When Hope is Lost, Where Do You Turn? (1 Samuel 19)

Scripture reading – 1 Samuel 19

David’s fame as a warrior continued to inspire Israel, and as his popularity with the people increased, the king became “yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually” (18:29). Saul found himself in an unsustainable position, for “David behaved himself more wisely than all [his servants]; so that his name was much set by” (18:30).

1 Samuel 19 – Jonathan’s Intercession for David

The anger and envy Saul held toward David erupts into a crisis in today’s Scripture reading. David’s rapid promotion to an officer in the king’s army, was matched by his precipitous fall from his grace in 1 Samuel 19. The affection of the people, and the praise of the women for David’s successes had provoked jealousy in the king, and incensed him. Saul would not be content until he had either killed David, or he had been slain on the battlefield. Twice, Saul hurled a spear at David, and he had become “David’s enemy continually” (18:29).

The Beginning of Ten-Years on the Run

Saul’s murderous thoughts were no secret in the palace, for he had “spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David” (19:1). In spite of his father’s threats, Jonathan’s love for David was undeterred (19:2), though he feared his father’s murderous intent toward his friend. Perhaps evidencing some naïveté regarding the character of his father, Jonathan hoped he might disuade his father’s murderous spirit, but he encouraged David to distant himself from the king’s court, in hopes of seeing him restored to the king’s graces (19:2-3). Jonathan sought to sway his father’s spirit, and encouraged him to not “sin against his servant…because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good” (19:4).

It appeared Saul’s spirit was changed toward David, and he was restored to the king’s palace, until David’s successes in war once again provoked the king’s envy. 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” (19:10). Saul’s plot to kill his son-in-law reached to David’s household, and only with the intervention and help of his wife, was he able to escape into the night (19:10-17).

David’s flight took him to Ramah, the prophet Samuel’s hometown (19:18). There he confided to the elderly prophet “all that Saul had done to him” (19:18b), and no doubt sought both counsel and encouragement from the man of God. David and Samuel then “went and dwelt in Naioth,” which is believed to have been a compound near Ramah where prophets dwelled (19:19).

Undeterred by David’s flight to Ramah, Saul sent “messengers” [special envoys of the king] to pursue him, and those men came to a company of prophets, with Samuel as their leader, and “the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied” (19:20). Saul sent a second, and third group of messengers, and they too began to prophesy with the prophets (19:21).

No doubt frustrated by the failures of those whom he had sent, Saul finally went to Ramah himself, and asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” (19:22) Continuing his journey to Naioth in Ramah, like the men he had sent before him, Saul came under the power of the Spirit of God (19:23), and he “stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked [the meaning is most likely not wearing his outer robe] all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?” (19:24)

What was the meaning of the power of the Spirit of God coming upon Saul, and the messengers whom he had sent to apprehend David?

I believe it was a testimony of the LORD’S intervention. While the Spirit of God occupied Saul and his men, David had opportunity to flee Ramah. The once celebrated hero of Israel, was swiftly being stripped of everything. He had become a fugitive, and lost his position as an officer in the king’s army. His flight from Saul had taken him from his wife, and he would soon seek refuge in the wilderness. He will seek the counsel, and intervention of Jonathan (1 Samuel 20), but that too will fail.

Where do you turn in difficult times?

It will be David’s testimony that when he had lost every earthly security, he turned to the one place that would not fail him…the LORD.

Isaiah 41:1010Fear thou not; for I am with thee: Be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith