Saul’s mind was unwell. That was the result of the activities of an evil spirit. God had allowed that evil spirit to attack Saul after Saul decided on purpose not to obey God (16:14). Because of the evil spirit, Saul often was angry and he behaved in a dangerous manner.
On previous occasions, David had been able to comfort Saul, so that Saul could behave in a sensible manner (16:14-22). 1 Samuel 18:10 describes how David did that. David played sacred songs on his harp (a musical instrument with a soft sound). As David did that, Saul prophesied. Here, ‘to prophesy’ does not mean ‘to speak about future events’. It probably means ‘to sing songs that praise God, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit’. In other words, the songs did not come from Saul’s own mind. They came from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was upon David (16:13), and that had a powerful effect upon Saul (see 1 Samuel 19:23-24).
On this particular occasion however, David failed. Saul was allowing jealous thoughts against David to control his mind (18:9). From the spirit, Saul sang to praise God; but jealous thoughts filled Saul’s mind (compare 1 Corinthians 14:15). The result was that Saul received no comfort from David’s music. Instead, Saul tried to kill David.
This was a new experience for David. He did not fight back. God had appointed Saul; David believed that it was very wrong to fight against him (26:9-11). Instead, David simply tried to continue, and then Saul tried to kill him again. Later David would realise that during such incidents he had to escape from Saul.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.