1 Samuel 18:1-30
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David…
On his victory over Goliath, David was conducted by Abner (1 Samuel 14:50) into the presence of Saul, "with the bead of the Philistine in his hand." He appears to have been unrecognised by the king, perhaps because of the alteration that had taken place in his personal appearance. Henceforth he resided at Gibeah (ver. 2), where he remained for two or three years. The court of Saul, while unlike that of Solomon, half a century later, was not destitute of worldly show, and was marked by the obsequiousness, self-seeking, emulation, and intrigue which too often prevail in such places, especially when the monarch is capricious, proud, and without the fear of God (1 Samuel 22:6, 7). David's connection with it was of great importance in relation to the position which he was destined by Divine providence to occupy; continued his education for it; and afforded (as every promotion to high place does in its measure a wider scope for -
I. THE EXERCISE OF ABILITY.
1. Outward circumstances, though they may not create eminent ability, serve to call it forth. Much excellence doubtless exists, but is never displayed on account of the absence of favourable conditions.
2. Great genius is shown in one who has the faculty of adapting himself to varied positions in life and their varied requirements.
3. The proper use of power strengthens it and develops it to perfection.
4. The humble, faithful, and efficient discharge of duty in one position prepares the way for another and a higher. It was thus with David, who passed from the narrow circle of private life to the wider one of public life, from the sheepfold to the palace, from contending against a lion and a bear to military expeditions (vers. 5, 13, 30) against the enemies of Israel, and ultimately from loyal obedience to royal rule.
II. ACQUAINTANCE WITH MEN, and the knowledge of human nature. David was familiar with "fields, and flocks, and silent stars," but needed training in another school.
1. There are few things more valuable than an accurate and extensive knowledge of men: their divers temperaments, tendencies, and capacities; their peculiar excellences and defects; their varied wishes and aims; and underneath all the great principles of humanity that are the same in all.
2. Some circumstances afford special opportunity for the attainment of such knowledge. What a field of observation were the court and camp of Saul to one of such mental activity and profound insight as David!
3. The knowledge of men produces in the heart that is sincere, devout, and acquainted with itself a large sympathy with them in their sorrows, joys, imperfections, and strivings after higher things. Of this sympathy the psalms of David are a wonderful expression.
4. It is necessary to the knowledge of the most effectual methods of dealing with them - one of the most needful and desirable qualifications in a ruler.
III. THE TRIAL OF PRINCIPLE. David, no less than Saul, must be put to the test, and his fidelity to Jehovah tried as silver "in a furnace of earth."
1. Trial is needful to prove the reality of principle, and manifest its strength and brightness.
2. One trial is often followed by another and a greater. The royal favour into which David was suddenly raised was as suddenly succeeded by royal jealousy, hatred, and craft. Surely no man was ever more fiercely assailed by temptation.
3. When endured aright, in faith and obedience, trial, however painful, is morally beneficial.
4. The victory which is gained over one temptation is an earnest of a victory over the next. The triumph of humility in David was followed by that of simplicity, patience, and forbearance.
IV. ADVANCEMENT IN POPULAR FAVOUR (vers. 7, 16, 30), which, in the case of David, paved his way to the throne; though he neither coveted nor, during the life of Saul, put forth any effort to gain that object.
1. A course of wise and prosperous action, as it well deserves, so it generally obtains the approbation of the people.
2. Such a course of action ought to be aimed at, rather than the popular favour with which it is attended.
3. The favour of the people is to be valued only in subordination to the favour of God, and in so far as it accords with it.
4. Popular favour should be regarded not as an end in itself, but as a means of promoting the Divine glory and human welfare. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.