There was a tv show back in the late 90s called ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’. And the title of the show came from the fact that Raymond’s older brother, Robert, believed Raymond was unfairly favoured over him. The way he saw it, Raymond got the cake, and he just got the crumbs. Even in the eyes of their parents, everything Raymond did was wonderful and exciting, everything Robert did was lacklustre and mediocre. Raymond had a successful career, a great wife, and 3 wonderful kids – Robert still lived home with this parents. It seemed even life favoured Raymond over Robert.
And so, in the opening credits of the shows, Robert always remarks with the self-pity of Eeyore, “Everybody loves Raymond.”
And I mention that this morning because in our passage today, we’re going to see Saul take on that same attitude towards David. “Everybody loves David”.
If you were with us last week, you’ll remember how David had just returned from the battlefield after killing the Philistine giant, Goliath. Of course, David wasn’t even in the army at that time. He was just running some errands for his father and he overheard Goliath’s defiant boasting against the Lord and he just couldn’t believe that no one in the entire Israelite army (not even Saul himself) had the courage to fight Goliath and show the Philistines that the God of Israel was not Someone to triffle with!
And of course, you know the rest of the story. With just a sling and a stone, David takes out Goliath, allowing the Israelites to soundly defeat the Philistines and win a great victory for the Lord!
Then as we saw last week, when David returned from the battlefield – with Goliath’s head still in his hands – he spends some time talking with Saul and his son Jonathan.
And both of them are incredibly impressed with David – especially Jonathan. It seems that David & Jonathan were kindred spirits – men cut from the same cloth. And so Jonathan, a seasoned man of war and next in line for the throne of Israel, takes this young kid under his wing and makes a pact with David. And while we aren’t given the details of this pact, it’s clear through the rest of the story that this is a pledge of loyalty and support and lifelong friendship between David and Jonathan.
Perhaps most amazingly, through this pact, we see that Jonathan whole-heartily accepts the Lord’s decision that David will be the next king, instead of him – and Jonathan acknowledges this by giving David his robe, his tunic, his sword, his belt, and his bow. It’s an amazing act of servant leadership. Jonathan willingly does this because of his trust in the Lord and because of his love for David.
And that’s about as far as we got last week. Today we’re going to continue to see how life rapidly changed for David in the aftermath of his victory over Goliath – and we’re going see how Saul’s view of David also changed just as rapidly.
It doesn’t take long for Saul to bemoan the fact that “everybody loves David.”
To get us into our passage this morning, let’s start once more at the top of 1 Samuel chapter 18. This will be a bit of a review since we covered this last week, but the chapter begins like this:
After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. 2 From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. 3 And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. 4 Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
1 Samuel 18:1-4
The one thing we didn’t really touch on last week out of these verses was the fact that “From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home.”
You see, up until this time, David had gone back and forth – from home to where ever Saul was – balancing his time between caring for his father’s sheep and playing the harp for the king. But now, after David’s incredible feat of killing Goliath, King Saul no longer allows David to go home to his father – he wants David to remain in his service full-time.
It seems that Saul recognized that David’s skills and abilities were not merely limited to just being a talented musician. David can contribute to the Kingdom in a lot of different ways. And so Saul insists that David remain in his service full-time…. So David agrees and not surprisingly, David is a fantastic addition to Saul’s team. Look at verse 5.
5 Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike. 1 Samuel 18:5
It’s quite a jump from being too young to even enlist in the army to becoming a commander over the men of war! You might think some of the old veterans might be a little ruffled that this young kid got put in such a position of authority. But no one disagreed with David’s appointment as commander! And no wonder – David was successful in everything that Saul asked him to do. That’s quite a track record! No wonder the people and the officers were happy to have David as their commander! I mean, who wouldn’t want to serve under a man who was successful in everything he did?!
And you know, when I read this verse, I couldn’t help but think of Jospeh. In fact, this verse seems to be an echo of some of the verses where we read about Joseph’s success with Potiphar and with the prison warden.
Take a look… Genesis 39:2…
2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned.
