1 Samuel 18:17-30
And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give you to wife: only be you valiant for me…
There is a simplicity which springs from ignorance, and is displayed in folly and presumption (Proverbs 22:3). There is also a simplicity which is the fruit of innocence, truthfulness, and goodness, and appears in an ingenuous mind, a guileless disposition, and straightforward speech and conduct. In its best sense (simplicitas - without fold or twist) it is opposed to duplicity, deception, and "cunning craftiness" (Romans 12:8; Romans 16:19; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 11:3); and it was exemplified, in an eminent degree, by David, especially in his earlier intercourse with Saul; for, through familiarity with court life, and much more in consequence of the straits to which he was reduced by the craft and persecution of the king, the simple-minded, open-hearted shepherd youth once and again turned aside:from the right path (1 Samuel 21:2). Consider simplicity as -
I. BESET BY THE WORKING or CRAFT. Having given way to envy, and in a violent fit of madness threatened the life of David, Saul continued to hate and fear him (Mark 11:18), and sought to get rid of him, though indirectly from restraint of conscience and secretly from fear of the people (Mark 6:20; Luke 22:2). Sin works in the dark. Malicious craft often -
1. Seeks to accomplish ends which it may not dare to avow. Springing from jealousy for personal position and renown, it aims at the depreciation of every one by whom they seem to be endangered; and at his removal, whether accidentally by the hands of others, or by his committing some overt act which may justify his open punishment (vers. 17, 21, 25). And toward these ends it works with ever greater directness and less concealment; for that which is hidden in the heart must sooner or later come to light.
2. Makes use of fair professions, and uses pretexts which are specious, false, and hypocritical. David was assured that no harm was really meant him, and made "captain over a thousand" (ver. 13); whereas he was removed from the presence of the king because he was hated and feared, and that he might be exposed to greater danger. His not receiving the fulfilment of Saul's promise (1 Samuel 17:25) was probably accounted for by his lack of wealth and social status (ver. 25); but the promise was repeated insincerely. "Only be thou valiant for me" (expose thyself to every hazard)," and fight the Lord's battles" (with zeal for Jehovah, which I know thou hast), and (sub voce) "let not my hand be upon him," etc. (ver. 17). On the loss of Merab he was consoled by the promise of Michal (ver. 21), but only as "a snare," and her love was made use of for the purpose. And at length (when the king had formed his plan, and felt sure of its success), he was told by his servants (as if in confidential communication), "Behold, the king hath delight in thee," etc. (ver. 22), "desireth not any dowry," etc. (ver. 25); "but Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines."
3. Adopts means which are unworthy, base, and godless. Scheming, plotting, murderous attempts on life under the sanctities of affection and religion; at heart, infatuated opposition to the will of God. If it were not the Divine purpose that David should be king, why fear him? if it were, of what avail would resistance be?
II. DISPLAYED IN THE MIDST OF CRAFT. The snares that were woven around David seem plain enough to us; but there is no reason to suppose that they were at first observed by him. The simple-hearted man -
1. Is accustomed to look upon others as sincere like himself, regards their statements and assurances as truthful, and is slow to suspect their evil intentions. Even to the last David could hardly believe that Saul, of his own accord, sought his life (1 Samuel 26:19). He is "simile concerning evil." Large experience makes men cautious; but it is better to be deceived a hundred times than to lead a life of continual suspicion.
2. Entertains modest and lowly views of himself, takes contempt and disappointment without complaint, and accepts humbly and cheerfully whatever honour may be conferred upon him (vers. 18, 23). "Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not" (Jeremiah 45:5). "A pious man is even in prosperity humble in heart."
3. Is intent upon the honest, faithful, and efficient discharge of the duty that lies before him, and fears danger little because he fears God much (vers. 5, 14, 27). "David's calm indifference to outward circumstances affecting himself were very strikingly expressed in his conduct. Partly from his poetic temperament, partly from his sweet, natural unselfishness, and chiefly from his loving trust in God, he accepts whatever happens with equanimity, and makes no effort to alter it" (Maclaren). It has been remarked that "genius is rumply the carrying into the maturity of our powers the simplicity and ardour of childhood."
III. PRESERVED FROM THE DEVICES OF CRAFT. It is the best means of preservation, inasmuch as -
1. It affords the least occasion for an adversary to take an advantage. Although the ingenuous man may appear to lie open to attack, yet he is really most effectually guarded against it.
2. It attracts the respect of other men (ver. 16), gains the love of those who warn and help him (ver. 28; 1 Samuel 19:11), and makes it difficult for his enemies to prevail over him.
3. It insures the favour of God. "The Lord was with him" (vers. 12, 14, 28) to guide, defend, and help him (Psalm 37:24, 33). "In thee do I trust."
IV. RESULTING IN AN END OPPOSED TO THAT OF CRAFT.
1. Instead of returning no more from the conflict, he returns in triumph, and receives an unwilling honour from the hand that was lifted up against him (vers. 27, 28; Revelation 3:9).
2. Instead of being less an object of terror to the wicked, he is more so (ver. 29).
3. Instead of being deprived of the love of the people of God (ver. 16: "All Israel and Judah loved David"), he is more completely enthroned in their hearts (ver. 30). Remark -
1. How ineffectual are the devices of the wicked against "the upright in heart."
2. How beneficial may even their devices become when met with "simplicity and godly sincerity."
3. How inexpressibly beautiful is the character of the Son of David - "meek and lowly in heart."
4. How necessary is the "anointing of the holy One," that we may become like unto him. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
WEB: Saul said to David, "Behold, my elder daughter Merab, I will give her to you as wife. Only be valiant for me, and fight Yahweh's battles." For Saul said, "Don't let my hand be on him, but let the hand of the Philistines be on him."