Was David detained at Saul’s court (1 Samuel 16:21) or not (1 Samuel 17:15)? Is there a contradiction?
As we noted last week, the details in 1 Samuel 16-17 are not 100% chronological. Here is a summary of the events as they happened:
- Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel (16:1-13).
- God’s Spirit came upon David and left Saul (16:13-14).
- The Philistines gathered to battle against Israel; Saul & his men (Jesse’s oldest sons included) stood opposite them (17:1-16).
- Jesse sent provisions with David for his sons at the battlefield (17:17-31)
- David stand against the Goliath (17:32-54).
- David introduces himself to king Saul (17:55-58).
- Saul’s servant suggested he have David (identified as a man of war) play the harp to help with his distressing spirit (16:14-18)
- Saul sends to Jesse, asking that he send David to him (16:19-23)
So how do 1 Samuel 16:21 and 1 Samuel 17:15 fit into this? The two texts read:
…David came to Saul and stood before him. And he loved him greatly, and he became his armorbearer. (16:21)
…David occasionally went and returned from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. (17:15)
In 16:21, David is a skilled musician and man of war (v 16) who is brought to serve before Saul. This was AFTER David slew Goliath. In 17:15, the battle with the Philistines had not happened yet. David was at home with his father, and as seen from v 17, would take supplies to his brothers who were with Saul. Verse 15 indicates this was not a one time thing, but that he’d done it before—but this time would be different. He’d go from a young shepherd to a giant slayer, and a man of war.
There is no contradiction.
A response to 1001 Bible Contradictions.