The cost of spiritual isolation
1 Samuel 18: Saul hated David
Saul hasn’t forgotten the words of God’s man, Samuel: “God has rejected you as king over Israel.” Still, long after that word of rejection Saul continues in power, enjoying considerable military success. Then comes the Goliath incident. He shouldn’t have let David fight Goliath. As King, the General of the Army, it was his battle, not David’s. But David did fight, winning not only the battle, but also the hearts of the people of Israel. Now, in the eyes of the people of Israel, David can do no wrong. He never acts in a way that speaks of betrayal to his King and, instead, faithfully and with frustrating success carries out every command. The people fall in love with David and because of that Saul hates him. There’s a lot going on here. For instance, Saul is likely clinically depressed. At first, it appears that Saul doesn’t actually need God at all, but now his life apart from God is taking a terrible toll on his mind and spirit. We know that things will only go downhill from here. Then there’s David who simply keeps doing the right thing — even when Saul tries to pin him to the wall with a spear! There’s also an unattractive “but what have you done for us lately” element in the people’s changing loyalties from Saul to David. I don’t guess the writer of this portion of Scripture is teaching any particular lesson in this passage. Rather, he’s just telling the story. Still, there are several things to think about here.
Take Away: Living apart from God takes a terrible toll on a person.