David had already been one of the court musicians in Saul’s palace before he came to fight Goliath. But either because Saul didn’t take much notice of the “little people” who served him or because David only came to him when his mind was distracted and overwhelmed, he did not recognize his harp-player.
“Abner,” Saul asked the commander of his army as he watched David, “who is that young man?”
“I have no idea,” Abner answered, so Saul commanded him to find out who this young warrior could be.
Abner brought David to Saul and asked him to introduce himself. Although he had been anointed by Samuel years before, David had not come to take Saul’s throne. “I am David the son of Jesse,” he replied. “A loyal Israelite from Bethlehem.”
David stayed with Saul, carrying his armor, continuing to play music for him whenever his mind became distracted, and fighting in battles against the Philistines.
Saul’s son Jonathan was next in line to become king. But David and Jonathan quickly became best friends. Jonathan thought as highly of David as he did of himself and the two young men promised to always be loyal friends. Although he could have been jealous that David had been chosen to be the next king instead of him and tried to stop David, Jonathan accepted God’s decision. He showed David that he accepted him as the next king by giving him his prince’s robe, which showed he was heir to the throne. Jonathan also gave David his armor, sword, bow and arrows, and belt.
Saul promoted David to become an officer in his army. David was successful in everything he did for his king. When the army marched home from fighting the Philistines the women of each town threw a parade for King Saul, dancing and singing to their harps and tambourines.
Saul loved the attention and felt powerful, until he listened more carefully and heard the words they were singing.
“Saul has defeated a thousand enemies!” the women sang out. “And David has defeated ten thousand!”
“Why are they giving more praise to this newcomer than to their king?” Saul thought angrily. “What’s next? They’ll want to make him king?”
Saul’s heart turned against David and from that day, he never trusted him.
But all of Israel, and especially all of Saul’s family, loved David. Saul’s daughter, Michal, fell in love with David and wanted to marry him. Although David insisted, he came from too humble of a family to marry a princess, Saul had David marry his daughter and now David was more than his servant or military leader, he was his son-in-law.
Saul saw that his son and daughter were loyal to David, and every day he grew more and more jealous of him. When David played music for Saul during his fits, he threw his spear at him and David ran out of the room, fearful of the king who was losing his ability to think with reason.
Michal told David to run away, but Jonathan was convinced Saul would never actually hurt David. Jonathan talked to his father. He reminded Saul how David had served him in so many ways.
“David has always been your loyal servant,” Jonathan insisted. And Saul, feeling sorry for his burst of anger, promised that he would be kind to David again. But this only lasted a short time before Saul’s anger overtook him once more.
Jonathan told David to camp out in the field overnight while he talked to his father again.
“I will go out with a servant to practice my archery,” Jonathan said. “If it is safe for you to return I will shoot at the target and send my servant to retrieve the arrows. But if it is not safe, I will tell him the arrows are beyond him.”
That night when Saul learned that David was not there, he was overwhelmed with anger and jealousy and went into a fit. Jonathan sadly realized that King Saul would never be able to live at peace with David.
The next morning Jonathan walked out into the field with his bow and arrows. David, hiding behind a rock, waited eagerly to hear the secret message. Jonathan shot his arrows far beyond the target. David knew this meant he would have to leave.
After the boy who collected his arrows had returned to town, David came out of his hiding place. He and Jonathan cried and hugged.
“Be safe,” Jonathan told him. “Remember, nothing will ever take our friendship away. Let’s always remember each other.” Neither of the young men knew what would happen next, but both trusted that God was in charge, and no action they or Saul could do could be more powerful than God’s will.