The Spirit of the Lord has departed from Saul. He is tormented by another spirit from the Lord. David provides his only relief but he has to keep the fact that he will be Saul’s replacement under cover.
We left David right after Samuel anointed him as Israel’s next king. We left Saul when Samuel told him that the kingdom would be ripped from him and given to another. Something critical happened at both those junctures; the Spirit of the Lord moved. It left Saul and it moved to David.
Saul got a different spirit instead. One FROM God, not OF God. I want to say something about this spirit. I believe the ‘from’ status is similar to how Satan was allowed to come at Job. God does NOT do evil but He can remove His hand of protection and allow evil access. Saul, by his own actions, removed himself from under the Lord’s protection. The spirit was OF the Devil but allowed by God because of Saul’s sin. His actions while under the spirit’s influence reveal an angry and disturbed man. And that influence will continue to grow the farther Saul moves from the Lord.
Let’s join our story which centers around the sprits at work in these two men.
♥ ♦ ♥
Saul has been a mess mentally since Samuel left. He is finding little rest and little enjoyment in his days. He is irritable, suspicious, unable to focus, and downright unpleasant to be around. Everyone in the palace is jumpy because of Saul’s moods. They don’t know what to expect. Saul’s moods swing from one extreme to the other without warning and sometimes without any provocation.
One night in the kitchen several servants are discussing the issue.
“I was afraid he was going to pin me to the wall with that spear of his when I spilled the wine!”
“I felt the same way when I went to bring him is meal this morning. I didn’t do anything to set him off. He just had that look in his eyes. You know the one I mean.”
“I KNOW it for certain!”
“What can we do? It won’t be long until someone is hurt or killed if something doesn’t change.”
“It isn’t the king’s fault! It is the evil spirit from the Lord that torments him. We have to find a way to ease his mind when it starts tormenting him.”
“I had a cousin on my mother’s side who was tormented by a spirit and she found music to be a comfort.”
“Was it a special kind of music?”
“Anything that was soothing helped but the lyre was the most helpful.”
“We could suggest this for the king.”
“Who is willing to approach the king with such a suggestion? I know I don’t want to raise my head high enough to be noticed least it be taken from my shoulders!”
Several other servants echoed this sentiment.
“I will bring this to him on the morrow when I bring him his meal” replied Saul’s personal servant.
The others are relieved at his offer.
“Does anyone know of someone so skilled that we could recommend him to the king?”
None of the servants had an answer at that moment. They hoped that some of the other servants might be able to provide a recommendation. With hope for the new day the kitchen group retired for the night. Their duties would start soon enough and they needed rest.
The next morning as the meal is set before Saul his personal servant keeps watch on him. He is looking for an appropriate time to address him. He wants his king in the best of spirits before he brings up this issue. He has volunteered to do this task but he hasn’t volunteered to forfeit his life in doing so.
Saul’s mood has improved with the hearty breakfast prepared by the cook. He looks to be in about as good of spirits as one could hope for lately. “It’s time” thinks his personal servant. He approaches Saul’s left side with his head bowed.
“My king, I would speak with you concerning an important matter if I may.”
“Speak then” replies Saul.
His servant breathes a sigh of relief before beginning. “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well” (verses 15b-16).
Saul’s servant stood still and waited for his king’s answer. He didn’t want to appear to cower before his king or to be too bold. For Saul to accept his recommendation he had to exude an air of concern for his king. This was easy enough to do because he DID care for his king’s welfare.
Saul thought about the servant’s suggestion. Finally he answers, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me” (verse 17b).
Saul’s servant bowed and began to back away to begin his mission of searching out such an individual. One of the king’s guards had a recommendation to offer.
“Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of food presence, and the Lord is with him” (verse 18b).
Saul was pleased to hear of this lyre player’s good reputation and even more pleased to hear that the Lord was with him. It may be possible for the Lord to bless Saul again if this son of Jesse were with him. At the least he may be able to stand the gap for Saul.
Saul received the rest of the particulars concerning this young man then dispatched a group of soldiers to bring David, son of Jesse, to the palace. “Do not fail me” Saul warned his troops as he sent them on their journey.
While all this is transpiring, David is starting his morning like so many others. He gathers his morning meal and the tools of the trade to be off to the sheep pens before first light. His sheep are already bleating when he arrives.
“Did you sleep well my friends” David asks his sheep. He opens their pen and they begin their walk to the pasture where they will stay for the day. David sings songs to the Lord as he leads his sheep. He has found that they seldom stray from him when he sings for them. They appear to truly love David and he does love them.
About midday visitors arrive at the gate of Jesse’s home. They are from the king. They have made quite the spectacle as they marched through the town of Bethlehem. They neither turned nor slowed until they reached their destination of Jesse’s gate.
