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18 David and Saul finished talking, and soon David and Jonathan[a] became best friends. Jonathan thought as much of David as he did of himself. From that time on, Saul kept David in his service and would not let David go back to his own family.

Jonathan liked David so much that they promised to always be loyal friends. Jonathan took off the robe that he was wearing and gave it to David. He also gave him his military clothes,[b] his sword, his bow and arrows, and his belt.

David was a success in everything that Saul sent him to do, and Saul made him a high officer in his army. That pleased everyone, including Saul’s other officers.

Saul Becomes David’s Enemy

David had killed Goliath, the battle was over, and the Israelite army set out for home. As the army went along, women came out of each Israelite town to welcome King Saul. They were singing happy songs and dancing to the music of tambourines and harps. They sang:

Saul has killed
    a thousand enemies;
David has killed
    ten thousand enemies!

This song made Saul very angry, and he thought, “They are saying that David has killed ten times more enemies than I ever did. Next they will want to make him king.” Saul never again trusted David.

10 The next day the Lord let an evil spirit take control of Saul, and he began acting like a crazy man inside his house. David came to play the harp for Saul as usual, but this time Saul had a spear in his hand. 11 Saul thought, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” He threw the spear at David twice, but David dodged and got away both times.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was helping David and was no longer helping him. 13 Saul put David in charge of a thousand soldiers and sent him out to fight. 14 The Lord helped David, and he and his soldiers always won their battles. 15 This made Saul even more afraid of David. 16 But everyone else in Judah and Israel was loyal to[c] David, because he led the army in battle.

17 One day, Saul told David, “If you’ll be brave and fight the Lord’s battles for me, I’ll let you marry my oldest daughter Merab.” But Saul was really thinking, “I don’t want to kill David myself, so I’ll let the Philistines do it for me.”

18 David answered, “How could I possibly marry your daughter? I’m not very important, and neither is my family.”

19 But when the time came for David to marry Saul’s daughter Merab, Saul told her to marry Adriel from the town of Meholah.

20 Saul had another daughter. Her name was Michal, and Saul found out that she was in love with David. This made Saul happy, 21 and he thought, “I’ll tell David he can marry Michal, but I’ll set it up so that the Philistines will kill him.” He told David, “I’m going to give you a second chance to marry one of my daughters.”

22-23 Saul ordered his officials to speak to David in private, so they went to David and said, “Look, the king likes you, and all of his officials are loyal to you. Why not ask the king if you can marry his daughter Michal?”

“I’m not rich[d] or famous enough to marry princess Michal!” David answered.

24 The officials went back to Saul and told him exactly what David had said. 25 Saul was hoping that the Philistines would kill David, and he told his officials to tell David, “The king doesn’t want any silver or gold. He only wants to get even with his enemies. All you have to do is to bring back proof that you have killed a hundred Philistines!”[e] 26 The officials told David, and David wanted to marry the princess.

King Saul had set a time limit, and before it ran out, 27 David and his men left and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought back the proof and showed it to Saul, so he could marry Michal. Saul agreed to let David marry Michal. 28 Saul knew that she loved David,[f] and he also realized that the Lord was helping David. 29 But knowing those things made Saul even more afraid of David, and he was David’s enemy for the rest of his life.

30 The Philistine rulers kept coming to fight Israel, but whenever David fought them, he won. He was famous because he won more battles against the Philistines than any of Saul’s other officers.

Footnotes

  1. 18.1 Jonathan: Saul’s oldest son (see chapter 14).
  2. 18.4 military clothes: Or “armor.”
  3. 18.16 was loyal to: Or “loved.”
  4. 18.22,23 not rich: It was the custom for a man to give the bride’s father some silver or gold in order to marry his daughter, and it would take a large amount to marry the daughter of the king.
  5. 18.25 proof. . . Philistines: Hebrew “one hundred Philistine foreskins.” In ancient times soldiers would sometimes cut off body parts of their dead enemies to prove how many they had killed.
  6. 18.28 she. . . David: Hebrew; one ancient translation “all Israel was loyal to David.”

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