Bible Study Series: Life of David
1 Samuel Chapter 18: David, Saul & Jonathan
by F Gordon
The context to this chapter follows on from that great battle between two nations, David and Goliath and in type Jesus and Satan. Goliath pictures Satan with the combination of sixes in his armour, the defiler of Israel and the fact that he suffered a mortal wound to his head. In type Revelation 13 shows us the beast whose name is 666 who also suffers a mortal wound to the head, but he is resurrected and healed as a counter resurrection to that of Christ.
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father's house anymore. 1 Samuel 18.1-2
When David returned from the battle Saul took him aside to find out more about this young man. Jonathan was listening to all that was said and his heart was knit to that of David. Jonathan was a man of great faith like David, in 1 Samuel 14 he scaled a hill with his armour bearer and trusted God to bring a victory over the Philistines. So when he saw the victory David had and heard his words his heart was knit - to be joined or bonded to that of David.
All Israel benefitted from the victory that day, they were free from slavery, but only Jonathan said his heart was knit when he heard David’s words. It is the same in Christianity, all have benefitted from Christ’s victory, all have been set free from slavery but only those who see and hear the words of Jesus enter into their hearts being knit to Christ. It is when we comprehend all that Christ has done to bring us freedom that our hearts are knit to our Saviour. Paul in his two prayers in Ephesians 1.17-21, and 3.16-20 prays that our understanding of this great salvation would be enlightened and that our hearts would be knit to Christ and His eternal purpose. Also in Matthew 11.28 we have this theme of being bonded, knit, joined to Christ when he asks us to come to him and take his yoke and learn from him. A yoke was a piece of wood that joined the oxen together to work as one. In like manner Christ calls us to his yoke that joins us with him, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. He is the all sufficient one that empowers us to live for his purposes. We need to set aside our self yoke and take Christ's yoke and find that his calling to us is light and easy.
And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18.4
Jonathan made a covenant with David for he loved him as his own soul. Next we see that he took off his roe, armour, sword, bow and belt and gave them to David. This was an act of humility and faith, Jonathan was the king's son, the next in line for the throne but he was declaring to David that he was giving up his rights as the king’s son and giving David the best. It was also an act of faith, for Jonathan recognised God’s calling and purpose for David, that he was to succeed his father who had been rejected as king.
Jonathan is a type of Christ who was willing to give up the throne in Philippians 2.5-8 where he laid aside his rights to act as God and lowered himself to bring blessing to humanity. Likewise in John 13.1-9, we see Jesus take off his garments and wash the disciples' feet to bring blessing which is also a picture of salvation. As he said to Peter, unless he washes us we have no part with him. Just as Jonathan gave up his rights so we also are called to do likewise.
Jonathan recognised God’s calling on David. We also in the church need to be willing to recognise God’s calling on others and not cling to our rights or positions but step aside and be knitted to God for his purposes.
So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved 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. Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said: "Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands." 1 Samuel 18.5-7
David came from humble beginnings, he was the youngest son of eight brothers. He wasn’t even called to the feast when Samuel came, they thought of him as insignificant. So David went from obscurity to hero in a very short time. Saul places him with authority over the men of war and as they return the women come out with songs of David’s greatness, he now has the praise and popularity of the nation. There is a great trap for us all in being popular and praised. It is here that the door to pride opens very quickly and the praise given is gladly received and we become filled with our own greatness. Just like the mother whale said to her baby “when you get to the top and start to blow, that’s when you get harpooned”. God wasn’t going to let praise and popularity fill the head of his servant, so he allowed Saul in all his carnality to persecute David in God’s training field.
Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?" 1 Samuel 18.8
Saul’s response to the praise given to David was very different to the women who sang. It was one of anger and jealousy. How can they praise this man more than me? I am the king! They have exalted him above me, now, what more can he have but the kingdom? God had made it clear to Saul that he had been rejected as king and that God was going to raise another who had a heart after God. David was now a threat to the crown and Saul was clinging to the throne at all costs. In these matters Saul pictures for us that fleshly aspect of our lives which is self serving. The part which holds onto positions, clinging to the throne of self and refusing to recognise God’s will, even if it means we may be put to one side that another may be exalted.
So Saul eyed David from that day forward. And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, "I will pin David to the wall!" But David escaped his presence twice. Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them. 1 Samuel 18.9-16
Saul’s anger and jealousy now increased to that of murder for he tried to spear David to the wall twice, but he escaped. The two different responses of Jonathan and Saul to God’s anointed are given in James as the wisdom from below and the wisdom from above. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3. 14-17
The wisdom from below is what Saul was operating under. He had bitter envy towards David, he was jealous, self seeking and afraid of losing the throne. James says this wisdom is not from above, but is earthly, it is from this world and about power, control, position, and recognition from others. It is fleshly, wisdom governed by our senses, how we feel, afraid, fearful, jealous and envious. It is demonic and is the origin of all self seeking. It was Satan's pride of self seeking wanting to be exalted, worshipped and to be like the most High. This wisdom is demonic and we see that Saul, distressed by an evil spirit acted by this wisdom from below. This wisdom can result in violence against God’s saints as shown when Saul tried to murder David, but the Lord was with David and protected him.
The wisdom from above is pictured for us in Jonathan’s response to David, this wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and hypocrisy. This was Jonathan, he refused to claim his position as the next in line and was willing to yield that position by giving up his clothing and armour because he recognised God’s calling on David. This is the wisdom from above where self is put aside that others may be blessed.
Unfortunately in our churches we have these two types of wisdom operating and it is why there is contention among believers. We need to check ourselves and if there is self seeking then this is the wisdom from below, not the wisdom from above which is Christ’s life. His life in and through us is pure peaceable, gentle, willing to yield full of mercy and good fruits, no partiality or hypocrisy.