Jesse, his wife, and two of his sons are in the family’s abode at this hour. Jesse’s wife is just beginning the evening meal preparation. Jesse and his sons are in the workshop repairing harnesses for the donkeys when the gate begins to rattle.
“Open in the name of the king” is barked over the top of the gate as it is continued to be rattled.
The eldest of Jesse’s sons present rushes to open the gate before it is ripped from its hinges. “Welcome to our humble abode” he offers as he swings the gate inward.
“We carry a message to Jesse of Bethlehem. King Saul commands, ‘Send me David your son, who is with the sheep’ (verse 19b).”
Jesse hears the soldier’s words as he approaches and nearly stumbles. He wonders if Saul has heard of David’s anointing. He prays it is not so.
“I am Jesse” volunteers Jesse as he moves to join his son. “As you have said, my son David is in the field with the sheep. What do you need of him?”
“King Saul has need of him. He has heard that your son is skillful with the lyre. An evil spirit from the Lord troubles our king and it is hoped that your son David may drive it from him with his music.”
“He is very skilled indeed. I will send for him immediately. As to his ability to help the king, only the Lord can answer this.”
Jesse dispatches one of his sons to retrieve David. He whispers for him to alert his elder brothers on his way and to have them return home as quickly as possible. His second son he sends to his wife to begin preparations for David’s travel. “Would you care for some refreshments while we wait” Jesse offers.
The captain of the guard accepts Jesse’s offer and the two of them enter the garden. The rest of the small detachment remains by the gate. Jesse’s wife brings out wine for the two men. Shortly thereafter Jesse’s two eldest sons enter the garden and greet their father and his visitor.
Jesse’s sons are all on the alert. They know danger for David if his encounter with Samuel becomes public. Saul’s troops being here has them all anxious.
“Hello father; who is your guest?” asks Eliab.
“This is the captain of king Saul’s guard. He is here to bring David to the king in hopes that his skill with the lyre can drive the evil spirit from the king when it comes upon him.”
“David is very skilled with the lyre. Many a time he has put my troubled soul to rest” offers Abinadab.
“Eliab my son, would you entertain our guest while I and your brothers help ready for David’s departure to the palace” asks Jesse. A cautioning look travels between father and son in an instant.
“Certainly father. I could use a rest myself as it has been a taxing morning.”
Jesse and Abinadab hurry off to see to the preparations for David. “We must send a gift to the king that belies any thoughts of treachery he may have regarding David. It must also be one that speaks subtly of our expectation of David’s return home.”
Jesse prepared one of his best donkeys for David to take with him. The donkey was laden with bread, a skin of wind and a young goat. These were gifts for king Saul. The donkey itself would speak of David needing to return home with it himself from Saul’s presence.
As Jesse was completing preparations David arrived back from the field. His brother had taken his place with the sheep. Before parting company in the field David was told of the Saul’s need and the two of them had offered prayers to the Lord for David’s safe return.
David’s heart is at rest within him. He knows that if the Lord has truly called him that there is nothing man can do to him. The Lord will watch over him. However, he is cautious and will watch himself least he give the Lord’s enemies an opportunity to challenge his beliefs.
As soon as David and the donkey are ready, the journey to Gibeah begins. David is deep in thought for much of the journey and there is little talk to distract him from those thoughts. King Saul’s men are well disciplined and the only thing occupying their minds and lips are concerns of safety on this journey.
The beginning of a new day with the setting of the sun greets the travelers at the gates of Gibeah. David thinks this appropriate as it is also probably the beginning of a new chapter in his life. The group march directly to the king’s palace where David is ushered into the king’s throne room. The evening meal had just concluded as they entered. Servants were clearing away the remains quickly and quietly.
The captain of the guard waits until he is acknowledged by the king before speaking.
“You have news captain?” enquires Saul.
“Yes my king. I present David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem.”
“Step forward David, son of Jesse.”
David advances a pace beyond the captain of the guard and bows his head in respect. David is still holding tightly to the rope of his donkey. There had been no one to relieve him of it when they entered the palace.
“A fine looking young man. I understand you are quite skilled with the lyre. I find I have need of its soothing tones.”
“I have played upon my lyre for many years and sung many songs. As to my level of skill in this, I will leave that up to you to decide.”
“Well spoken young man” replies Saul with a smile.
Saul calls for his personal servant. “Prepare a place for young David to sleep among the other servants. See to it that he is fed and his animal tended to.”
This was the first time David’s donkey was even mentioned. It was as if it didn’t even exist to king Saul until that moment. David spoke of his gift now that it had been acknowledged by the king.
“A gift for you my king. The finest bread from my family’s own ovens, the best wine in Bethlehem from our vineyard and the best goat from our field.”
