In 1Samuel 18, we are finally introduced to the close relationship between David and Jonathan. The SAB takes the approach that so many do, assuming the implication that Jonathan and David were lovers. Now, whereas it's certainly possible, of course the conservative assumption among both Christians and Jews is that this is not the case. The fact is, there really needs to be a stronger case made if a reader of the Bible is to accept this claim. I think a lot of what is used by people to make this case is more of an implication from our own modern American biases, which frankly tend to be a bit homophobic.
People can love one another deeply and have it be a non-sexual love, even two heterosexual men. Taking off one's clothing in the presence of another is likewise not an instant implication of something sexual going on. (It's not clear whether Jonathan is stripping entirely nude here anyway, but rather he may be giving over his armor.*) I truly believe in this case, the fact that Jonathan took off his armaments and gave them to David implies that Jonathan is trying to symbolically affirm the fact that David is his superior (being now the true king of Israel), and someone that he trusts with his life. In many cultures of the world, it is common for men hold hands, embrace one another, and even kiss without it being considered at all sexual, and I think we'd be overstepping any clear understanding of ancient culture to assume more than what is explicitly stated here.
Now, there soon comes to be some sort of thing going on where the women of Israel are heard to say "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." The SAB claims that this is the result of some sort of contest, but there are two things to say about this. First of all, no such "contest" is mentioned (although given the political situation, it might not be wrong to say that there was a prestige contest between these two men). Secondly, while they may indeed have slaughtered quite a few of their enemies, the saying is almost certainly hyperbolic in nature, still being early enough in David's military career that it's unlikely he has killed more than a few hundred at most, I would think. Essentially, David's reputation after killing Goliath has caused people to claim that David is ten times the warrior that Saul ever was.
The claim that Saul was taken by an "evil spirit from God" that made him prophesy is a strange one, and not actually a completely unique idea in the Bible. I'd stand on my previous comments concerning Saul's torment by spirits and prophesying.
Oddly to me, the SAB makes no note of violence for Saul trying repeatedly to kill David. I guess in the midst of all the warfare and slaughter, we're supposed to hardly notice a single murder? I don't know. (Discussion on this matter is in the comments below.)
Anyway, Saul wants to get rid of David, so he comes up with a plan that he figures will cause David to be killed my the Philistines. Saul says David can marry his daughter, but instead of a dowry, he will accept a hundred Philistine foreskins. David goes above and beyond, and brings two hundred. What can I say about this crazy story? The SAB labels this passage with the icons for Absurdity, Violence, Sex, Women, Family Values, and Injustice. Let's take them in that order: Absurd? Agreed heartily. Violent? Yes, but once again, this was in the middle of a war between Israel and the Philistines. Sex? Not particularly sexual other than the fact that it involved genitals, so if that's enough for you, so be it. Women? I assume we're once again talking about the idea of a person buying a wife, and yes, it's strange to our modern value system, but common in those days, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say. Ditto on Family Values. Injustice? Well, unjust to whom? To the Philistines? I'd assume these were soldiers, who had to accept the possibility they were to die in war. To David? He didn't seem to mind. To Michal? That goes back to the previous issues. I'm simply not sure what the deal is here; this seems as just as anything else in time of war.
The fact that David is successful is apparently taken as a sign to Saul that God is with David, and as He clearly is not with Saul any longer, he suffers from a great deal of envy, becoming David's enemy from that time forward.
* Overall, the Bible has a number of interesting allusions to the symbolism of clothing. Note how in 1Sam.15:27-28, Samuel uses the tearing of his garment as an illustration of the tearing of the kingdom from Saul. In chapter 17, David is offered Saul's battle garb and rejects it, but here, he accepts Jonathan's. In the next chapter, Saul ends the story stripped naked. This is part of a longer literary thread in the Bible that goes from the creation of garments for Adam and Eve, to the life of Joseph which is punctuated with repeated awarding and losing of clothing, to the creation of special priestly garments for the Levites, to the passing of Elijah's cloak to Elisha, to Christ's robe being taken from him before He is placed on the cross, and so forth, to name a few. There are many more.