Story Six

 •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 5
1 Sam. 17:55, to 20:42.
AFTER Dắ vid had slain the giant he was brought before King Saul, still holding the giant's head. Sa̤ul did not remember in this bold fighting man the boy who a few years before had played in his presence. He took him into his own house, and made him an officer among his soldiers. Dā́ vid was as wise and as brave in the army as he had been when facing the giant, and very soon he was in command of a thousand men. All the men loved him, both in Sa̤ul's court and in his camp, for Dā́ vid had the spirit that drew all hearts toward him.
When Dā́ vid was returning from his battle with the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝ the women of Ĭś̝ ra-el came to meet him out of the cities, with instruments of music, singing and dancing, and they sang:
"Sa̤ul has slain his thousands,
And Dā́ vid his ten thousands.”
This made Sa̤ul very angry, for he was jealous and suspicious in his spirit. He thought constantly of Săḿ u-el’s words, that God would take the kingdom from him and would give it to one who was more worthy of it. He began to think that perhaps this young man, who had come in a single day to greatness before the people, might try to make himself king.
His former feeling of unhappiness again came over Sa̤ul. He raved in his house, talking as a man talks who is crazed. By this time they all knew that Dā́ vid was a musician, and they called him again to play on his harp and to sing before the troubled king. But now, in his madness, Sa̤ul would not listen to Dā́ vid's voice. Twice he threw his spear at him; but each time Dā́ vid leaped aside, and the spear went into the wall of the house.
Sa̤ul was afraid of Dā́ vid, for he saw that the Lord was with Dā́ vid, as the Lord was no longer with himself. He would have killed Dā́ vid, but did not dare kill him, because everybody loved Dā́ vid. Sa̤ul said to himself, "Though I cannot kill him myself, I will have him killed by the Phĭ-lĭś tĭne.”
And he sent Dā́ vid out on dangerous errands of war; but Dā́ vid came home in safety, all the greater and the more beloved after each victory. Sa̤ul said, "I will give you my daughter Mḗ răb for your wife if you will fight the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝ for me.”
Dā́ vid fought the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝; but when he came home from the war he found that Mḗ răp, who had been promised to him, had been given as wife to another man. Sa̤ul had another daughter, named Mī́ chal. She loved Dā́ vid, and showed her love for him. Then Sa̤ul sent word to Dā́ vid, saying, "You shall have Mī́chal, my daughter, for your wife when you have killed a hundred Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝.'
Then Dā́ vid went out and fought the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝, and killed two hundred of them; and they brought the word to Sa̤ul. Then Sa̤ul gave him his daughter Mī́ chal as his wife; but he was all the more afraid of Dā́ vid as he saw him growing in power and drawing nearer to the throne of the kingdom.
But if Sa̤ul hated Dā́ vid, Sa̤ul's son, Jŏń a-than, loved Dā́ vid with all his heart. This was the brave young warrior of whom we read in Story Two of this Part, who with his armor-bearer went out alone to fight the Phĭ-lĭś tĭne army. Jŏń a-than saw Dā́ vid's courage and, nobility of soul, and loved him with all his heart. He took off his own royal robe, and his sword, and his bow, and gave them all to Dā́ vid. It grieved Jŏń a-than greatly that his father, Sa̤ul, was so jealous of Dá̄vid. He spoke to his father, and said: "Let not the king do harm to Dā́vid; for Dā́vid has been faithful to the king, and he has done great things for the kingdom. He took his life in his hand, and killed the Phĭ-lĭś tĭne, and won a great victory for the Lord and for the people. Why should you seek to kill an innocent man?"
For the time Sa̤ul listened to Jŏń a-than, and said, "As the Lord lives, Dā́ vid shall not be put to death.”
And again Dā́ vid sat at the king's table, among the princes; and when Sa̤ul was troubled again Dā́vid played on his harp and sang before him. But one more Sa̤ul's jealous anger arose, and he threw his spear at Dā́ vid. Dā́ vid was watchful and quick. He leaped aside, and, as before, the spear fastened into the wall.
Sa̤ul sent men to Dā́ vid's house to seize him; but Mī́ chal, Sa̤ul's daughter, who was Dā́ vid's wife, let Dā́ vid down out of the window, so that he escaped. She placed an image on Dā́ vid's bed and covered it with the bed-clothes. When the men came, she said, "Dā́ vid is ill in the bed, and cannot go.”
