Sermon on 1 Samuel 18:17-30 – “Royal By Marriage”

Sermon on 1 Samuel 18:17-30 – “Royal By Marriage”

Sermon for Sunday, May 5, 2024 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[1Sa 18:17-30 ESV] 17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the LORD’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” 18 And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father’s clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife. 20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.'” 23 And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 24 And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.'” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 But when Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually. 30 Then the commanders 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.

New Testament reading:

[Eph 5:22-33 ESV] 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Gospel reading:

[Mat 25:1-13 ESV] 1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.


According to my brother’s genealogical research, we are 1/1024th noble, or 0.1% of Dutch nobility.
But this doesn’t exactly put us in line for the throne of the Netherlands.
Maybe just about everyone else is more closely connected to some nobility or even royalty.

Of course in America we, from the beginning, have rejected class distinctions and we have no royalty. So we can’t have names like Lord Carnarvon or Baron Von Richthofen. Yet, even so, there is great fascination, among many, with especially the British royal family. And to be CONNECTED with them in some way would be a great honor.

It is one thing to be born into a such a family, and it is another to be married into it.
If you’re born into the family, you’ve never known anything else. But if you marry into the family, you may go from common meals to royal banquets.

Joining the royal family is a change much like winning the lottery. A big change indeed.

I. Married into the family of the king.

We have that big change for David here in our text today from 1 Samuel, as he joins the royal family, marrying a daughter of the king and therefore himself becoming a “son-in-law of the King.”

David will now be “royal by marriage.”

It starts when Saul seeks to make good on the earlier promise to give his daughter in marriage to he who kills Goliath.

It will take two tries though before David is married into the family.

There are some similarities to the Jacob-Leah-Rachel story of Genesis.
– Only … do this.
In the case of Jacob: Work for me 7 years.
In the case of David: Be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.
– Then, he doesn’t get to marry the one he was told he was going to marry. There is a difference too.
Jacob is tricked into marrying Leah, not Rachel.
David is promised Merab, but she is married to someone else. So he marries Michal.

There has to be some name for this sin of Saul. Promising something, but not delivering. He promises David his firs daughter Merab but then he either (1) forgets? or (2) maliciously changes his mind and gives Merab to Adriel the Meholathite. (A strange name. Perhaps this is a resident of a place called Meholah. But nothing is known of this town.)

Throughout this story, we find that David is humble.

When the first daughter is suggested to him, he says “Who am I?”

This is what we common sinners might say to the Lord when he chooses us. “Who am I?” “Why have you chosen me, Lord. I do not deserve your blessing.”

This is what we find in the lyrics of that praise song called “And can it be that I should Gain”

Look at these lyrics. All in questions. All in humility. Why Lord, choose me. Here they are:

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood
Died He for me, who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, should die for me?

So that is David’s attitude in being chosen to join the royal family as a son-in-law. An attitude of humility. Not an “I earned this.” But “Wow, the Lord is blessing me beyond that which I deserve.” And I hope that is an attitude you share, recognizing that ALL that you have been given is from the Lord and all of it is a gift, none of it is deserved. God doesn’t owe you anything. His love for you comes from his own will, not from your earning it.

Now David, after he is disappointed to find Merab married away and he is given Michal in marriage, he again shows humility.

He says:

“I am a poor man and have no reputation.”

Not only is David poor, he is not fully Jewish. Remember his grandmother is Ruth the Moabite. Yes, she came to believe in the Lord, but by blood she was of the people of Moab.

Well, in David’s case it is all a trap. Or at least it is in Saul’s eyes. God has other plans, but Saul’s plan is to kill David by the hand of the Philistines. He makes the bride-price for his daughter that David must kill a hundred Philistines. And Saul hopes and expects David to be killed in the process.

You see, in the ancient world the groom paid a dowry to the family of the bride. But David had no money. So Saul’s plan was to create an alternative dowry for David; the foreskins of 100 Philistines.

Apparently it was too risky, too obvious, for Saul to kill David directly. Or, knowing the failed spearing attempts in the previous passage, Saul figured he didn’t have the skill to kill David. The reality is that David is protected by the Lord. And so whether it is one person or a hundred against him, the Lord will win the victory.

Perhaps involved in Saul’s plan of having David killed indirectly is that idea that he wants David to die AS A SOLDIER. Maybe that will end the songs about David’s victories.

We continue to see the real evil of Saul in this episode. In at least 4 ways.

1. He doesn’t seem to care about his daughter Michal. Look at how terrible a parent Saul is. The anti-parent of the year. For his own jealousies and insecurities, he’s willing that his daughter Michal would have to endure the death of the man whom she loves.

