Samuel I 16:1
After the fall of Saul, Samuel felt sorry for him. God told Samuel to get over it, because there was going to be a new king to anoint. Samuel was afraid that Saul would find out and kill him, but God told him to do it anyway. He sent Samuel to a man named Jesse, because from Jesse’s sons, God would pick the next king. Apparently, God had learned His lesson about picking the tallest man to be king (Saul), because He pointed out to Samuel that He should not consider the “appearance or height” of the chosen king; while men judge the outside, God judges the heart,” God says.
What follows is straight out of Cinderella. Mice sing while creating an ephod for the new king. No they don’t, but Jesse parades his sons in front of Samuel, and God rejects each one. This all ya got? asks Samuel. The youngest son, Jesse says is not there, he is out with the livestock. And of course that’s the one God wanted, so they bring him in and announce that he will be king. David, the new king is David.
We’re not done with Saul (he’s still the damn king by the way. I don’t know). God sent an evil spirit to torment him, but he found peace in the music of a harp. One of his servants said he knew the perfect guy to come play the harp for the king. It happened to be none other than David, so David came and played for Saul. Saul was very pleased with David and made him an armor bearer.
So the Philistines and the Israelites are fighting again. Big surprise, right? Still to this damn day they are fighting. This time, the Philistines are tired of slaughtering lots of people, when just one guy could get slaughtered and settle the fight. So they sent out a champion, Goliath. He’s so freaking big, that he is actually named Goliath. He was over 9-feet tall and armored from head to foot. He called out to the Israelites asking them to send out their own champion. Whomever lost got to be enslaved to the winners. Goliath was scary as hell, and no one would step up to fight him.
David’s three oldest brothers were amongst the Israelite army facing the Philistines, and one day, he was sent to the front lines with food for his brothers. While there, David heard about what awaited the man who could defeat Goliath. Saul, the king, would give the man great wealth, his daughter and a tax-free lifestyle. David liked the sound of that and volunteered. Saul was like, No way, you’re freakin’ tiny. But David was sure of himself. He said he had fought lions and bears protecting his father’s sheep (sheepherding is way more dangerous than I imagined), and he would prevail.
Saul tried to put armor on David and a sword in his hand, but David wasn’t having it. He went out to do battle with only his staff, his slingshot, and some stones (actual stones, not balls). You know this story. I know you know this story. Against all odds, David hits Goliath with a rock from his slingshot and prevails, because God was on his side. What you may not know is that David then cut off Goliath’s head and dragged it around with him everywhere afterward. Also, they didn’t just enslave the Philistine army as agreed, they slaughtered them. As usual.
Saul became jealous of David and his popularity. Still, he kept his promise and offered his oldest daughter to David, but David refused thinking himself too low. So then Saul offered David his second daughter, but she would come with a price. To become Saul’s son-in-law would cost David just 100 Philistine foreskins. Yep. Penis skin from a bunch of dead guys. Saul was hoping that David would die in his quest for penis skin, but alas. David brought back 200 foreskins and was married to Saul’s daughter. Saul reaaaaaaaaaaaally hated that guy by this time.
Saul hates David so much, he decides to have him killed. Saul’s son, Jonathan, was very fond of David (we’ll talk more about this in a minute), and talked his father out of it. Saul promised not to try and kill David. Remember that evil spirit God sent to Saul? Yeah, still there, and it makes him break his promise to Jonathan. Luckily, for David, he’s married to Saul’s daughter, and she alerts him to Saul’s plot. Because of her, David is able to escape. Saul follows David, but the spirit of God comes upon him, and Saul started prophesying. Lying face down in the dirt, babbling like a madman for hours. Thereby, allowing David to escape again.
David runs back to Saul’s son, Jonathan. David tells Jonathan of his father’s plans, but Jonathan doesn’t believe him. Before long, Saul returns and makes it very clear to Jonathan that he does intend to kill David. So Jonathan warns David and helps him to escape again. Earlier I mentioned that Jonathan was quite fond of David, but it looks like it may be a lot more than that. They made an oath to one another, and their souls were bound together. Sound familiar? In fact, when Saul is trying to get David to marry his daughter, he talks about how that would make him his son-in-law in twain, meaning twice (this part of the line is actually omitted from the version I’ve been reading, but there are many, many references to it online). There are a few other lines that suggest a definite romance between the two, but I’ll leave you some fun in finding those for yourselves. Anyway, before David leaves to escape Saul, the two men kiss and weep together. There have been a lot arguments back and forth regarding whether or not David and Jonathan were gay lovers. Seriously, look it up. It’s a thing.
