1 Samuel 19


Saul’s Anger Makes David a Fugitive (19:1-23:29)

Jonathan and Michal Defend David

      • Saul told Jonathan and all his servants to kill David. But Saul’s son Jonathan liked David very much so he warned him saying, “My father, Saul, intends to kill you. Be on guard tomorrow morning. Find a place to hide and stay there. I’ll go stand next to my father in the field you’re in and talk to him about you. If I learn anything, I’ll tell you.”

        • Guzik writes, “…Jonathan knew he did right. He should not kill David because his father and king told him to do something that was clearly disobedient to God. Jonathan knew the Bible said, You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13). The Bible was clear, and Saul was on record as saying that they should kill David (1 Samuel 19:1)…We are under authority and commanded to submit to God’s order of authority in many different arenas. There is a Biblical submission from children to their parents, from citizens to their government, from employees to their employers, from Christians to their church leadership, and from wives to their husbands. But in all these relationships, we are never excused from sin because we obeyed an authority that told us to sin. In this case, it would be wrong for Jonathan to obey his father and kill David…Jonathan did more than refuse to help Saul. He helped David. Jonathan could have said, ‘Look, I want no part of this. I’m not going to help my father do something I know is wrong. But I won’t try to stop it either. I’ll just be neutral and let God work it out.’ But Jonathan didn’t take that attitude.”

      • Jonathan said good things about David to his father, Saul, saying, “The king should not sin against his servant, David, because he hasn’t sinned against you and his actions have benefited you greatly. He risked his own life when he killed the Philistine, and Yahweh won a great victory for Israel. You saw it and rejoiced. So, why would you sin against innocent blood by killing David for no reason?”

        • Guzik remarks, “Jonathan was bold enough to tell his father that his anger and jealousy against David was sin, and to say, “he has not sinned against you.” Saul felt that David had sinned against him in some manner and he felt righteous in his cause. Jonathan delivered a needed word of correction.”

      • Saul listened to Jonathan and swore this oath: “As surely as Yahweh lives, he will not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and told him what was said. Then Jonathan brought David back to Saul and David served in his presence as he had before.

        • Guzik writes, “This took real humility for Saul. It was easy to say, ‘I’m the king and I’m right. I don’t care what you say.’ But in this case, Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Violating a vow is a serious offense against God (see Num 30:2; Deut 23:21-23; cp Eccl 5:4-5). But Saul soon disregarded his promise and again sought to kill David (1 Sam 19:9-24).”

      • When war broke out again, David went out to fight against the Philistines. He struck them with such a blow that they ran away from him. Then, while David was playing the lyre for Saul, an evil spirit from Yahweh came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house holding his spear. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with his spear, but he escaped and the spear drove into the wall. That night, David ran away and escaped.

        • Guzik makes some very valuable comments here, “It was David’s success that aroused Saul’s jealousy before. When David was successful again, surely Saul would be tempted to jealousy again…Evil spirits were more than ready to attack Saul where he was most vulnerable…Saul is in a bad place. He is tempted and spiritually attacked, and now he has put himself in a potentially sinful situation…Saul wavered from his change of heart and broke his oath to not kill David…But it didn’t ‘just happen.’ Saul was unprepared to handle temptation, unprepared to handle spiritual attack, and had the opportunity to sin close at hand. Most of us will trip up under those circumstances.”

        • Guzik adds, “David never returned to the palace until he was the king of Israel – some 20 years later! From now until the day Saul dies David lives as a fugitive.”

      • Saul sent messengers to David’s house to keep watch, planning to kill him in the morning. But David’s wife Michal told him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, you’ll be killed tomorrow.” So Michal lowered David down through a window, and he ran away and escaped. Then Michal took a household idol, put it in the bed, put goat’s hair on its head, and covered it with clothing. When Saul sent messengers to arrest David, she said, “He’s sick.” Then Saul sent the messengers back to see David saying, “Bring him to me in his bed so I can kill him.” But when the messengers returned, they found the idol in the bed with goat’s hair covering its head.

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes say, “Heb ‘teraphim’ (also a second time in this verse and once in v. 16). These were statues that represented various deities. According to 2 Kgs 23:24 they were prohibited during the time of Josiah’s reform movement in the seventh century.”

