NOTES ON The First Book of SAMUEL

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI

This book and the following bear the name of Samuel, (tho' he wrote only part of the former, and some other of the prophets, perhaps Nathan, the rest) because they contain first a large account of Samuel, and then the history of the reigns of Saul and David, who were both anointed by him.

Chapter I

The affliction of Hannah, ver. 1 - 8. Her prayer to God, with Eli's blessing, ver. 9 - 18. The birth and nursing of Samuel, ver. 19 - 23. The presenting of him to God, ver. 24 - 28.

1 Ramathaim - zophim - Called Ramah, ver.19. Eparathite - That is, one of Bethlehem - judah, by his birth and habitation, though by his original a Levite.
2 Two wives - As many had in those ages, tho' it was a transgression of the original institution of marriage. And it is probable that he took his second wife, namely, Peninnah, because Hannah was barren.
3 Yearly - At the three solemn feasts, when he, together with all other males were obliged to go to worship God in the place appointed; and at other times, when he as a Levite, was to go thither in his course. To sacrifice - Not in his own person, which the Levites could not do, but by the priests. Were there - Or, were the priests of the Lord there, under their father Eli, who is generally conceived to have been the high - priest, but being very old and infirm, his sons ministered in his stead. This is the first time in scripture, that God is called the Lord of hosts or Armies. Probably Samuel was the first who used this title of God, for the comfort of Israel, at the time when their armies were few and feeble, and those of their enemies many and mighty.
4 Portions - Out of the sacrifice of his peace - offerings, the greatest part whereof fell to the offerer, and was eaten by him, and his friends or guests, before the Lord. And out of this he gave them all portions, as the master of the feast used to do to the guests.
5 Shut up her womb - Yet Elkanah did not withdraw his love from her. To abate out just love to any relation, for the sake of any infirmity which they cannot help, is to add affliction to the afflicted.
6 Her adversary - Peninnah: so her envy or jealousy made her though so nearly related.
7 When she went - This circumstance is noted as the occasion of the contention, because at such times they were forced to more society with one another, by the way, and in their lodgings; whereas at home they had distinct apartments, where they might be asunder; and then her husband's extraordinary love and kindness was shewed to Hannah, whereby Peninnah was the more exasperated; then also Hannah prayed earnestly for a child, which hitherto she had done in vain; and this possibly she reproached her with. Did not eat - Being overwhelmed with grief, and therefore unfit to eat of the sacred food. Which they were not to eat in their mourning.
8 Ten sons - Oughtest thou not to value my hearty love to thee, more than the having of as many sons as Penninah hath? She would willingly change conditions with thee.
9 A seat - Or, throne; for it is manifest it was raised higher than ordinary, chap.4:18. Here he might sit, either as the judge; or rather as high - priest, to hear and answer such as came to him for advice, and to inspect and direct the worship of God. Temple - That is, of the tabernacle, which is frequently so called.
10 Bitterness - That is, oppressed with grief. Prayed unto the Lord - They had newly offered their peace - offerings, to obtain the favour of God, and in token of their communion with him, they had feasted upon the sacrifice: and now it was proper to put up her prayer, in virtue of the sacrifice. For the peace - offerings typified Christ's mediation, as well as the sin - offerings: since by this not only atonement is made for sin, but an answer to our prayers obtained.
11 Give him - That is, consecrate him to God's service in his temple. No razor - That is, he shall be a perpetual Nazarite.
12 Continued - Heb. multiplied to pray. By which it appears that she said much more than is here expressed. And the like you are to judge of the prayers and sermons of other holy persons recorded in scripture, which gives us only the sum and substance of them. This consideration may help us much to understand some passages of the bible.
13 Drunken - Because of the multitude of her words, and those motions of her face and body, which the vehemency of her passion, and the fervency in prayer occasioned.
16 Count not, &c. - Thus when we are unjustly censured, we should endeavour not only to clear ourselves, but to satisfy our brethren, by giving them a just and true account of that which they misapprehended.
18 Find grace - That favourable opinion and gracious prayer which thou hast expressed on my behalf, be pleased to continue towards me. Sad - Her heart being cheared by the priest's comfortable words, and especially by God's spirit setting them home upon her, and assuring her that both his and her prayers should be heard, it quickly appeared in her countenance.
19 Remembered - Manifested his remembrance of her by the effect.
20 Samuel - That is, Asked of God.
21 His house - Hannah only and her child excepted. His vow - By which it appears, though it was not expressed before, that he heard and consented to her vow, and that he added a vow of his own, if God answered his prayers.
22 Weaned - Not only from the breast, but also from the mother's knee and care, and from childish food; 'till the child be something grown up, and fit to do some service in the tabernacle: for it seems that as soon as he was brought up he worshipped God, ver.28, and presently after ministered to Eli, chap.2:11.
23 His word - His matter or thing; the business concerning the child, what thou hast vowed concerning him, that be may grow up, and be accepted and employed by God in his Service.
24 Three bullocks - One for a burnt - offering, the second for a sin - offering, and the third for a peace offering; all these sorts being expedient for this work and time. Flour - For the meal - offerings belonging to the principal sacrifices, which to each bullock were three tenth - deals, or three tenth parts of an ephah, and so nine parts of the ephah were spent, and the tenth part was given to the priest. Wine - For drink - offerings.
25 A bullock - The three bullocks mentioned ver.24, the singular number being put for the plural, which is frequent.
26 Soul liveth - As surely as thou livest. Which asseveration seems necessary, because this was some years after it.
28 Lent him - But not with a purpose to require him again. Whatever we give to God, may upon this account be said to be lent to him, that tho' we may not recall it, yet he will certainly repay it, to our unspeakable advantage. He worshipped - Not Eli, but young Samuel, who is spoken of in this and the foregoing verse, and who was capable of worshipping God in some sort, at least with external adoration.

Chapter II

Hannah's song of thanksgiving, ver. 1 - 10. Elkanah leaves Samuel to minister before the Lord, ver. 11. The wickedness of Eli's sons, ver. 12 - 17. A farther account of Samuel and his parents, ver. 18 - 21. Eli's too mild reproof of his sons, ver. 22 - 25. Samuel's growth, ver. 26. God's dreadful message to Eli, ver. 27 - 36.

