The Little Boy Looking for the Arrows
King Saul and David
I Samuel xvii: 55,
to xx: 42
David had slain the giant he was brought before King
Saul, still holding the giant's head. Saul did not
remember in this bold fighting man the boy who a few
years before had played in his presence. He took him
into his own house, and made him an officer among
his soldiers. David was as wise and as brave in the
army as he had been when facing the giant, and very
soon he was in command of a thousand men. All the
men loved him, both in Saul's court and in his camp,
for David had the spirit that drew all hearts toward
When David was returning from his battle with the
Philistines the women of Israel came to meet him out
of the cities, with instruments of music, singing
and dancing, and they sang:
"Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his ten thousands."
This made Saul very angry, for he was jealous and
suspicious in his spirit. He thought constantly of
Samuel's words, that God would take the kingdom from
him and would give it to one who was more worthy of
it. He began to think that perhaps this young man,
who had come in a single day to greatness before the
people, might try to make himself king.
His former feeling of unhappiness again came over
Saul. He raved in his house, talking as a man talks
who is crazed. By this time they all knew that David
was a musician, and they called him again to play on
his harp and to sing before the troubled king. But
now, in his madness, Saul would not listen to
David's voice. Twice he threw his spear at him; but
each time David leaped aside, and the spear went
into the wall of the house.
Saul was afraid of David, for he saw that the Lord
was with David, as the Lord was no longer with
himself. He would have killed David, but did not
dare to kill him, because everybody loved David.
Saul said to himself, "Though I cannot kill him
myself, I will have him killed by the Philistines."
And he sent David out on dangerous errands of war;
but David came home in safety, all the greater and
the more beloved after each victory. Saul said, "I
will give you my daughter Merab for your wife if you
will fight the Philistines for me."
David fought the Philistines; but when he came home
from the war he found that Merab, who had been
promised to him, had been given as wife to another
man. Saul had another daughter, named Michal. She
loved David, and showed her love for him. Then Saul
sent word to David, saying, "You shall have Michal,
my daughter, for your wife when you have killed a
Then David went out and fought the Philistines, and
killed two hundred of them; and they brought the
word to Saul. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal
as his wife; but he was all the more afraid of David
as he saw him growing in power and drawing nearer to
the throne of the kingdom.
But if Saul hated David, Saul's son, Jonathan, loved
David with all his heart. This was the brave young
warrior, who with his armor-bearer went out alone to
fight the Philistine army. Jonathan saw David's
courage and nobility of soul, and loved him with all
his heart. He took off his own royal robe, and his
sword, and his bow, and gave them all to David. It
grieved Jonathan greatly that his father, Saul, was
so jealous of David. He spoke to his father, and
said: "Let not the king do harm to David; for David
has been faithful to the king, and he has done great
things for the kingdom. He took his life in his
hand, and killed the Philistine, and won a great
victory for the Lord and for the people. Why should
you seek to kill an innocent man?"
For the time Saul listened to Jonathan, and said,
"As the Lord lives, David shall not be put to
And again David sat at the king's table, among the
princes; and when Saul was troubled again David
played on his harp and sang before him. But once
more Saul's jealous anger arose, and he threw his
spear at David. David was watchful and quick. He
leaped aside, and, as before, the spear fastened
into the wall.
sent men to David's house to seize him; but Michal,
Saul's daughter, who was David's wife, let David
down out of the window, so that he escaped. She
placed an image on David's bed and covered it with
the bed-clothes. When the men came, she said, "David
is ill in the bed, and cannot go."
They brought the word to Saul, and he said, "Bring
him to me in the bed, just as he is."
When the image was found in David's bed, David was
in a safe place, far away. David went to Samuel at
Ramah, and stayed with him among the men who were
prophets worshipping God and singing and speaking
God's word. Saul heard that David was there, and
sent men to take him. But when these men came and
saw Samuel and the prophets praising God and
praying, the same spirit came on them, and they
began to praise and to pray. Saul sent other men,
but these also, when they came among the prophets,
felt the same power, and joined in the worship.
Finally, Saul said, "If no other man will bring
David to me, I will go myself and take him."
And Saul went to Ramah; but when he came near to the
company of the worshippers, praising God, and
praying, and preaching, the same spirit came on
Saul. He, too, began to join in the songs and the
prayers, and stayed there all that day and that
night, worshipping God very earnestly. When the next
day he went again to his home in Gibeah, his feeling
was changed for the time, and he was again friendly
But David knew that Saul was at heart his bitter
enemy and would kill him if he could as soon as his
madness came upon him. He met Jonathan out in the
field away from the place. Jonathan said to David:
"Stay away from the king's table for a few days, and
I will find out how he feels toward you, and will
tell you. Perhaps even now my father may become your
friend. But if he is to be your enemy, I know that
the Lord is with you, and that Saul will not succeed
against you. Promise me that as long as you live you
will be kind to me, and not only to me while I live,
but to my children after me."
Jonathan believed, as many others believed, that
David would yet become the king of Israel, and he
was willing to give up to David his right to be
king, such was his great love for him. That day a
promise was made between Jonathan and David, that
they and their children, and those who should come
after them, should be friends forever.
Jonathan said to David, "I will find how my father
feels toward you, and will bring you word. After
three days I will be here with my bow and arrows,
and I will send a little boy out near your place of
hiding, and I will shoot three arrows. If I say to
the boy, 'Run, find the arrows, they are on this
side of you,' then you can come safely, for the king
will not harm you. But if I call out to the boy,
'The arrows are away beyond you,' that will mean
that there is danger, and you must hide from the
So David stayed away from Saul's table for two days.
At first Saul said nothing of his absence, but at
last he said:
"Why has not the son of Jesse come to meals
yesterday and to-day?"
And Jonathan said, "David asked leave of me to go to
his home at Bethlehem and visit his oldest brother."
Then Saul was very angry. He cried out, "You are a
disobedient son! Why have you chosen this enemy of
mine as your best friend? Do you not know that as
long as he is alive you can never be king? Send
after him, and let him be brought to me, for he
shall surely die!"
Saul was so fierce in his anger that he threw his
spear at his own son Jonathan. Jonathan rose up from
the table, so anxious for his friend David that he
could eat nothing. The next day, at the hour agreed
upon, Jonathan went out into the field with a little
boy. He said to the boy, "Run out yonder, and be
ready to find the arrows that I shoot."
And as the boy was running Jonathan shot arrows
beyond him, and he called out, "The arrows are away
beyond you; run quickly and find them."
The boy ran, and found the arrows, and brought them
to Jonathan. He gave the bow and arrows to the boy,
saying to him, "Take them back to the city. I will
stay here a while."
And as soon as the boy was out of sight David came
from his hiding-place and ran to Jonathan. They fell
into each other's arms and kissed each other again
and again, and wept together. For David knew now
that he must no longer hope to be safe in Saul's
hands. He must leave home, and wife, and friends,
and his father's house, and hide wherever he could
from the hate of King Saul.
Jonathan said to him, "Go in peace; for we have
sworn together saying, 'The Lord shall be between
you and me, and between your children and my
children forever.' "
Then Jonathan went again to his father's palace, and
David went out to find a hiding-place.
King Saul and David