat ("Shmuel-A" in "Mikra LeYisrael") however claims that it means here "my extended family" and he bases his claim on a parallel expression in Arabic. Something like "chamula" in popular Arabic?
[1-Samuel 18:19] BUT IT CAME TO PASS AT THE TIME WHEN MERAB SAUL'S DAUGHTER SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO DAVID, THAT SHE WAS GIVEN UNTO ADRIEL THE MEHOLATHITE TO WIFE.
David had been offered Merab declined her on the grounds of his own lack of correct family background. Nevertheless it had been understood that the marriage would take place. ADRIEL perhaps (as suggested by Shimeon ben-Ephrat) was the son of BARZILLAI THE GILEADITE OF ROGELIM (2-Samuel 21:8) on the other side of the Jordan a very rich and important person. Eliyahu Yedid ("Shaul Bechir HaShem") points out that the grammatical structure and the whole content of this passage is obscure in intent. It may be that Merab of her own volition preferred Adriel and that Saul was pre-empted. At one level David as we shall see may have actually been pleased with this result but at another level (as shown still later) his honor and standing were impaired by the whole incident. This would only be apparent later. When the time came he would be required to demand redress.
[1-Samuel 18:20] AND MICHAL SAUL'S DAUGHTER LOVED DAVID: AND THEY TOLD SAUL, AND THE THING PLEASED HIM.
Shimeon ben-Ephrat points out that Michal is the only woman (apart from the heroine in the Song of Solomon) in Scripture of which it is expressly said that she loved a man. Who knows if the Song of Solomon is not based on the love of Michal for David? This suggestion does not fit the simple meaning of several verses in the Song of Solomon but it is nevertheless a possibility that we may return to later.
[1-Samuel 18:21] AND SAUL SAID, I WILL GIVE HIM HER, THAT SHE MAY BE A SNARE TO HIM, AND THAT THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES MAY BE AGAINST HIM. WHEREFORE SAUL SAID TO DAVID, THOU SHALT THIS DAY BE MY SON IN LAW IN THE ONE OF THE TWAIN.
"I WILL GIVE HIM HER": Meaning I will make myself out as if I am giving him her in order to entrap him into risking his life and hopefully losing it in the process.
[1-Samuel 18:22] AND SAUL COMMANDED HIS SERVANTS, SAYING, COMMUNE WITH DAVID SECRETLY, AND SAY, BEHOLD, THE KING HATH DELIGHT IN THEE, AND ALL HIS SERVANTS LOVE THEE: NOW THEREFORE BE THE KING'S SON IN LAW.
[1-Samuel 18:23] AND SAUL'S SERVANTS SPAKE THOSE WORDS IN THE EARS OF DAVID. AND DAVID SAID, SEEMETH IT TO YOU A LIGHT THING TO BE A KING'S SON IN LAW, SEEING THAT I AM A POOR MAN, AND LIGHTLY ESTEEMED?
"A POOR MAN, AND LIGHTLY ESTEEMED": He had no economic foundation or social standing beyond that which his own deeds had earned him. This may have been substantial but it was not enough. In those days a man had to pay a bridal-price for a wife. The price was determined by the status of the woman. A low price meant that the woman was low in status. As the daughter of the king a very high price would be needed for Michal. David had already been promised Merab and then passed over. Merab had been given to the son of a very wealthy person who apparently was able to pay quite a sum. David had also initially refused the offer of Saul concerning Merab (1-Samuel 18:18) but there he had emphasized the intrinsic unworthiness of himself due to his family origins. These are things that very little if anything could be done about. Expectations for a marriage of David with Merab had nevertheless remained but when the time came the matter was still "in the air" and it had been possible to pass David over. In the case of Michal David again declines the offer but this time mentions only his own lack of wealth and standing. These indeed were impediments but with good will ways could conceivably be found to overcome them.
[1-Samuel 18:24] AND THE SERVANTS OF SAUL TOLD HIM, SAYING, ON THIS MANNER SPAKE DAVID.
[1-Samuel 18:25] AND SAUL SAID, THUS SHALL YE SAY TO DAVID, THE KING DESIRETH NOT ANY DOWRY, BUT AN HUNDRED FORESKINS OF THE PHILISTINES, TO BE AVENGED OF THE KING'S ENEMIES. BUT SAUL THOUGHT TO MAKE DAVID FALL BY THE HAND OF THE PHILISTINES.
Saul is strengthening the promise to David and offering him a way to surmount one of the problems that had existed in the case of Merab, the economic aspect. A high bridal price did not need to be paid for Michal because of the money but rather because of the prestige it entailed. By doing something to earn prestige for the sake of Michal the psychological aspect of a high bridal price would be gained.
