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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

1 Samuel 23

 

 

Verse 1

Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.

Then they told ... the Philistines fight against Keilah - rather 'now they had told;' for this information had Then they told ... the Philistines fight against Keilah - rather, 'now they had told;' for this information had reached him previous to his hearing (1 Samuel 23:6) of the Nob tragedy. The attack of those troublesome neighbours was made at the commencement of harvest. "Keilah" - a city in the west or lowland district of Judah (Joshua 15:44), not far from the forest of Hareth, in a part of the Shephelah, and therefore a grain country.

And they rob the threshing-floors. These were commonly situated on the fields, and were open to the wind (Judges 6:11; Ruth 3:2).


Verse 2

Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

David inquired of the Lord - most probably through Gad, who was present in David's camp (1 Samuel 22:5), probably by the recommendation of Samuel. To repel unprovoked assaults on unoffending people, who were engaged in their harvest operations, was a humane and benevolent service. But it was doubtful how far it was David's duty to go against a public enemy without the royal commission; and on that account he asked and obtained the divine counsel. A demur on the part of his men led David to renew the consultation for their satisfaction; after which, being fully assured of his duty, he encountered the aggressors, and by a signal victory over the foraging party, delivered the people of Keilah from further molestation-probably remaining with his men in the city and neighbourhood until the crop in the fields had been secured.


Verses 3-5

And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 6

And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

When Abiathar ... fled to David ... he came down with an ephod - in which was the Urim and Thummim When Abiathar ... fled to David ... he came down with an ephod - in which was the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). It had probably been committed to his care while his father, Ahimelech, and the other priests repaired to Gibeah, in obedience to the summons of Saul (1 Samuel 22:2).


Verse 7

And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.

It was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. He imagined himself now certain of his victim, who would be hemmed within a walled or fortified town. The wish was father to the thought. How wonderfully slow and unwilling to be convinced by all his experience, that the special protection of Providence shielded David from all his snares!


Verse 8

And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

Saul called all the people - not the united tribes of Israel, but the inhabitants of the adjoining districts. This force was raised probably on the ostensible pretext of opposing the Philistines, while in reality it was secretly to arouse mischief against David.


Verse 9

And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.

David ... said to Abiathar ... Bring hither the ephod. The consultation was made and the prayer uttered by means of the priest.


Verse 10

Then said David O LORD God of Israel thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 11

Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.

Will the men of Keilah deliver me up , [ ba`


Verse 12-13

Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 14

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

David abode ... in the wilderness of Ziph. A mountainous and sequestered region was generally called a wilderness, and took its name from some large town in the district. Two miles southeast of Hebron, and in the midst of a level plain, is Tell Ziph, an isolated and conical hillock, about 100 feet high, probably the acropolis (Van de Velde), or the ruins (Robinson), of the ancient city of Ziph, from which the surrounding wilderness was called. It seems, anciently, to have been covered by an extensive wood. The country has for centuries lost its woods and forests, owing to the devastations caused by man.


Verse 15

And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16

And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.

Jonathan ... went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God - by the recollection of the divine promises, and of their mutual covenant.


Verse 17

And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee. "The hand" denotes the activity and power of the king, and "find" includes the ideas of detecting and apprehending. What a victory over natural feelings and lower considerations must the faith of Jonathan have won ere he could seek such an interview, and give utterance to such sentiments! To talk with calm and assured confidence of himself and family being superseded by the man who was his friend by the bonds of a holy and solemn covenant, could only have been done by one who, superior to all views of worldly policy, looked at the course of things in the spirit and through the principles of that theocracy which acknowledged God as the only and supreme Sovereign of Israel. Neither history nor fiction depicts the movements of a friendship purer, nobler, and more self-denying than Jonathan's.


Verse 18

And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 19

Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?

Then came up the Ziphites to Saul ... saying, Doth not David hide himself with us? From the Tell of Ziph a panorama of the whole surrounding district is to be seen. No wonder, then, that the Ziphites saw David and his men passing to and fro in the mountains of the wilderness, and spying him at a distance, when he ventured to show himself on the hill of Hachilah, 'on the right hand of the wilderness,' - i:e., the south side of Ziph-sent in haste to Saul, to tell him of the lurking place of his enemy' (Van de Velde).


Verses 20-24

Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king's hand.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 25

Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.

David ... came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. Tell Ma'in, the hillock on which was situated the ancient Maon (Joshua 15:55), and from which the adjoining wilderness took its name, is one mile north, ten east, from Carmel. The mountain plateau seems here to end. It is true the summit ridge of the southern hills runs out a long way further toward the southwest; but toward the southeast the ground sinks more and more down to a table-land of a lower level, which is called 'the plain to the right hand (i:e., to the south) of the wilderness' (Van de Velde). 'On descending,' says Dr. Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' 1:, p.

275), the hills southeast of Maon, a wide prospect is opened up before us over the country toward the Dead Sea and on the south. The extensive tract we now overlooked had much of the general character of that around Beer-sheba, with which, indeed, it is connected, stretching off in that direction around the southwestern termination of the long ridge which we were now crossing. This tract has apparently a lower level than the enclosed plain behind us around Carmel. This is the country now occupied by the Jehalin, who are sometimes called the Hebron Arabs' (cf. Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 2:, p. 710).


Verse 26

And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.

Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain. Saul was busily engaged in surrounding the hill where David and his little band of followers lay encamped, with a cordon of troops, and hoped soon to cut off all means of their escape, when intelligence unexpectedly reached him of a fresh invasion of the Philistines on the western side of the country; so that, being obliged to subordinate his private feelings for the defence of the public safety, he was obliged to abandon his project, and direct his arms against the Philistine invaders.


Verse 27

But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 28

Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammah-lekoth. Therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth [ Cela`-ha-Machl


Verse 29

And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.

David ... dwelt in strong holds at En-gedi , [Septuagint, en tois stenois Engaddi] - in the straits, the rugged cliffs of En-gedi; i:e., 'the spring of the wild goats or gazelles:' a name given to it from the vast number of ibexes, or Syrian chamois, which inhabit these cliffs on the western shore of the Dead Sea (Joshua 15:62). It is now called Ain Jiddy. On all sides the country full of caverns, which might then serve as lurking-places for David and his men, as they do for outlaws at the present day (Robinson).

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 23:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-23.html. 1871-8.

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