Like David – Joseph was successful in everything he did. In fact, jump down a little further in this chapter – after Joseph gets falsely accused and thrown in prison….
22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
In his kindness, God granted both David and Joseph success in all they did. And you might be tempted to conclude as you read these verses about the success of David and the success of Joseph that “If I follow God, like David and Jospeh, then God will help me be successful in everything I do too.”
But that’s not really how it works. We shouldn’t think of success and prosperity as rewards from God for being obedient or for being “good Christians”. Being faithful to God isn’t any guarantee of health and wealth. Now certainly God loves to give us good gifts – but He doesn’t divvy out those gifts based on how good we are.
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. Matthew 5:45b
God extends his goodness to everyone! So I don’t think we should assume that David & Joseph’s success came as a reward from God – but rather, God gave them success in all they did for a specific reason. Their success was part of God’s plan to put them where He needed them to be – to accomplish the tasks that He wanted them to accomplish. God gave them success for his good plan and ultimate glory. And we’re going to see this clearly with David as he spends his early years successfully serving under King Saul – which prepares and positions him for kingship later on in life.
And God does the same thing with us. If God has given us success or prosperity – He’s done so for a reason. He’s preparing and positioning us to do the things He wants us to do.
We need to be careful not to consider our success as reward from God for being so good – because chances are – we’re not that good! If anything, when you take an honest look at your life, we deserve punishment, not rewards!
We also need to be careful not to foolishly think that we’re the ones responsible for all our success. We have to remember that God has graciously given us all that we have – and He’s done so for His own good plan and ultimate glory.
Moses spends a good chunk of time trying to teach this lesson to the Israelites back in the book of Deuteronomy. At that time, God was about to give them the promised land – a land flowing with milk and honey. God was going to bless them and make them fruitful and abundant. They would live in peace and have everything they ever wanted!
Not unlike most of us here in Canada. I mean, not many other people in world history have known such peace and abundance and prosperity as we do. But look at the warning that Moses gives to the Israelites…. (and I think it applies very much to us!) He says to them:
6 “So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. 8 It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. 9 It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. 10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
11 “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. 12 For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, 13 and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! 14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. 15 Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! 16 He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. 17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ 18 Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.
Man! Those words seem so applicable to us, don’t they? We are so quick to become proud of all we have accomplished and all we have acquired. But we forget that every good thing we have comes from the hand of the Lord.
We need to make sure that we thank and praise the Lord for all the good things He has given us – and perhaps more importantly, we need to live in a way that honors him and we need to use these good things for his purposes – to use this abundance to bring Him glory.
But lest we get lost on this long and winding rabbit trail, we better get back to our passage in 1 Samuel.
So David is having success in everything Saul asks him to do – which is great for a while – but before long, David’s success beings to rub Saul the wrong way. Look what happens in verse 6.
6 When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. 7 This was their song:
“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”
8 This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
1 Samuel 18:6-9
And just like that, Saul’s love for David turned into jealousy. It’s like a switch was flipped in Saul’s heart. Prior to this, Saul loved seeing David succeed! After all, David’s success was Saul’s success! David was under Saul’s orders and Saul’s command, so every time David won a battle or defeated an enemy – it did nothing but reflect well on Saul!
Saul should have been able to celebrate David’s victories! I mean, most kings would have thrown parties and given great rewards to such a skilled and successful commander.
But not Saul. When the women came out to meet the victorious army as they returned, singing the praises of both Saul and David – Saul became quite concerned that ‘everybody loves David’ a little more than they loved him.
And it’s not like the women were making fun of Saul or were intending to make little of his accomplishments. No, they were celebrating the victories of both David & Saul! In the eyes of the people, Saul & David were a great team! Between them both they had killed many thousands of their enemies! And crediting David with killing tens of thousands, was probably not a literal body count, but just a poetic way of celebrating David’s incredible victory over Goliath.
And you know, if this song had been about David and Jonathan – I think Jonathan would be tapping his toes and singing right along with them! Jonathan would have had no troubles singing David’s praises.
