Lesson 19: Saul, David, and Goliath

Reading Preparation:
  • 1 Samuel 9-24; 26; 28; 31
Lesson Notes:
1. 1 Samuel Continues
As noted in Chapter 18, as 1 Samuel unfolds, our concentration moves to Saul and the rise and fall of his monarchy. We will also address the early events in the life of David who will be anointed as Israel’s second king. David’s encounter with Goliath, his friendship with Jonathan and his bitter-sweet relationship with Saul will also be examined.
2. Saul Anointed King.
The Lord indicates that he will direct Samuel as his anointed prophet to select the first King of Israel.
1 Samuel 8:22
22 And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king…
There was in Israel a man named Kish who had a son.
1 Samuel 9:2
2 And he [Kish] had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he:…
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual defines “goodly,”
“The word goodly seems to indicate many of the qualities that made Saul a logical candidate to be Israel’s first king. All that the Bible reveals indicates that Saul was honest, reliable, considerate of his parents, and altogether a very promising person for the great task ahead.” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-1 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition, Revised, 1981], 271).
Saul is led to Samuel as Saul is asked by his father to find some lost donkeys. Saul and his servant journey some distance with no luck. Saul is ready to return when his servant makes an important suggestion.
1 Samuel 9:6
6 And he said unto him, Behold now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can shew us our way that we should go
The King James Bible offers the following clarification regarding Samuel as a “man of God,” or Prophet to include reference to a “seer”.
1 Samuel 9:9
9 (Beforetime in Israel when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)
The Book of Mormon provides even yet further clarification.
B/M Mosiah 8:16-17
16 …a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.
17 But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come,…
Daniel H. Ludlow states,
“The term seer therefore designates a wider and more comprehensive function than the term prophet. In other words, a seer is always a prophet, but a prophet might not always be a seer… In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, the members of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles are sustained by the members of the Church as ‘prophets, seers, and revelators.” (A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, 216).
They find Samuel, not knowing the Lord had prepared Samuel for their visit.
1 Samuel 9:16-17
16 To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me.
17 And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people.
Saul will attend the celebration with Samuel and then eat with him and spend the night in Samuel’s home. Before his departure, Samuel in private will anoint Saul to be king.
1 Samuel 10:1
1 …Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon [Saul’s] head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?
David R. Seely states.
Samuel anointed Saul’s head with oil, “… as a sign and token of the divine origin and validity of Saul’s call… ” (“Samuel: Prophet, Judge, and Anointer of Kings” in Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 3. Edited by Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet. Salt Lake City: Randall Book Co., 1985, 276).
Samuel instructed Saul that following his anointing, a change will come upon him. Two changes in particular.
1 Samuel 10:6, 9
6 And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee,… and shalt he turn into another man.
9 And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart:…
Saul has been changed into a new man and God has given him a new heart. Why? So Saul will remain close to the Lord, humbling himself, as he rules Israel in uprightness and he will do so with increased compassion for the people. These qualities are essential if Saul is going to lead Israel in righteousness.
Daniel H. Ludlow states,
“Saul was obviously a young man when he was anointed to become king, but his actual ‘coronation’ as king might not have occurred until many years later. The Bible later indicates that David was also anointed as a boy, but was thirty before becoming king.” (A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, 217).
While we do not know how many years passed between Saul’s private and public confirmation, it is important that Saul was presented for a public confirmation by Samuel. Sometime after Saul’s private anointing to become Israel’s King, Samuel will call all Israel to gather in Mizpeh for his public confirmation.
1 Samuel 10:17, 19, 24-25
17 And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;
19 And [said] ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.
24 And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him [Saul] whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.
25 Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, ever man to his house.
Saul is now anointed king of Israel.
3. “Not Even a King Can Offer a Sacrifice”
Times passes and in Saul’s first battle with Israel’s enemies, the Ammonites, Saul is victorious. The soldiers are pleased with their victory, however, they wanted to put to death all eligible Israelites who did not join in the battle. Saul’s wisdom and judgment is manifested.
1 Samuel 11:13
13 And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.
Samuel is now growing old and he brings all Israel together to give them counsel and a warning.
1 Samuel 12:14-15, 24-25
14 If you will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:
15 But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.
24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.
