A Better David

1 Samuel 18:6-16.
As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,

“Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on. 

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them.


Saul is jealous and he is clinging to his power. God is working through someone else, David, and people are recognizing it. Saul cannot let that be. So he tries to kill David, but David evades Saul and is kept safe.

I am reminded of another Saul. This was is also from the tribe of Benjamin. Just like Saul the king tried to kill David, so this other Saul was trying to kill the Davidic king, but he must be struck down (Acts 9:3-5; Gal. 2:20). Saul the king is clinging to power. The other Saul must learn to boast in weakness (2 Cor. 11:16-12:10). But we should have already known that Judah would offer himself as a substitute for Benjamin (Gen. 44).

Saul the king was the forerunner for king David. Here we should think of another forerunner. He was God’s prophet, speaking God’s truth, and amassing followers. But he was just preparing the way, and he knew it. Saul the king tries to cling desprately to power and fame, the other forerunner is faithful even unto denying himself, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

God unmasks all of our idolatries about power and fame. These kingdoms of mudpies always end, but is it an ending that we resist or one that we embrace?

“Come, take up your cross, and follow me.”


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