Wise Behavior (1 Samuel)

Text: 1 Samuel 18

David has defeated Goliath to the shock of everyone. David is quickly becoming a hero in Israel. David becomes:

  • the covenant friend to Jonathan,
  • the chosen hero to Israel,
  • but the chief threat to Saul.

Saul is the king of Israel. Saul wouldn’t fight. Saul has never been spiritual. Saul has never obeyed God. And now that David’s fame is growing, Saul is stewing in his own selfishness. While David is endearing himself to the nation because he stood for the LORD, he has also made an enemy for life in Saul. Saul is possessed by the devil. He will try to kill David multiple times either openly or through behind the scenes dealings. Saul will:

  • Eye David
  • Envy David
  • Endanger David
  • Entice David
  • Exploit David
  • Entrap David

But this phrase shows up four times as the theme of this chapter: David behaved himself wisely (vss 5, 14, 15, and 30). Now, if God says something one time, we ought to pay attention and heed His word, but if He emphasizes something again and again, we really ought to pay attention to what He has said.

David’s work (vss 1-11)

  • David’s wise behavior attracts good men (vss 1-4)
  • David handled his duties with diligence (vs 5)
    • His readiness – David went out whithersoever Saul sent him. David was a young man who had already enjoyed much success in the Lord. At this stage in his life he had been anointed king by the prophet Samuel. He had already stood before the giant Goliath and emerged victorious. It would have been easy to have grown complacent and arrogant after such success. Many would have reached the point where they felt certain tasks were beneath them.  David developed an attitude of readiness. He was prepared and willing to do whatever was expected of him.
    • His responsibilities – Saul set him over the men of war. David’s faith is translated into his work ethic. David gets things done. Truly, Christians ought to be the best employees there are.
    • His reputation – he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. As David behaved himself wisely he earned the respect of the people of Israel and even the servants of Saul. Let no man despise thy youth is what Paul said to Timothy. Give people a reason to respect you, not a reason to criticize you. Give people a reason to praise God instead of criticize the God you say you’re saved by.
  • David handled God’s will with patience (vss 10-11)
    • David handles Saul’s violence with faith. This is one of the most fascinating aspects of David’s character. He handles reproach and shame very skillfully.
  • Later in life he will restrain his men from killing a man who cusses him out.
  • Later in life he will attend and honor his enemies in their deaths.
  • Later in life his heart will be broken when he gets a little aggressive with Saul.
  • Ultimately, David handles God’s will with patience.

David’s attitude (vss 12-27)

  • In verse 14 the LORD’s testimony of David is that he was wise in all his ways.
  • David handled fame with meekness (vss 12-16)
    • His coming and going from the palace to the people was humble and lowly (vss 12-16).
    • David embodied the meek in spirit, the poor in spirit.
  • David handled deceit with charity (vss 17-21)
    • Saul cheats David in marriage. Saul lies about who David will be married to.
    • But David doesn’t flinch. He finds a reason to be grateful. And it’s not something he just does so he’s not miserable. He is genuinely thankful to God.
  • David handled entrapment by going the extra mile (vss 22-27)
    • Saul tries to get David killed by suggesting that he kill 100 Philistines within a certain time frame in place of a dowry.
    • David does twice as much for king Saul. 

David’s reputation (vss 28-30)

  • Comparative wisdom
    • There is a certain aptitude and skillfulness that accompanies wisdom, but that is not hard to obtain. The real ingredients in wisdom, particularly the behavior of wisdom, is courage and humility. The Bible says David BEHAVED himself wisely. That means he DID things other people didn’t do. But not because they didn’t know to do them. When all of Israel was lined up to fight the Philistines and Goliath showed up every one of the Israelites knew what to do. But what prevented them from doing it, from BEHAVING wisely? Fear. The problem wasn’t that the next steps were unclear, it was that the next steps were scary. Faith in the LORD that breeds courage was needed.
    • Humility is the other thing. When you think more highly of yourself than you ought to you behave like a fool. Your heart feels the emotions of a fool. “I deserve better.” “Why don’t they do this?!” “Why don’t they do that?!” Contrast that with David whose ability to show kindness to his enemies like Saul is a privilege to him.
  • David’s behavior was better than Saul’s servants.
  • David’s enemies feared him because of his wisdom.


  • Three times it says that the LORD was with David. No matter your position, nothing replaces the absence or presence of God in what you’re doing. Here is the king, abandoned by God, miserable, envious, possessed of an evil spirit. In contrast with a shepherd, full of the spirit of God, possessed of courage, love, gratitude, and wisdom.
  • What you need right now is the LORD to be with you. What you’ll NEED tomorrow is the LORD to be with you. What you’ll need in face of betrayal is the LORD to be with you. What you’ll need to do your work is the LORD to be with you.
  • The LORD was with David because he behaved himself wisely.