Samuel’s warning to Israel is clear. If they are obedient and serve the Lord, they will enjoy great blessings. If they are disobedient, they and their king will be destroyed.
Approximately two years have passed since Samuel spoke to Israel. Israel and her king are preparing to go into battle against the Philistines. Prior to the commencement of the battle, Samuel was to come to the camp and offer a sacrifice unto the Lord that He would go with Israel and fight her battle.
Seven days have passed, and still Samuel has not arrived to offer the sacrifice. Saul, becoming impatient, and because he felt that his power as king would permit him to do anything he wished to do, he now offers the sacrifice himself. By doing so he has violated the law of God! As he was concluding the sacrifice, Samuel appeared. Saul responds.
1 Samuel 13:12
12 Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.
Samuel replies to King Saul.
1 Samuel 13:13-14
13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
Ellis T. Rasmussen states,
Samuel “saw the king’s assumption of priestly prerogatives as a very serious innovation and warned Saul that he and his family would not continue as rulers in Israel; indeed the Lord had already chosen another [to serve as king].” (A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993, 241).
Why, one might ask, was the action of Saul so unacceptable to the Lord? Israel had rejected the Lord as her king. In response to the request of her leaders, the Lord had called a king for Israel through His prophet. By Saul’s action of offering a sacrifice himself through his assumed power as king, he was rejecting the authority of the Lord held only by Samuel, his prophet. Actions done in the Lord’s name, without his authority, have no value. In this incident, it resulted in Saul and his family losing the kingship.
Having been chastised by the Lord’s anointed, Saul will act on his own authority and attempt to get the Lord’s help in the coming battle. He instructed his soldiers to fast. Jonathan, the king’s own son, unaware of the king’s directive, had himself partaken of some wild honey.
When Saul did not receive an answer from the Lord as he went into battle, Saul sought an explanation for the Lord’s silence. When he learns Jonathan had not fasted, Saul is prepared to kill him. Only when the people pronounced Jonathan’s innocence and declared his victory in the battle, due to Lord’s intervention, did Saul listen.
1 Samuel 14:15
15 And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
The quaking of the earth had aided Jonathan and his troops to defeat the Philistines. Surely Saul then recognized it had been his own arbitrary and despotic action that had brought the Lord’s silence. The people speak for Jonathan.
1 Samuel 14:45
45 And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.
4. “To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice”
Now Saul declares war on all of Israel’s enemies.
1 Samuel 14:47
47 So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the Kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
Saul is visited by Samuel. Samuel tells Saul it is the Lords’ directive that the Israelites go into battle against the Amalekites who have long been the enemies of the children of Israel. The Lord’s order to Saul is conveyed by Samuel.
1 Samuel 15:3
3 Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both men and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Saul undertakes the battle, however, in spite of his success on the battlefield, he fails to completely follow the Lord’s direction.
1 Samuel 15:7-9
7 And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
8 And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them:…
Why does Saul fail to be obedient to the Lord? Saul’s failing, like some of us, is his inability to humble himself to the direction of the Lord. He takes upon himself authority that is not his and then acts on behalf of himself and his own selfish interests. He is Israel’s king and he acts as if he is not responsible to any other authority.
The Lord speaks to Samuel and conveys his displeasure with Saul’s actions. *Note the changes from the Joseph Smith Translation in comparison with the King James Bible.
1 Samuel 15:11 JST, 1 Samuel 15:11
11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hat not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
11 I have set up Saul to be a king, and he repenteth not that he hath sinned, for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night.
You will note in the Joseph Smith translation, it is Saul who has not repented, rather than the Lord.
1 Samuel 15:13
13 And Samuel came to Saul: And Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD.
Saul begins the inquiry with Samuel by lying to the Lord’s prophet. He had not performed the commandment of the Lord and he knew it.
1 Samuel 15:14-15
14 And Samuel said, what meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
15 And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Saul’s lying continues. He had spared the sheep and the cattle, not to sacrifice unto the Lord, but for his own personal use. He had also spared the life of Agag, the king of the Amalekites. He had not done as the Lord had commanded which was to “utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not” (1 Samuel 15:3). Samuel responds to Saul.
1 Samuel 15:19
19 Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
Saul does acknowledges that he “brought Agag the king of the Amalek, and utterly destroyed the Amalekites” (1 Samuel 15:20), but he now blames the people for not destroying the animals, which should have been used as sacrifice to the Lord.