David escapes to another town, enters the temple and talks to the head priest. He lies and says that he is there on Saul’s order, then requests food and a sword. The priest gives him consecrated bread and the sword of Goliath (which just happens to be stored there). Then David flees to the next city. Saul follows David and finds out that the priest gave aid to David. He has one of his men kill the head priest, as well as 84 other priests working in that temple. Then he had his men put the entire town to the sword. Just in case someone had given him directions, or something.
Meanwhile, David has found some Philistines to fight and saves a town. Then Saul and his army chase David and his army (everybody has an army) around the desert like an old-school cartoon. At one point, Jonathan finds David and tells him that he will “be king over Israel, and I will be second to you.” I’m taking that as Jonathan wanting to be queen to David’s king, because the romance between these two is way more swoon-worthy than anything in this book so far.
One day, Saul wondered into a cave by himself to take a pee. David and his army happened to be hiding in that cave. David could have easily killed Saul, but he spared him, because God had forbidden him to do any harm to his master, the anointed of the Lord. That didn’t stop David from telling Saul all about how he could have killed him but didn’t, because he is righteous. Saul takes that to heart, realizes he’s been an ass and makes on oath to David to stop being an ass. Then they go their separate ways. Over, you think? Far from.
Next, there’s weird story about this guy who disses David, and so David and his men sword up to do some killing. But that guy has a hot wife, who hears that David and his men are coming. She meets him in a mountain ravine, and begs him not to let with the killing. She says that her husband is an idiot, and if David were to kill him, he would have unnecessary, idiot blood on his hands. David thinks she’s hot and agrees to pretty much whatever she says. When the woman goes back to her husband to tell him what happened, he goes stiff like a stone, and God kills him. David hears and is happy that God did the killing for him. He’s also happy that the woman, Abigail, is now single. And marries her. And another lady. But his original wife, Saul’s daughter, has been given to someone else, so he’s back down to two wives.
And Saul is real over not trying to kill David. He decides to have another go, collects his army and heads out. David finds Saul’s camp while the men (Saul included) are fast asleep. He sneaks in and steals Saul’s water jug and spear and sneaks back out. He once again refuses to kill Saul, because he believes that God would not be amused. Plus if God wants him dead, He is more than capable of doing that Himself. Once Saul finds out, he’s all weepy and sorry again and goes back home.
David realizes that Saul will probably try to kill him again, so he decides to go hide amongst the Philistines. You know, those people he’s killed thousands of. They take him in and give him his own city. While living there, David spends his time raiding outlying cities and killing everyone in them. As Israelites are so fond of doing.
Oh, and Samuel died. No, I’m not underselling this, he gets zero fanfare. Before his body even cools, Saul decides to consult a medium (just as Samuel had rid Israel of naughty things like that, which God doesn’t like.) He’s worried because the Philistines have shown up again, wanting a fight. This time David is fighting on their side. The medium (the Witch of Endor, how cool is that?) found for Saul brings up Samuel’s spirit (so mediums actually can talk to dead spirits, they just aren’t popular with God). Samuel tells Saul that David is gonna kick his ass and take the kingship. Saul falls not he ground, prostrate with fear. Saul is a bit of a drama queen.
Apparently, not all of the Philistines were happy to have David and his army with them; probably the ones without memory loss. So David was sent back to his city without taking part in the fight against the Israelites. Once David got back to his city, he saw that it had been burned by Amalekites. David chases after them, determined to destroy them. And he does; he kills pretty much everybody. Luckily for David, the Amalekites only kidnapped the women and children instead of slaughtering them, so everybody got their families back. Happy endings for everyone, except for the Amalekites, who have been pretty much wiped out at least three times now.
Meanwhile, the Philistines are completely destroying Saul and his army. They kill all of Saul’s sons, including Jonathan. Saul is injured by an arrow and decides to fall on his own sword instead of letting a bunch of uncircumcised cretins do it for him. The Israelites fled their cities, and the Philistines took them over. They also cut off Saul’s head, stripped him naked and hung his and his son’s bodies on their city walls.
Next time, we’ll read David’s heartbreaking reaction to the death of his beloved. It’s going to rip your heart out; I’m already emotional.