Then the princes of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.
1 Samuel 18:30
This chapter documents the rise in the popularity of David, and the decline of Saul's influence as king. A series of events lays out this movement. And it is clear that God is sovereign in the rhythm of the reigns of rulers. David is taken into the household of Saul. Saul's son, Jonathan, makes a unique covenant with the youthful warrior (1 Samuel 18:1-5) in a friendship that would become generational in its impact.
The common people wildly accept David as a military leader, to the point that singing of his exploits is more impacting than recounting Saul's. This has a detrimental effect on Saul's opinion of David. Saul begins brooding over his throne and becomes suspicious of David. (1 Samuel 18:6-9). But God is in control even of these events. The text goes straight to the sovereignty of God, attributing even Saul's foul moods to the hand of God (1 Samuel 18:10-11).
Despite the politics and pouting, God kept David safe and granted him success in his military endeavors. This created more fearful distance between David and Saul, but increased David's esteem among the Israelites. It is very clear that the rise of David is God's design, and the decline of Saul is also happening as part of the judgment God announced against him for his casual and frequent disobedience (1 Samuel 18:12-16).
By the end of the chapter, a plot Saul devised to eliminate David on a hero's quest, ends with him giving his daughter to David in marriage, cementing a "relational" claim to the throne for David. God orchestrates at this point using even Saul's lame-brained schemes to further the process of David's rule. The result is that David becomes the leader general in Israel's armies and is doing the work that the king has been assigned to do, eliminating enemies and furthering the claim of Israeli territory in the Promised Land (1 Samuel 18:17-30).
So this chapter is a good look at how God's sovereignty works. It is not without its questions, but the recorder of these events is clearly impressed with God's rulership over the political scene. And we have to be impressed by this as well. Nothing happens in the affairs of state, in the actions of people, in the lives of individuals, that is beyond the sovereign hand of God.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13