1 Samuel 19
David Protected from Saul
Now Saul told his son Jonathan and all his servants to kill David, but Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David. So he told David, “Saul my father is seeking to kill you. Now then, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. As for me, I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you, and if I learn anything, then I will tell you.” Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “May the king not sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. For he took his life in his hand and killed the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then would you sin against innocent blood by killing David without a cause?” Saul listened to Jonathan and swore [an oath], “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and told him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was [a]in his presence [serving him] as previously.
Then there was war again, and David went out and fought with the Philistines and defeated them with a great slaughter, and they fled before him. Then an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he escaped from Saul’s presence, so that Saul only stuck the spear into the wall. Then David fled and escaped that night.
Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch for him, so that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled and escaped. And Michal took the [b]household idol and laid it on the bed, put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” Then Saul sent the messengers [again] to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me on his bed [if necessary], so that I may kill him.” When the messengers came in, there was the [c]household idol on the bed with a quilt of goats’ hair at its head. Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I kill you?’”
So David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him everything that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth. Saul was told, “David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David; but when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came on the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. When Saul was informed, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again, the third time, and they prophesied as well. Then Saul went to Ramah himself and came to the great well that is in Secu; and he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And he was told, “They are at Naioth [with the prophets] in Ramah.” So he went on to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him too, and he went along continually prophesying until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He also took off his [royal] robes [and armor] and prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and night. So they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
- 1 Samuel 19:7 Lit before his face. This is often used as an idiom meaning “to serve in a special capacity.”
- 1 Samuel 19:13 Exactly what this was is not known, but the Hebrew word (teraphim) is the usual one to refer to household idols. It could have been an image bequeathed by Saul to Michal, perhaps indicative of Saul’s lapse from God, or just a spoil of war with no meaning for the Israelites. In any case, it appears to have been an image or idol about the size of a man, since Michal is able to use it as a ruse to trick Saul’s messengers (v 14).
- 1 Samuel 19:16 See note v 13.
1 Samuel 20
David and Jonathan’s Covenant
David fled from Naioth in Ramah and he came and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my [a]guilt? What is my sin before (against) your father, that he is seeking my life?” Jonathan said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. My father does nothing [b]important or insignificant without telling me. So why would he hide this thing from me? It is not so!” But David vowed again, saying “Your father certainly knows that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be worried.’ But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the New Moon [observance], and I should sit at the table to eat [the sacrificial meal] with the king; but let me go, so that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission from me to go to Bethlehem, his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the entire family.’ If he says, ‘All right,’ your servant will be safe; but if he is very angry, then be certain that he has decided on evil. Therefore show kindness to your servant, because you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is iniquity (guilt) in me, kill me yourself; for why should you bring me to your father [to be killed]?” Jonathan said, “Far be it from [happening to] you! In fact, if I indeed learn that my father has decided to harm you, would I not tell you about it?” Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field [to talk].” So they went out to the field.
Then Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, is my witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he has a good feeling toward [c]you, shall I not then send word to you and make it known to you? But if it pleases my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to Jonathan, and more if I do not let you know about it and send you away, so that you may go in [d]safety. And [e]may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father. If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness and faithfulness of the Lord, [f]so that I will not die? You shall never cut off your lovingkindness and faithfulness from my house, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the [g]house of David. [[h]He added,] “May [i]the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies. [that is, hold them accountable for any harm they inflict on David].” Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, for Jonathan loved him as himself.
Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon [festival], and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself [j]on that eventful day [when my father tried to kill you], and shall stay by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a target. And I will send a boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come [back to my father’s table]; for it is [k]safe for you and there is [l]no danger, as the Lord lives. But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away. As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever [making sure that we each keep our word].”
So David hid in the field; and when the New Moon [festival] came, the king sat down to eat food. The king sat on his seat as on previous occasions, on his seat by the wall; then Jonathan stood up, and Abner [his commander] sat down by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “It is an incident [of some kind] and [m]he is not [ceremonially] clean—surely he is unclean.” But on the next day, the second day of the new moon, David’s place was empty [again]; and Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Please let me go because our family is holding a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to attend. Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me slip away so that I may see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”
Saul Is Angry with Jonathan
Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a [n]wayward, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse [over me] to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you [as heir to the throne] nor your kingdom will be established. So now, send [someone] and bring him to me, for he [o]must die.” Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why must he be put to death? What has he done?” Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down, so Jonathan knew [without any doubt] that his father had decided to put David to death. Then Jonathan stood up from the table in the heat of anger, and ate no food on that second day of the new moon (month), for he grieved and worried about David because his father had dishonored him.
In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for the meeting with David, and a young boy was with him. And he said to his boy, “Run, please find the arrows which I am about to shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow past him. When the boy came to the place where Jonathan had shot the arrow, Jonathan called to him, “Is the arrow not beyond you?” And Jonathan called out after the boy, “Hurry, be quick, do not stay!” So Jonathan’s boy picked up the arrow and came back to his master. But the boy was not aware of anything; only Jonathan and David knew about the matter. Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go, take them to the city.” As soon as the boy was gone, David got up from the south side [beside the mound of stones] and fell on his face to the ground [in submission and respect], and bowed three times. Then they kissed one another and wept together, but David wept more. Jonathan told David, “Go [p]in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and yours forever.’” [q]Then he stood and left, while Jonathan went into the city.
- 1 Samuel 20:1 Or iniquity.
- 1 Samuel 20:2 Lit great or small.
- 1 Samuel 20:12 Lit David.
- 1 Samuel 20:13 Lit shalom.
- 1 Samuel 20:13 With this statement Jonathan acknowledges that David has been anointed king.
- 1 Samuel 20:14 To secure his throne a new king would usually kill anyone who was a potential rival for the throne. Jonathan is asking assurance that he will not be assassinated after David becomes king.
- 1 Samuel 20:16 This covenant was binding not only on David and Jonathan, but also on their descendants.
- 1 Samuel 20:16 This may have been the additional vow mentioned in v 17.
- 1 Samuel 20:16 Jonathan was aligning himself with David against all of David’s enemies, including Saul.
- 1 Samuel 20:19 Lit on the day of the doing.
- 1 Samuel 20:21 Lit shalom.
- 1 Samuel 20:21 Lit nothing.
- 1 Samuel 20:26 Saul assumed that David had come into contact with a source of ritual pollution, such as a corpse, and was for that reason temporarily disqualified from participating in the New Moon Festival.
- 1 Samuel 20:30 The vulgar language of this Hebrew idiom demeaned Jonathan, not his mother, and Saul implied that she was ashamed of giving birth to him.
- 1 Samuel 20:31 Lit is a son of death.
- 1 Samuel 20:42 Lit in shalom.
- 1 Samuel 20:42 In Hebrew, this is v 1 of the next chapter making the versification different throughout ch 21.