David and Saul – the bitter poison of jealousy
1 Samuel 18.17-30
(New International Version)
Saul said to David, “Here is my older daughter Merab. 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!”
But David said to Saul, “Who am I, and what is my family or my clan in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” So when the time came for Merab, Saul’s daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah.
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.”
Then Saul ordered his attendants: “Speak to David privately and say, ‘Look, the king likes you, and his attendants all love you; now become his son-in-law.’”
They repeated these words to David. But David said, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law? I’m only a poor man and little known.”
When Saul’s servants told him what David had said, 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.
When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king’s son-in-law. So before the allotted time elapsed, David took his men with him and went out and killed two hundred Philistines and brought back their foreskins. They counted out the full number to the king so that David might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.
When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.
The Philistine commanders continued to go out to battle, and as often as they did, David met with more success than the rest of Saul’s officers, and his name became well known.
Saul saw that “The Lord was with David” in other words, he saw that he was successful in all that he undertook.
He saw David’s success, and realized that it was God-given. But he also thought he could put an end to it, as if he had the power to defeat God’s plans, so the chapter describes Saul’s scheming to get David killed.
If David had died in battle against the Philistines, as Saul hoped, no blame at all would have attached to Saul. But since in truth “The Lord was with David” throughout these events, Saul’s plans were bound to fail.
From Saul’s point of view, the situation got steadily worse: his young rival not only survived, but increased his reputation and became his son in law. Saul appears in an increasingly bad light in this chapter which gets worse as the story carries on in the forthcoming chapters.
By contrast David took no action to harm or betray Saul, and this is proved by the fact that Saul’s own family loved David. Saul was David’s enemy, but David was never Saul’s enemy.
Thank you Lord for the gift of scriptures,
as I reflect on the Bible,
make me open to your wisdom,
receptive to your will
and courageous in my response:
in the love of Jesus,
Rabbi, Teacher, Friend.