Evil In-laws File #27: Father-in-law Attempts to Murder Son-in-Law

by Tad Lindley

I love my wife’s family. They have been one of the great blessings in my life. So when I hear people make mother-in-law jokes or speak disparagingly about their in-laws I always feel uncomfortable. But I do know of one guy who had legitimate in-law issues, and I am sure if you knew all the details, you would know it wasn’t his fault. For all of you out there with in-law issues, this one is for you.

Some serious red flags

This was before David became his son-in-law. He was just a musician in the king’s court. One day Saul went berserk while David was playing music and actually threw a spear at him to kill him, in the house! When he realized that he couldn’t kill David with his own hand, he made him a military officer so that he might be killed in battle. (I Samuel 18:5-16) Now if my late father-in-law had treated me like this, I most certainly would never have married his daughter, but for whatever reason, David did not see the red flags.

Daughter as murder bait

King Saul was so jealous of David, that he wanted David dead, so he got hardcore dysfunctional. He sent a secret message to David, “I’ll make a deal with you, if you kill 100 Philistines and bring me a certain body part from each one, I will let you marry my daughter.” As mentioned earlier, David certainly had ample warning that this was a dysfunctional family, but he took the deal. Of course Saul anticipated that David would get killed in the process. Come to find out, however, that David killed 200 Philistines and brought their foreskins to the king, double the bride price. Thereby he became the king’s son-in-law. (I Samuel 18:17-30)

And you thought you had in-law problems

Soon after the wedding, Saul told his servants to look for a chance to kill David (I Samuel 19:1-7). Then he tried to kill David in the house with a spear again (19:8-10). None of that worked, so he sent a hit squad to David’s house at night, but David’s wife got wind of it and helped David escape (19:11-17). I could keep going and tell you how eventually King Saul began to travel around Israel with his army trying to kill his son-in-law, David. I could tell you how Saul took David’s wife, and gave her to another husband. There is even more, but space does not permit me to tell you. You can read it all in your Bible (I Samuel 18-26).

David gets a chance to kill his father-in-law

While Saul was chasing David around the desert, he needed to take a dump. Not wanting to do that in front of his soldiers, he slipped into a cave. Unbeknownst to him, David and his men were hiding from Saul in that very cave. As Saul laid aside his robe in the dark of the cave David slipped up with a knife and cut a big hunk of fabric off of the robe. Many people think that David should have plunged that knife into his father-in-law’s chest cavity, but not David. He waited until Saul left the cave and followed him out. Holding up the fabric to prove that he could have killed him he confronts his father-in-law.

How to be a great son-in-law

You would think that Saul would realize that David was not a threat to him, but after this he still continued to try to track David down and kill him. A second time, as Saul slept surrounded by his soldiers, David snuck in and took the spear and the water bottle from beside Saul’s pillow. Once they had snuck away, he called out to Saul and woke him up, again showing him the proof that he meant no evil to his father-in-law.

The power of mercy

Saul did not deserve the mercy of David, but he got it. David was so sold out to God at this point in his life, that when many of us would have said, “Look he’s coming into the cave alone, this is a sign from God to kill him!” that David refused to take vengeance into his own hands. Instead he showed mercy and trusted God to sort it all out (which of course, He did). Because David refused to exact revenge on the man who was both his father-in-law and his king, respecting the position in spite of Saul’s dysfunctions, David went on to become the king of Israel and the honor of being described in the Bible as “a man after God’s own heart.”

If you married into a messed up family…

…please follow David’s example. Even if the person or people are not worthy of respect or honor, their position is. And when you force yourself to honor those who do not deserve it, you put God in a position to honor you, who perhaps do not deserve it either.

Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.

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