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Bible Commentaries

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

1 Samuel 20



1David consults with Jonathan for his safety.
11Jonathan and David renew their covenant by oath.
18Jonathan's token to David.
24Saul, missing David, seeks to kill Jonathan.
35Jonathan affectionately takes his leave of David.

Verse 1
And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?
19:19-24; 23:26-28; Psalms 124:6-8; 2 Peter 2:9
What have
12:3; 24:11,17; Psalms 7:3-5; 18:20-24; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 John 3:21

Verse 2
And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.
God forbid
14:45; Genesis 44:7; Joshua 22:29; 24:16; Luke 20:16
shew it me
Heb. uncover mine ear.
12; 9:15; *marg:; Psalms 40:6; Isaiah 50:5; John 15:15; 17:8

Verse 3
And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.
Deuteronomy 6:13; Jeremiah 4:2; Hebrews 6:16
but truly
25:26; 27:1; 2 Samuel 15:21; 2 Kings 2:2,4,6
as thy soul
1:26; 17:55; Jeremiah 38:16
but a step
27:1; Deuteronomy 28:66; Psalms 116:3; 1 Corinthians 15:30,31; 2 Corinthians 1:9,10

Verse 4
Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.
Whatsoever, etc
or, Say what is thy mind, and I will do, etc.
Heb. speaketh, or thinketh.

Verse 5
And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
the new moon
The months of the Hebrews were lunar months, and they reckoned from one new moon to another: and, as their feasts, particularly the passover, were reckoned according to this, they were very scrupulous in observing the first appearance of each new moon. On these new moons, they offered sacrifices, and feasted together: but the gathering together of all the families of a tribe on such occasions seems to have taken place only once in the year.
6; Numbers 10:10; 28:11; 2 Kings 4:23; Psalms 81:3; Colossians 2:16
that I may
19; 19:2; Psalms 55:12; Proverbs 22:3; John 8:59; Acts 17:14

Verse 6
If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.
17:58; John 7:42
or, feast.
9:12; 16:2-5

Verse 7
If he say thus, It is well; thy servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.
It is well
Deuteronomy 1:23; 2 Samuel 17:4
9; 25:17; Esther 7:7

Verse 8
Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?
deal kindly
Genesis 24:49; 47:29; Joshua 2:14; Ruth 1:8; Proverbs 3:3
thou hast
16; 18:3; 23:18
if there be
Joshua 22:22; 2 Samuel 14:32; Psalms 7:4,5; Acts 25:11
why shouldest
1 Chronicles 12:17; Psalms 116:11

Verse 9
And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?
then would
38,42; 19:2

Verse 10
Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?
answer thee
30-34; 25:10,14,17; Genesis 42:7,30; 1 Kings 12:13; Proverbs 18:23

Verse 12
And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;
O Lord
This verse is evidently deficient. The LXX. have [kyrios ho Theos Israel oiden] "The Lord God of Israel doth know;" the Syraic and Arabic, "The Lord God of Israel is witness;" either of which makes good sense. But two of Dr. Kennicott's MSS. supply the word chai, "liveth;" and the text reads thus: "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, when I have sounded my father,--if there be good unto David, and I then send not unto thee," etc.; which is a still better sense.
Joshua 22:22; Job 31:4; Psalms 17:3; 139:1-4
Heb. searched.
Proverbs 20:5; 25:2,3
shew it thee
Heb. uncover thine ear.

Verse 13
The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father.
The Lord do
3:17; 25:22; Ruth 1:17; 2 Samuel 3:35; 19:13; 1 Kings 19:2; 20:10
the Lord be
17:37; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 22:11,16; Matthew 28:20; Philippians 4:9
he hath been with my father
10:7; 11:6-13; 14:47; 2 Samuel 7:15

Verse 14
And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:
the kindness
2 Samuel 9:3; Ephesians 5:1,2

Verse 15
But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.
thou shalt
24:21; 2 Samuel 9:1-7; 21:7

Verse 16
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.
Heb. cut.
18:3; Genesis 15:18
Let the Lord
25:22; 31:2; 2 Samuel 4:7,8; 21:8

Verse 17
And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
because he loved him
or, by his love toward him. for he loved.
18:1,3; Deuteronomy 13:6; 2 Samuel 1:26; Proverbs 18:24

Verse 18
Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
new moon
and thou shalt
Among the forms of salutation and compliment used in Persia, one was, "according to my mode of notation in italics, Já i sháma khali bud pish yárán, signifying, Thy place or seat was empty among thy friends. This phrase, or the greater part of it, was frequently addressed to myself when coming into a circle of Persian acquaintances, after an absence of several days or weeks. It reminded me of a passage in the First book of Samuel, (ch. 20:18.) And thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty. And again, David's place was empty." Sir W. Ouseley's Travels, vol i. preface, p.16.
Heb. missed.