They brought the word to Sa̤ul, and he said, "Bring him to me in the bed, just as he is.”
When the image was found in Dā́ vid's bed, Dā́ vid was in a safe place, far away. Dā́ vid went to Săḿ u-el at Rā́ mah, and stayed with him among the men who were prophets worshipping God and singing and speaking God's word. Sa̤ul heard that Dā́ vid was there, and sent men to take him. But when these men came and saw Săḿ u-el and the prophets praising God and praying, the same spirit came on them, and they began to praise and to pray. Sa̤ul sent other men, but these also, when they came among the prophets, felt the same power, and joined in the worship.
Finally, Sa̤ul said, "If no other man will bring Dā́ vid to me, I will go myself and take him.”
And Sa̤ul went to Rā́ mah; but when he came near to the company of the worshippers, praising God, and praying, and preaching, the same spirit tame on Sa̤ul. He, too, began to join in the songs and the prayers, and stayed there all that day and that night, worshipping God very earnestly. When the next day he went again to his home in Ḡĭb́ e-ah, his feeling was changed for the time, and he was again friendly to David.
But Dā́ vid knew that Sa̤ul was at heart his bitter enemy and would kill him if he could as soon as his madness came upon him. He met Jŏń a-than out in the field away from the place. Jŏń a-than said to Dā́ vid:
"Stay away from the king's table for a few days, and I will find out how he feels toward you, and will tell you. Perhaps even now my father may become your friend. But if he is to be your enemy, I know that the Lord is with you, and that Sa̤ul will not succeed against you. Promise me that as long as you live you will be kind to me, and not only to me while I live, but to my children after me.”
Jŏń a-than believed, as many others believed, that Dā́ vid would yet become the king of Ĭś̝ ra-el, and he was willing to give up to Dā́ vid his right to be king, such was his great love for him. That day a promise was made between Jŏń a-than and Dā́ vid, that they and their children, and those who should come after them, should be friends forever.
Jŏń a-than said to Dā́ vid, "I will find how my father feels toward you, and will bring you word. After three days I will be here with my bow and arrows, and I will send a little boy out near your place of hiding, and I will shoot three arrows. If I say to the boy, `Run, find the arrows, they are on this side of you,' then you can come safely, for the king will not harm you. But if I call out to the boy, 'The arrows are away beyond you,' that will mean that there is danger, and you must hide from the king.”
So Dā́ vid stayed away from Sa̤ul's table for two days. At first Sa̤ul said nothing of his absence, but at last he said:
"Why has not the son of Jĕś se come to meals yesterday and to-day?"
And Jŏń a-than said, "Dā́ vid asked leave of me to go to his home at Bĕth=lĕ-hĕm and visit his oldest brother.”
Then Saul was very angry. He cried out, "You are a disobedient son! Why have you chosen this enemy of mine as your best friend? Do you not know that as long as he is alive you can never be king? Send after him, and let him be brought to me, for he shall surely die!”
Sa̤ul was so fierce in his anger that he threw his spear at his own son Jŏń a-than. Jŏń a-than rose up from the table, so anxious for his friend Dā́ vid that he could eat nothing. The next day, at the hour agreed upon, Jŏń a-than went out into the field with a little boy. He said to the boy, "Run out yonder, and be ready to find the arrows that I shoot.”
And as the boy was running Jŏń a-than shot arrows beyond him, and he called out, "The arrows are away beyond you; run quickly and find them.”
The boy ran and found the arrows, and brought them to Jŏń a-than. He gave the bow and arrows to the boy, saying to him, "Take them back to the city. I will stay here a while.”
And as soon as the boy was out of sight Dā́ vid came from his hiding-place and ran to Jŏń a-than. They fell into each other's arms and kissed each other again and again, and wept together. For Dā́ vid knew now that he must no longer hope to be safe in Sa̤ul's hands. He must leave home, and wife, and friends, and his father's house, and hide wherever he could from the hate of King Sa̤ul.
Jŏń a-than said to him, "Go in peace; for we have sworn together saying, 'The Lord shall be between you and me, and between your children and my children forever.'”
Then Jŏń a-than went again to his father's palace, and Dā́ vid went out to find a hiding-place.