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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 18

 

 

Verse 1

1 Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

Ver. 1. When he had made an end of speaking unto Saul.] No doubt but David spake much more than is here expressed, abasing himself, and exalting God, as sole Author of the victory over Goliath, &c. "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart," [Psalms 37:30-31] and "in his tongue the law of kindness." [Proverbs 31:26] Hence Jonathan’s good heart was so fast glued to David, - for grace is of a uniting nature, - as also propter similitudinem morum et amorum, by reason of the similitude and suitableness of their natures and manners; for likeness maketh love.

That the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David.] Corporibus geminis spritus unus erat. So the primitive Christians were "of one heart and of one soul." [Acts 4:32] Animo animaque inter se miscebantur, saith Tertullian. So were Basil and Nazianzen, Eusebius and Pamphilus, Minutius Faelix and Octavianus, as themselves witness.

And Jonathan loved him as his own soul.] A sweet mercy of God to David to have such a fast friend in court, to advertise him, and advise him on all occasions.


Verse 2

1 Samuel 18:2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.

Ver. 2. Saul took him that day.] According as Samuel had foretold, [1 Samuel 8:11-12] and for a step to the kingdom, whereunto he was anointed, and no less assured. See Psalms 63:11.


Verse 3

1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

Ver. 3. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant.] Heb., Cut a covenant; for the covenanters first sware, and then cut a beast in two, passing between the parts thereof, and wishing so to be cut in pieces if ever they falsified. [Jeremiah 34:18]


Verse 4

1 Samuel 18:4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that [was] upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

Ver. 4. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe … and gave it to David, &c.] As a pledge of his dear love, and for a symbol, that now all things were common betwixt them, as it useth to be betwixt dearest friends, and that he would have David looked upon as his Alter Ego.

And his garments, even to his sword, &c.] Love is liberal, and can part with anything. Christ sealed up his great love to his elect by bestowing himself and all his benefits upon them. Neither was it, perhaps, without mystery, saith one, that Saul’s clothes fitted not David, but Jonathan’s fitted him; and these he is as glad to wear, as he was to be disburdened of the other.


Verse 5

1 Samuel 18:5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, [and] behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

Ver. 5. And behaved himself wisely.] Or, Prospered, Virtute duce, comite fortuna. God will come, with a cornucopia in his hand, unto such as behave themselves wisely in a perfect way. [Psalms 101:2]

And Saul set him over the men of war.] Made him captain of his guard. Abner was general of the army.

And he was accepted in the sight of all the people.]. Virtue is very amiable and attractive. Aρετη quasi αιρετη: Aγαθον quasi αγαστον.


Verse 6

1 Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.

Ver. 6. Women came ont.] Women share deeply in a common calamity by war; they usually are ravished, abused, slaved; they therefore greatly rejoiced, as there was reason, when the enemy was vanquished. See Exodus 15:20, 11:34


Verse 7

1 Samuel 18:7 And the women answered [one another] as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

Ver. 7. Saul hath slain his thousands, &c., ] q.d., Saul is to be commended, but David ten times more. This praise of the women given to David flew far and near, [1 Samuel 21:11; 1 Samuel 29:5] and was the rise of all his following troubles: likeas in the gospel, he whom our Saviour cured, - and in addition charged him to say nothing, - when he divulged the miracle, though of a good intent, caused a persecution by the spiteful Pharisees.


Verse 8

1 Samuel 18:8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed [but] thousands: and [what] can he have more but the kingdom?

Ver. 8. And Saul was very wroth.] But without cause: for, as Chrysostom observeth, (a) the women ascribed to Saul more than he deserved, - for he suffered the Philistine to vaunt himself forty days together, and yet cowardly sat still, - and to David less than was his due: but that they ascribed anything to him, was not his doing, or desire; as Saul might very well gather by his modest behaving himself all along.

And the saying displeased him.] He gave way to that devilish vice of envy, which was henceforth as a fire in his bosom, as a worm continually gnawing upon his entrails.

Invidia Siculi non invenere tyranni

Maius tormentum. ” - Horat.

Caligula, Nero, and Valentinian, the emperors, are infamous in history (b) for their envy; the property whereof is virtutem eminentem odisse, et odio melioris favere deteriori. Tiberius, that tiger, laid hold with his teeth on all the excellent spirits of his times, that he alone might seem to excel.