2. Then, Saul is evil in his plan to have David killed. And you might be thinking that David later does something similar, and similarly evil. When he sends Uriah out to die in battle, just as Saul has sent him out to die. But Saul fails and David succeeds. This isn’t to excuse Saul. Rather it is to say “all sin and fall short of the glory of God.” Both Saul and David sin in their attempts to indirectly murder someone through military battle.

3. Saul is evil in claiming that he wants David to “be valiant for me and fight the LORD’s battles.” This is a lie. Saul doesn’t fight with the Lord; he fights against the Lord. And it tells us that people claim to be on the Lord’s side, when they are anything but. Be weary of those who say they are fighting for the Lord; they very well may be using the name of the Lord while fighting against him. So we are to look at the fruit of a person, and not the claims of their tongue. For Saul here is a complete hypocrite with no intention of honoring the Lord.

4. Saul is also evil in not keeping his word. By this, he shows us: Lost men don’t keep their word. He promises his daughter in marriage, but his promise is not worth anything. It is just words. This teaches us to be careful in business. If possible, you should conduct business and make transactions with those who fear the Lord, for they have that incentive to follow through on their promises, knowing that God is a rewarder of good and punisher of evil.

Well, given the bride-price of 100 philistines, what does David do? He goes and kills TWO HUNDRED Philistines., for “It pleased him to be married to Michal.”

This has got to anger Saul. Had he been a godly man, he’s be thrilled that such a victory was had over the Philistines. But Saul is a jealous man, and surely upset, not only that David wasn’t killed, but that David killed MORE Philistines than he requested. You can almost sense the anger welling up in him with an increasing hardened heart.

And frankly, I think the reader is to get some joy in seeing Saul so frustrated. Schadenfreude as the German’s call it. Joy in other’s pain.

And what are the results of David’s victory.

1. He marries Michal.

2. Saul is now more afraid of David.

3. God gives David more success. All because the Lord is with him.

David is a blessed man. Now a member of the royal family, something he didn’t consider himself worthy of.

The Lord is with David. Even the unbeliever Saul must see that. That is why he is afraid. Can others see that the Lord is with you? Not that you necessarily have success everywhere you go, bu that your fruit is Fruit of the Spirit.

II. Married into the family of God.

Well, it is a great honor to be married into the royal family.
But a far greater honor to be part of the family of God.

That is what the church is. The church — all who believe in Christ, collectively — is the bride of Christ.

Some say that the church (ekklesia) is never explicitly called “the bride of Christ” in the New Testament.

But there are some pretty strong examples of that being understood in the Scriptures:


[Isa 62:5 ESV] 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.


[Rev 19:7-9 ESV] 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

This metaphor of the church as the “bride of Christ” is supported in others places in the Scriptures:

For example, in Matthew’s Gospel, in the 9th chapter, Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom that will be taken away.

[Mat 9:15 ESV] 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

And in Ephesians 5, Jesus compares the leadership of a husband with his leadership of the church:

[Eph 5:23 ESV] 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

So Christ is like a good husband to his bride, the church. And a good husband loves his wife.

And so we all, in that connection with Christ as His bride, have something greater than even David had in his royal family connection. We are in the family of God!

There are various Scriptural metaphors for our family connection with God.

In places it says we are “adopted” by God into his family. And that really is a great metaphor. We don’t deserve the inheritance, but are brought into the family and blessed as heirs.

And we are called children of God:

[1Jo 3:1 ESV] 1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

But the metaphor our text leads us to is that we — like David into the royal family — are brought into the blessing of God through a promised marriage. We are the bride of Christ.

As David is “royal by marriage.” A member of the royal family.
We are “godly by marriage.” Members of the family of God, and of His kingdom.

We are by nature sinners.
But God has declared us —the Church— to be his bride. And He loves his bride.
So we eagerly await his return with great anticipation knowing that we will be united with him for eternity.

Finally, while that truth is the greatest truth of the Gospel, I want to look at one application on humility.

Funny enough, a hiker guest asked me this, “Do you have any passages to recommend on humility?” I felt a bit unprepared to answer the question until I realize that there is great humility in this sermon text. The humility of David, not considering himself worthy to join the king’s family. Much like that is Christ’s humility, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

That is true humility. And there is much that we can learn.

For one, we don’t deserve what we get. All the blessings you receive from God are despite the fact that you sin against him. You are called to be part of His family, though you are but a common man.

So we must thank God for his goodness to us undeserving sinners.

Then, this humility should translate into the way we live and act.

We are humbled in what God has done for us, so we should not consider ourselves better than others. We should not consider others to be beneath us or not worth or time.

By considering yourself as the lowest, and being a servant to others, you bless them and find true joy in your efforts.

He who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Let us be humble. And let us pray.