Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 16-26, Ps 40
Plenty of ink has been spilled over the most familiar episode from today’s reading–the meeting of David and Goliath. I hope you enjoyed taking another look at this story in context, as one piece in the larger narrative about David and the kingship of Israel. I’d like to focus attention on some events that follow.
After David’s great defeat of the giant, you remember that as the army returns home, the women attribute greater honor to David than to Saul in their song of victory. Saul, embarassed and threatened by David’s newfound popularity, begins to look for a way to eliminate him. Consumed by his anger, Saul makes numerous attempts to have David killed, twice attempting to do so himself. His dark obsession even drives a wedge between him and his son, Jonathan, who becomes a great friend to David.
In spite of Saul’s manic behavior, David does not budge from his respect for Saul as the anointed king of Israel. Twice, when Saul is on the move chasing him, David has a golden opportunity to kill Saul. For David, taking such action would be a violation of God’s will. In the face of great danger, he resolves to trust God to work out the situation.
Unfortunately, we get our first hint today that David may not treat other persons with the same restraint. The respect he shows for royalty does not necessarily carry over to “commoners.” His ego (or testosterone) seems to get the best of him when Nabal sharply refuses his request for rations. Insulted by Nabal’s actions, David is about to act rashly when Abigail steps in to save the day. Her courage and calmness avert a disaster, keeping David from an ugly feat that he would have later regretted. It won’t be the last time we see this trait in David. Even great leaders are flawed apparently, and need the wise counsel of others to keep themselves out of all kinds of trouble.