*Good morning. It's time to begin a new week of Bible Study. I love having this opportunity to spend time with you in God's Word. Let's get to work.
"When Saul saw how successful he (David) was, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns. Saul said to David, 'Here is my older daughter Mereb. 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!'" (I Samuel 18:15-17)
If you remember from last week Saul is extremely jealous of David. David was the one who killed the giant Goliath and then he received more accolades from the people than King Saul (The women especially). Saul wants David dead. But, there's a problem! Well, there's more than one problem. One, all the people love David. (including Saul's own son, Jonathan) Two, the Lord loves David and the Lord is clearly behind David. What is Saul to do? He gives David a wife. Yes, you read that correctly. Saul could not outright kill David because if he did, the people would rebel against him and the Lord would most likely strike him down immediately. Besides, the Lord would probably stop Saul before he could do any harm. But, I'm looking at this from Saul's perspective. So, Saul gives David a wife in order to get him killed by the Philistines. David rejects Saul's first offer (Mereb) due to the fact he was "just a poor shepherd boy." David understood that he would not be able to afford the marriage price.
"Now Saul's daughter Michal was in love with David, and when they told Saul about it he was pleased. '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.' (I Samuel 18:20-21)
Here we clearly see Saul's intentions. Saul is thinking, "If I can't kill him myself, I'll make sure someone else does it." This is kind of like a murder for hire situation, without the "hire." Saul is going to use the enemy of the Israelites (The Philistines) to get rid of his enemy (David). Poor Saul, what he doesn't really realize is that David is really not his enemy. This is what jealousy does. It blinds a person to the point they see the other as the enemy when, in fact, the greatest enemy to the person is his/herself. (this will certainly play out in this story.) Well, Saul's plan almost doesn't work out. David, still being humble, insists that no one from his lot in life could possibly become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul comes up with a brilliant plan:
"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." (I Samuel 18:25)
Before I get to the heart of the matter here let me remind you that a bride did not come free in the ancient world. My father-in-law, if he were alive today, would be yelling right now: "They still don't! Do you know what I had to spend to get that girl married?" (Alluding to my wife) Any how, a price had to be paid to the girl's father. (Thankfully my father-in-law didn't ask me to bring him a bag of foreskins. I'd be like, "Melody I love you, but...) David can not afford to pay the price for the daughter of the king. Saul says, "Not a problem! I'll make you an offer you can't refuse." So, Saul says "I'll take a hundred foreskins of the Philistines. Won't cost you anything. (thinking quietly to himself and probably snickering) except your head." Now, I don't know about you but I think that I would probably have responded (if I were David): "Um...King...um...no offense, but wouldn't one hundred fingers or toes, or ears be better than foreskins? Why foreskins?"
Well, Saul has, for sure, come up with an ingenious way of getting rid of David. Hey, it won't even be a lost cause for David. After all, at his funeral service they can speak of how he was loyal to the very end. How he was brave in battle and dies a hero. They can tell how loved he was by everybody. Hey that's not bad! Right? Well, don't make funeral arrangements just yet.
"David and his men went out and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage." (I Samuel 18:27)
Can you imagine the look on Saul's face when he looks off down the road and sees David returning carrying a huge bag in his hand. Even worse, imagine Saul's reaction when David hands him the bag of two-hundred Philistine foreskins. Remember, Saul had only asked for one hundred, but David goes above and beyond the call of duty. David also faced twice the danger, yet returned unscathed. If I'm Saul, I'm not wondering what I'm going to do with David, I'm wondering what I'm going to do with two hundred Philistine foreskins. O.K., I'm really wondering what he did with them.
"Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him." (I Samuel 19:1-2a)
Saul has had enough. He now asks his son to take part in getting rid of David. Saul now wants his problem to become the problem of others. The problem is, Jonathan loves David. As the story continues both Jonathan and Michal betray their father in order to save David. By taking David's side Jonathan jeopardizes his own claim to the throne. Eventually, Saul tries to kill David himself, but David flees.
Saul is bent on doing one thing; killing David. In fact, Saul will spend the rest of his life trying to kill David. Saul becomes the epitome (I hope this is the correct term) of jealousy. He is the poster child for how far jealousy will take you. (or how low) However, David is loyal and regardless of Saul's behavior respects the office of the king. While Saul seeks every opportunity to kill David, but misses, David is granted opportunity after opportunity to kill Saul, but he refuses to bring harm to the king. But, he doesn't have to, the king is bringing plenty of harm to himself. Unfortunately, jealousy so often leaves a trail of victims who are completely innocent. Tomorrow we will discover the devastating end of jealousy's bitter road. Join me tomorrow as we continue our journey through the Bible. -Pastor Rick