Samuel’s now teaches Saul, and each of us, a lesson.
1 Samuel 15:22-23
22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of the rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Samuel is underlining the important qualities the Lord expects His children to obtain. It is for us to listen and be obedient. We are not to be single-minded in our own determination to do it “our own way,” as opposed to following the “Lord’s direction.” Refusing to following the Lord leaves us on our own without His guidance. Hopefully, we can learn from Saul’s experience. Saul did not.
1 Samuel 15:24
24 And Saul said to Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
While sincere, Saul’s confession is not complete. He does not take responsibility himself for his disobedience. He blames others.
1 Samuel 15:28, 35
28 And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent [torn] the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.
35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented [felt sorrow] that he had made Saul king over Israel.
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual states,
“… subsequent events show that the Lord was teaching Israel a lesson about people and about kings when he chose Saul. For the Lord certainly knew the end of this thing from the beginning, as he does in all things. Though Saul had, at first, a great regard for the law of Moses and for God, yet ‘the consciousness of his own power, coupled with the energy of his character, led him astray into an incautious disregard of the commands of God; his zeal in the prosecution of his plans hurried him on to reckless and violent measures; and success in his undertakings heightened his ambition into a haughty rebellion against the Lord, the God-king of Israel:” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-1 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition. Revised, 1981], 271-272; see also Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, 2:2:79).
5. David Is Selected By the Lord
There is a period of mourning for Samuel regarding Saul. Saul will continue to serve as Israel’s king, however, he will now do so without the direction of the Lord whom he has, by his own actions, rejected.
Daniel H. Ludlow notes,
The Lord, through his prophet, selects Israel’s second king, David. “The Bible later indicates that David was… anointed as a boy, but was thirty before becoming king.” (A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, 217).
1 Samuel 16:1
1 … fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth-lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
You will recall that Jesse is the son of Obed, the son of Ruth and Boaz.
As Samuel begins the interview process with Jesse’s sons, beginning with the oldest, Eliab, he concludes to himself, he is to be Israel’s next king. The Lord instructs his prophet.
1 Samuel 16:7
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Samuel will interview each of Jesse’s seven sons who are present with the same conclusion, this is not the one the Lord has chosen. Samuel asks Jesse if he has yet another son and is told that he does. He is Jesse’s youngest and at present he is herding the sheep.
1 Samuel 16:11
11 … And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
Upon his arrival, the Lord speaks to Samuel.
1 Samuel 16:12-13
12 … And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward… .
The house of Jesse was full of joy and happiness for his son, David and the honor the Lord has bestowed upon him while he was yet a young boy. In the palace of Saul there was sorrow.
1 Samuel 16:14-15 JST, 1 Samuel 16:14-15
14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now an evil spirit from God troubleth thee.
14 But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit which was not of the Lord troubled him.
15 And Saul’s servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit which is not of God troubleth thee.
You will note in the comparison between the two scriptures, as clarified in the Joseph Smith Translation, the “evil spirit” was not of the Lord that troubled Saul. This is true for all verses in the scripture when either stated or inferred. The truth is that when one makes a covenant to follow the Lord and to keep his commandments, they are no longer neutral in their choice of good and evil. When they then choose to break their covenant, the spirit of the Lord withdraws from them and they become subject to the powers of evil.
Joseph Smith observed,
“Before you joined this Church [The restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached, good and evil were set before you. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you can never go back on it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant.” (“Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ” in Juvenile Instructor 28, No. 6 (15 August 1892), 492).
Jesus taught in this regard.
Matthew 6:24
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other… .
The abridger of the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Mormon taught.
B/M, Moroni 7:11
11 … wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
Saul having lost the spirit of Christ, now will be plagued by an “evil spirit.” As we continue our study we will be able to observe the effects this spirit will have upon Saul’s life.
6. David Calms a King and Slays a Giant
Saul plagued by the “evil spirit” is unable to find peace of mind. He believes harp music will help calm him and so he sends his servant to find someone who can play the harp.
1 Samuel 16:18
18 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Beth-lehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.
David is selected for this assignment.
Ellis T. Rasmussen notes,
“It is a classic irony that David, the one chosen to replace Saul, was also the one chosen to heal his spiritual affliction.” (A Latter-Day Saints Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992, 244).