1 Prayed - That is, praised God; which is a part of prayer. Rejoiceth - Or, leapeth for joy: for the words note not only inward joy, but also the outward demonstrations of it. In the Lord - As the author of my joy, that he hath heard my prayer, and accepted my son for his service. Horn - My strength and glory (which are often signified by an horn,) are advanced and manifested to my vindication, and the confusion of mine enemies. Mouth enlarged - That is, opened wide to pour forth abundant praises to God, and to give a full answer to all the reproaches of mine adversaries. Enemies - So she manifests her prudence and modesty, in not naming Peninnah, but only her enemies in the general. Salvation - Because the matter of my joy is no trivial thing, but that strange and glorious salvation or deliverance which thou hast given me from my oppressing care and grief, and from the insolencies and reproaches of mine enemies.
2 None holy - None so perfectly, unchangeably and constantly holy. None beside - Not only none is so holy as thou art, but in truth there is none holy besides thee; namely, entirely, or independently, but only by participation from thee. Any rock - Thou only art a sure defence and refuge to all that flee to thee.
3 Talk no more - Thou Peninnah, boast no more of thy numerous off - spring, and speak no more insolently and scornfully of me. She speaks of her in the plural number, because she would not expose her name to censure. Of knowledge - He knoweth thy heart, and all that pride, and envy, and contempt of me, which thy own conscience knows; and all thy perverse carriage towards me. Actions - That is, he trieth all mens thoughts and actions, (for the Hebrew word signifies both) as a just judge, to give to every one according to their works.
4 Bows - The strength of which they boasted. Stumbled - Or, were weak, or feeble, in body and spirit.
5 Hired themselves out for bread - It is the same thing which is expressed both in divers metaphors in the foregoing, and following verses. Ceased - That is, ceased to be hungry. Seven - That is, many, as seven is often used. She speaks in the prophetick style, the past time, for the future; for though she had actually born but one, yet she had a confident persuasion that she should have more, which was grounded either upon some particular assurance from God; or rather upon the prayer or prediction of Eli. She - That is, Peninnah. Feeble - Either because she was now past child - bearing: or, because divers of her children, which were her strength and her glory, were dead, as the Hebrew doctors relate.
6 Killeth - The same person whom he first killeth, or bringeth nigh unto death, he afterwards raiseth to life. Me, who was almost consumed with grief, he hath revived. The name of death both in sacred scripture, and profane writers, is often given to great Calamities.
8 From the dunghill - From the most sordid place, and mean estate. Inherit - Not only possess it themselves, but transmit it to their posterity. Throne - That is, a glorious throne or kingdom. Pillars - The foundations of the earth, which God created, and upholds, and wherewith he sustains the earth, and all its inhabitants, as a house is supported with pillars; and therefore it is not strange if he disposeth of persons and things therein as he pleaseth.
9 Feet - That is, the steps or paths, their counsels and actions; he will keep; that is, both uphold, that they may not fall into ruin; and direct and preserve from wandering, and from those fatal errors that wicked men daily run into. Silent - Shall be put to silence: they who used to open their mouths wide against heaven, and against the saints, shall be so confounded with the unexpected disappointment of all their hopes, and with God's glorious appearance and operations for his people, that they shall have their mouths quite stopped. Darkness - Both inward, in their own minds, not knowing what to say or do; and outward, in a stat e of deep distress. Prevail - Namely, against God, or against his saints, as the wicked were confident they should do, because of their great power, and wealth, and numbers.
10 Exalt - Increase, or advance the strength. Of his anointed - Of his king. This may respect Christ, the singular anointed one of God, and the special king of his people. In this sense also, the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth: David's victories and dominions reached far. But God will give to the Son of David, the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. And he will give strength unto his king, for the accomplishing his great undertaking, and exalt the horn, of the power and honour of his anointed, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet.
11 Minster - In some way agreeable to his tender years, as in singing, or playing upon instruments of musick, or lighting the lamps. Before Eli the priest - That is, under the inspection, and by the direction of Eli.
12 Knew not - They did not honour, love, or serve God.
13 Boiling - As the Lord's part of the peace - offerings was burnt upon the altar, so the priest's and offerer's parts were to be boiled.
14 Took - Not contented with the breast and shoulder which were allotted them by God, they took also part of the offerer's share; besides which they snatched their part before it was heaved and waved; contrary to Levit 7:34.
15 The fat - And the other parts to be burnt with it. So this was all additional injury; for they took such parts as they best liked whilst it was raw.
17 Abhorred - But we know the validity and efficacy of the sacraments does not depend on the goodness of those that administer them. It was therefore folly and sin in the people, to think the worse of God's institutions. But it was the much greater sin of the priests, that gave them occasion so to do.
18 Ministered - That is, performed his ministration carefully and faithfully. Before the Lord - In God's tabernacle. Ephod - A garment used in God's service, and allowed not only to the inferior priests and Levites but also to eminent persons of the people, and therefore to Samuel, who, though no Levite, was a Nazarite, from his birth.
21 Grew - Not only in age and stature; but especially in wisdom and goodness. Before the Lord - Not only before men, who might he deceived, but in the presence and judgment of the all - seeing God.
22 Very old - And therefore unfit either to manage his office himself, or to make a diligent inspection into the carriage of his sons, which gave them opportunity for their wickedness. To Israel - Whom they injured in their offerings, and alienated from the service of God. The door - The place where all the people both men and women waited when they came up to the service of God, because the altar on which their sacrifices was offered, was by the door.
23 He said, &c. - Eli's sin was not only that he reproved them too gently, but that he contented himself with a verbal rebuke, and did not restrain them, and inflict those punishments upon them which such high crimes deserved by God's law, and which he as judge and high - priest ought to have done, without respect of persons.
25 The judge - If only man be wronged, man can right it, and reconcile the persons. Against the Lord - As you have done wilfully and presumptuously. Who shall, &c. - The offence is of so high a nature, that few or none will dare to intercede for him, but will leave him to the just judgment of God. The words may be rendered, Who shall judge for him? Who shall interpose as umpire, between God and him? Who shall compound that difference? None can or dare do it, and therefore he must be left to the dreadful, but righteous judgment of God. They had now sinned away their day of grace. They had long hardened their hearts. And God at length gave them up to a reprobate mind, and determined to destroy them, 2Chron 25:16.
27 Man of God - That is, a prophet sent from God.
29 Kick ye - Using them irreverently, and profanely; both by abusing them to your own luxury, and by causing the people to abhor them. He chargeth Eli with his sons faults. Honourest thy sons - Permitting them to dishonour and injure me, by taking my part to themselves; chusing rather to offend me by thy connivance at their sin, than to displease them by severe rebukes, and just punishments. Fat - To pamper yourselves. This you did not out of necessity, but out of mere luxury. Chiefest - Not contented with those parts which I had allotted you, you invaded those choice parts which I reserved for myself.
30 I said - Where, or when did God say this? To Eli himself, or to his father, when the priesthood was translated from Eleazar's to Ithamar's family. Walk - That is, minister unto me as high - priest. Walking is often put for discharging ones office; before me; may signify that he was the high - priest, whose sole prerogative it was to minister before God, or before the ark, in the most holy place. For ever - As long as the Mosaical law and worship lasts. Far from me - To fulfil my promise, which I hereby retract.
31 Arm - That is, I will take away thy strength, or all that in which thou placest thy confidence, either,
  1. the ark, which is called God's strength, Psal 78:61, and was Eli's strength, who therefore was not able to bear the very tidings of the loss of it. Or,
  2. his priestly dignity or employment, whence he had all his honour and substance. Or rather,
  3. his children, to whom the words following here, and in the succeeding verses, seem to confine it. Father's house - That is, thy children's children, and all thy family which was in great measure accomplished, 1Sam 22:16, &c.
32 Shalt see, &c - The words may be rendered; thou shalt see, in thy own person, the affliction, or calamity of my habitation; that is, either of the land of Israel, wherein I dwell; or of the sanctuary, called the habitation by way of eminency, whose greatest glory the ark was, 1Sam 4:21,22, and consequently, whose greatest calamity the loss of the ark was; for, or instead of all that good wherewith God would have blessed Israel, having raised up a young prophet Samuel, and thereby given good grounds of hope that he intended to bless Israel, if thou and thy sons had not hindered it by your sins. So this clause of the threatning concerns Eli's person, as the following concerns his posterity. And this best agrees with the most proper signification of that phrase, Thou shalt see.
33 Of thine - That is, of thy posterity. Shalt grieve - Shall be so forlorn and miserable, that if thou wast alive to see it, it would grieve thee at the heart, and thou wouldst consume thine eyes with weeping for their calamities. Increase - That is, thy children. Flower - About the thirtieth year of their age, when they were to be admitted to the full administration of their office.
35 Raise a priest - Of another line, as it necessarily implied by the total removal of that office from Eli's line. The person designed is Zadok, one eminent for his faithfulness to God, and to the king, who, when Abiather, the last of Eli's line, was deposed by Solomon, was made high - priest in his stead. Build, &c - That is, give him a numerous posterity, and confirm that sure covenant of an everlasting priesthood made to Phinehas, of Eleazar's line, Numb 25:13, and interrupted for a little while by Eli, of the line of Ithamar, unto him and his children for ever. Anointed - Before Jesus Christ, who is the main scope and design, not only of the New, but of the Old Testament, which in all its types and ceremonies represented him; and particularly, the high - priest was an eminent type of Christ, and represented his person, and acted in his name and stead, and did mediately, what John Baptist did immediately, go before the face of the Lord Christ; and when Christ came, that office and officer was to cease. The high - priest is seldom or never said to walk or minister before the kings of Israel or Judah, but constantly before the Lord, and consequently, before Christ, who, as he was God blessed for ever, Rom 9:5, was present with, and the builder and governor of the ancient church of Israel, and therefore the high - priest is most properly said to walk before him.

Chapter III

God's first manifestation of himself to Samuel, ver. 1 - 10. God's message to Eli, ver. 11 - 14. His faithful delivery of that message, and Eli's submission to God, ver. 15 - 18. The establishment of Samuel to be a prophet, ver. 19 - 21

1 Before Eli - That is, under his inspection and direction. Word - The word of prophecy, or the revelation of God's will to and by the prophets. Precious - Rare or scarce, such things being most precious in mens' esteem, whereas common things are generally despised. Open vision - God did not impart his Mind by way of vision or revelation openly, or to any public person, to whom others might resort for satisfaction, though he might privately reveal himself to some pious persons for their particular direction. This is premised, as a reason why Samuel understood not, when God called him once or twice.
2 His place - In the court of the tabernacle.
3 Went out - Before the lights of the golden candlestick were put out in the morning.
7 Did not know - He was not acquainted with God in that extraordinary or prophetical way. And this ignorance of Samuel's served God's design, that his simplicity might give Eli the better assurance of the truth of God's call, and message to Samuel.
10 Came and stood - Before, he spake to him at a distance, even from the holy oracle between the cherubim: but now, to prevent all farther mistake, the voice came near to him, as if the person speaking had been standing near him.
12 In that day - In that time which I have appointed for this work, which was about twenty or thirty years after this threatning. So long space of repentance God allows to this wicked generation. When I begin, &c. - Tho' this vengeance shall be delayed for a season, to manifest my patience, and incite them to repentance; yet when once I begin to inflict, I shall not desist 'till I have made a full end.
13 Restrained them not - He contented himself with a cold reproof, and did not punish, and effectually restrain them. They who can, and do not restrain others from sin, make themselves partakers of the guilt. Those in authority will have a great deal to answer for, if the sword they bear be not a terror to evil - doers.
14 Have sworn - Or, I do swear: the past tense being commonly put for the present in the Hebrew tongue. Unto - Or, concerning it. Purged - That is, the punishment threatened against Eli and his family, shall not he prevented by all their sacrifices, but shall infallibly be executed.
15 Doors - Altho' the tabernacle, whilst it was to be removed from place to place in the wilderness, had no doors, but consisted only of curtains, and had hangings before the entrance, instead of doors; yet when it was settled in one place, as now it was in Shiloh, it was enclosed within some solid building, which had doors and posts, and other parts belonging to it. Feared - The matter of the vision or revelation, partly from the reverence he bore to his person, to whom he was loth to be a messenger of such sad tidings; partly, lest if he had been hasty to utter it, Eli might think him guilty of arrogancy or secret complacency in his calamity.
17 God do so, &c. - God inflict the same evils upon thee, which I suspect he hath pronounced against me, and greater evils too.
18 It is the Lord - This severe sentence is from the sovereign Lord of the world, who hath an absolute right to dispose of me and all his creatures; who is in a special manner the ruler of the people of Israel, to whom it properly belongs to punish all mine offences; whose chastisement I therefore accept.
19 Fail, &c. - That is, want its effect: God made good all his predictions. A metaphor from precious liquors, which when they are spilt upon the ground, are altogether useless.
20 From Dan, &c. - Thro' the whole Land, from the northern bound Dan, to the southern, Beersheba; which was the whole length of the Land.