And what can he have more but the kingdom?] He now begins to suspect, belike, that David was the man that should be king in his room. Now kings love not co-rivals.


Verse 9

1 Samuel 18:9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

Ver. 9. And Saul eyed David.] Limis intuebatur, he looked upon him with an evil eye: prying into all his actions, and making the worst of everything.

From that day and forward.] Discovering that lernam vitiorum, world of wickedness, that was in his own heart. Sooner or later a hypocrite will show himself; how else should his name rot?


Verse 10

1 Samuel 18:10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and [there was] a javelin in Saul’s hand.

Ver. 10. The evil spirit from God came upon Saul.] By discontent and envy the devil windeth himself into the heart, and setteth all on a hurry.

And he prophesied in the midst of the house.] As those heathen enthusiasts, the sibyls, and other like, did in a wild, raving, and raging sort, when acted and agitated by the devil. These Plato and Plutarch (a) call prophets. The Chaldee here hath it, And he was mad in the midst of the house: More desipientium aliena et absurda loquebatur, he spake as one distracted.

And there was a javelin in Saul’s hand.] Which he carried always for his own defence, being ever in fear; and now more terrible to himself, than ever he had been to others.


Verse 11

1 Samuel 18:11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall [with it]. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

Ver. 11. And Saul cast the javelin.] At David to kill him, whom he could not have sufficiently honoured, saith Chrysostom, if he had taken the crown from off his own head, and set it upon his, since he owed to David both his kingdom and his life. But this is merces mundi: look for no better. In princes’ courts there are, saith one, lenta beneficia, iniuriae praecipites, slow favours, quick injuries. David, for his music, hath a javelin thrown at him, to pin him to the wall.

And David avoided out of his presence.] So did our Saviour often, when his enemies sought his life. [Luke 4:30 John 10:39]


Verse 12

1 Samuel 18:12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.

Ver. 12. And Saul was afraid of David.] His heart ached and quaked within him, when he saw how God preserved and prospered David, whom he attempted to destroy, but could not effect it; himself forsaken of God, was as a man wildered in a dark night.


Verse 13

1 Samuel 18:13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.

Ver. 13. Therefore Saul removed him from him.] As the great Turk doth always his eldest son, whom he sendeth away into some remote provinces, lest he should practise treason. And as unto the Aga, captain of the janizaries, nothing can portend a more certain destruction than to be of them beloved; for then is he of the great sultan straightway feared or mistrusted, and occasion sought for to take him out of the way; (a) so it befell good David.

And made him his captain over a thousand.] This seeming preferment was indeed a persecution; for hereby David, being valorous and venturous, was exposed to no small danger in fighting against the enemies. Uriah lost his life by such means.


Verse 14

1 Samuel 18:14 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD [was] with him.

Ver. 14. And David behaved himself wisely.] Or, Prospered, as 1 Samuel 18:5, having no more deadly enemies - as was said once of Germanicus - than his own ornaments: neither had his enemies anything to complain of him, more than his greatness.


Verse 15

1 Samuel 18:15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.

Ver. 15. He was afraid of him,] viz., Lest the people should make him king. He had sent him from court as an eye sore, and yet he ceaseth not to malign him. He could not come at David’s heart; he will therefore needs feed upon his own. See 1 Samuel 18:12. Invidia semper se devorat primum, uti vermis nucleum ex quo nascitur. Envy is destructive.


Verse 16

1 Samuel 18:16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

Ver. 16. But all Israel and Judah loved David.] Of David and Saul it might be said, as once it was of Germanicus and Tiberius, that the former reigned in the hearts, and the latter but in the provinces only.


Verse 17

1 Samuel 18:17 And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD’S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.

Ver. 17. Behold mine elder daughter Merab.] She was due to him before by promise, for killing Goliath; yet he that twice inquired into the reward of that enterprise before he undertook it, never demanded it after that achievement. Now, no remedy but he must be a son, where he was a rival. Love is pretended, but mischief purposed. So dealt Herod, Domitian, Charles IX.

Let not mine hand be upon him.] Saul did not kill David, because he durst not for fear of the people; or, as Kimchi thinketh, lest he should afterwards have been brought into question for murder.