Verse 19
And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.
or, diligently. Heb. greatly. hide thyself.
5; 19:2
when the business
Heb. in the day of the business. Ezel. or, that sheweth the way.

Verse 21
And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the LORD liveth.
Heb. not any thing. as the.
Jeremiah 4:2; 5:2; 12:16; Amos 8:14

Verse 23
And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between thee and me for ever.
the matter
the Lord
42; Genesis 16:5; 31:50

Verse 24
So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat.
the king
Psalms 50:16-21; Proverbs 4:17; 15:17; 17:1; 21:3,27; Isaiah 1:11-15; Zechariah 7:6; John 18:28

Verse 25
And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.
as at other times
Judges 16:20

Verse 26
Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.
he is not clean
Leviticus 7:21; 11:24,27,31,40; 15:5,16,17,19-21; Numbers 19:16

Verse 27
And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?
18:11; 19:9,10,15
the son
22:7-9,13,14; 25:10; Isaiah 11:1,2; Matthew 13:55; 1 Peter 2:4

Verse 28

1Samuel href="/desk/?q=1sa+20:6&sr=1">1 Samuel 20:6

Verse 29
And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king's table.
my brother

Verse 30
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?
Job 5:2; Proverbs 14:29; 19:12,19; 21:24; 25:28; 27:3; James 1:19,20
Thou, etc
or, Thou perverse rebel. Heb. Son of perverse rebellion.
Proverbs 15:2; 21:24; Matthew 5:22; Ephesians 4:31; 6:4
and unto the
This reflection on the mother of Jonathan, by the passionate monarch, reflects more dishonour on himself than on his brave and noble minded son. Mungo Park gives an instance of the prevalence of the same principles in Africa; for he says, "Maternal affection is every where conspicuous among the Africans, and creates a correspondent return of tenderness in the child. 'Strike me,' said my attendant, 'but do not curse my mother.' I found the same sentiment to prevail universally in all parts of Africa." King Saul, unable to villify Jonathan to his own satisfaction by personal reproaches, outstepped the ordinary abuse of his day, and proceeded to that which was designed to produce unusual vexation, and vented the bitterness of his mind by maligning the character of his own wife and Jonathan's mother.

Verse 31
For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.
8; 19:6,11-15
shall surely die
Heb. is the son of death.
26:16; 2 Samuel 19:28; Psalms 79:11; *marg:

Verse 32
And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?
19:5; Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9; John 7:51
what hath
Matthew 27:23; Luke 23:22
18:11; 19:10,11; Proverbs 22:24; Ecclesiastes 9:3; Jeremiah 17:9
7; Ecclesiastes 7:9

Verse 34
So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.
in fierce
Ecclesiastes 7:20; Ephesians 4:26
he was grieved
Mark 3:5

Verse 35
And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.
at the time
19; 2 Samuel 20:5

Verse 36
And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.
beyond him
Heb. to pass over him.

Verse 38
And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.
Psalms 55:6-9; Proverbs 6:4,5; Matthew 24:16-18; Mark 13:14-16; Luke 17:31,32

Verse 40
And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.
Heb. instruments. Rather weapons, as the word kelim also denotes; and here means the bow, quiver, and arrows. This is probably the only place in our language in which the word artillery is not applied to cannon or ordinance, but simply to weapons of war.
his lad
Heb. the lad that was his.

Verse 41
And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
and fell
25:23; Genesis 43:28; 2 Samuel 9:6
and they kissed
10:1; Genesis 29:11,13; 45:15; 2 Samuel 19:39; Acts 20:37
David exceeded
18:3; 2 Samuel 1:26

Verse 42
And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.
Go in peace
22; 1:17; Numbers 6:26; Luke 7:50; Acts 16:36
forasmuch as
or, the Lord be witness of that which, etc.
And he arose
23:18; The separation of two such faithful friends was equally grievous to them both, but David's case was the more deplorable: for when Jonathan was returning to his family and friends, David was leaving all his comforts, even those of God's sanctuary, and therefore his grief exceeded Jonathan's; or, perhaps it was because his temper was more tender and his passions stronger. They referred each other to the covenant of friendship that was between them, both of them being comforted thereby in this very mournful separation:--"We have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, for ourselves and our heirs, that we and they will be faithful and kind to each other from generation to generation."


Copyright Statement
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Bibliography Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 20:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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