Chapter IV

Israel smitten by the Philistines, ver. 1, 2. They bring the ark into the camp, which affrights the Philistines, ver. 3 - 9. Israel beaten and the ark taken, ver. 10, 11. The news brought to Shiloh and the death of Eli, ver. 12 - 18. The travail and death of his daughter - in - law, 19 - 22.

1 The word - That is, the word of the Lord revealed to Samuel, and by him to the people. A word of command, that all Israel should go forth to fight with the Philistines, as the following words explain it, that they might he first humbled and punished for their sins, and so prepared for deliverance. Went out - To meet the Philistines, who having by this time recruited themselves after their loss by Samson, and perceiving an eminent prophet arising among them, by whom they were likely to be united, and assisted, thought fit to suppress them in the beginning of their hopes.
3 Wherefore, &c. - This was strange blindness, that when there was so great a corruption in their worship and manners, they could not see sufficient reason why God should suffer them to fall by their enemies. The ark - That great pledge of God's presence and help, by whose conduct our ancestors obtained success. Instead of humbling themselves for, and purging themselves from their sins, for which God was displeased with them, they take an easier and cheaper course, and put their trust in their ceremonial observances, not doubting but the very presence of the ark would give them the victory.
4 Bring the ark - This they should not have done without asking counsel of God.
5 Shouted - From their great joy and confidence of success. So formal Christians triumph in external privileges and performances: as if the ark in the camp would bring them to heaven, tho' the world and the flesh reign in the heart.
7 Heretofore - Not in our times; for the fore - mentioned removals of the ark were before it came to Shiloh.
8 Wo, &c. - They secretly confess the Lord to be greater than their gods, and yet presume to oppose him. Wilderness - They mention the wilderness, not as if all the plagues of the Egyptians came upon them in the wilderness, but because the last and sorest of all, which is therefore put for all, the destruction of Pharaoh and all his host, happened in the wilderness, namely, in the Red - sea, which having the wilderness on both sides of it, may well be said to be in the wilderness. Altho' it is not strange if these Heathens did mistake some circumstance in relation of the Israelitish affairs, especially some hundreds of years after they were done.
10 Tent - To his habitation, called by the ancient name of his tent. There fell - Before, they lost but four thousand, now in the presence of the ark, thirty thousand, to teach them that the ark and ordinances of God, were never designed as a refuge to impenitent sinners, but only for the comfort of those that repent.
11 The ark - Which God justly and wisely permitted, to punish the Israelites for their profanation of it; that by taking away the pretences of their foolish confidence, he might more deeply humble them, and bring them to true - repentance: and that the Philistines might by this means he more effectually convinced of God's almighty power, and of their own, and the impotency of their gods, and so a stop put to their triumphs and rage against the poor Israelites. Thus as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it. If Eli had done his duty, and put them from the priesthood, they might have lived, tho' in disgrace. But now God takes the work into his own hands, and chases them out of the world by the sword of the Philistines.
13 The ark - Whereby he discovered a public and generous spirit, and a fervent zeal for God, and for his honour, which he preferred before all his natural affections, not regarding his own children in comparison of the ark, tho' otherwise he was a most indulgent father. And well they might, for beside that this was a calamity to all Israel, it was a particular loss to Shiloh; for the ark never returned thither. Their candlestick was removed out of its place, and the city sunk and came to nothing.
18 He fell - Being so oppressed with grief and astonishment, that he had no strength left to support him. The gate - The gate of the city, which was most convenient for the speedy understanding of all occurrences. Old - Old, and therefore weak and apt to fall; heavy, and therefore his fall more dangerous. So fell the high - priest and judge of Israel! So fell his heavy head, when he had lived within two of an hundred years! So fell the crown from his head, when he had judged Israel forty years: thus did his sun set under a cloud. Thus was the wickedness of those sons of his, whom he had indulged, his ruin. Thus does God sometimes set marks of his displeasure on good men, that others may hear and fear. Yet we must observe, it was the loss of the ark that was his death, and not the slaughter of his sons. He says in effect, Let me fall with the ark! Who can live, when the ordinances of God are removed? Farewell all in this world, even Life itself, if the ark be gone!
20 Fear not - Indeed the sorrows of her travail would have been forgotten, for joy that a child was born into the world. But what is that joy to one that feels herself dying? None but spiritual joy will stand us in stead then. Death admits not the relish of any earthly joy: it is then all flat and tasteless. What is it to one that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What can give us pleasure, if we want God's word and ordinances? Especially if we want the comfort of his gracious presence, and the light of his countenance?
21 I - chabod - Where is the glory? The glory - That is, the glorious type and assurance of God's presence, the ark, which is often called God's glory, and which wast the great safeguard and ornament of Israel, which they could glory in above all other nations.
22 The ark - This is repeated to shew, her piety, and that the public loss lay heavier upon her spirit, than her personal or domestic calamity.

Chapter V

The Philistines carry the ark into the temple of Dagon, ver. 1, 2. Dagon is overthrown, ver. 3 - 5. The men of Ashdod and Gath plagued, ver. 6 - 9. The Philistines determine to send it back, ver. 10 - 12.

2 By Dagon - By way of reproach, as a spoil and trophy set there to the honour of Dagon, to whom doubtless they ascribed this victory.
3 They - The priests of Dagon. Set him - Supposing his fall was casual.
4 Cut off - The head is the seat of wisdom; the hands the instruments of action: both are cut off to shew that he had neither wisdom nor strength to defend himself or his worshippers. Thus the priests by concealing Dagon's shame before, make it more evident and infamous. The stump - Heb. only dagon, that is, that part of it from which it was called Dagon, namely the fishy part, for Dag in Hebrew signifies a fish. It - Upon the threshold; there the trunk abode in the place where it fell, but the head and hands were slung to distant places.
5 This day - When this history was written, which if written by Samuel towards the end of his life, was a sufficient ground for this expression.
6 Emerods - The piles.
8 To Gath - Supposing that this plague was confined to Ashdod for some particular reasons, or that it came upon them by chance, or for putting it into Dagon's temple, which they resolved they would not do.
9 Hidden parts - In the inwards of their hinder parts: which is the worst kind of emerods, as all physicians acknowledge, both because its pains are far more sharp than the other; and because the malady is more out of the reach of remedies.
11 The city - In every city, where the ark of God came.

Chapter VI

The Philistines send the ark back, ver. 1 - 12. The Israelites receive it, ver. 13 - 18. The people of Beth - shemesh, smitten for looking into the ark, desire those of Kirjath - jearim to fetch it, ver. 19 - 21.

1 Seven months - So long they kept it, as loath to lose so great a prize, and willing to try all ways to keep it.
3 It shall be known - You shall understand, what is hitherto doubtful, whether he was the author of these calamities, and why they continued so long upon you.
4 Emerods - Figures representing the disease. These they offered not in contempt of God, for they fought to gain his favour hereby; but in testimony of their humiliation, that by leaving this monument of their own shame and misery, they might obtain pity from God. Mice - Which marred their land by destroying the fruits thereof; as the other plague afflicted their Bodies.
5 Give glory - The glory of his power in conquering you, who seemed to have conquered him; of his justice in punishing you, and of his goodness if he relieve you.
6 Wherefore, &c. - They express themselves thus, either because some opposed the sending home the ark, though most had consented to it; or because they thought they would hardly send it away in the manner prescribed, by giving glory to God, and taking shame to themselves.
7 Milch kine, &c. - In respect to the ark; and for the better discovery, because such untamed heifers are apt to wander, and keep no certain and constant paths, as oxen accustomed to the yoke do, and therefore were most unlikely to keep the direct road to Israel's land. From them - Which would stir up natural affection in their dams, and cause them rather to return home, than to go to a strange country.
9 His own coast - Or Border, that is, the way that leadeth to his coast, or border, namely, the country to which it belongs. Then he, &c. - Which they might well conclude, if such heifers should against their common use, and natural instinct, go into a strange path, and regularly and constantly proceed in it, without any man's conduct.
12 Beth - shemesh - A city of the priests, who were by office to take care of it. Loving - Testifying at once both their natural and vehement inclination to their calves, and the supernatural power which over - ruled them to a contrary course. The lords went - To prevent all imposture, and to get assurance of the truth of the event. All which circumstances tended to the greater illustration of God's glory.
14 They - Not the lords of the Philistines, but the Beth - shemites, the priest that dwelt there. Offered the kine - There may seem to he a double error in this act.

First, that they offered females for a burnt - offering, contrary to

Levit 1:3.

