1 Samuel 18

These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

David and Jonathan – 1 Samuel 18 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

  1. Jonathan befriends David (1-4)

  2. David prospers as Saul becomes suspicious (5-16)

  3. David’s marriage to Michal (17-30)

I. Verses 1-4

Discussion Questions

  • How did Jonathan treat David? Why might he have treated David like this?
  • What can we learn from Jonathan in this passage?
  • How would a typical heir apparent to the throne have viewed David?
  • What was atypical about Jonathan?
  • What did Jonathan do to show his commitment to David?
  • What principles can we apply to our own lives?

1. See Jonathan character study. Consider the various lessons we can learn from Jonathan’s life. Compare and contrast Jonathan, David, and Saul.

2. Jonathan loved David as himself – This is a real life example of loving your enemies as yourself. David would be naturally assumed to be the enemy of Jonathan. That is how Saul treated David. But Jonathan seems to have asked the question, “Why should he be my enemy?” He did not treat him as an enemy, but treated him as a friend, and therefore they were friends.

Application: We may have competitors who are out to get our position, job, or promotion. Even so, we should surrender to God’s sovereignty and not be hostile toward those people. Our job is to love, not to judge.

II. Verses 5-16

Discussion Questions

  • What role or roles did David have in Saul’s kingdom?
  • What do we learn about David in this chapter as he fulfills his various responsibilities?
  • How did the common people view David? How about the “nobility?” What does this show us about David?
  • How did Saul respond to the praises people were heaping on David? What can we learn about Saul from his response? Contrast the response of Saul with the response of Jonathan.
  • What was the exact reason Saul was suspicious of David?
  • What does it mean that an “evil spirit from God” came upon Saul? How did he act when this happened?
  • What did he try to do to David? How did David respond to these attempts on his life? Did he defend himself? Did he get revenge? Did he flee the country? Why or why not?
  • What was going on behind the scenes of all of this intrigue (12)? What does this teach us about God?
  • Why was David prosperous? How can we be successful?

Teaching Points

1. The people praise David – Here we see that he hearts of the people in the kingdom begin to turn toward David. He was popular. People admired his bravery. God used David to bring about great victories for Israel. Even though Saul was king, people ascribed more glory and credit for the victories to David. In fact, the people should have recognized that it was God who used David to bring about the victories, but perhaps they were too shortsighted to see this. This newfound fame would prove to be an important crossroads for David. How would he respond to this fame? Would he try to leverage this popularity into a higher position? Would he try to take things into his own hand and stage a coup (much like Absalom did many years later?) Pay careful attention in the rest of the chapter to observe David’s character and how he responds to the praise from the people.

2. Saul becomes suspicious – Saul was a prideful person. He wanted the glory and the credit for himself. It wasn’t enough for him to be king. He valued respect and praise much like the Pharisees during the time of Jesus. He should have been happy with the victory. But we see his selfishness come out because he cares more about his image than the welfare of the nation. This is the mark of a poor ruler.

Application: Is our image important to us? Do we get upset if someone else receives praise? Do we crave attention and praise for the things we have accomplished? We need to remember that pleasing God is more important than pleasing man. Our image is not important. If it was Jesus would have been born in a manger and hung naked a cross.

3. An evil spirit from God – According to God’s sovereign plan He permitted an evil spirit to come and bother Saul. This in effect weakened Saul’s kingdom from the inside out. David’s sterling reputation was allowed to glow even more in contrast to Saul’s increasingly dark ravings and suspicions. We know that God is not the author of evil. But in His sovereignty, He does even use evil instruments to accomplish His good plans.

4. David’s music – David was a musician and a poet, not only a warrior. His music was generally a calming influence on Saul.

5. David escapes Saul – In verse 11 we see that Saul attempts to murder David twice, but both times David escapes. This will be a key storyline over the next few chapters. Interestingly, David does not yet flee the country or permanently retire from the court. Neither does he attempt to speed God up or enact revenge. We see David exercising great patience and restraint. Only a person with tremendous faith in God would be willing to stay at a place that seemed so very dangerous. David knew that God would protect Him and fulfill His promise to him.

6. Saul was afraid of David – It is amazing that Saul was afraid of David, but there is not an indication that David was afraid of Saul. Saul was one trying to kill David. So why he afraid, but not David? The difference is their faith in God. David believes in God and knows God is on his side, while Saul’s faith is gone and replaced by doubt and dark suspicions. Verse 12 makes it clear that God had deserted Saul, but was with David. In the next couple of chapters we see Saul desperately clinging to his kingdom, but God ripping it away. At the same time, David is patiently waiting for God’s timing while God slowly brings the kingdom into his hands. Just like the last chapter, we see the contrast between believing in God and believing in yourself.

7. David continued to prosper – If God is with you, what can man do to you? Saul set himself against David and did everything in his power to limit David’s opportunities. He tried to kill David. He tried by his own hand and by the hand of the Philistines. Nothing he did worked because God was with David.

Application: Do not fear man. Psalm 118:6. Do not fear your boss, teacher, parents, or relatives. They may pressure you. They may set themselves against you for evil (like Joseph’s brothers did). But if you faithfully obey God, you can know that God has a good plan for you that no person can thwart. See Isaiah 14:27.

III. Verses 17-30

Discussion Questions

  • Why did Saul offer David his daughter in marriage when that could only help David’s case to ascend the throne? What logical mistake did Saul make?
  • How did David respond? What can we learn from his response?
  • Why did Saul not fulfill his promise?
  • Why did Saul agree to give Michal to David? What was his secret plan for Michal?
  • Why was this offer made in secret (22)?
  • Why did David respond the same way again?
  • How do you think of the bizarre dowry request? Was David right or wrong to do this? Why?
  • What is the conclusion in this chapter about David’s behavior?
  • How can we be wise and prosper like David?

Teaching Points

1. Saul is a liar – His character is shown as week. He used his daughter to try to entice David to fight more battles and hopefully die in one of them. When David didn’t die, he broke his promise and gave his daughter to someone else.

2. Verse 18, 23 – David maintains his humility. David does not become prideful with his successes. Here was a ripe opportunity to increase his image and prestige and lay a claim to the throne. But David is genuinely humble. He doesn’t view himself as a noble and he is not seeking after those types of rewards. At the same time we see David’s wisdom. If he quickly accepted Saul’s invitation, it would have served to prove (to Saul) that David was after the kingdom and was very ambitious.

David is shown simply doing what he should do and not concerning himself with anything else. He leaves the politics and the scheming to others. Even after Saul lies and does not give his daughter to David, David does not react. There isn’t any anger or accusations. David wisely lets it go. David does what he should do and leaves the future to God.

3. Saul uses his daughter to try to hurt David – This is a man who ignores all boundaries. He hates David so much he is willing to use even his own daughter to hurt him. She loves David so hurting him would hurt her. Saul doesn’t care.

4. The dowry is killing Philistines – Israel was at war. War is something David was starting to know a lot about. He didn’t think about the politics and the scheming, but he could go and fight. He was good at it. He went above and beyond what Saul had requested.

5. How do you think of bringing back the foreskins of the Philistines – We should note that this is narrative history. This is recording what happened and we should not take this as an endorsement or a suggestion to behave like this.

6. David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul. God was with him.

Next: David’s Wilderness Years

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