Verse 18

1 Samuel 18:18 And David said unto Saul, Who [am] I? and what [is] my life, [or] my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?

Ver. 18. And David said unto Saul, Who am I?] Time was, when Saul, being of a better spirit, could say as much as David here doth, viz., when he was first anointed by Samuel to be king. But now it was otherwise, Honores mutant mores. David here without dissimulation abaseth himself, as unfit for such a marriage. And what just cause had Saul to fear so modest and lowly minded a man?


Verse 19

1 Samuel 18:19 But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.

Ver. 19. At the time when Merab, &c.] This affront and disgrace was done to David purposely to provoke him (as is probable) to do or say something that might bring him under censure, and give Saul some colour to cut him off. But David was too hard for him that way too: leaving it to God to right his wrongs, as indeed he did notably when Merab’s five sons by this Adriel were all hanged. [2 Samuel 21:8]


Verse 20

1 Samuel 18:20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

Ver. 20. And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David.] Some Latin copies have it, And David loved Michal, Saul’s other daughter. Both may be true; there was mutual liking.


Verse 21

1 Samuel 18:21 And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in [the one of] the twain.

Ver. 21. Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law.] Here is a fair glove drawn upon a foul hand; there is a great deal of such colluding and colloguing in the world. "Be wise as serpents."

Sit licet in partes circumspectissimus omnes,

Nemo tamen vulpes, nemo cavere potest. ”


Verse 22

1 Samuel 18:22 And Saul commanded his servants, [saying], Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law.

Ver. 22. Commune with David secretly,] i.e., Tanquam ex vobis, ne intelligat consilium ex me profectum esse, (a) speak it as from yourselves, and not as set on by me.

Behold, the king hath delight in thee.] Thus they must sprinkle him with court holy water, as they say; Fair words make fools fain. But David had learned the rule, Mεμνησο απιστειν.


Verse 23

1 Samuel 18:23 And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you [a] light [thing] to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I [am] a poor man, and lightly esteemed?

Ver. 23. Seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed.] Poverty is vilified and slighted: Pauper ubique iacet. Arrian hath observed that in a tragedy there is no place for a poor man, but only to dance. (a)


Verse 24

1 Samuel 18:24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.

Ver. 24. On this manner.] Heb., According to these words; they truly related the substance of David’s answer to the motion; for he was generally well beloved, he was an Omnes omnia bona dicere.


Verse 25

1 Samuel 18:25 And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

Ver. 25. !!An hundred foreskins of the Philistines.] Not a hundred heads, as Josephus hath it, but foreskins; the more to enrage the Philistines against David: for besides the loss of so many men, they would take it for a foul disgrace and despite done to their whole nation: as also that this victory might be the more ignominious.


Verse 26

1 Samuel 18:26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law: and the days were not expired.

Ver. 26. It pleased David well.] Saul’s envy serveth but to enhance David’s zeal, and valour, and glory. Difficulty doth but whet on heroic spirits. When Alexander understood of any desperate adventure, he would rejoice and say, Iam periculum par animo Alexandri. Oh, this is brave! Conditionem implevit David, idque mature et ample.


Verse 27

1 Samuel 18:27 Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king’s son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

Ver. 27. Two hundred men.] He doubled the number of foreskins required: (1.) To cut off all cavils; (2.) To show to Saul his liberality and generosity. Strabo saith (a) that among the old Germans none might marry a wife, who had not first presented to their king the head of an enemy cut off. In the year 959 our King Edgar, to free his country from wolves, enjoined the prince of North Wales to bring him yearly three hundred skins of them for a tribute.


Verse 28

1 Samuel 18:28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD [was] with David, and [that] Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.

Ver. 28. And Saul saw and knew.] The greater was his sin in persecuting David, whom he knew God favoured; and that without remorse unto the death. Was not this the unpardonable sin?


Verse 29

1 Samuel 18:29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.

Ver. 29. And Saul was yet the more afraid.] As considering that this marriage with his daughter would be a fair step to the kingdom.


Verse 30

1 Samuel 18:30 Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, [that] David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.

Ver. 30. So that his name was much set by.] Heb., Was precious. Glory fled from Saul who followed it; but followed David who fled from it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-18.html. 1865-1868.

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