Secondly, that they did it in a forbidden place, Deut 12:5,6. But this case being extraordinary, may in some sort excuse it, if they did not proceed by ordinary rules.

18 Villages - This is added for explication of that foregoing phrase, all the cities; either to shew, that under the name of the five cities were comprehended all the villages and territories belonging to them, in whose name, and at whose charge these presents were made; or to express the difference between this and the former present, the emerods being only five, according to the five cities mentioned, ver.17, because it may seem, the cities only, or principally, were pestered with that disease; and the mice being many more according to the number of all the cities, as is here expressed: the word city being taken generally so, as to include not only fenced cities, but also the country villages, and the fields belonging to them. Abel - This is mentioned as the utmost border of the Philistines territory, to which the plague of mice extended. And this place is here called Abel, by anticipation from the great mourning mentioned in the following verse. It is desirable, to see the ark in its habitation, in all the circumstances of solemnity. But it is better to have it on a great stone, and in the fields of the wood, than to be without it. The intrinsic grandeur of divine ordinances ought not to be diminished in our eyes, by the meanness and poverty of the place, where they are administered.
19 Had looked - Having now an opportunity which they never yet had, it is not strange they had a vehement curiosity to see the contents of the ark. Of the people - In and near Beth - shemesh and coming from all parts on this occasion.
20 Who is able, &c. - That is, to minister before the ark where the Lord is present. Since God is so severe to mark what is amiss in his servants, who is sufficient to serve him? It seems to be a complaint, or expostulation with God, concerning this great instance of his severity. And to whom, &c. - Who will dare to receive the ark with so much hazard to themselves. Thus when the word of God works with terror on men's consciences, instead of taking the blame to themselves, they frequently quarrel with the word, and endeavour to put it from them.
21 Kirjath - jearim - Whither they sent, either because the place was not far off from them, and so it might soon be removed: or because it was a place of eminency and strength, and somewhat farther distant from the Philistines, where therefore it was likely to be better preserved from any new attempts of the Philistines, and to be better attended by the Israelites, who would more freely and frequently come to it at such a place, than in Beth - shemesh, which was upon the border of their enemies land.

Chapter VII

The ark remains at Kirjath - jearim twenty years, ver. 1, 2. Samuel reforms Israel from idolatry, and judges Israel, ver. 3 - 6. The Philistines come up against Israel, are overthrown, and restore the cities they had taken, ver. 7 - 14. Samuel administers justice thro' all the land, ver. 15 - 17.

1 Fetch up - That is, by the priests appointed to that work. Hill - This place they chose, both because it was a strong place, where it would be the most safe; and an high place, and therefore visible at some distance, which was convenient for them, who were at that time to direct their prayers and faces towards the ark. And for the same reason David afterwards placed it in the hill of Sion. Sanctified Eleazar - Not that they made him either Levite or Priest; for in Israel persons were not made but born such; but they devoted, or set him apart wholly to attend upon this work. His son - Him they chose rather than his father, because he was younger and stronger, and probably freed from domestic cares, which might divert him from, or disturb him in this work. To keep the ark - To keep the place where it was, clean, and to guard it that none might touch it, but such as God allowed to do so.
2 Kirjath - jearim - Where it continued, and was not carried to Shiloh its former place, either because that place was destroyed by the Philistines when the ark was taken, or because God would hereby punish the wickedness of the people of Israel, by keeping it in a private place near the Philistines, whether the generality of the people durst not come. Twenty years - He saith not, that this twenty years was all the time of the ark's abode there, for it continued there from Eli's time 'till David's reign, 2Sam 6:2, which was forty years: but that it was so long there before the Israelites were sensible of their sin and misery. Lamented - That is, they followed after God with lamentations for his departure, and prayers for his return.
3 Spake - To all the rulers and people too, as he had occasion in his circuit, described below, mixing exhortation to repentance, with his judicial administrations. If - If you do indeed what you profess, if you are resolved to go on in that which you seem to have begun. With all your heart - Sincerely and in good earnest. Put - Out of your houses, where some of you keep them; and out of your hearts, where they still have an interest in many of you. Ashtaroth - And especially, Ashtaroth, whom they, together with the neighbouring nations, did more eminently worship. Prepare your hearts - By purging them from all sin, and particularly from all inclinations to other gods.
6 Poured it out - As an external sign, whereby they testified, both their own filthiness and need of washing by the grace and Spirit of God, and blood of the covenant, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts before the Lord, in true repentance, and to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. Before the Lord - That is, in the public assembly, where God is in a special manner present. Judged - That is, governed them, reformed all abuses against God or man, took care that the laws of God should be observed, and wilful transgressions punished.
7 Went up - With an army, suspecting the effects of their general convention, and intending to nip them in the bud. Afraid - Being a company of unarmed persons, and unfit for battle. When sinners begin to repent and reform, they must expect Satan will muster all his forces against them, and set his instruments at work to the uttermost, to oppose and discourage them.
8 Cease not, &c. - We are afraid to look God in the face, because of our great wickedness: do thou therefore intercede for us, as Moses did for his generation. They had reason to expect this, because he had promised to pray for them, had promised them deliverance from the Philistines, and they had been observant of him, in all that he had spoken to them from the Lord. Thus they who receive Christ as their lawgiver and judge, need not doubt of their interest in his intercession. O what a comfort is it to all believers, that he never ceaseth, but always appears in the presence of God for us.
9 Cried - And he cried unto the Lord. He made intercession with the sacrifice. So Christ intercedes in virtue of his satisfaction. And in all our prayers we must have an eye to his great oblation, depending on him for audience and acceptance.
12 A stone - A rude unpolished stone, which was not prohibited by that law, Lev 26:1, there being no danger of worshipping such a stone, and this being set up only as a monument of the victory. Eben - ezer - That is, the stone of help. And this victory was gained in the very same place where the Israelites received their former fatal loss. Helped us - He hath begun to help us, though not compleatly to deliver us. By which wary expression, he exciteth both their thankfulness for their mercy received, and their holy fear and care to please and serve the Lord, that he might help and deliver them effectually.
13 Came no more - That is, with a great host, but only with straggling parties, or garrisons. All the days, &c. - All the days of Samuel that is, while Samuel was their sole judge, or ruler; for in Saul's time they did come.
14 Peace - An agreement for the cessation of all acts of hostility. Amorites - That is, the Canaanites, often called Amorites, because these were formerly the most valiant of all those nations, and the first Enemies which the Israelites met with, when they went to take possession of their land. They made this peace with the Canaanites, that they might he more at leisure to oppose the Philistines, now their most potent enemies.
15 Samuel judged - For though Saul was king in Samuel's last days, yet Samuel did not cease to be a judge, being so made by God's extraordinary call, which Saul could not destroy; and therefore Samuel did sometimes, upon great occasions, tho' not ordinarily, exercise the office of judge after the beginning of Saul's reign; and the years of the rule of Saul and Samuel are joined together, Acts 13:20,21.
16 In all places - He went to those several places, in compliance with the people, whose convenience he was willing to purchase with his own trouble, as an itinerant judge and preacher; and by his presence in several parts, he could the better observe, and rectify all sorts of miscarriages.
17 Built an altar - That by joining sacrifices with his prayers, he might the better obtain direction and assistance from God upon all emergencies. And this was done by prophetical inspiration, as appears by God's acceptance of the sacrifices offered upon it. Indeed Shiloh being now laid waste, and no other place yet appointed for them to bring their offerings to, the law which obliged them to one place, was for the present suspended. Therefore, as the patriarchs did, he built an altar where he lived: and that not only for the use of his own family, but for the good of the country who resorted to it.

Chapter VIII

Samuel's decay and the degeneracy of his sons, ver. 1 - 3. The people petition him for a king, who refers it to God, ver. 4 - 6. God directs him what answer to give, ver. 7 - 18. They insist upon their petition, ver. 19, 20. Which he promises, shall be granted, ver. 21, 22.

