Saul was afraid of David because the Spirit of the Eternal was with him but had left Saul. So, at last, Saul removed David from his presence, making him a commander over 1,000 men, hoping he would die in battle. But David went out to the battle and returned. David was successful in everything he did because the Eternal One was present with him. When Saul saw that David achieved such success, he was amazed and afraid of him. All of Israel and Judah loved David, who led their soldiers into battle and brought them back victorious.
1 Samuel 18:12-16
Immediately following the incident with the flying spear (see Player Blog from October 27), we see a series of events that reveal the evil of Saul’s true heart. Saul was afraid of David because he recognized God’s Spirit in David and realized that he no longer had that special privilege - he no longer enjoyed God’s presence with him. Saul watched David have success after success and observed that his constituents loved David. He must have felt the pinch of the green-eyed monster!
The Bible tells us that Saul “was amazed and afraid of him.” A closer look at the original language shows us the word guwr. The meaning of the word is actually very similar to our own response when we say “Grrr.” Many translations use the word dread here, that extreme apprehension and fear, but it’s even more than that. It also encompasses the anger and frustration that rise to cause us to desire an evil outcome for the individual or group with whom we are angry and indicates a quarrel. In the original language it can also mean “to keep close.” Saul was perhaps the first person who played out the notion of “keeping his enemies close.”
The verses that follow show the scheming of Saul. He demonstrates himself a coward, really, offering each of his daughters at different times to David as wives, hoping they might trap David for him. Saul thinks, “I will give her to him that she may become a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” (1 Samuel 18:21)
In contrast, “David was successful in everything he did because the Eternal One was present with him.” Chapter 18 ends with this epithet: Then the commanders of the Philistines went out to battle, and it happened as often as they went out, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul. So his name was highly esteemed.
David conducted himself with wisdom and God was with him. As we all know, it was an unbeatable combination. After running for what must have seemed like forever to David, he eventually does become king, as he knew he would, trusting God’s presence with him all along the way.
Whether physical or spiritual, we all find ourselves up against “enemies” of all sorts. Will we behave ourselves more wisely than “all the servants of Saul?” Will we emerge victorious because we haven’t let evil under our skin? It all comes down to trust. Trust that God is with us. Trust that He is wiser than we are. Trust that He will lead us and win our battles. Trust that we can go forth with God’s strength and energy. Like David we can be "successful in everything [we do] because the Eternal One [is] present with [us]."