Today we are continuing our study of the early years of David’s life in 1 Samuel. What we read about in 1 Samuel are key years in David’s formation as a young man and future leader of the nation of Israel. These stories are also of tremendous importance to us as leaders because many of us, like David, have a leader we are working to faithfully serve.
We pick up the story of David in 1 Samuel 19 where King Saul urges his son and servants to kill David. (This was not good!) You may read 1 Samuel 19 here online, or you can just follow my summary below.
Luckily, David has an advocate on his side: Jonathan. Jonathan is the son of King Saul and has become a great friend and ally to David because David is a tremendous warrior and loyal servant to God, Israel, and King Saul.
After King Saul tells his men to go and kill David, Jonathan pulls King Saul aside and reminds Saul of all of the great things David has done. Saul realizes that David has been a loyal servant and he allows David to return to serve him in the court. Later, Saul has a terrible mood swing and throws a spear at David, attempting to kill him. The result is that David flees. Men are sent to his house to kill him, so David escapes to see the prophet Samuel (the man who originally anointed him to become king in 1 Samuel 16). David stays with Samuel while Saul and his men attempt to capture David, unsuccessfully.
There is a song in the book of Psalms in the Bible that David wrote about the time Saul’s men had come to his house to arrest and kill him. I will share that with you later to give you an example of how hurt and sad David felt during this period in his life.
Now that we know what happened in 1 Samuel 19, what is there for us to learn as leaders who are not yet leading?
4 Observations from 1 Samuel 19 and Psalm 59
- We see David’s faithfulness. In 1 Samuel 19:4 we read, “The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. ‘The king must not sin against his servant David,’ Jonathan said. ‘He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could’.” Verse 8 says, “War broke out again after than, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.” Even though David’s life has been threatened by king Saul, David still fights the Philistines for his country of Israel as a member of Saul’s army.
- When we do good things for our leader, he can do good for us at a later time. This is shown to us in verse 5 where Jonathan advocates that David should not be killed by boldly stating to Saul, “Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the LORD brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!” Here Jonathan references the time that David killed Goliath and how David has always served faithfully. And because of that faithful service, Jonathan had plenty of “ammo” to throw at King Saul as reasons not to kill David.
- Even after all that has happened, David still goes back to serve King Saul. King Saul has been plotting to kill David and only lets up because his own son strongly urges him not to. After Jonathan settles King Saul and David knows he is safe, 1 Samuel 19:7 tells us “Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.” Even though David has had his own life threatened by the king, as soon as the dust has settled, he goes right back to serving the king as he did before.
- Leaders need help. It is safe to say from this chapter of 1 Samuel that if it were not for Jonathan’s strong advocacy on David’s behalf, David might not have lived. David needed the help of a very influential person to keep himself safe.
With this in mind, here are a few principles to ponder over related to David, the situation he is in, and how he reacts in both 1 Samuel 19 and Psalm 59.
David has a great attitude.
David has a strong certainty that God is going to show up. He loves God, trusts Him, and knows that God will show up to rescue and save him. He believes that God is on his side and that God is going to deliver on His original promise to one day make David king.
We need to manage our good and bad feelings when times are tough working for a bad leader.
We need to keep going, keep moving, and keep making progress. Like David, we cannot give up! When we stay close to God and stay close to friends, not giving up and staying the course becomes easier. At times, we need those close friends who can listen to us and care for one another.
Question: Do you have anything to add or any other leadership thoughts related to 1 Samuel 19 and David?