But not Saul. Saul became very angry that David was credited with killing ten thousands, and He was only credited with killing thousands. Instead of celebrating David’s success, jealousy cause Saul to see David as a threat.
After hearing this silly little song, Saul somehow concludes, “Next they’ll be making him their king!”
It’s amazing how incredibly insecure Saul has become. He hears one little song about David killing more men than he, and somehow he assumes the next step is the people making David their king?!? That may be a bit of an over reaction!
But from then on, as verse 9 tells us, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.
I tell ya, jealousy is so harmful to ourselves and to our relationships. It destroys trust, it leads us to assume the worst about people, it amplifies our own insecurities, it breeds resentment… No wonder people refer to jealousy as the green-eyed monster. As we’re going to see in the life of Saul, jealousy is a monster – a monster that destroys us from the inside out.
Take a look at these next verses.
10 The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice. 1 Samuel 18:10-11
It’s incredible how quickly and how severely Saul’s jealously leads him to do unthinkable things! The very next day, Saul attempts to murder David! As David graciously plays the harp to sooth Saul’s troubled spirit, Saul hurls a spear at David. What has happened in Saul’s heart that he’s prepared to kill one of his best men who has been nothing but a loyal and trustworthy servant!?
I’m reminded of Jeremiah 17:9
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9
Our sinful hearts are more desperately wicked than what we give them credit for. When we hear of people doing atrocious, wicked acts, we often wonder how they could ever do such things. And we think to ourselves, there’s no way that I could ever do that!
Well, only by the grace of God! Our sinful hearts make us capable of the most [hay-nus] heinous of crimes! We are sinful people in desperate need of a Saviour.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what Jesus came to give us! Jesus came to be our saviour – he came to give us new hearts. In the book of Ezekiel, the Lord says…
25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:25-27
Paul echos this idea in 2 Corinthians 5:17… He simplifies it a bit though….
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
And that’s an experience that we all need to have. Each of us are born as slaves to our old sinful hearts. Like Saul, we’re held captive by things like jealousy, envy, pride, selfishness (and the list could go on.) These things take control of our lives – and maybe we don’t end up doing something as crazy as King Saul (throwing spears at people) – but those sins still destroy us from the inside out. They separate us from God and they destroy our relationships with others.
But Christ came to free us from the grip of sin. He came to give us freedom and life. All that’s required is that we trust and follow him.
And that’s something that Saul just refused to do. God had given Saul many opportunities to trust and follow him – as we’ve seen in these past weeks – and I can only imagine how differently things would have turn out for Saul if he had! But since Saul refused to trust and follow the Lord, the Lord let him remain in his sin-controlled state, and Saul suffered the consequences of his own sinful heart.
This section of chapter 18 concludes by saying:
12 Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. 13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.
14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle.
1 Samuel 18:12-16
As David trusted and followed the Lord, the Lord gave him success in everything he did – preparing and positioning him to be the next King of Israel. As this verse tells us, everybody loves David!
But as Saul continued to wallow in self-pity and jealousy, living life away apart from the Lord, he grew more and more fearful of David – and as we’re going to see next week, his efforts to kill David grew more and more elaborate.
And so to close this morning, I’d just encourage you to take a moment to examine your own life and heart.
Are you still held captive by your own sinful heart? Do you find yourself in the grips of jealousy when others have success or prosperity? Or can you celebrate their success with them – knowing that God working out his good plan in both of your lives?
Or maybe it’s not jealousy so much that has a grip on your life – maybe it’s fear? Maybe it’s shame? Maybe it’s pride?
But whatever it may be, I just want you to know this morning that you can be free from that! Jesus Christ died on a cross so that you could be set from from every sin that entangles and trips you up. You can be free to experience true joy, true peace, and true satisfaction. But those things can only be found through a true relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus wants to have such a relationship with you. He’s made it possible by dying on a cross and rising to life again. He already loves you more than you can imagine.
Will you choose to love Him in return? Will you choose to serve and follow him? Will you choose to let him set you free? I hope and pray that you will.