From the moment Saul started to see David as a potential rival, jealousy consumed the king of Israel, and he began to think of ways to kill the son of Jesse. He twice cast his spear at David while the young man was playing his lyre, yet David remained in the king’s service (1 Sam. 18:6–11). When these attempts on David’s life did not succeed, Saul removed him from the court and placed him in charge of a thousand Israelite soldiers, doubtless to put David in harm’s way. However, not only was David kept safe, but he attained greater fame because of his success in battle. Why? Because “the LORD was with him” (vv. 12–16).
One would think that these failures would have made Saul hesitant to continue plotting against David. However, the king was consumed by madness and began to move against David again. This time, Saul tried to increase the risk of David’s losing his life by charging him to fight against the Philistines in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Ultimately, he asked for one hundred Philistine foreskins if David wanted to marry Saul’s daughter Michal (vv. 17–25). Having David engage the Philistines so purposefully and directly would certainly increase the odds of David’s losing his life. One commentator also notes that even if David were to have been successful in attaining the determined price for Michal’s hand, the Philistines would be set against David even more strongly, putting his life at additional risk for the foreseeable future.
Saul’s plan backfired, to put it lightly. David brought back twice the number of requested foreskins, guaranteeing increased acclaim. So, Saul was forced to give Michal to David, which certainly would have led Israel to think of David as royalty and even as a potential heir of Saul’s throne since he was married to the princess (vv. 26–30).
In all this, Saul kept setting himself against David. This shows us the extreme hardness of Saul’s heart, for we read that the king knew God was with David (v. 28). Only those given over to sin are foolish enough to continue resisting the Lord when they know He is not on their side—or better, that they are not on His side. Of course, all such resistance is finally futile. After all, God will give victory even over death itself to all who are on His side (1 Cor. 15:56–57).