Day 11 1 Samuel 20:4-41 ... Struggle for the Throne

You can sense the force of David's personality by observing the effect he had on people around him. During David's fugitive days, a ragtag band of men followed him across rugged hills and deserts, quite willing to give their lives for his sake. And this chapter tells of an undying friendship from his early days, before the radical break with King Saul. The king's son Jonathan valued friendship with David so much that he forfeited his chance at succession to the throne.

Saul revealed his true, murderous intent to Jonathan in a dramatic scene at the dinner table. Jonathan warned David, and thus began the terrible struggle between the competing kings. Saul, the king rejected by God, lived on in luxury while David, secretly anointed as his replacement, lived in the wilderness, scrambling to survive. Saul had a professional army; David, a small band made up of family members and an assortment of outlaws.

The events of the next few years played out the inner character of the two men. Saul knew God's will about the rightful king of Israel, but spent his life resisting it. In contrast, David showed amazing patience waiting for the prophecy to come true. Twice when Saul accidentally fell into his hands, David refused to kill him. He fought not to win but to survive.

In the remainder of 1 Samuel, a long, Shakespearean-style drama unfolds. King Saul, an ancient Macbeth, has lost his grip and is clearly deteriorating. His son has sided with David; his daughter, married to him, has shifted her loyalties as well. Saul, insane with rage, turns up the heat. Can David hold on long enough to outlast him?

At times, David despaired. "One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul," he said (27:1). For a while he even left Israel to serve as a mercenary for a Philistine king. His position was desperate. David had one precious asset only; God's promise that he would be king. Although his faith in that promise was tested to the extreme, David learned to wait for God's timing. In the end, like the hero of a Shakespearean tragedy, Saul took his own life. Meanwhile, David inherited the throne of Israel.

Point to Ponder: : Have you ever had a close same-sex friendship such as David and Jonathan had?