1 Old - And so unfit for his former travels and labours. He is not supposed to have been now above sixty years of age. But he had spent his strength and spirits in the fatigue of public business: and now if he thinks to shake himself as at other times, he finds he is mistaken: age has cut his hair. They that are in the prime of their years, ought to be busy in doing the work of life: for as they go into years, they will find themselves less disposed to it, and less capable of it. Judges - Not supreme judges, for such there was to be but one, and that of God's chusing; and Samuel still kept that office in his own hands, chap.7:15, but his deputies, to go about and determine matters, but with reservation of a right of appeals to himself. He had doubtless instructed them in a singular manner, and fitted them for the highest employments; and he hoped that the example he had sent them, and the authority he still had over them, would oblige them to diligence and faithfulness in their trust.
2 Beer - sheba - In the southern border of the land of Canaan, which were very remote from his house at Ramah; where, and in the neighbouring places Samuel himself still executing the office of judge.
3 Took bribes - Opportunity and temptation discovered that corruption in them which 'till now was hid from their father. It has often been the grief of holy men, that their children did not tread in their steps. So far from it, that the sons of eminently good men, have been often eminently wicked.
5 A king - Their desires exceed their reasons, which extended no farther than to the removal of Samuel's sons from their places, and the procuring some other just: and prudent assistance to Samuel's age. Nor was the grant of their desire a remedy for their disease, but rather an aggravation of it. For the sons of their king were likely to he as corrupt as Samuel's sons and, if they were, would not be so easily removed. Like other nations - That is, as most of the nations about us have. But there was not the like reason; because God had separated them from all other nations, and cautioned them against the imitation of their examples, and had taken them into his own immediate care and government; which privilege other nations had not.
6 Displeased - Because God was hereby dishonoured by that distrust of him, and that ambition, and itch after changes, which were the manifest causes of this desire; and because of that great misery, which he foresaw the people would hereby bring upon themselves. Prayed - For the pardon of their sin, and direction and help from God in this great affair.
7 Hearken - God grants their desire in anger, and for their punishment. Rejected me - This injury and contumely, reflects chiefly upon me and my government. Should not reign - By my immediate government, which was the great honour, safety, and happiness of this people, if they had had hearts to prize it.
8 So do they - Thou farest no worse than myself. This he speaks for Samuel's comfort and vindication.
9 Ye protest - That, if it be possible, thou mayst yet prevent their sin and misery. The manner - That is, of the kings which they desire like the kings of other nations.
11 Will take - Injuriously and by violence.
12 Will appoint - Heb. To, or for himself; for his own fancy, or glory, and not only when the necessities of the kingdom require it. And though this might seem to he no incumbrance, but an honour to the persons so advanced, yet even in them that honour was accompanied with great dangers, and pernicious snares of many kinds, which those faint shadows of glory could not recompense; and as to the public, their pomp and power proved very burdensome to the people, whose lands and fruits were taken from them, and bestowed upon these, for the support of their state. Will set them - At his own pleasure, when possibly their own fields required all their time and pains. He will press them for all sorts of his work, and that upon his own terms.
13 Daughters - Which would be more grievous to their parents, and more dangerous to themselves, because of the tenderness of that sex, and their liableness to many injuries.
14 Your fields - By fraud or force, as Ahab did from Naboth. His servants - He will not only take the fruits of your lands for his own use, but will take away your possessions to give to his servants.
15 The tenth - Besides the several tenths which God hath reserved for his service, he will, when he pleaseth, impose another tenth upon you. Officers - Heb. To his eunuchs, which may imply a farther injury, that he should against the command of God, make some of his people eunuchs; and take those into his court and favour, which God would have cast out of the congregation.
16 Will take - By constraint, and without sufficient recompense.
17 His servants - That is, he will use you like slaves, and deprive you of that liberty which now you enjoy.
18 Cry out - Ye shall bitterly mourn for the sad effects of this inordinate desire of a king. Will not hear - Because you will not hear, nor obey his counsel in this day.
20 Be like - What stupidity! It was their happiness that they were unlike all other nations, Numb 23:9 Deut 33:28, as in other glorious privileges, so especially in this, that the Lord was their immediate king and lawgiver. But they will have a king to go out before them, and to fight their battles. Could they desire a battle better fought for them than the last was, by Samuel's prayers and God's thunders? Were they fond to try the chance of war, at the same uncertainty that others did? And what was the issue? Their first king was slain in battle: and so was Joshua, one of the last and best.
21 Rehearsed - He repeated them privately between God and himself; for his own vindication and comfort: and as a foundation for his prayers to God, for direction and assistance.
22 Go - Betake yourselves to your several occasions, till you hear more from me in this matter.

Chapter IX

A short account of Saul, ver. 1, 2. Seeking his father's asses, he is advised to consult Samuel, ver. 3 - 10. He is directed to him, ver. 11 - 14. Samuel being informed of God concerning him, treats him with respect, and prepares him for the news, that he must be king, ver. 15 - 27.

2 Goodly - Comely and personable. Higher - A tall stature was much valued in a king in ancient times, and in the eastern countries.
3 The asses - Which were there of great price, because of the scarcity of horses, and therefore not held unworthy of Saul's seeking, at least in those ancient times, when simplicity, humility, and industry were in fashion among persons of quality.
6 Honourable men - One of great reputation for his skill and faithfulness. Acquaintance with God and serviceableness to the kingdom of God, makes men truly honourable. The way - The course we should take to find the asses. He saith, peradventure, because he doubted whether so great a prophet would seek, or God would grant him a revelation concerning such mean matters: although sometimes God was pleased herein to condescend to his people, to cut off all pretence or occasion of seeking to heathenish divination.
7 A present - Presents were then made to the prophets, either as a testimony of respect: or, as a grateful acknowledgement: or, for the support of the Prophets themselves: or, of the sons of the prophets: or, of other persons in want, known to them.
9 Seer - Because he discerned and could discover things secret and unknown to others. And these are the words, either of some later sacred writer, who after Samuel's death, inserted this verse. Or, of Samuel, who, being probably fifty or sixty years old at the writing of this book, and speaking of the state of things in his first days, might well call it before time.
12 Came to - day to the city - He had been travelling abroad, and was now returned to his own house in Ramah. High place - Upon the hill mentioned ver.11, and near the altar which Samuel built for this use.
13 Find him - At home and at leisure. To eat - The relicks of the sacrifices. Doth bless - The blessing of this sacrifice seems to have consisted both of thanksgiving, this being a thank - offering, and of prayer to God for its acceptance.
15 His ear - That is, secretly, perhaps by a still small voice.
16 Philistines - For though they were now most pressed with the Ammonites, yet they looked upon these as a land - flood, soon up, and soon down again: but the Philistines, their constant and nearest enemies, they most dreaded. And from these did Saul in some measure save them, and would have saved them much more, if his and the people's sins had not hindered.
20 On whom - Who is he that shall be that, which all Israel desire to have, namely, a king. Father's house - That honour is designed for thee, and, after thy death, for thy family or posterity, is by thy sin thou dost not cut off the entail.
21 The smallest - For so indeed this was, having been all cut off except six hundred, Judg 20:46 - 48, which blow they never recovered, and therefore they were scarce reckoned as an entire tribe, but only as a remnant of a tribe; and being ingrafted into Judah, in the division between the ten tribes and the two, they in some sort lost their name, and together with Judah were accounted but one tribe.
22 Chief place - Thereby to raise their expectation, and to prepare them for giving that honour to Saul, which his approaching dignity required.
24 I said - When I first spake that I had invited the people to join with me in my sacrifice, and then to partake with me of the feast, I then bade the cook reserve this part for thy use.
25 Communed - Concerning the kingdom designed for him by God.
27 Pass on - That thou and I may speak privately of the matter or the kingdom. Which Samuel hitherto endeavoured to conceal, lest he should be thought now to impose a king upon them, as before he denied one to them; and that it might appear by the lot mentioned in the next chapter, that the kingdom was given to Saul by God's destination, and not by Samuel's contrivance. Word of God - That is, a message delivered to me from God, which now I shall impart to thee.

Chapter X

The anointing of Saul, ver. 1. Samuel gives him signs and instruction, ver. 2 - 8. The signs accomplished, ver. 9 - 13. His return to his father's house, ver. 14 - 16. He is elected, solemnly inaugurated, and returns to his own city, ver. 17 - 27.

