Sermon on 1 Samuel 19:1-24 – “He Who Delivered David”

Sermon for Sunday, May 12, 2024 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)


Old Testament reading:

[1Sa 19:1-24 ESV] 1 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” 4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5 For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before. 8 And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. 9 Then a harmful spirit from the LORD came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10 And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. 11 Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, that he might kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, “If you do not escape with your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window, and he fled away and escaped. 13 Michal took an image and laid it on the bed and put a pillow of goats’ hair at its head and covered it with the clothes. 14 And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16 And when the messengers came in, behold, the image was in the bed, with the pillow of goats’ hair at its head. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?'” 18 Now David fled and escaped, and he came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and lived at Naioth. 19 And it was told Saul, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David, and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as head over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Then he himself went to Ramah and came to the great well that is in Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And one said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”


New Testament reading:

[Rom 11:25-32 ESV] 25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.


Gospel reading:

[Mat 6:7-18 ESV] 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.




In this passage David finds deliverance from Saul; Saul who is seeking to kill him.

And David is deliverance from the deathly designs of Saul on four occasions:
1. David is saved by Jonathan.
2. David is saved by his own reflexes.
3. David is saved by Michal, his wife.
4. David is saved by the Holy Spirit.


So we will see the various ways in which God protects, saves and delivers David.

The first three are through “ordinary means.” They are non-miraculous ways.
And the fourth is through “extraordinary means.” The miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, whether ordinary or extraordinary, miraculous or non-miraculous, the deliverance of David is all in the plan and hand of God.

I. David Saved by Jonathan (v. 1-7)

First, we find David saved by Jonathan.

And we see a change in Saul. He previously was quiet about his desire to have David killed. Now he is outspoken. He tells his son Jonathan and all his servants.

Saul wants someone else to kill David, but he’s willing to do it himself too.

But this is where the friendship of Jonathan comes in to save David. Jonathan cares more for David (and truth, and God) than for his own father, Saul, who is in sin.

And Jonathan is willing to call a spade a spade, he calls a sin a sin.

After warning David about Saul’s intent, Jonathan speaks to Saul, telling him that he is in sin.

David is now in hiding, and Jonathan says to Saul,

“Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you.”


From this we are to learn that persuasion is better than violence. REPEAT: persuasion is better than violence. Jonathan didn’t take to fighting Saul, but persuading him. Persuasion is difficult. I find that it is a natural tendency for people to resist persuasion of anything. And it is important that we don’t fall for everything. We have to be careful not to be persuaded toward lies. Yet we must be willing to persuade others of the truth, of things that are good for them. If you are persuading people for selfish reasons, that is called hucksterism.


Not only is Jonathan working to persuade Saul that killing David would be a sin, he also works to end that jealousy Saul harbors.


We saw this previously, how Saul heard the women signing, “Saul has killed his thousand, but David has killed his ten thousand.” And Saul was jealous of David. Now, Jonathan works to end that. He says


5 For he [David] took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the LORD worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?”


And look what happens. The persuasion succeeds.


6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.


David is delivered from danger. Saul recalls — he takes back — the warrant for David’s death. All is well as “he was in his presence as before.”

II. David Saved by His Own Reflexes. (v. 8-10)

But the peace between them is short-lived.

War starts again between Israel and the Philistines, and David again is victorious. Perhaps this rekindled Saul’s jealousies and fears of David. The text says “a harmful spirit from the LORD came upon Saul.”

And so Saul goes back to his old game … Pin the Spear on the David.

But David is again delivered. How?

All it says is that “he eluded Saul.” He has agility, speed, and his wits about him. It must have helped that Jonathan had warned him previously. And even though things looked good with Saul, it was wise of David to be watchful.

Having had enough now, “David fled and escaped that night.”

Who can blame him? That is the third time Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear.



III. David Saved by Michal (v. 11-17)

We then have a third account in this chapter of David’s deliverance.

This time he is saved by Michal, his wife.

Michal tells David about Saul’s plan to kill him. We’re not told how she knows, but she knows. Word gets around in the family, perhaps.

So Michal warns David and he is let down through a window at some opportunity when Saul’s men don’t see him.

It is possible that this is saying David lived in a house on the city wall, like Rahab. If so, he was let down outside the wall like Paul in the book of Acts.

Then, Michal’s work continues.

Saul’s messengers — his men — come into the house, but are tricked (for a time) by Michal.

The text speaks about an image or idol in the house. A terephim in Hebrew. The same word is used in the case of Genesis 31 with Laban and his “household god.”

What I think is going on is that Michal had an idol that she didn’t tell David of. There’s no reason to think that David would have an idol in the house.