1 Samuel 16:23
23 And it came to pass, when the evil spirit [JST: which was not of God] from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
David now divides his time between the courts of the King and herding sheep for his father.
David is called by his father to go to the battle front when the Israelites and the Philistines are once again facing each other. David is directed to take food to his three older brothers who are in Saul’s army. As David comes to Saul’s camp, he is astounded by what is occurring. Each day for “forty days” (1 Samuel 17:16), a champion of the Philistines named Goliath issued a challenge to the Israelites to send one of their own in battle against him. If the Israelite were to win the battle, the Philistines would concede and be the servants of the Israelites. If, however, Goliath was to win, the Israelites would then become the servants of the Philistine. (see 1 Samuel 17:8-10).
The Old Testament Institute Student Manual states,
It is, according to “the most widely accepted opinion,”… the height of Goliath [was] approximately nine feet nine inches!… Experts have estimated the weight of Goliath’s armor to be about 150 pounds… [and] the weight of [his] spearhead… from twelve to twenty-six pounds… ” (Old Testament Institute Student Manual: Genesis-1 Samuel. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1980, [Second Edition. Revised, 1981], 278).
The response of the Israelite army to Goliath’s challenge is noted.
1 Samuel 17:24
24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.
Without faith, there would have been clear reason to be afraid. Given his size and weight of his weapons, and the armor he wore, he was certainly considered a formable threat.
Upon hearing Goliath’s challenge, David questions Israel’s response.
1 Samuel 17:26
26 … for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
When his brothers heard the response of their younger brother, they rebuke him.
1 Samuel 17:28
28 And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
Clearly his brother’s response is based upon not only on sibling rivalry, but also on his own lack of faith regarding this formidable enemy. He has determined that no one could defeat Goliath, never mind, he must have thought, his younger brother!
David’s response is directly to the point.
1 Samuel 17:29
29 And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
In other words, what have I done to displease you? I have heard the words of this Philistine. I am indignant in the face of his derogatory comments regarding the God of Israel. I am willing to go into battle against him.
Saul hearing David’s words to his brother, sends for him. David tells Saul.
1 Samuel 17:32
32 And David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
Saul is doubtful about David’s ability until David tells him of his encounter with a lion and a bear.
1 Samuel 17:36-37
36 Thy servant slew both the lion and a bear: And this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.
37 David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.
Saul will offer to provide David with armor to protect him, however, David declines, “for I have not proved them” (1 Samuel 17:39).
Adam Clarks clarifies,
“I am wholly unaccustomed to such amour and it would be an encumbrance to me.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, Abridged by Ralph Earle. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1967, [Nineteenth printing, 1991], vs. 39. 310).
David now goes armed with only his sling and staff. He stops at the brook.
1 Samuel 17:40
40 And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stone out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.
David did not know how the Lord would deliver Goliath into his hands, but he had faith that he would. Note that he “chose him five smooth stone[s],” not just one.
Goliath response to seeing a boy, not a man, and one without even battle armor and then armed only with a sling not sword, speaks directly to David.
1 Samuel 17:43
43 And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.
David speaks directly to his opponent.
1 Samuel 17:45-47
45 Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.
46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S and he will give you into our hands.
David only needed one of his five stones. His first found its mark in one of Goliath’s most vulnerable spots, his forehead. The result was instant death for this giant who only moments before had boasted of his invincible strength.
1 Samuel 17:51
51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.
David’s faith in his Lord saved the day for Israel when no other dared to step forward. David had trusted in his Lord for his protection. Young David had acted not for himself but as a representative of the Lord. The Lord did not desert him in his most crucial moment.
7. David And Jonathan
Saul tells David he is not to return to his home, but is to live at the King’s palace. (see 1 Samuel 18:2). While living at the palace, David makes friends with Saul’s son, Jonathan. Jonathan is so impressed with his friend he offers him royal gifts, as a token of their friendship .
1 Samuel 18:4
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.
Ellis T. Rasmussen notes,
“The knowledge of David’s appointment to become king created no jealousy in Jonathan. Indeed, the transfer of his robe, garments girdle, sword and bow to David seems to symbolize Jonathan’s willing yielding of his natural claim to the throne, which he made explicit later (1 Sam. 23:17).” (A Latter-Day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993, 245).
