1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11 & 59
Today’s reading, found in 1 Samuel chapters 18 through 20, highlights how far Saul has fallen from his successes of chapter 14. (Remember from chapter 15, that Saul had deliberately disobeyed a direct command from God, and things have been going from bad to worse for him since.
In 18:10-11, we read, “The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.”
Once Saul decided to abandon God, God not only abandoned Saul, God tormented Saul. This should be a lesson to us – never disobey God – there are always negative consequences.
Saul became jealous of David, after David had killed Goliath, because the women of Israel sang this song, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” As a result of his jealousy, Saul tried to kill David with his spear in 18:11 and again in 19:10. Saul also tried to kill David by having the Philistines kill him in 18:17, 21, 25. In 19:1, Saul urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. In 19:15, Saul ordered his men to bring David (and his bed) to Saul to be killed, when Saul thought David was sick in bed. In 19:20, 21 and 22 Saul unsuccessfully sent troops to get David three times.
In 20:30, Saul boiled with rage at his own son, Jonathan, who was friends with David, and in 20:33, Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him.
So much for Saul, what about David?
If you were David, how would you react? What would you do?
Remember that Samuel had anointed David in chapter 16, and declared that David would be the next king over Israel. So what did David do? He wrote some songs about this. Let’s see what he said in those songs…
David wrote Psalm 59 when Saul sent his soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him. This psalm starts out, “Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. They have set an ambush for me…”. This makes sense. David was in trouble, so he cried out to God for help. David continues in verse 9, “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.”
Then an astounding thing happens. David starts praising God – in advance of God’s rescuing him. Psalm 59 ends with, “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning, I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.”
David, the man after God’s own heart was actually praising God when he was literally afraid for his life. This shows his great faith that God will indeed rescue him. Maybe this is one of the reasons he was called a “man after God’s own heart.”
Psalm 11, the other chapter from today’s reading also shows David’s faith through difficulty. It starts out, “I trust in the Lord for protection…”, and ends with “For the righteous Lord loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.”
I believe David’s response is a good example for us. When times are tough, it’s natural to cry out to God for help. We need to move on from just asking for help, and follow David’s example to also have faith and praise God, even before the answer comes. And in the process, we, too, may become people after God’s own heart.