        • Some portray worship of idols as worship of the inanimate object itself. Often this is due to theological discomfort with the notion that there are other entities referred to in Scripture as “elohim,” or gods, rather than just images constructed by humans and then worshiped as gods. This is not accurate. This Jewish Encyclopedia entry explains:

          • The nature of the teraphim cult and its gradual decay seem also perfectly clear. It may be noted that teraphim were regarded in early times as representatives of real gods endowed with divine attributes (comp. Gen. xxxi. 30, where Laban, rebuking Jacob for Rachel’s theft of the teraphim, asks, ‘Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?’), and that evidently the teraphim cult was practically on a plane with Yhwh worship. In Judges xvii. 5 Micah has ‘an house of gods’) with a duly appointed priest; he makes an ephod (see below) and teraphim, which were used together with ‘a graven image’ and ‘a molten image’ made from silver dedicated to Yhwh; the figures were evidently Yhwh images. The value of the teraphim to the family and the tribe is shown by the statements that Rachel stole them from her father (Gen. xxxi. 19), and that the Danites, when they went to spy out the land of Laish, took away by force from the house of Micah not only the Yhwh images just mentioned, but also the ephod, the teraphim, and the Levitical priest (see Judges xviii.).”

        • This explains why Michal would’ve had teraphim in her house [“ the figures were evidently Yhwh images”]. They were not necessarily made for the purpose of worshiping a deity other than Yahweh. Of course, their use is still explicitly prohibited in Scripture. The same source includes the following information:

          • In early times teraphim-worship was undoubtedly tolerated by the Yhwh religion, as may be seen, for example, from I Sam. xix. 13 (the story of Michal, the daughter of Saul), where it is tacitly implied that a teraphim was a usual piece of furniture in the household of a loyal follower of Yhwh. In Hos. iii. 4 and in Gen. xxxi. 19, also, teraphim are alluded to without comment, although Prof. H. P. Smith (‘Samuel,’ p. xxxiv.) thinks he detects a touch of sarcasm in the latter passage. It is certain, however, that teraphim soon became an object of distinct condemnation in the Yhwh cult. In Gen. xxxv. 2 et seq. Jacob orders that the ‘strange gods’…, by which teraphim images were probably meant, be put away by his household and buried. The spot which was thus defiled was made a holy place by Joshua (Josh. xxiv. 20-26). Furthermore, in I Sam. xv. 23 Samuel in his rebuke to Saul is made to classify teraphim with iniquity and rebellion. Josiah, the reforming king, did away with the magicians and wizards as well as with the teraphim and idols, all of which are grouped together as ‘abominations’ (II Kings xxiii. 24). With these passages should also be compared Zech. x. 2 (R. V.): ‘for the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams.’”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “While Rachel was able to conceal teraphim from Laban’s household in the camel’s saddle upon which she was sitting (Ge 31:34-35), Michal’s teraphim was apparently large enough to simulate a reclining David.”

      • Saul asked Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this by sending my enemy away so that he could escape? She answered, “He told me, ‘Let me get away or I’ll kill you.’”

      • David ran away and escaped to Samuel in Ramah where he told him everything that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. When Saul received a report that David was at Naioth in Ramah, he sent messengers to capture him. But when they saw a company of prophets, led by Samuel, prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s messengers and they began to prophesy also. When this was reported to Saul, he sent more messengers, but they also began to prophesy. So Saul sent messengers a third time, but they also prophesied. Finally, Saul went to Ramah himself. When he arrived at the large well that is in Secu, he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” He was told, “At Naioth in Ramah.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Ramah was Samuel’s hometown (1:1). Naioth was a tiny village not far from the other Ramah in Benjamin.”

      • So Saul went to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him as well, and he walked along prophesying until he arrived at Naioth in Ramah. Then he stripped off his clothes and prophesied in front of Samuel. He lay there naked all that day and all that night. That is why they say, “Is Saul among the prophets too?”

        • Guzik mentions, “It is unlikely – though possible – that Saul stripped himself bare. The Hebrew word for naked can indicate just stripping down to the undergarments. Saul probably took off all the royal robes that said ‘prestige’ and ‘royalty,’ and laid himself out before the LORD in his plain linen undergarments.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible writes, “Both in the Bible and in the ancient Near East more broadly, special garments often served to mark a person’s identity, status, or rank…Saul’s (involuntary) divestment of his royal robes in the present context serves as yet another reminder that, in Yahweh’s eyes, he is no longer rightful king.”