The Great Persecution
1 Samuel 18:9-30
And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.…

The king of Israel has fairly entered on a course of stern hostility to David. With the history of this ruling purpose his whole subsequent career is darkened.

1. The deadly nature of Saul's enmity. A less thorough tyrant would at the most have deemed confinement retribution stern enough for the crimes of personal bravery, prudent conduct, a happy successfulness given by God, and a high popularity with the people. But Saul's enmity, once kindled, could be quenched only by blood. "Jealousy is cruel as the grave." With Saul, as with all tyrants in whom conscience is not quite dead, and fear is keenly alive, it was felt as a desperate necessity that he should proceed to extremities. And so he sought the life of David. Nothing lower would content him. And from that inner hall where the jealous monarch nursed his wrath, the password went that David be destroyed. The persevering obstinacy of it. The proofs of this are mournfully abundant. It may be measured by the plans it contrived, the time during which it lasted, and the obstacles which it overcame.

2. The plans which it contrived. A device to make him fall by the sword of the Philistines. But how sad is the picture of an unnatural father sacrificing the domestic affections at the shrine of his kingly jealousy! Making a daughter's love the vehicle of vengeance on its object! A state alliance for mere political purposes is bad enough; but to make holiest feelings the slaves, not of public interest, but of private resentment, is immeasurably worse. He assails him again with his own hand, and sends secret agents to his house to slay him. He escaped to Samuel. Two companies of messengers were despatched in pursuit. Yes, from the very horns of the altar the relentless king would drag his victim. But a mighty interposition came from the invisible to shield the innocent.

3. The time during which it lasted. The usual calculations make it eight or nine years. This surely is too brief a period to admit of occurrences so important, numerous, and varied as the history contains. But assuming the accuracy of the estimate, how tenacious must have been the life of a resentment which reigned so long! Time, the great soother of strife, lost here its mellowing charm. The dark passion seems to have wrapped his soul in perpetual gloom, and to have become to him a second nature.

4. The obstacles it surmounted. The monitions of his own conscience; the high character and deserved popularity of David; the immense and ceaseless trouble, and the neglect of grave public duties, involved in pursuing the fugitive. How stern and settled that resentment which so quickly quenched all soft emotion, and craved still for the blood of the brave, forbearing, and generous youth. We shudder at a passion, so fierce, sullen, and enduring. We cannot help discerning in it the malevolent working of hellish inspiration. Saul's forfeiture of the kingdom was absolute and irreparable. It was emphatically pronounced, more than once, by Him who cannot lie. And yet this poor worm of the dust dares to plant himself in the way, dares to conceive deliberately the design of arresting that series of events, thereby to defeat the purpose of Him who is "great in counsel and mighty in work," and throw upon the majesty of heaven the ignominy of a conspicuous failure. Amazing fact! Language cannot express the enormity. By what name shall we call it? Infatuation? Madness? Impiety? It is all three in one. To attempt plucking the stars from their seats, or stopping the tidal flow, were not greater madness than to strike at him who is shielded by omnipotence. To blaspheme in words the sacred name of God. Were not more daring impiety than to offer proud and obstinate resistance to His will. To profane and prostitute thus the time, faculties, and privileges He has given is to make life one great oath.

(P. Richardson. B. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

WEB: Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

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