1 Samuel 18

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Read 1 Samuel 18

Saul’s Growing Fear of David

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well.

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

“Saul has slain his thousands,
    and David his tens of thousands.”

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. 13 So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. 14 In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.

17 Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. I will give her to you in marriage; only serve me bravely and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul said to himself, “I will not raise a hand against him. Let the Philistines do that!”

18 But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” 19 So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it, he was pleased. 21 “I will give her to him,” he thought, “so that she may be a snare to him and so that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” So Saul said to David, “Now you have a second opportunity to become my son-in-law.”

22 Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”

23 They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”

24 When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 25 Saul replied, “Say to David, ‘The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Philistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.’” Saul’s plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Philistines.

26 When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, 27 David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

30 The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.

Go Deeper

Goliath is dead, and the Philistines are on the run. Israel has been battling the Philistines for a while, and the standoff with Goliath lasted 40 days. That’s 40 days of psychological warfare.

It makes sense that David’s name is everywhere. It even makes sense that they’d come up with a chant that would feel at home in a modern soccer stadium (v. 7).

Saul is jealous in two ways. First, he’s dealing with worldly jealousy; he sees the acclaim and notoriety that David’s getting. People are comparing them in song, and it’s not great for Saul. Second, he’s dealing with jealousy about God’s favor. As toxic as worldly jealousy can be, this second kind of jealousy is far, far worse. He’s been anointed king–the first king–of God’s chosen people. But he’s made mistakes. He’s defied God. In this chapter, he even goes so far as to mock the Lord’s prophets (v. 10). 

His solution? He tries to get David killed in one of the weirdest ways possible (v. 25). While his methods were unusual, his motives weren’t. We’ve seen this story before: Cain and Abel, Leah and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Saul and David. However, Jonathan, Saul’s son, responds differently. 

The chapter opens with Jonathan, immediately following this massive victory, making a covenant with David (v 1-5). In normal terms, they formally establish their partnership and kinship. In less formal terms, they’re bros now. Jonathan sees that the Lord is with David, and that’s where he wants to be. Just a reminder: Jonathan is Saul’s heir. We could probably understand him being jealous of David, even though it wouldn’t be right. But he sets potential jealousy aside because he knows the Lord has chosen David. 

Here’s jealousy in a nutshell: you believe that something someone else has is rightfully yours. There is one, and only One being in this universe that can make that claim, and He loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, His heir, to give His life to satisfy His jealousy for us.

Jealousy destroyed Saul’s kingdom. Jealousy (later) ate away at David’s kingdom. Jealousy will drive you far away from God and His will for your life. God’s jealousy for you, however, will save your life.



  1. Where in your life are you struggling with earthly jealousy? How is that poisoning your relationships?
  2. Where in your life are you struggling with jealousy towards God?
  3. What can you apply today from the way that Jonathan responds to the events around him in regards to jealousy?

A Prayer

Lord, help rid me of my jealousy. Draw it away from me, and draw me to your will. Lead me in paths of righteousness, and let me draw joy from the path you have for me. Help me bind to those around me that have your will first, and stay clear of the trappings of the jealousy of this world. Thank you for your Son, Jesus, who gives us an inheritance that overcomes your righteous jealousy for us. Help make us more like Him. Amen. 

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3 thoughts on “1 Samuel 18”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    I’m thinking of the “Jonathon” friendships that God has graciously given me my entire life. Those who physically and spiritually walked with me through seasons of my life, praying, loving & challenging me to stay the course. They continue to draw me to Jesus, the friend of sinners, who laid down his life for us. I’m overcome with gratitude!

    1. Ella, I was thinking along the same line as you. I can look back on my life and name person after person that God sent to enrich my life, to disciple me, to say an encouraging word during those youthful years when I lacked confidence in myself, and the few who just sat with me when tragedy struck. Many of those friends are now with the Lord but part of their lives live on in me!

  2. It seems there may be a way to gain the Lord’s favor. To be obedient to His commands, for one, and try to carry them out to the best of my ability. Also, according to the Psalms, it could also be to meditate on and delight myself in the Word day and night. Sure, it may seem like selfishness to do these things to gain the Lord’s favor but think of all the things one can do to gain the Lord’s wrath for disobedience. Is it not better to seek His favor than to seek His wrath. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved. We see here that it’s possible for God to favor one over another and still love us all. He wants us all to be obedient and to seek His favor. He wants us all to delight in His Word. For it says in Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of you heart.” Therefore, I see nothing wrong with seeking the Lord’s favor for this is what leads to the life you’ve always dreamed of.

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