1 Samuel 16:17, How Did King Saul Meet David?

And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me.

//There are two contradictory stories in the Bible about how Saul came to know David. The first story of how Saul and David meet is recorded in 1 Samuel 16:17. Today’s verse tells how Saul requested a musician to sooth him. David, son of Jesse, is recommended for his skill in playing the lyre. So Saul sends for him, and David plays for Saul.

And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer. –Samuel 16:21

In the very next chapter, however, Saul’s “great love” for David seems to have waned, and David’s responsibility as armor bearer forgotten. As David prepares to fight Goliath, Saul seems to have no idea who he is.

And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. –1 Samuel 17:55

So after the battle, Saul asks David who he is, and David tells Saul that he is the son of Jesse. Two verses later we read:

And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. –1 Samuel 18:2

These stories cannot both be true, of course. The story you prefer of how David rises to prominence in the court of Saul probably depends on whether you prefer the image of David, the musician, or David, the warrior.

Indeed, it is because David fills both roles to mythical proportions that he has become such a beloved enigma … known as the writer of the Psalms and the slayer of Goliath. Small wonder that we need two stories to introduce him.



  1. I was also perplexed by this passage, but I think the article has some good plausible explanations.


  2. john a

    we also read that Moses was abandoned on a river by his mother and sister and when a princess found the baby it was this same sister the baby was given to.

    you can really play a lyre in Buckingham and the queen can swear she cannot remember you.

    • Because the sister followed the baby and when he was picked up by the princess, she was the one that suggested she knew a hebrew woman who would nurse and bring up the child. Being a hebrew herself, the princess believed her.God has his own way of making his plan come true through men whether it seems logical or not
      As of saul and David, saul was a very sick man because he was troubled by an evil spirit. David left to go back home and saul forgot all about their meeting because he was sick.

  3. john a

    David was also said to have had brothers in the army which he was going to give food to.

  4. Chibuzor Okoye

    There is no one single contradiction in the bible, not one.In their first meeting David was introduced to saul because he was according to the sciptures “troubled by an evil spirit from the lord”. David’s job was to play the harp when the evil spirit troubled saul and he would be “refreshed and well”. Let’s be clear saul was very sick. Now the extent of this sickness was not really described in the bible but what happened next shows it was very serious. Their next meeting was right before the battle and saul asked Abner “whose son is this youth”. Saul completely forgot he had met with David before then, because David left saul to return home to his father’s sheep. Abner’s reply was “I cannot tell”. How dare you remind the king “oh how could you forget David remember he used to play the harp for you?” That will mean death, knowing how sick he was. Then saul asked David who he was after the battle. I am sure David and the rest of them were not suprised that saul forgot who he was, the man was very sick.the blble never recorded that when David left yo go home the sickness stopped or the evil spirit stopped troubling saul. How could anyone think that a man that is troubled by an evil spirit is well?,in today’s translation, we would say saul was occasionally insane or mad.Again there is no one contradiction in the bible. There’s an adage from where I come from ” a mad man does not recognize even the members of his own family”.

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