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1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16 – Facing the challenges of ministry

Updated: Feb 28, 2021

On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

The next day an evil 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 threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded 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 David marched out and came in, leading the army. David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.


This is an optional Old Testament selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B 2018. In the numbering system that lists each Sunday in an ordinal fashion, this Sunday is referred to as Proper 7. If chosen, this will next be read aloud in church by a reader on Sunday, June 24, 2018. This is important because it shows the bond between Apostles and Saints are like the love between David and Jonathan.

This is the second of two optional reading selections that place focus on David.  This focus is after he defeated Goliath. It clearly portrays how the world loves a hero and David was the beloved hero of Israel.

This fractured reading skips over several elements of the story of young David, but tells how Saul became jealous of David’s popularity.  Due to initial enamor with David, the demeanor of Saul changed as David grew into manhood.  As such, Saul employed the philosophy that says, “Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” Saul knew God was with David, knowing God was no longer in his heart; so Saul sensed that David would try to usurp his throne from him, having already demonstrated the powers he had with God as his ally.

When we read that David told King Saul, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite,” one skip in the story is how Saul refused to let David return to Jesse, keeping David in Jerusalem (1 Samuel 18:2). This means Saul took David as his son (a blood slave), which was one of the perks allowed a king, which Samuel had warned the Israelite elders about (1 Samuel 8:11). This royal “adoption” is then related to the statement, “the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” Rather than being blood-brothers, David and Jonathan became Spiritual brothers, where a deep level of love connected the two.

It is vital to see how “Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt” was a statement of relationship on a brotherly love level. This should be grasped as the attraction the Holy Spirit brings to one who has married God in one’s heart. The love of God radiates outward and those who are seekers of the truth will automatically be drawn to that love, like moths to a flame.

As such, the love between David and Jonathan must be realized as the same love that came and surrounded all of the Apostles. That love was why the Epistles were written, as everything an Apostle has he or she gives freely to others in the name of Jesus Christ. This is then the relationship one has to the Church of Christ [not a denomination].  A Church is when all the souls of the members have been bound to Jesus Christ, baptized by the Holy Spirit.

More text is skipped over, so when we read, “The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul,” it might appear that Saul was made crazy by God. God, however, does not spread evil spirits around.  That is Satan’s job, which he does quite well.

In this case, I believe this is a poor translation, based on the order of Hebrew words written. The literal actually states, “And it came to pass on the next day came spirit of gods [elohim] that adversity on Saul.” The use of the plural number “elohim,” as “gods” [lower case, and not accompanied by a capitalized Adonai, meaning “Lord of gods”] says that Saul had lost his love of God, so his heart was opened to lesser influences.  Without God in Saul’s heart, doubts crept in; and those evil whispers brought adversity upon him, causing him to act in evil ways.

When we read, “he raved within his house,” the word translated as “he raved” (“way-yiṯ-nab-bê”) actually says Saul “prophesied” (from the root “naba”). The aspect of Saul “prophesying in his house” can be seen as Saul making predictions about his remaining time as king, where “his house” was the line of Saul, which then included David, his adopted son. To make those prophecies angry “ravings,” the implication has to be seen that Saul’s jealousies about David’s popularity were causing him to make self-fulfilling prophecies of his own demise.  This says that Saul’s heart was not filled with God’s love, but rather the evils of worldly feelings.

The use of a spear to “pin David to the wall” can be seen as Saul’s personal claim to fame, as he was a warrior king. All he knew was warfare and the greed that came from a dependency on accolades and praises. What is not read, due to omission of text, was the popular song the Israelites would sing, where they credited Saul with killing thousands, but David with killing tens of thousands.  Hearing that song of praise infuriated Saul.

To “pin David to the wall” would then be akin to killing David with a spear and mounting his head on the wall, as a trophy that would make the people sing about Saul killing the David of ten thousand kills. However, as David had God with him, he was able to avoid these attacks by Saul.