“I welcome your gifts. They are humbly accepted.”
David and his donkey are led from the throne room by Saul’s personal servant. David’s donkey is passed onto another servant to unload and bed down for the night. David is taken into the kitchen where he is given a modest meal and then to the servants’ quarters where he is instructed as to where to place his pallet.
David is excited about all that is transpiring before him. He wonders when he will be called upon to play for the king. He prays that he will be able to help the king. He also prays for the Lord’s protection and guidance regarding the secret he carries within him. David will serve his king with his whole heart as long as he lives. David will NOT try and rush the Lord’s hand on his own life.
Morning dawns and David eats a hurried meal in the kitchen before being brought to the throne room once again. This is the place where king Saul eats too. David is to take a seat at the edge of the room and keep watch over the king’s moods. If they darken, he is to play on his lyre to bring relief to the king.
At first David is unsure what he is supposed to be watching for but as the meal progresses he notices changes in the king’s demeanor. Things that only moments ago were progressing well, seem to draw angry shouts from the king now.
Upon seeing this change in his king, David takes up his lyre and begin playing. He starts softly at first and then begins to build in strength. The soothing tones fill the room with warmth and peace. The volume is not overwhelming but enough that it drowns the thoughts raging through Saul’s mind. As the king’s face visibly soften so does the volume of the lyre until both are in harmony.
When the meal is finished Saul leans back for a while to simply listen as David continues to play. After some time Saul has David still his lyre for a while. He feels sufficiently settled by David’s ministrations that he is ready to judge the needs of the people this day. It has been many days since he felt able to carry out this task of leadership.
David remained at his post throughout the day and diligently watched his king’s moods. By the end of the first week David had learned to recognize the king’s moods even before the king himself and would set to playing his lyre early enough to prevent many an episode for the king.
Saul became dependent on David’s music. Saul loved David for he could see how hard the young man worked at caring for his king. David never complained and he never pointed out the escalations of Saul’s moods. He saved his king many times in the midst of his daily dealings with the people by bringing him peace so he could carry out his duties.
After a month had passed Saul realized that he would need to make his arrangement with the son of Jesse more permanent and formal. He must make a formal request to Jesse, David’s father, for David’s continued service. He also wanted to give David more status among his court.
Saul called for his captain one morning right after his meal. He also called for the scribe. When all were present he called David from the side of the room to stand before him.
“David, son of Jesse, I would exalt you in my court. You have become the bearer of armor for my heart and mind through your skillful use of the lyre. I would that you become the bearer of armor for my body as well.”
David’s eyes shone with joy as he bowed before his king. “It has been my honor serving you my king. It will be my honor to increase my usefulness to my king by becoming his armor bearer.”
“David, son of Jesse, I would that you remain at my side. I will send word to your father requesting such.” To his scribe Saul instructed, “Write these words to Jesse of Bethlehem; ‘Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight’ (verse 22b).” To his captain of the guard Saul gave instructions to carry the message to Jesse in Bethlehem. The captain would also be bringing David’s donkey and a gift from the king.
It was settled. David would remain at Saul’s side and offer comfort whenever the need arose. Jesse would know that his son was loved by the king and safe in his care, for now. The rest Jesse would have to leave in the Lord’s hands.
(to be continued)
♥ ♦ ♥
I wonder who actually came up with the idea of using music to soothe Saul’s soul. Was it from personal experience? How did the one servant know of David? Had he met him previously? Had he heard David play and sing? I wonder what that song was about and how it changed the servant’s life.
Music certainly soothes my soul! So many times when things start to bother me, if I can look within and find a song in my heart, the cares melt away. Sometimes that song is buried deep and other times it is floating on the surface, just waiting to be called into service. I’ve noticed too that my relationship status/strength with the Lord has a LOT to do with how easily those songs come forth.
Father God, THANK YOU FOR MUSIC!!! I don’t know what caused You to create it in the beginning but I would be lost without it! Did You have music in the Garden of Eden? I’m certain there is music in Heaven! I can’t wait to hear it!!!
Thank You for restoring my soul with music. The time that was the darkest in my life held the most silence too. I NEVER want to be there again. Play on the strings of my heart Holy Spirit. Watch over my moods and draw me back to You with the melodies You create. Make me Your instrument, of peace, of joy, or worship and of beauty. Let Your melodies and harmonies flow from me like water from a spring. Let them nourish me and all that hear it.
Sometimes that music comes in the form of words. Those of poetry or stories. I pray they bring nourishment to all who share them with me. They are YOUR gifts poured out for ANY to partake and receive from YOU. Let that ALWAYS be my song, my letter, my prayer. Play on me Your instrument.