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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

1 Samuel 26

 

 

Verse 1

And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?

The Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah. This people seem to have thought it impossible for David to escape, and therefore had recommended themselves to Saul by giving him secret information of the refugees' hiding-place (see the note at 1 Samuel 23:19). The knowledge of their treachery makes it appear strange that David should return to his former haunt in their neighbourhood; but perhaps he did it to be near Abigail's possessions, and under the impression that Saul had become mollified. But the king had relapsed into his old enmity. Though Gibeah, as its name imports, stood on an elevated position, and the desert of Ziph, which was in the hilly region of Judea, may have been higher than Gibeah, it was still necessary to descend in leaving the latter place; thence Saul, 1 Samuel 26:2, "went down to the wilderness at Ziph."


Verses 2-4

Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 5

And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.

Came to the place where Saul had pitched. Having obtained certain information respecting the locality of the king's encampment, he seems, accompanied by his nephew (1 Samuel 26:6), to have hid himself, perhaps disguised, in a neighbouring wood or hill, on the skirts of the royal camp toward night, and waited to approach it under covert of the darkness.

The place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner. The Hebrew 'aab (Hebrew #1) signifies father; but the captain of Saul's host may have been called Ab-ner in honour of some ancestor, without any reference to the meaning of the name. Another explanation has been suggested. 'In Ab-ner there are two pure Gomeric roots, and 'aab (Hebrew #1) is the contrary of father; because it is expressly explained, "Abner, son of Ner, captain of David's host." This "ab" is of course the ab or ap of the Appii of Italy, and of the Cymry of Britain-son; Abner, son of strength; or in Latin, Appius Nero; and as we know that the Appii Claudii Nerones were a pure Umbrian family, we have in the center of Palestine, B.C. 1000, and in the center of Italy, B.C. at least 700, two Gomeric families of precisely the same name, derived from their common family language (Japhetic) in the most natural way conceivable. It is utterly impossible that the Jewish writer, whoever he was, of the books of Samuel, could have devised such a coincidence, or imagined its ethnological significance. He wrote down the simple fact. We know how to explain it; but this very knowledge is a confirmation of the prophetic utterance of Noah' (Genesis 9:27) ('Vindication of the Mosaic Ethnology of Europe').

Saul lay in the trench , [ bama`gaal (Hebrew #4570)] - in the wagon, rampart (see the note at 1 Samuel 17:20).

And the people lay round about him. Among the nomad people of the East the encampments are usually made in a circular form; the circumference is lined by the baggage and the men, while the chief's station is in the center, whether he occupied a tent or not. His spear, stuck in the ground at his bolster head, indicates his position (see Morier, 'Second Journey through Persia,' p. 115, where is a similar description of a Persian governor reposing from the fatigues of a journey, with his attendants around him). Similar was the disposition of Saul's camp. In his hasty expedition he seems to have carried no tent, but to have slept on the ground. The whole troop were sunk in sleep around him.


Verse 6-7

Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 8

Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite him the second time.

Said Abishai ... God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand. This midnight stratagem shows the activity and heroic enterprise of David's mind; and it was in unison with the style of warfare in ancient times.

Let me smite him ... even to the earth at once. The ferocious vehemence of the speaker is sufficiently apparent from his language; but David's magnanimity soared far above the notions of his followers. Though Saul's cruelty and perfidy, and general want of right principle, had sunk him to a low pitch of degradation, yet that was no reason for David imitating him in doing wrong. Besides, he was the sovereign: David was a subject; and though God had rejected him from the kingdom, it was every way the best and most dutiful course, instead of precipitating his fall by imbruing their hands in his blood, and thereby contracting the guilt of a great crime, to await the awards of that retributive Providence which sooner or later would take him off by some sudden and mortal blow. He who with impetuous haste was going to exterminate Nabal, meekly spared Saul. But Nabal refused to give a tribute to which justice and gratitude, no less than custom, entitled David. Saul was under the judicial infatuation of heaven. Thus David withheld the hand of Abishai; but at the same time directed him to carry off some things which would show where they had been, and what they had done. Thus, he obtained the best of victories over him, by heaping coals of fire on his head.


Verse 9-10

And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD's anointed, and be guiltless?

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 11

The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD's anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.

The spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water. The Oriental spear had, and still has, a spike at the lower extremity, intended for the purpose of sticking the spear into the ground when the warrior is at rest. This common custom of Arab sheikhs was also the practice of the Hebrew chiefs.

At his bolster - literally, 'at his head.' But perhaps Saul, as a sovereign, had the distinguished luxury of a bolster carried for him. A "cruse of water" is usually, in warm climates, kept near a person's couch, as a draught in the night-time is found very refreshing. Saul's cruse would probably be of superior materials, or more richly ornamented than common ones, and therefore by its size or form be easily distinguished.


Verse 12

So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 13

Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them:

Then David ... stood on the top of an hill afar off ...


Verse 14

And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?

And ... cried to the people - (see the note at Judges 9:7.) The extraordinary purity and elasticity of the air in Palestine enable words to be distinctly heard that are addressed by speakers from the top of one hill to people on that of another, from which it is separated by a deep intervening ravine. Hostile parties can thus speak to each other while completely beyond the reach of each other's attack. It results from the special features of the country in many of the mountain districts.


Verse 15

And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.

David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? ... wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? The circumstance of David having penetrated to the center of the encampment, through the circular rows of the sleeping soldiers, constituted the point of this sarcastic taunt.


Verse 16

This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD's anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.

Ye are worthy to die , [ b


Verse 17-18

And Saul knew David's voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 19

Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.

If the Lord have stirred thee up against me - by the evil spirit He hath sent, or by any spiritual offences by which we have mutually displeased Him.

Let him accept an offering - i:e., let us conjointly offer a sacrifice for appeasing His wrath against us.

if they be the children of men.} The prudence, meanness, and address of David in ascribing the king's enmity to the instigations of some malicious traducers, and not to the jealousy of Saul himself, is worthy of notice.

Saying, Go, serve other gods. This was the drift of their conduct. By driving him from the land and ordinances of the true worship, into foreign and pagan countries, they were exposing him to all the seductions of idolatry.


Verse 20

Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.

As when one doth hunt a partridge. The allusion is to the ancient method of taking these birds by throwing sticks. Wild animals of a large size were generally captured in nets and pitfalls. Dogs do not appear to have been employed in the chase at all. As to fowls, people in the East, in hunting the partridge and other game birds, pursue them until observing them becoming languid and fatigued; after they have been put up two or three times, they rush upon the birds stealthily, and knock them down with bludgeons (Shaw's 'Travels'). It was exactly in this manner that Saul was pursuing David: he drove him from time to time from his hiding place, hoping to render him weary of his life, or obtain an opportunity of accomplishing his destruction.


Verses 21-24

Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 25

Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

So David went on his way. Notwithstanding this sudden relenting of Saul, David placed no confidence in his professions or promises, but wisely kept at a distance, and awaited the course of Providence.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-26.html. 1871-8.

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