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18 By the time David had finished speaking to Saul, Saul’s son Jonathan was bound to David in friendship, and Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. Saul took David into his service on that day and would not let him return to his father’s home. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as he loved himself. He took off the robe he wore and gave it to David, and also his armor, sword, bow, and belt, symbolically transferring to David his right to ascend the throne.

David went wherever Saul sent him and was successful in battle; and as a result, Saul made him commander of his army. And all the people, even those who served Saul, were pleased.

On the day they were returning from David’s victory over the Philistine, the women came out from all the cities of Israel to meet the king, singing and dancing with tambourines and other instruments, making joyful music. At one point, the women sang as they danced and celebrated.

Women: Saul has slain his thousands,
        and David, his tens of thousands.

This chant made Saul tremble with fury.

Saul: Do you hear this? They have said that David killed tens of thousands and that I only killed thousands. What else is left for him but my kingdom?

From that moment on, Saul was suspicious of David.

10 On the next day, the True God sent an evil spirit to overwhelm Saul and put him in a prophetic state inside his residence. While David was playing the harp, as he did every day to try and soothe the king, Saul had his spear in his hand 11 and decided to throw it at David, thinking, “I will pin him to the wall.” But David twice escaped Saul’s angry attacks.

12 Saul was afraid of David because the Spirit of the Eternal was with him but had left Saul. 13 So, at last, Saul removed David from his presence, making him a commander over 1,000 men, hoping he would die in battle. But David went out to the battle and returned. 14 David was successful in everything he did because the Eternal One was present with him.

15 When Saul saw that David achieved such success, he was amazed and afraid of him. 16 All of Israel and Judah loved David, who led their soldiers into battle and brought them back victorious.

Saul came up with a plan and called David.

Saul: 17 David, I want you to take my oldest daughter Merab in marriage. I ask only one thing in return: valiantly fight the Eternal One’s battles on my behalf.

Saul was thinking that he did not need to murder David himself; instead, the Philistines would eventually kill David.

David (to Saul): 18 Who am I, what have I done, and who is my family in Israel, that I should become the king’s son-in-law?

19 But at the time when Saul’s daughter Merab was to be given to David as his wife, she was instead given in marriage to Adriel the Meholathite. 20 Saul’s daughter Michal, however, loved David; and when Saul heard this, he was pleased.

Although Michal is the only woman in the Bible described as loving a man, this is not a beautiful love story between David and Michal. Michal, the daughter of a king, was born to be a political pawn, not to marry for love. First Saul offers her as a reward to David if he slays 100 Philistines, a task the king is certain will kill David. When David succeeds, Michal helps him build credibility as the future king among the Israelites who do not know that God has already anointed him king. But those Israelites also don’t know that God has condemned Saul’s lineage, declaring that none of his descendants will ascend the throne of Israel. That decry excludes any of Michal’s children, too, so her marriage to David is doomed to failure, no matter how much she loves him.

21 He thought that he would give her to David to trap him in a dangerous situation where the Philistines could still destroy David. So Saul spoke to David again.

Saul (to David): I want you to marry my other daughter.

22 (to his servants) Talk to David privately. Tell him, “The king is very happy with you, and you are loved by those who serve him. So why don’t you become the king’s son-in-law?”

23 So Saul’s servants spoke these words to David as requested, but again he replied modestly.

David: Does it seem to you such a simple thing that I should become the king’s son-in-law? What about the fact that I have no money to pay the brideprice and come from an unknown family with no political connections?

24 Saul’s servants reported David’s concerns back to the king.

Saul: 25 Tell David that in place of the traditional dowry, I want only the foreskins of 100 Philistines, so the king will be avenged against his enemies.

Saul thought David would be killed by the Philistines while attempting this task. 26 When the servants repeated Saul’s words, he agreed to Saul’s terms and decided to fulfill these conditions to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the allotted time elapsed to pay the dowry, 27 David went with his men, killed 200 Philistines, and presented their foreskins to the king so that he could become the king’s son-in-law. So Saul gave David his daughter Michal in marriage; 28 but when the king saw how David enjoyed the favor of the Eternal One, and that his daughter Michal loved him, 29 he felt even more threatened by David. After his plan failed, Saul considered David his constant enemy.

30 Whenever the commanders of the Philistine army came out to fight, David distinguished himself against them more than any of Saul’s other servants, so that everyone valued him.

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