David is made a general in Saul’s army and he is victorious in battle. David is so successful he is recognized by the people as a honored warrior.
1 Samuel 18:6-7
6 And it came to pass as they came, when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistines, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul… .
7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
Saul’s response to the cry of the women was one of anger and jealousy for the success of David and appears to have been the basis of his antagonistic feelings towards David.
1 Samuel 18:8-9
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me that have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Comments regarding David that should have had minimal effect upon Saul, now begin to fester within him. Dislike turns into anger. Anger turns to hate which then turns into homicidal rage. Saul becomes obsessed with David’s demise and after two failed attempts of his own (see 1 Samuel 18:11), Saul formulates a plan to cause David’s death. He offers his daughter, Merab, to David for wife, and then broke his promise and gave her hand in marriage to another (see 1 Samuel 18:17-19). Saul now offers his second daughter, Michal to David to be his wife if he would bring him “an hundred foreskins of the Philistines… but Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines” (1 Samuel 18:25).
Because David loved Michal, he accepted Saul’s offer and returned from battle alive and not with an hundred, but two hundred foreskins. Saul gave Michal to David for his wife. (see 1 Samuel 18:20, 25-27). Upon seeing the success of his son-in-law, Saul responded.
1 Samuel 18:28-29
28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.
29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.
Saul now attempts to enlist his son Jonathan in his continued plot to bring about David’s death as well as his servants.
1 Samuel 19:1
1 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
Saul will again personally try to kill David.
1 Samuel 19:9-10
9 And the evil spirit from the Lord [JST-“which was not of the Lord”] was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.
10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
Saul will now send messengers to David’s house to kill him, but his wife learns of their plans.
1 Samuel 19:11-12
11 Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David’s wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, tomorrow thou shalt be slain.
12 So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled and escaped.
David now seeks refuge from the king at the home of Samuel.
1 Samuel 19:18
18 So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.
David now returns to Jonathan in order to gain some understanding as to why his father wants him dead.
1 Samuel 20:1
1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is my iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?
Jonathan does not know himself as to why his father wants to kill David, but he does attempt to learn the reason by speaking directly to his father.
1 Samuel 20:32-33
32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?
33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.
Saul’s obsession with David’s death momentarily leads him to attempt to kill his own son. Saul gives no reason for his murderous desires towards David when questioned, but instead strikes out at anyone who questions his motives. His homicidal rage extends to anyone whom he perceives to be protecting his sworn enemy, surely a product of his own irrational jealousy.
Jonathan now knows for himself that whatever the reason, his father is determined to kill David, his friend. Per arrangement, Jonathan and David meet.
1 Samuel 20:41-42
41 … David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself [to Jonathan] three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as he have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed:… .
David’s grief is indeed great. He has just said good-by to his best friend, Jonathan. He is now a fugitive in his own country, an enemy of the king with no place to call his home. He will lose his wife as king Saul will give Michal to another (see 1 Samuel 25:44). For one who has been anointed to someday become a king, David’s life, at this time, appears to be a long ways away from kingship.
8. David As a Fugitive
It is while David is attempting to avoid Saul’s army that he goes to Nob to Ahimelech, the priest, and asks him for food. Ahimelech tells him he does not have any “common bread.” David persuades the priest to let him and his men have some of the sacred bread. This incident will later be referred to by the Savior. (see Matthew 12:1-4).
1 Samuel 21:6
6 So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was take from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.
David will also request of the priest that he be given a weapon.
1 Samuel 21:8-9
8 And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.
9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said There is none like that; give it me.
David has some food and is armed with the sword of Goliath in order to defend himself. He will now go to Gath which is ruled over by king Achish. (see 1 Samuel 21:10). When he learns that the people there recall the verse, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 21:11), he pretends to be mentally ill seemingly fearing harm from Achish. David is so successful that he convinces the king, and the king wants nothing to do with “the man [who] is mad” (see 1 Samuel 21:14). David is able to safely leave the city.
1 Samuel 22:1
1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
Meanwhile, Saul has gathered his servants about him and is complaining to them that in spite of his having provided them with positions of leadership, they do not honor him.
1 Samuel 22:7-8
7 Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse [David] give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds;
8 That all of you have conspired against me and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.
Saul’s paranoia has now extended to his own son who he believes is plotting against him by initially joining with David and then acting to stir up his own servants against him. While it is true that David and Jonathan are good friends, there is no truth to Saul’s belief that they are in league together to overthrow the throne from Saul. These psychotic delusions serve only to justify his own murderous desire to kill David.