1 Poured it - Which Is was the usual rite in the designation, as of priests and prophets, so also of kings, whereby was signified the pouring forth of the gifts of God's spirit upon him, to fit him for the administration of his office. These sacred unctions then used, pointed at the great Messiah, or anointed One, the King of the church, and High - priest of our profession, who was anointed with the oil of the spirit without measure, above all the priests and princes of the Jewish church. Kissed - As a testimony of his sincere friendship and affection to him. His inheritance - That is, over his own peculiar people. Whereby he admonisheth Saul, that this people were not so much his, as God's; and that he was not to rule them according his own will, but according to the will of God.
2 Rachel's sepulchre - In the way to Bethlehem, which city was in Judah; her sepulchre might be either in Judah, or in Benjamin; for the possessions of those two tribes were bordering one upon another. The first place he directs him to was a sepulchre, the sepulchre of one of his ancestors. There he must read a lecture of his own mortality, and now he had a crown in his eye, must think of his grave, in which all his honour would be laid in the dust.
3 Plain - Not that at the foot of mount Tabor, which was far from these parts; but another belonging to some other place. Bethel - Properly so called, which was in Ephraim, where there was a noted high - place, famous for Jacob's vision there, Gen 28:19, where it is probable they offered sacrifices, in this confused state of things, when the ark was in one place, and the tabernacle in another.
5 Prophets - By prophets he understands persons that wholly devoted themselves to religious studies and exercises. For the term of prophesying is not only given to the most eminent act of it, foretelling things to come; but also to preaching, and to the making or singing of psalms, or songs of praise to God. And they that wholly attended upon these things, are called sons of the prophets, who were commonly combined into companies or colleges, that they might more conveniently assist one another in God's work. This institution God was pleased so far to honour and bless, that sometimes he communicated unto those persons the knowledge of future things. Psaltery - Such instruments of musick being then used by prophets and other persons, for the excitation of their spirits in God's service. Prophesy - Either sing God's praises, or speak of the things of God, by a peculiar impulse of his spirit.
6 Will come - Heb. will leap, or rush upon thee. Another man - That is, thou shalt be suddenly endowed with another spirit, filled with skill of divine things, with courage, and wisdom, and magnanimity; and other qualifications befitting thy dignity.
7 Thou do - Heb. do what they hand findeth to do; that is, as thou shalt have a call and opportunity. He doth not intend that he should take the kingly government upon him, before his call to it was owned by the people, but that he should dispose his mind to a readiness of undertaking any public service when he should be called to his office.
8 Till I come - This, though now mentioned and commanded, was not immediately to be performed; as is evident, partly from the whole course of the story, (which shews, that Saul and Samuel, and the people, first met at Mizpeh, ver.17, &c. where Saul was chosen by God, and accepted by the people as king; and afterwards went to Gilgal once before the time here spoken of, chap.11:14,15,) and partly, by comparing this place with chap.13:8, &c. where we find Saul charged with the violation of this command, two years after the giving of it. It seems this is given as a standing rule for Saul to observe while Samuel and he lived; that in case of any great future difficulties, as the invasion of enemies, Saul should resort to Gilgal, and call the people thither, and tarry there seven days, which was but a necessary time for gathering the people, and for the coming of Samuel thither. And Gilgal was chosen for this purpose, because that place was famous for the solemn renewing of the covenant between God and Israel, Jos 4:19 - 24, and for other eminent instances of God's favour to them, the remembrance whereof was a confirmation of their faith; and because it was a very convenient place for he tribes within and without Jordan to assemble, and consult, and unite their forces together upon such occasions.
10 Prophesied - The accomplishment of the two former signs is supposed, and this only is expressed, because this was more eminent than the former; the other were only transient acts, which passed in private between two or three persons meeting together; but this was a more permanent and notorious sign, done in a more solemn manner, and before many witnesses.
11 Is Saul - A man never instructed, nor exercised in, nor inclined to these matters.
12 Who is, &c. - Who is the father of all these prophets, among whom Saul now is one? Who is it that instructs and inspires them but God? They have it not from their parents, nor from their education, but by inspiration from God, who, when he pleaseth, can inspire Saul, or any other man with the same skill. And therefore wonder not at this matter, but give God the glory of it. A proverb - Used when any strange, or unexpected thing happened.
13 High place - Returning thither with the prophets, to praise God for these wonderful favours, and to beg counsel and help from God in this high business.
16 Told not - In obedience to Samuel, who obliged him to secrecy: and from an humble modesty.
19 Now therefore, &c. - He puts them upon chusing their king by lot, that all might know God had chosen Saul (for the disposal of the lot is of the Lord) and to prevent all dispute and exception.
20 Benjamin - Which tribe was now preferred before Judah, because the kingdom was freely promised by God to Judah, and was to be given to him in love; but now the kingdom was in a manner forced from God, and given them in anger and therefore conferred upon an obscure tribe.
22 Enquired - Either by Urim or Thummim, which was the usual way of enquiry. Or, by Samuel, who by his prayer procured an answer. Stuff - Among the carriages or baggage of the people there assembled. This he probably did, from a sense of his own unworthiness.
24 None like him - As to the height of his bodily stature, which was in itself, commendable in a king, and some kind of indication of great endowments of mind. God save the king - Heb. let the king live; that is, long and prosperously. Hereby they accept him for their king, and promise subjection to him. None will be losers in the end by their humility and modesty. Honour, like the shadows, follows them that flee from it, but flees from them that pursue it.
25 Manner of the kingdom - The laws and rules by which the kingly government was to be managed; agreeable to those mentioned Deut 17:16, &c. Before the Lord - Before the ark, where it was kept safe from depravation.
26 Went home - Not being actually inaugurated into his kingdom, he thought fit to retire to his former habitation, and to live privately 'till he had an occasion to shew himself in a more illustrious manner. Then went - To give him safe and honourable conduct to his house, though not to abide with him there, which did not suit his present circumstance.
27 No presents - As subjects in those times used to do to their kings. This was an evidence both of his humility, and the mercifulness of his disposition. So Christ held his peace, in the day of his patience. But there is a day of recompense coming.

Chapter XI

The distress of Jabesh - gilead, ver. 1 - 3. Saul's readiness to relieve them, and success, ver. 4 - 11. His tenderness to them that opposed him, ver. 12 - 13. He is confirmed in his kingdom, ver. 14 - 15.

1 Then - That is, about that time; for that this happened before, and was the occasion of their desire of a king, may seem from chap.12:12, although it is possible, that Nahash's preparation, might cause that desire, and that he did not actually come 'till their king was chosen. Will serve - The occasion of this offer was, that they saw no likelihood of relief from their brethren in Canaan.
2 Thrust out, &c. - Partly for a reproach, as it here follows; and partly, to disable them. He leaves them one eye, that they might be fit to serve in any mean and base office.
5 After the herd - For being only anointed king, and not publickly inaugurated, nor having yet had opportunity of doing any thing worthy of his place, he thought fit to forbear all royal state, and to retire to his former private life, which, howsoever despised in this latter ages, was anciently in great esteem. Good magistrates are in pain, if their subjects are in tears.
7 Sent them - Wisely considering, that the sight of mens eyes does much more affect their hearts, than what they only hear with their ears. Samuel - Whom he joins with himself, both because he was present with him; and that hereby he might gain the more authority. Fear - A fear sent upon them by God, that they should not dare to deny their help. The fear of God will make men good subjects, good soldiers, and good friends to their country. They that fear God will make conscience of their duty to all men, particularly to their rulers.
8 Men of Judah - Who are numbered apart to their honour, to shew how readily they, to whom the kingdom was promised, Gen 49:10, submitted to their king, though of another tribe; and how willing they were to hazard themselves for their brethren although they might have excused themselves from the necessity of defending their own country from their dangerous neighbours the Philistines.
14 Then - While the people were together by Jabesh - gilead, wherein Samuel's great prudence and fidelity to Saul is evident. He suspended the confirmation of Saul at first, whilst the generality of the people were disaffected, and now when he had given such eminent proof of his princely virtues, and when the peoples hearts were eagerly set upon him, he takes this as the fittest season for that work. Renew - That is, confirm our former choice.
15 Made - They owned and accepted him for their king.

Chapter XII

Samuel clears himself from all imputation of abusing the power which he now resigns to Saul, ver. 1 - 5. He reminds them of the great things God had done, ver. 6 - 13. He sets before them the blessing and the curse, ver. 14, 15. He calls upon God for thunder, ver. 16 - 19. He encourages and exhorts them, ver. 20 - 25.

1 Said - While they were assembled together in Gilgal. And this is another instance of Samuel's great wisdom and integrity. He would not reprove the people for their sin, in desiring a king, whilst Saul was unsettled in his kingdom; lest through their accustomed levity, they should as hastily cast off their king, as they had passionately desired him, and therefore he chuseth this season for it; because Saul's kingdom was now confirmed by an eminent victory; and because the people rejoiced greatly, applauded themselves for their desires of a king; and interpreted the success which God had given them, as a divine approbation of those desires. Samuel therefore thinks fit to temper their joys, and to excite them to that repentance which he saw wanting in them, and which he knew to be necessary, to prevent the curse of God upon their new king, and the whole kingdom.
2 Walketh - Ruleth over you. To him I have fully resigned my power, and own myself one of his subjects. Old - And therefore unable to bear the burden of government. My sons - Or, among you, in the same states private persons, as you are; if they have injured any of you, the law is now open against them; any of you may accuse them, your king can punish them, I do not intercede for them. Walked before you - That is, been your guide and governor; partly, as a prophet; and partly, as a judge.
3 Behold - I here present myself before the Lord, and before your king, ready to give an account of all my administrations. And this protestation Samuel makes of his integrity, not out of ostentation; but for his own just vindication, that the people might not hereafter for the defence of their own irregularities, reproach his government, and that being publickly acquitted from all faults in his government, he might more freely reprove the sins of the people, and, particularly, that sin of theirs in desiring a king, when they had so little reason for it.
7 Righteous acts - Heb. the righteousnesses; that is, mercies or benefits the chief subject of the following discourse; some of their calamities being but briefly named, and that for the illustration of God's mercy in their deliverances.
8 This place - In this land: in which Moses and Aaron are said to settle them; because they brought them into, and seated them in part of it, that without Jordan; because they were, under God, the principal authors of their entering into the land of Canaan; inasmuch as they brought them out of Egypt, conducted them through the wilderness; and thereby their prayers to God, and counsel to them, preserved them from ruin, and gave command from God for the distribution of the land among them, and encouraged them to enter into it. And lastly, Moses substituted Joshua in his stead, and commanded him to seat them there, which he did.
9 Forgat - That is, they revolted from him, and carried themselves, as if they had wholly forgotten his innumerable favours. This he saith to answer an objection, that the reason why they desired a king, was, because in the time of the judges they were at great uncertainties, and often exercised with sharp afflictions: to which he answereth by concession that they were so; but adds, by way of retortion, that they themselves were the cause of it, by their forgetting God: so that it was not the fault of that kind of government, but their transgressing the rules of it. Fought - With success, and subdued them.
11 Bedan - This was either Samson, as most interpreters believe, who is called Bedan; that is, in Dan, or of Dan, one of that tribe, to signify that they had no reason to distrust that God, who could raise so eminent a saviour out of so obscure a tribe: or, Jair the Gileadite, which may seem best to agree, first, with the time and order of the judges; for Jair was before Jephthah, but Samson was after him. Secondly, with other scriptures: for among the sons of a more ancient Jair, we meet with one called Bedan, 1Chron 7:17, which name seems here given to Jair the judge, to distinguish him from that first Jair. Safe - So that it was no necessity, but mere wantonness, that made you desire a change.
12 Your king - That is, when God was your immediate king and governor, who was both able and willing to deliver you, if you had cried to him, whereof you and your ancestors have had plentiful experience; so that you did not at all need any other king; and your desire of another, was a manifest reproach against God.
13 Ye have chosen - Though God chose him by lot, yet the people are said to chuse him; either generally, because they chose that form of government; or particularly, because they approved of God's choice, and confirmed it. The Lord - He hath yielded to your inordinate desire.
14 Then, &c. - Heb. then shall - ye - be, (that is, walk, or go) after the Lord; that is, God shall still go before you, as he hath hitherto done, as your leader or governor, to direct, protect, and deliver you; and he will not forsake you, as you have given him just cause to do. Sometimes this phrase of going after the Lord, signifies a man's obedience to God; but here it is otherwise to be understood, and it notes not a duty to be performed, but a privilege to be received upon the performance of their duty; because it is opposed to a threatening denounced in case of disobedience, in the next verse.
15 Your fathers - Who lived under the judges; and you shall have no advantage by the change of government, nor shall your kings be able to protect you against God's displeasure. The mistake, if we think we can evade God's justice, by shaking off his dominion. If we will not let God rule us, yet he will judge us.
17 Wheat - harvest - At which time it was a rare thing in those parts to have thunder or rain; the weather being more constant in its seasons there, than it is with us. Rain - That you may understand that God is displeased with you; and also how foolishly and wickedly you have done in rejecting the government of that God, at whose command are all things both in heaven and in earth.
18 Samuel - Who had such power and favour with God. By this thunder and rain, God shewed them their folly in desiring a king to save them, rather than God or Samuel, expecting more from an arm of flesh than from the arm of God, or from the power of prayer. Could their king thunder with a voice like God? Could their prince command such forces as the prophet could by his prayers? Likewise he intimates, that how serene soever their condition was now, (like the weather in wheat harvest) yet if God pleased, he could soon change the face of their heavens, and persecute them with his storms.
19 Thy God - Whom thou hast so great an interest in, while we are ashamed and afraid to call him our God.
20 Fear not - With a desponding fear, as if there were no hope left for you.
21 Turn aside - After idols; as they had often done before; and, notwithstanding this warning, did afterwards. Vain things - So idols are called, Deut 32:21 Jer 2:5, and so they are, being mere nothings, having no power in them; no influence upon us, nor use or benefit to us.
22 His name's sake - That is, for his own honour, which would suffer much among men, if he should not preserve and deliver his people in eminent dangers. And this reason God alledgeth to take them off from all conceit of their own merit; and to assure them, that if they did truly repent of all their sins, and serve God with all their heart; yet even in that case their salvation would not be due to their merits; but the effect of God's free mercy. To make - Out of his own free grace, without any desert of yours, and therefore he will not forsake you, except you thrust him away.
24 Only, &c. - Otherwise neither my prayer nor counsels will stand you in any stead.

