Saul’s rejection by the Lord (1 Sam. 16: 1) and his removal from the throne did not coincide. Years elapsed before the verdict passed upon Saul was executed. Hence the signal victory over Goliath did not immediately elevate David to the throne. He had to pass through many vicissitudes with their various trials and temptations before he was to be acclaimed as King by a united nation.
The women’s song (ch. 18. 7), the wisdom of David’s ways, and the winsomeness of David’s person combined to beget in Saul a cruel jealousy and an inveterate hatred of David.
David behaved himself wisely (18. 5); very wisely (18. 15); in all his ways (18. 14); more wisely than all the servants of Saul (18. 30). This wisdom he later manifested in his “Maschil Psalms” (Psa. 32, et al). They are Psalms of instruction and give understanding (Psa. 47. 7, R.V. marg.) in the ways of God in grace, government and glory.
David’s personal charm and attractiveness must not escape notice, for at the time he had nothing to offer his followers but the fellowship of his sufferings, yet to those who knew him, his charm was an all-sufficient bond. It drew forth from one the confession, “Thine are we David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse.” How it reminds one of Peter’s noble confession to His and our Lord, “To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.”
These graces, imperfectly revealed in David, were fully manifested in our Lord. He was wisdom and love incarnate. Would that these virtues were more characteristic of us who profess to share His rejection. What power for God would assemblies be if they were more permeated with this wisdom and love, if they were more thoroughly instructed in the truths of grace such as taught in Psalms 32, 51 and others, and greatly amplified for us in the New Testament. How often has the lack of these driven away rather than drawn anxious souls.
In accordance with Samuel’s prophecy (1 Sam. 8.10-18) Saul’s regime had brought about distress, debt and discontent. Those reduced to such dire circumstances were among the first to find their way out to David. Saul had ruled over them to his own hurt. These conditions have their counterpart today. Hence the need for wisdom and love to lead souls in such state to the peace, pardon and power there is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Each Christian should therefore live in the enjoyment of these riches if he is to be an effective witness.
We must remember that the rejection of Samuel by the nation was their rejection of the Lord. Hence Saul’s court was tantamount to the camp. David was now outside of it, bearing the Lord’s reproach.
Being but a vessel of clay, we look in vain for perfection in David and far less in his followers. He was a man of great capacities. Few prophets, if any, reached such heights as that in which he is seen in some of his Psalms. In describing his experiences he is carried beyond them to those of His Lord. His faith in days of darkness, his patience and endurance in suffering, his absolute refusal to revenge himself when Saul was at his mercy on two occasions show how tribulation had worked patience, and patience endurance, and endurance hope in the life of David. On the other hand, the weakness and depravity to which human nature is heir were all too clearly displayed in his life. Before Achish, even with the sword of Goliath in his hand, he feigns madness. What utter folly to have gone to such a place. He went without the Lord, hence he acts, not as in Elah in the consciousness of the power of God, but as an imbecile! Later he would have revenged himself on a poor worldling, the drunken Nabal, but for the intervention of Abigail. While she saved her husband from David’s sword, she did far more, she preserved David from a great folly. Still later he is found again before Achish, the conqueror of Goliath – a servant of the Philistine King! While in that position he acted the deceiver, and eventually suffered for it in the burning of Ziklag. How we need to pray that our feet may be kept in an even place (Psa. 26. 12). Only then will our feet be kept from slipping. David prayed for this (Psa. 56. 13), and later gave thanks for the answer to his petition (Psa. 116. 8).