Doeg, who is the head of Saul’s servants, reports the meeting of David and Ahimelech. Saul confronts Ahimelech regarding his actions toward David. Ahimelech declares his innocence.
1 Samuel 22:15
15 Did I then begin to inquire of God for him: be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
You will note Saul’s homicidal impulses ,first directed at Jonathan, are now extended to Ahimelech and his priests and then to the entire city of Nob. His paranoia expands.
1 Samuel 22:17
27 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.
When the servants refuse, Saul turns to Doeg who proceeded to kill Ahimelech and his eighty-five priests. Then he turned upon the city of Nob.
1 Samuel 22:19-21
19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he [Doeg] with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
20 And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
21 And Ablathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD’S priests.
Saul’s actions are completely unjust as Ahimelech and his priests did not know that David was a fugitive from Saul. Their acts of kindness towards David were done innocently. Saul’s irrational rage at David is the only excuse for his actions.
9. David Refuses to Kill Saul
David continues to experience success on the battlefield. David inquired of the Lord regarding going to Keilah in order to protect the inhabitants from the Philistines, and received confirmation that he should go. His soldiers, however, express doubts regarding their success in battle. (See 1 Samuel 23:1-3.)
1 Samuel 23:4
4 Then David inquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
5 So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
Saul receives word that David is in Keilah. In his jealous rage to kill David, he prepares to destroy the city in order to kill David! David seeks direction from the Lord.
1 Samual 23:10-12
10 Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.
12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.
*What changed Saul from a righteous king to someone who was willing to destroy an entire city in order to kill one person?
The intense jealousy and hatred King Saul felt toward David had become so consuming Saul has now become homicidal in his feelings toward David. It had so consumed him, he did not consider the death and suffering others may experience in order for him to reach his objective.
If we allow our feelings of jealousy and hatred to fester, we may also become consumed with rage toward others.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, comes to offer solace and comfort to his friend.
1 Samuel 23:16-18
16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.
The love and friendship that existed between Jonathan and David is in stark contrast to the murderous feelings his father, Saul, has towards David.
Saul will continue to pursue David each time he learns of his whereabouts. On at least two occasions, David could have easily killed Saul while he slept. The first occasion occurred when Saul took refuge in the same cave as David and his men.
1 Samuel 24:3-4
3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily [secretly].
Why did David not take action against Saul? The scriptures offer an answer.
1 Samuel 24:5-6
5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
6 And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
It is such a serious sin to take a man’s life that only when the Lord justifies this extreme action is the individual held guiltless. In spite of Saul’s murderous actions towards David, the Lord did not justify David in taking Saul’s life.
David does make known to Saul that he could have taken his life.
1 Samuel 24:11-13
11 Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
12 The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
13 As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
Saul’s reply to David is sincere.
1 Samuel 24:16-17, 20-22
16 … Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
20 And now behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
21 Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.
22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold [their strong holds at En-gedi- 1 Samuel 23:29].
The familiar words of “father” and “son” suggest the strong bond that had been established between Saul and David during the early years of David’s life had continued. However, as we have seen, Saul’s mental illness had also extended to include his own son, so we may assume the peace Saul has made with David will only be temporary.
In fact, Saul does come again against David. David and another sneak into Saul’s camp at night. We learn that “they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them” (1 Samuel 26:12). During the night visit, David takes “the king’s spear and the cruse of water that was at his bolster” (1 Samuel 26:16). The next morning, David speaks to Saul and tells him of taking both his spear and cruse of water.
1 Samuel 26:18, 21
18 And he [David] said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?
21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
David will return Saul’s items, but before he does, he speaks to Saul.
1 Samuel 26:23
23 The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed.
The saga for David has ended. The scriptures record, “So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his palace” (1 Samuel 26:25).
10. Saul’s Death
The saga of Saul life continues. Saul will lead Israel into battle against the Philistines.
1 Samuel 28:5
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
There is no greater fear than to be faced with an enemy when you lack the self-confidence necessary you will be victorious. Saul lacked this necessary confidence.
He turns to the Lord seeking his guidance and support.