Chapter XIII

Saul and Jonathan's life - guard, ver. 1, 2. Jonathan smites a garrison, and the people are called together, ver. 3, 4. The Philistines come up, and the Israelites are terrified, ver. 5 - 7. Saul sacrifices, ver. 8 - 10. Is reproved by Samuel, ver. 11 - 14. The people diminished, plundered, and disarmed, ver. 15 - 23.

3 Blew - That is, he sent messengers to tell them all what Jonathan had done, and how the Philistines were enraged at it, and therefore what necessity there was of gathering themselves together for their own defence.
4 Saul - Perhaps contrary to some treaty.
5 Thirty thousand chariots, &c. - Most of them, we may suppose, carriages for their baggage, not chariots of war, tho' all their allies were joined with them.
6 Strait - Notwithstanding their former presumption that if they had a king, they should be free from all such straits. And hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need the help of God now, than they did when they had no king. And probably they were the more discouraged, because they did not find Samuel with Saul. Sooner or later men will be made to see, that God and his prophets are their best friends.
7 All the people - That is, all that were left.
8 Seven days - Not seven compleat days; for the last day was not finished.
11 Camest not - That is, when the seventh day was come, and a good part of it past, whence I concluded thou wouldst not come that day.
12 Supplication - Thence it appears, that sacrifices were accompanied with solemn prayers. Forced myself - I did it against my own mind and inclination.
13 For ever - The phrase, for ever, in scripture often signifies only a long time. So this had been abundantly verified, if the kingdom had been enjoyed by Saul, and by his son, and by his son's son; after whom the kingdom might have come to Judah.
14 A man - That is, such a man as will fulfil all the desires of his heart, and not oppose them, as thou dost. Commanded - That is, hath appointed, as the word command is sometimes used: but though God threatened but Saul with the loss of his kingdom for his sin; yet it is not improbable, there was a tacit condition implied, to wit, if he did not repent of this; and of all his sins; for the full, and final, and peremptory sentence of Saul's rejection, is plainly ascribed to another cause, chap.15:11,23,26,28,29, and 'till that second offence, neither the spirit of the Lord departed from him, nor was David anointed in his stead. "But was it not hard, to punish so little a sin so severely?" It was not little: disobedience to an express command, tho' in a small matter, is a great provocation. And indeed, there is no little sin, because there is no little god to sin against. In general, what to men seems a small offence, to him who knows the heart may appear a heinous crime. We are taught hereby, how necessary it is, that we wait on our God continually. For Saul is sentenced to lose his kingdom for want of two or three hours patience.
20 Philistines - Not to the land of the Philistines, but to the stations and garrisons which the Philistines retained in several parts of Israel's land, though Samuel's authority had so far over - awed them, that they durst not give the Israelites much disturbance. In these, therefore, the Philistines kept all the smiths; and here they allowed them the exercise of their art for the uses following.
22 Sword - It seems restrained to the six hundred that were with Saul and Jonathan; for there were no doubt a considerable number of swords and spears among the Israelites, but they generally hid them, as now they did their persons, from the Philistines. And the Philistines had not yet attained to so great a power over them, as wholly to disarm them, but thought it sufficient to prevent the making of new arms; knowing that the old ones would shortly be decayed, and useless. There were likewise other arms more common in those times and places, than swords and spears; to wit, bows and arrows, and slings and stones.

Chapter XIV

Jonathan proposes to his armour - bearer the attacking of the Philistine's army, ver. 1 - 10. They make the attack; the Philistines are terrified, ver. 11 - 15. They slay one another, and are pursued by the Israelites, ver. 16 - 23. Saul adjures the people to eat nothing 'till night; Jonathan eats honey, ver. 24 - 30. The people smite the Philistines, and eat the spoil with the blood, ver. 31, 32. Saul remedies this, ver. 33 - 35. Dooms Jonathan to death, who is rescued by the people, ver. 36 - 46. A general account of Saul's exploits and family, ver. 47 - 52.

