HomeBible StudyLessons From The Life of David II: Loyalty, Power, and Love

Lessons From The Life of David II: Loyalty, Power, and Love

What is your favorite story from the life of David?

What stands out to you as the most significant thing in David’s life?

I think one of the most significant things in David’s early life was his relationship with Saul. It started out well, progressed badly, and ended tragically. Yet, David’s relationship with Saul was formative in David’s life and affected how he dealt with Saul’s family in his later years.

Most importantly, we will look at how power can impact relationships. 


Saul accepts David in his service to play music. (I Samuel 16:14-23)
Saul brings David into his army. (I Samuel 18:2-5)
Saul is suspicious of David after the women sing, “David his ten thousands.” (I Samuel 18:6-9)
Saul requires 100 foreskins for Michal and seeks David’s life. (I Samuel 18:17-29)
Saul tries to kill David and hunts him. (I Samuel 19, 24, 26)

David plays for Saul to soothe him.
David was humbled by Saul’s goodness to him (Nervous to be his son-in-law).
David flees for his life.
David has regard for Saul’s life. 
David grieves deeply when Saul dies (II Samuel 1:17).

How would you describe David’s relationship to Saul?

How would you describe David’s relationship to Saul’s family?

Notice the progression of Saul and his family and their feelings for David. 

  • “Saul loved him greatly” (I Samuel 16:21)
  • “Johnathan “loved him as his own soul” (I Samuel 18:3)
  • “Saul’s daughter Michal loved David” (I Samuel 18:20)

Honor was paid to David by Saul’s family. Johnathan gives David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt (I Samuel 18:4). This was an expression of honor. Johnathan was essentially making David his brother, but he was also acknowledging that David would become king. He was transferring his own right of kingship to David.

Michal chose David over her own father, the king (I Samuel 19:11-12).

Why do you think Saul’s family loved David so much?

Notice how Saul and David address one another when Saul seeks to kill David.

  • David says, “See, my father…” (I Samuel 24:11)
  • Saul says, “Is this your voice, my son David?” (I Samuel 24:16)
  • Saul repeats the same words the second time he hunts him, “Is this your voice, my son David?”
  • Then Saul says, “Return, my son David.” (I Samuel 26:21)
  • Then Saul blesses David, saying, “Blessed be you, my son David!” (I Samuel 26:25)

This is the language of family, which make’s David bewilderment more understandable. His father-in-law is trying to kill him. 

Now, notice the reversal. At the second hunt, David no longer calls Saul “father” but “O king.”

  • “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” (I Samuel 26:17) 
  • “Here is the spear, O king.” (I Samuel 26:22)

Saul recognized that David would eventually take the throne away from his family. He told Johnathan, “For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established” (I Samuel 20:31).

Eventually, Saul formerly recognized that David would be king. Though he hated him, he asked David for his solemn oath not to kill his family when he would become king (I Samuel 24:20-22). 

It was a common practice in ancient days that when someone assumed a throne, they would kill the family of the previous king to prevent them from claiming the throne (Abimelech killed all his brothers to usurp a kingdom in Judges 9, Solomon killed Adonijah in I Kings 2, Athaliah killed the royal dynasty in Judah in 2 Kings 9). Saul wisely sought to protect his family, and he knew David to be a man of his word. In fact, David sought to do good to Saul’s family after he became king, making Johnathan’s son, Mephibosheth, part of his family.


Saul’s Stages:                                     David’s Response:
Acceptance                                         Mutual acceptance
Favor                                                  Enjoyment
Suspicion & Antagonism                      Bewilderment
Enemy                                                Love

We can define David’s relationships with Saul and his family in terms of power.

  1. Everyone in Saul’s family started well in their relationship with David, including Saul. But Saul’s feelings changed when he felt his power was threatened. 
  2. Johnathan had no desire for power. He was willing to relinquish his power in loyalty to his friendship with David (I Samuel 20:14-15).
  3. Michal chose the love of her husband over the power of her father, the king (I Samuel 19:11-12).

Power is powerful. History is filled with testimonies of people who sought, used, and abused power. Some cultures in the world are organized around a “power-fear” perspective. The closer you are to power, the more powerful and important you become. The farther you are from power, the less important you are, and you are often disregarded as unimportant by others. Status can be a form of power. How we deal with power helps others see what kind of people we are.

There’s a famous saying, “If you want to know a person’s true character, give him power.”

  • Saul chose power over love.
  • Johnathan chose love and loyalty over power.
  • Michal chose love for David over her father, the king, the most powerful man in Israel.


If we don’t guard our hearts, then we are susceptible to bad thoughts and feelings as Saul had for David when the women sang of David’s “Ten thousand.” A small thing can ruin a relationship. 

We must value love and loyalty over power, influence, status, and anything that would stand in the way of our love relationships with family, friends, and associates. Paul said that if we are without love, we are nothing. 

Loyalty is just as important. Johnathan and Michal chose loyalty to David over their father because they both loved David and saw that what Saul was doing was wrong. Saul wrongly sought David’s life, but Johnathan and Michal both defended David out of love and loyalty.

Remarkably, David did not act as we might normally expect when someone seeks to kill you. When someone is antagonistic to us, we tend to respond in kind. While David kept his distance to protect his life, he also kept love in his heart as he grieved deeply over Saul when he died in battle (II Samuel 1:17). He “lamented” over Saul. We should also remember to love our enemies.

Tom Terry is head of Global Broadcast Strategy for JESUS Film Project and serves as General Manager of The Better FM, an online radio station for Asia. Tom is also the author of several books, including Bible studies and "Like An Eagle," his biography about living in Mongolia for ten years.
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