It is also important to see how the information, “David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day,” was a statement of David’s own abilities to prophesy. David, the writer of the Psalms [meaning Songs of Inspiration], would play his harp (lyre) as he composed songs of prophecy. While Saul “raved” due to the influence of lesser “gods,” David was truly inspired to write the Word of God in songs that the people would learn to sing and love. The Psalms of David passed on the love of God that he knew to the Israelites. The Psalms of David are the legacy of his ministry to the LORD.  The people wanted more of this guidance; but Saul was fed up with the abilities David possessed and daily made known.  For every note David played and every word sung from God, it only made Saul see how little ability to prophesy he had.  His attempts only condemned himself.

The element of “twice” is only one translation that “pa-‘ă-mā-yim” can offer. The root Hebrew word, “paam,” primarily means “times.”  Rather than “twice,” it can mean “annual, once, once more,” and “as usual.” While the symbolism of “two” shows the duality of Saul and David (where one was influenced by evil and the other was influenced by the divine Yahweh), it also says that David, due to God being with him, would always be “steps” ahead of anything Saul tried to do to harm him. Thus, this God-given ability for self-preservation David displayed would not be limited to “two times.”

And the spirits that made Saul rave in his house came to assist King Bush.

We then read, “So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army.” This says how Saul turned his attempts to kill David over to the enemies of Israel, where the Hebrew word “way·si·rê·hū” (root word “sur “) means “turned aside, departed” or “turned away.” Because Saul knew God was preventing him from harming David, he “removed” himself from that equation.  Saul then planned on the spears, swords and arrows of Israel’s enemies to be aimed at David.

By making David a captain of a regiment or battalion (the equivalent in today’s military as the rank of colonel or lieutenant colonel), David would march his soldiers out for training and patrols. If any uprisings needed to be quelled, David would successfully lead his men to victory.  The Israelites of Jerusalem and the countryside loved seeing David leading soldiers, because they felt safe, knowing God was with him. The people knew that from all the successes David had militarily.

Keep in mind that David, by this time, would have barely been eighteen years of age.  He was young, ruddy, and handsome; but he was the protector Israel needed.  How the world loves a hero.

As a reading selection for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry should be underway, the righteousness of David must be seen as a model for oneself. One must be able to love others on a soul level, where each identifies the other as baptized by the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus Christ is the Son of God, all who become reborn as Jesus Christ are brothers in his name [“Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.” – Genesis 5:2 ESV].

This love for other Apostles and Saints cannot be absent from one’s personal ministry for the LORD. One must become Spiritually magnetic, so one will find others who will enjoy one’s presence as much as one loves the presence of God in one’s heart. This means whenever two or more gather in the name of Jesus Christ, Jesus will be there in person. One must become a walking Church of Christ, seeking others who want to be adopted into the family of Christ.

When Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11), this is how David was able to avoid being mistreated by Saul. He was blessed by God’s presence within him.  When one has received the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Christ, one will be able to become invisible when enemies try to harm one. If falsely arrested and imprisoned, then angels will shake the foundations of the jail, make shackles fall from one’s body, and set one free. If one is stoned to death in the street, one will ask God to forgive those who do not know the beauty of God’s presence within. When one ministers for God, one ceases worrying about what might happen, as one welcomes whatever God sends one to encounter.

The symbolism of David being made a captain of one thousand soldiers, this is the spread of the Holy Spirit to others, through one’s paths taken. Ministry is outside the walls of Jerusalem, not safe and sound in one’s mind (the flesh of a brain). One has to be a deacon that advises seekers on spiritual matters and explains Scripture so the eyes and ears of others will lead their hearts to open to the LORD.

If one is unable to do this, then one’s heart has hardened to God and Christ does not yet walk in union within one. A commitment must be made to reach this level of higher knowledge that the Christ Mind brings, or one will fall under the influence of the lesser gods and be led astray, as was Saul.

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