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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 26

 

 

Verses 1-25

1 Samuel 26. David Spares Saul in the Wilderness of Ziph (J).—From one of the oldest sources (cf. on ch. 24).

1 Samuel 26:1 to 1 Samuel 12:1 f. repeats briefly the substance and part of the wording of 1 Samuel 23:19-25 : David is in the wilderness of Ziph, and Saul pursues him. But instead of the sequel given in 1 Samuel 23, we have another version of the story in 1 Samuel 24 of David's generous treatment of Saul.

David learns that Saul is again pursuing him and is in his immediate neighbourhood: "of a certainty" is clearly wrong, and RVm, "to a set place," is not much more likely. There may be a scribal error, and the name of a place may have stood here originally.

David went to see for himself, and found Saul and his followers in a camp protected by a circle of baggage-wagons—a "laager." He returned to his own men to find someone to accompany him in an expedition into Saul's camp; he offered the opportunity to Ahimelech the Hittite (cf. Genesis 15:20), and to Abishai, one of the Bene Zeruiah: Abishai volunteered to go. They reached the camp and found Saul and all his people asleep. Abishai proposed to slay the king, but David refused, and they went away, taking with them the spear and pitcher of water which had been beside the sleeping king; the spear stuck in the ground, probably as a sign of the royal authority. Meanwhile nobody had wakened, because Yahweh had cast them into a supernatural trance, such as He had caused to fall upon Adam (Genesis 2:21) while He was constructing Eve out of one of his ribs.

1 Samuel 26:13-20. David, having got far enough off, mounted an eminence and shouted, calling on Abner by name. When he replied, David taunted him with his lax guard of his master. When Saul intervened, David protested against Saul's persecution. David spoke, of course, according to the primitive religious ideas of the time and place. They may seem strange to us, but they were perfectly natural to the speaker and his hearers. What could have led an honourable man like Saul to be guilty of this cruel injustice? Perhaps it was the evil spirit from Yahweh; His dealings were often arbitrary and unaccountable, "His ways past finding out"; no one knew what might please or displease Him. Possibly He had taken offence at something that David had done quite innocently. But, if so, He could be conciliated by an offering, and then He would set Saul free from the delusion under which He had caused him to labour. But possibly the king had been misled by mere human slanderers; if so, may He curse them, for they had deprived David of his God, and Yahweh of a faithful and important servant. How could one worship Him, away from His own land? [—any more than one could attend Protestant services in a country where there were only Romanist churches] Let Yahweh see to it. David had been careful to imply that no blame could rest on the king, but Saul acknowledges that he has been in the wrong. David returns the spear, and they separate.

1 Samuel 26:6. Zeruiah: Abishai, Asahel, and Joab are called "sons of Zeruiah." According to 1 Chronicles 2:16, Zeruiah was the sister of David. The mother's name may be given instead of the father's because of her relationship to David, or because the father was a foreigner and did not count (ICC). The relationship to David would explain the distinguished part played by this family during his reign. On the other hand it is curious that the relationship is never referred to except in Ch., which is often of very slight authority.

1 Samuel 26:19 f. Cf. 2 Kings 5:17, where Naaman needs two mules' burden of earth from the land of Yahweh, apparently in order that he may build an altar to Yahweh; so here, to die outside the territory of Israel is to die "away from the presence of Yahweh."

1 Samuel 26:20. flea: a mistaken correction from 1 Samuel 24:14; read, "my life" (so LXX).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-samuel-26.html. 1919.

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