THE HIDDEN WORK OF GOD
“All praise to Thee, my God, this night, For all the blessings of the light. Keep me, O keep me, king of kings, Beneath thine own almighty wings”. Hymn by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711.
Read 1 SAMUEL 19
Saul Tries to Kill David
19 Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David 2 and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. 3 I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.”
4 Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. 5 He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?”
6 Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.”
7 So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.
8 Once more war broke out, and David went out and fought the Philistines. He struck them with such force that they fled before him.
9 But an evil[a] spirit from the Lord came on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the lyre, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.
11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then Michal took an idol and laid it on the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.
14 When Saul sent the men to capture David, Michal said, “He is ill.”
15 Then Saul sent the men back to see David and told them, “Bring him up to me in his bed so that I may kill him.” 16 But when the men entered, there was the idol in the bed, and at the head was some goats’ hair.
17 Saul said to Michal, “Why did you deceive me like this and send my enemy away so that he escaped?”
Michal told him, “He said to me, ‘Let me get away. Why should I kill you?’”
18 When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Seku. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?”
“Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said.
23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
- 1 Samuel 19:9 Or But a harmful
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me’.1
When we become discouraged in the face of obstacles, it is usually because we look at the human equation. From that perspective, David had no chance. Stacked against him were the king’s intent to kill him and his power to mobilize numerous servants who could do his bidding. Yet, God works behind the scenes and it is clear that he blocks Saul’s every move. We are reminded once again that it is not the hopelessness of our human circumstances but God’s presence with us that will determine the outcome.
God often works through others; Jonathan’s selfless help will lose him the throne but give David some breathing space. His argument appeals to his father’s conscience and Saul listens (vs 4–6), though the reconciliation will crack under pressure. David’s success over the Philistines arouses Saul’s inner torment (v 9). Unresolved issues do not dissipate: God brings them to the surface so that they might be healed. However, Saul’s response is not repentance but a renewed ferocity to murder. Yet, God never slumbers – and David again evades death.
Michal’s protectiveness of her husband has some dubious aspects (household gods and her lie, vs 13,14,17) though the narrator does not condemn her explicitly. Perhaps the latter issue was motivated by fear of what Saul might do to her in revenge. David inspires love and loyalty in Saul’s own family: surely a thorn in the king’s flesh. The final incident (vs 18–24) highlights most explicitly, almost in humorous form, how God’s Spirit overpowers the messengers and then ultimately Saul himself. The possession of the Spirit once marked Saul out as king.2 Now it divests him of his garments, the symbols of kingship.3 Through it all, the Lord works his hidden purposes.
Lord, may we recognize your hidden work, whether you are awakening our conscience, supporting us, or revealing your perspective on our situation.
Gracious One, my world is often filled with change, periodic upheaval, and chaos. I ask for your stabilizing presence and the assurance of your sovereignty in my life and world.
1 Ps 59:9,10, NRSV 2 1 Sam 10:6,9–12 3 David G Firth, 1 & 2 Samuel, Apollos, 2009, p219–220
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