Memo 1044: You're Fired
Last week, we saw that the people's praise of David made Saul suspicious, causing him to believe that David and the people were conspiring against him to take over the kingdom. If that was the extent of his suspicions and subsequent actions, then things could have carried on with David being one of his military champions while Saul sat on the throne. Unfortunately, Saul was more and more consumed by his envy and he eventually acted to "fire" David from his position as royal musician. Let's see how he did it. We read,
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul (1 Samuel 18:10-12).
What was Saul doing when this incident took place? The account says he was "prophesying in his house." It's difficult to understand what was going on and many commentators don't have much to say about the meaning. Keep in mind that it was reported about Saul that "the Spirit of God rushed upon him, so that he prophesied among them [God's prophets]" (1 Samuel 10:10). Since the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (see Romans 11:29), which means He doesn't take them back even when they are misused, it would seem that Saul had a manifestation of God's presence that was still active but was also affected by the evil spirit that God sent upon him. Those two mixed together caused Saul to act as prophet with ill intent, using his gift or prophetic bent to "get" David.
Either David had to dodge Saul's spear two times during the same staff meeting or Saul did this to him on two separate occasions. Either way, it's one more time than Saul would have done it to me, for I would have been out of there after the first spear-throwing incident. At any rate, Saul's idea of firing someone was killing him and, keep in mind, Saul was a military man, so he knew how to handle a spear. His target was no slouch, however, and was able to evade Saul's lethal attack. Saul certainly had an unusual way of letting one of his staff know his time was up, but this relationship was far from over as we shall see in the coming weeks.
WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON?
While we can't fully explain the prophetic activity in Saul's life, the writer did report his motivation for his strange behavior:
Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul. So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him (1 Samuel 18:12-15).
David's success in the Lord was a threat to Saul and remember, we saw in past lessons that he was ambivalent about being God's choice for king in the first place. His fear combined with his prophetic tendency that was in partnership with his spirit of depression left him a man in desperate need of a counselor and deliverance.
What's the lesson for us here? When you are in your purpose, God is with you and gives you success. You may think that everyone is delighted with your results, but sometimes people are a bit wary of you. If they are insecure or don't understand what God is doing in your life, they may criticize you or ultimately oppose you, and at times that opposition can be vocal and visible. What should you do if and when that happens?
In this story, we see that Saul gave David 1,000 men and sent him out, and David performed as usual. You should do the same—maintain your commitment to serve the Lord with a clean heart as you serve in your position. In coming weeks, we will see that Saul's increasing hostility caused David to leave. You should do the same if things get abusive and nasty.
In all of this story, God used Saul to work something into David that only persecution could produce, and God also used Saul to direct David to where God wanted him to be. The main lesson, however, is not to expect a parade when you have success in the Lord, but hopefully you'll never have to face the kind of exit interview that David had with Saul when he launched his handheld cruise missile aimed at the "letting go" of his anointed servant. Have a blessed week.