Shimeon ben-Ephrat points to certain idiosyncrasies of this chapter. Themes are returned to and repeated with emphasis and added intensity in a kind of rising crescendo. Three times it says that Saul feared David (18:12;15 29), three times that David was MASKIL meaning as we explained successful through use of his innate intelligence (18:5,14-15,30), twice that God was with David, twice that Saul wished to give his daughter to David, twice that Saul felt enmity towards David, and twice that Saul intended that the hand of the Philistines should strike David. There are other features of this whole passage that we will not elaborate upon at present other than to remark that the whole makes a masterful dramatization of the situation as it then was.
[1-Samuel 18:26] AND WHEN HIS SERVANTS TOLD DAVID THESE WORDS, IT PLEASED DAVID WELL TO BE THE KING'S SON IN LAW: AND THE DAYS WERE NOT EXPIRED.
Saul had offered first his eldest daughter Merab to David but then when the time came to hand her over (after three months?) he gave her to somebody else. Next he offered Michal to David who accepted. It must have looked however that Saul was dragging his feet and once again intended to cheat David out of his nuptial promise. Then just before the required time of minimum customary preparation had expired came the request for Philistine foreskins. Saul saw it as a trap, David as an opportunity to pressure Saul to keep this obligation. The love of Michal for David was apparently not unrequited. David was prepared to risk his life to win a wife; not just any wife but the daughter of a king and not just any daughter of a king but one who loved him and would prove herself a help to him. With Merab David had intimated that he felt inadequate but with Michal he did not have such a feeling. "SET ME AS A SEAL UPON THINE HEART, AS A SEAL UPON THINE ARM: FOR LOVE IS STRONG AS DEATH; JEALOUSY IS CRUEL AS THE GRAVE: THE COALS THEREOF ARE COALS OF FIRE, WHICH HATH A MOST VEHEMENT FLAME. " MANY WATERS CANNOT QUENCH LOVE, NEITHER CAN THE FLOODS DROWN IT: IF A MAN WOULD GIVE ALL THE SUBSTANCE OF HIS HOUSE FOR LOVE, IT WOULD UTTERLY BE CONTEMNED (Song of Solomon 8:6-7).
[1-Samuel 18:27] WHEREFORE DAVID AROSE AND WENT, HE AND HIS MEN, AND SLEW OF THE PHILISTINES TWO HUNDRED MEN; AND DAVID BROUGHT THEIR FORESKINS, AND THEY GAVE THEM IN FULL TALE TO THE KING, THAT HE MIGHT BE THE KING'S SON IN LAW. AND SAUL GAVE HIM MICHAL.
[1-Samuel 18:28] AND SAUL SAW AND KNEW THAT THE LORD WAS WITH DAVID, AND THAT MICHAL SAUL'S DAUGHTER LOVED HIM.
Saul had a moral and public obligation to give one of his daughters to David even though he may not have been lagally obliged to do so as we have explained (1-Samuel 17:25, 36). Abarbanel suggests that the statement that Saul would give his daughter (in addition to other rewards) to whoever killed Goliath did not even originate with Saul but was something the people had added on their own initiative. Whatever the source of this matrimonial offer it does appear to have been a factor in the later relationship between Saul and David. David as a courtier in the Court of Saul and later the Chief General of the Armies of Israel would probably have had at least some slight acquaintanceship with the girls. It may be that David from the very beginning had a preference for Michal. When he was offered the eldest daughter first (as was the custom) he protested his own unworthiness and that of his family, and extended family. Now when he is given a chance to marry Michal he grabs it with alacrity and succeeds. Divine Providence and the bravery of David cause Saul to trap himself in his own schemes and against his will to give his daughter to he whom he considered an enemy. Saul sees what has happened and how the meanness he intended towards David (by not giving him Merab and later dangling Michal as "bait" before him) had actually played into David's hand. Things like this were happening all the time, again and again, and Saul was frightened. He felt as if David was breathing down his neck.
[1-Samuel 18:29] AND SAUL WAS YET THE MORE AFRAID OF DAVID; AND SAUL BECAME DAVID'S ENEMY CONTINUALLY.
[1-Samuel 18:30] THEN THE PRINCES OF THE PHILISTINES WENT FORTH: AND IT CAME TO PASS, AFTER THEY WENT FORTH, THAT DAVID BEHAVED HIMSELF MORE WISELY THAN ALL THE SERVANTS OF SAUL; SO THAT HIS NAME WAS MUCH SET BY.
Once again Scripture hints to us at great military victories occasioned by David. It may that Saul had tried to diminish the standing of David by giving command opportunities at a time of national danger to other of his officials. These substitutes had not been as successful as David and had probably made matters worse so that the leadership of David was needed even more this time both to repair the damage and avert the danger.
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