My daily reading reached the moment when Samuel anointed David, which is followed immediately by the first meeting of Saul and David:
Now the spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord began to terrify him. Saul’s courtiers said to him, “An evil spirit of God is terrifying you. Let our lord give the order [and] the courtiers in attendance on you will look for someone who is skilled at playing the lyre; whenever the evil spirit of God comes over you, he will play it and you will feel better.” So Saul said to his courtiers, “Find me someone who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the attendants spoke up, “I have observed a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skilled in music; he is a stalwart fellow and a warrior, sensible in speech, and handsome in appearance, and the Lord is with him.” Whereupon Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, who is with the flock.” Jesse took an ass [laden with] bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them to Saul by his son David. So David came to Saul and entered his service; [Saul] took a strong liking to him and made him one of his arms-bearers. Saul sent word to Jesse, “Let David remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the [evil] spirit of God came upon Saul, David would take the lyre and play it; Saul would find relief and feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.—1st Samuel 16:14-23 (NJPS)
But the next chapter, after Saul equips David to fight Goliath, we read:
When Saul saw David going out to assault the Philistine, he asked his army commander Abner, “Whose son is that boy, Abner?” And Abner replied, “By your life, Your Majesty, I do not know.” “Then find out whose son that young fellow is,” the king ordered. So when David returned after killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him to Saul, with the head of the Philistine still in his hand. Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, my boy?” And David answered, “The son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”—1st Samuel 17:55-58 (NJPS)
Now, this can't be a contradiction introduced by the editor of the stories, but must be potentially conflicting stories told of Saul and David's first meeting. Is there some way to harmonize these stories or must we be satisfied with a muddled and unclear history?