And the reason Michal has the idol out now is that, putting it on the bed, people will thinking David is really sick and needs divine intervention. Archeologically, it is aid, there is evidence of many small idols. That’s was this probably was. A small idol. Alternatively, some think it could have been a large idol that was in the bed to look like David. The goat’s hair is definitely for tricking Saul’s messengers to think that it is David lying there.

But Saul has no shame, desiring to kill a defenseless man even while he lay in bed sick. That is when they discover the ruse.

And he asks Michal, “Why have you deceived me thus and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?”


And she answers Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go. Why should I kill you?'”


The meaning of her response wasn’t clear to me until I read it in other Bible versions.

She says “David threatened to kill me if I didn’t help him.”


This apparently is a lie. At least we don’t see this anywhere in the text that David actually tried to kill his wife. Michael is using this lie to save her own skin.


In fact, David didn’t threaten Michal at all. SHE WARNED HIM of Saul’s plan. So she was always in favor of his escape.


This account of David’s deliverance is interesting because Michal was the instrument of it; Michal whom Saul gave him to be a snare to him, but she proves to be his protector and helper.

IV. David Saved by the Spirit (v. 18-24)

Then there is a final, a fourth, deliverance in this chapter. And this is the one that that is not human, but divine. David is saved by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit intervenes for his deliverance.

Now, when you read this section (verses 18-24) you might anticipate that David’s next deliverance would come from Samuel, because that is where he goes, to Samuel.

And this is a good idea. Where do you go in times of trouble? You go back to the beginning; you go back to your trusted source. David flees from Saul and he goes to Samuel. You can imagine him saying, “Samuel, what am I to do?”

Now, if you say “in our trouble we should go directly to the Lord” I won’t contest you on that. But it is great to also have a human counselor; especially someone like Samuel who will point you to the Lord.

Here we don’t see any respond of Samuel recorded, but we have the work of the Holy Spirit.

Saul finds out that David is with Samuel, and so he sends his messengers to get David.

But here it is like a Scooby Doo episode or any mystery thriller. You know what happens? They divide up to cover more ground, or for some other excuse. And then, some people are taken, and then some more people. And you have to go looking for them, and you get taken. By the monster, but the ghost, or in our case here, by the Holy Ghost.

Saul’s men come upon Samuel and the prophets prophesying, and by the work of God THEY begin to prophesy. And he sends a second group to go after the first group and THEY prophesy. And he sends a third group to go after the first and the second group, and they prophesy. And when Saul then looks for them and finds them, HE prophesies. How does this happen? By the “spirit of God.”

And so by this means, Saul and his men are kept from killing David, and David is delivered.

And so surprising it is that Saul is now (temporarily) prophesying (or proclaiming God) that the people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”


I like what one commentator says about this who situation:


So impatient was Saul in his thirst after David’s blood, so restless to compass his design against him, that, though baffled by one providence after another, he could not perceive that David was under the special protection of Heaven. It was below the king to go himself on such an errand as this; but persecutors will stoop to any thing, and stick at nothing, to gratify their malice. Saul lays aside all public business to hunt David. How was David delivered, now that he was just ready to fall (like his own lamb formerly) into the mouth of the lions? Not as he delivered his lamb, by slaying the lion, or, as Elijah was delivered, by consuming the messengers with fire from heaven, but by turning the lions for the present into lambs.


The Lord can do as He pleases!


V. Our Deliverer, Jesus Christ


Well, this Biblical theme of deliverance does not end with David, nor even with the Old Testament. It is, in fact, the great them of the WHOLE Scriptures.


Our deliverer is Jesus Christ.


He teaches us to pray in the Lord’s prayer, “deliver from evil.” Deliver from all that evil that comes against us. And if we consider this chapter in particular, we might say “deliver from all the evil of the powers of this world.” Those who in the government or by their wealth or by legal means might come after us undeservingly. Deliver us from those who would do us harm.


And Christ himself is our ultimate deliverer.


[Gal 1:4 ESV] 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Thou sin and this world would lead us to hell, Christ has delivered us. That is THE Good News. It is written “”The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.”

That was the promise, “the Deliverer will come.”

And we know that that promise has been fulfilled. The Deliverer HAS come.

HE who delivered David, now delivers you.

We would do well to consider the myriad ways in which God has delivered us.

On the physical plane, our very existence shows that we’ve been delivered. Each one of us has, no doubt, come through dangerous or risky situations in life. And yet the Lord has preserved us by various means, sometimes ordinary and sometimes extraordinary. He works with the world and He works by miracles. As you count your blessings, count your deliverances as well.

And so, finally, consider this: Where will you go when you’re in need?

Will you flee to the hills? Will you flee to a trusted advisor?

Wherever you go, remember to flee to the Lord. He is OUR deliverer.

That is the truth David recounts in the Psalms:

[Psa 40:17 ESV] 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

[Psa 144:2 ESV] 2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

Let us pray.


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