1 Samuel 28:6
6 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by the Urim, nor by prophets.
Why did the Lord not answer king Saul’s prayer? I believe because Saul, like many of us, failed to confess to the Lord his transgressions. He continued to believe because he was the king that he was not accountable to anyone for his actions. His prayer was out of fear, not out of humility. Until our prayers are sincere and humble, which include the confessing of our sins, and seeking forgiveness, we have shut the door of heaven and we are then left to our own devices. The Lord wants us to turn to Him for guidance and direction in our lives, but He waits until we approach Him in humility and sincerity before He gives us answer to our prayers.
Because the Lord had not answered his petition/order, Saul now acts on his own just as he had previously done when he was waiting for the Prophet Samuel to arrive before he went into battle (see 1 Samuel 13:8-9, 13). He goes in disguise to a woman who is in Endor who has a “familiar spirit” (1 Samuel 28:7). His request to her is that she “bring… up [the Prophet] Samuel [from the dead!] (1 Samuel 28:11). The woman, acting not by the power of the Lord, but by the sophistry of the Devil himself, becomes the conduit by which Saul gains access to a manifestation from the underworld.
1 Samuel 28:13-20
13… And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed: for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
17 And the LORD hath done to him, as he spake by me; for the LORD hath rent the kingdom out of thine hand, and given it to thy neighbour, even, to David:
18 Because thou obeyedst not the voice of the LORD, nor executedst his fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore hath the LORD done this thing unto thee this day.
19 Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
20 Then Saul fell straightway all along on the earth, and was sore afraid, because of the words of Samuel: and there was no strength in him; …
The words are not those of the deceased prophet Samuel nor of the Lord. They are Saul’s own thoughts within his mind. The loss of his kingdom due to his own unrighteousness and that his kingdom will go to David combined with his own fear of the Philistines are of great concern to him. The possible death of his own sons during the battle must have weighed heavily upon Saul’s mind, including the loss of his own life. Others going into battle have also experienced similar doubts, including the loss of their own lives. The tragedy is Saul believes this is a vision and answer from the Lord, when in fact it is not.
The King James Bible states,
“1 Samuel 28:14 footnote: This cannot be a bona fide vision from God, brought about by a spiritualist medium… Its effect was to destroy all hope!” (Holy Bible. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979, 422).
The Lord does not operate in this manner; Satan does. It is Satan’s ultimate goal to destroy ALL of God’s children and to make each of us as miserable as he is. Nothing brings him greater joy than our destruction whether by the hand of another or by our own. He will succeed with Saul.
1 Samuel 31:1-4
1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel: and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, Saul’s sons.
3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.
4 Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
Saul did not die as did his three sons, being killed in battle. Saul died at his own hand by committing suicide.
When the Philistines came upon the bodies of his sons as well as Saul, they cut off his head and stripped his body of armor. They then announced Saul’s death and as further proof, “fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan.” (see 1 Samuel 31:9-10). A proper conclusion came to Saul and his sons.
1 Samuel 31:12-13
12 All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there.
13 And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
The life of Israel’s first king had ended. Saul’s reign was over, and Israel mourned his death.
11. Conclusions
What can we learn from the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David? Samuel was the Lord’s faithful prophet and did all he could to encourage the Israelites to repent and to serve the Lord. Unfortunately, for the most part, they rejected the Lord’s prophet. Samuel continued throughout his life to be faithful to his calling as a seer and a prophet.
Initially, Saul was righteous and did the will of the Lord, then he began to believe his authority as King was equal or greater than that of the Lord’s prophet. His downfall came when he began to put his trust in his own wisdom and power above that of the Lord. When the Lord’s spirit withdrew, he was then left on his own and the human weakness of jealousy, envy, and desire for power overcame him as he then acted against the Lord’s commandments. He spent much of his time and effort trying to bring about the death of one of his true friends and servants, David.
David during this time of his life was very righteous and close to the Lord. It was his trust in the Lord, not his ability with the sling, that brought him into combat with the giant, Goliath. It was his love of the Lord that in spite of Saul’s actions toward him, David refused to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed.
The tragic death of Saul is a lesson to each of us of the importance of living our lives to the end in righteousness. It is also important to know we can always turn to the Lord, even in our darkest moments and He will be there. We are never without hope. He will not forsake us, even though we may abandon him.