2 Tarried - In the outworks of the city where he had entrenched himself to observe the motion of the Philistines. In - Or, towards Migron, which was near Gibeah.
3 Ahiah - The same who is called Abimelech, chap.22:9,11,20, the high - priest, who was here to attend upon the ark which was brought thither, ver.18. Ephod - The high - priest's ephod, wherein the Urim and Thummim was.
4 Passages - Two passages, both which Jonathan must cross, to go to the Philistines, between which the following rocks lay, but the words may be rendered, in the middle of the passage, the plural number being put for the singular. Rock - Which is not to be understood, as if in this passage one rock was on the right hand, and the other on the left; for so he might have gone between both: and there was no need of climbing up to them. But the meaning is, that the tooth (or prominency) of one rock, (as it is in the Hebrew) was on the side; that is northward, looking towards Michmash (the garrison of the Philistines) and the tooth of the other rock was on the other side; that is, southward, looking towards Gibeah, (where Saul's camp lay): and Jonathan was forced to climb over these two rocks, because the common ways from one town to the other were obstructed.
6 Uncircumcised - So he calls them, to strengthen his faith by this consideration, that his enemies were enemies to God; whereas he was circumcised, and therefore in covenant with God, who was both able, and engaged to assist his people. It way be - He speaks doubtfully: for tho' he felt himself stirred up by God to this exploit, and was assured that God would deliver his people; yet he was not certain that he would do it at this time, and in this way. Work - Great and wonderful things.
10 A sign - Jonathan not being assured of the success of this exploit, desires a sign; and by the instinct of God's Spirit, pitches upon this. Divers such motions and extraordinary impulses there were among great and good men in ancient times. Observe; God has the governing of the hearts and tongues of all men, even of those that know him not, and serves his own purposes by them, tho' they mean not so, neither does their hearts think so.
12 Come up, &c. - A speech of contempt and derision. The Lord - He piously and modestly ascribes the success which he now foresees, to God only. And he does not say, into our hand, but into the hand of Israel; for he fought not his own glory, but the public good. His faith being thus strengthened, nothing can stand against him: he climbs the rock upon all four, though he had nothing to cover him, none to second him, but his servant, nor any probability of any thing but death before him.
13 They fell - For being endowed with extraordinary strength and courage, and having with incredible boldness killed the first they met with, it is not strange if the Philistines were both astonished and intimidated; God also struck them with a panic; and withal, infatuated their minds, and possibly, put an evil spirit among them, which in this universal confusion made them conceive that there was treachery among themselves, and therefore caused them to sheathe their swords in one anothers bowels.
15 Field - That is, in the whole host which was in the field. All - That is, among all the rest of their forces, as well as those in the garrison at Michmash, as the spoilers, mentioned chap.13:17, the report of this prodigy, and with it the terror of God speedily passing from one to another. Trembling - The Hebrew is, a trembling of God, signifying not only a very great trembling, but such as was supernatural, and came immediately from the hand of God. He that made the heart knows how to make it tremble. To complete their confusion, even the earth quaked; it shook under them, and made them fear it was just going to swallow them up. Those who will not fear the eternal God, he can make afraid of a shadow.
19 Withdraw - Trouble not thyself to enquire; for I now plainly discern the matter.
21 Which went - Either by constraint, as servants; or in policy, to gain their favour and protection.
23 The battle - That is, the warriors who were engaged in the battle, and were pursuing the Philistines. Yet it is said, the Lord saved Israel that day: he did it by them: for without him they could do nothing. Salvation is of the Lord.
24 Distressed - With hunger, and weakness, and faintness, and all by reason of the following oath. Avenged - As Saul's intention was good, so the matter of the obligation was not simply unlawful, if it had not been so rigorous in excluding all food, and in obliging the people to it under pain of an accursed death, which was a punishment far exceeding the fault.
26 Honey - Bees often make their hives in the trunks of trees, or clefts of rocks, or holes of the earth; and this in divers countries, but eminently in Canaan.
27 Enlightened - He was refreshed, and recovered his lost spirits. This cleared his sight, which was grown dim by hunger and faintness.
28 People - They that came with Saul, whose forces were now united with Jonathan's.
32 Slew - At evening, when the time prefixed by Saul was expired. With blood - Not having patience to tarry 'till the blood was perfectly gone out of them, as they should have done. So they who made conscience of the king's commandment for fear of the curse, make no scruple of transgressing God's command.
33 Transgressed - He sees their fault, but not his own, in giving the occasion of it.
36 Draw near - To the ark, in order to enquire of God.
39 Answered - None of those who saw Jonathan eating, informed against him; because they were satisfied that his ignorance excused him; and from their great love to Jonathan, whom they would not expose to death for so small an offence.
41 Perfect lot - Or, declare the perfect, or guiltless person. That is, O Lord, so guide the lot, that it may discover who is guilty in his matter, and who innocent. Escaped - They were pronounced guiltless.
42 Jonathan - God so ordered the lot; not that he approved Saul's execration, ver.24, or his oath that the transgressor should die, ver.39, nor that he would expose Jonathan to death; but that Saul's folly might be chastised, when he saw what danger it had brought upon his eldest and excellent son; and that Jonathan's innocency might be cleared.
44 For thou, &c - We have no proof, that Saul did not act in this whole affair from a real fear of God.
45 With God - In concurrence with God, he hath wrought this salvation. God is so far from being offended with Jonathan, that he hath graciously owned him in the great service of this day.
47 Took the kingdom - That is, resumed the administration of it, after he had in a manner lost it by the Philistines, who had almost turned him out of it.
49 Ishui - Called also Abinadab. chap.31:2. Ishbosheth, Saul's other son is here omitted, because he intended to mention only those of his sons who went with him into the battles here mentioned, and who were afterwards slain with him.

Chapter XV

God commands Saul utterly to destroy the Amalekites, ver. 1 - 3. He destroys them, but not utterly, ver. 4 - 9. Samuel pronounces sentence upon him for his disobedience, yet consents to honour him before the people, ver. 10 - 31. Slays Agag, ver. 32, 33. Takes his leave of Saul, yet mourns for him, ver. 34, 35.

1 Hearken - Thou hast committed error already, now regain God's favour by thy exact obedience to what he commands.
2 I remember - Now I will revenge those old injuries of the Amalekites on their children: who continue in their parents practices. Came from Egypt - When he was newly come out of cruel and long bondage, and was now weak, and weary, and faint, and hungry, Deut 25:18, and therefore it was barbarous instead of that pity which even Nature prompted them to afford, to add affliction to the afflicted; it was also horrid impiety to fight against God himself and to lift up their hand in a manner against the Lord's throne, whilst they struck at that people which God had brought forth in so stupendous a way.
3 Destroy - Both persons and goods, kill all that live, and consume all things without life, for I will have no name nor remnant of that people left, whom long since I have devoted to utter destruction. Spare not - Shew no compassion or favour to any of them. The same thing repeated to prevent mistake, and oblige Saul to the exact performance hereof. Slay, &c. - Which was not unjust, because God is the supreme Lord of life, and can require his own when he pleaseth; infants likewise are born in sin, and therefore liable to God's wrath. Their death also was rather a mercy than a curse, as being the occasion of preventing their sin and punishment. Ox, &c. - Which being all made for man's benefit, it is not strange if they suffer with him, for the instruction of mankind.
6 Kenites - A people descending from, or nearly related to Jethro, who anciently dwelt in rocks near the Amalekites, Numb 24:21, and afterwards some of them dwelt in Judah, Judg 1:16, whence it is probable they removed, (which, dwelling in tents, they could easily do) and retired to their old habitation, because of the wars and troubles wherewith Judah was annoyed. Shewed kindness - Some of your progenitors did so, and for their sakes all of you shall fare the better. You were not guilty of that sin for which Amalek is now to be destroyed. When destroying judgments are abroad God takes care to separate the precious from the vile. It is then especially dangerous to be found in the company of God's enemies. The Jews have a saying, Wo to a wicked man, and to his neighbour.
7 To Shur - That is, from one end of their country to the other; he smote all that he met with: but a great number of them fled away upon the noise of his coming, and secured themselves in other places, 'till the storm was over.
8 All - Whom he found. Now they paid dear for the sin of their ancestors. They were themselves guilty of idolatry and numberless sins, for which they deserved to be cut off. Yet when God would reckon with them, he fixes upon this as the ground of his quarrel.
9 Vile - Thus they obeyed God only so far as they could without inconvenience to themselves.
11 Repenteth - Repentance implies grief of heart, and change of counsels, and therefore cannot be in God: but it is ascribed to God when God alters his method of dealing, and treats a person as if be did indeed repent of the kindness he had shewed him. All night - To implore his pardoning mercy for Saul, and for the people. Is turned back - Therefore he did once follow God. Otherwise it would have been impossible, he should turn back from following him.
12 A place - That is, a monument or trophy of his victory.
13 They - That is, the people. Thus, he lays the blame upon the people; whereas they could not do it without his consent; and he should have used his power to over - rule them.
18 A journey - So easy was the service, and so certain the success, that it was rather to be called a journey than a war.
20 The king - To be dealt with as God pleaseth.
21 But the people, &c. - Here the conscience of Saul begins to awake, tho' but a little: for he still lays the blame on the people.
22 Sacrifice - Because obedience to God is a moral duty, constantly and indispensably necessary; but sacrifice is but a ceremonial institution, sometimes unnecessary, as it was in the wilderness: and sometimes sinful, when it is offered by a polluted hand, or in an irregular manner. Therefore thy gross disobedience to God's express command, is not to be compensated with sacrifice. Hearken - That is, to obey. Fat - Then the choicest part of all the sacrifice.
23 Rebellion - Disobedience to God's command. Stubbornness - Contumacy in sin, justifying it, and pleading for it. Iniquity - Or, the iniquity of idolatry. Rejected - Hath pronounced the sentence of rejection: for that he was not actually deposed by God before, plainly appears, because not only the people, but even David, after this, owned him as king. Those are unworthy to rule over men, who are not willing that God should rule over them.
24 I have sinned - It does by no means appear, that Saul acts the hypocrite herein, in assigning a false cause of his disobedience. Rather, he nakedly declares the thing as it was.
25 Pardon my sin - Neither can it be proved that there was any hypocrisy in this. Rather charity requires us to believe, that he sincerely desired pardon, both from God and man, as he now knew, he had sinned against both.
26 I will not - This was no lie, though he afterwards returned, because he spoke what he meant; his words and his intentions agreed together, though afterwards he saw reason to change his intentions. Compare Gen 19:2,3. This may relieve many perplexed consciences, who think themselves obliged to do what they have said they would do, though they see just cause to change their minds. Hath rejected thee, &c. - But he does not say, he "hath rejected thee from salvation." And who besides hath authority to say so?
29 Strength of Israel - So he calls God here, to shew the reason why God neither will nor can lie; because lying proceeds from the sense of a man's weakness, who cannot many times accomplish his design without lying and dissimulation; therefore many princes have used it for this very reason. But God needs no such artifices; he can do whatsoever he pleaseth by his absolute power. Repent - That is, nor change his counsel; which also is an effect of weakness and imperfection, either of wisdom or power. So that this word is not here used in the sense it commonly is when applied to God, as in Jer 11:1 - 23, and elsewhere.
31 Turned - First, that the people might not upon pretence of this sentence of rejection, withdraw their obedience to their sovereign; whereby they would both have sinned against God, and have been as sheep without a shepherd. Secondly, that he might rectify Saul's error, and execute God's judgment upon Agag.
33 As, &c. - Whereby it appears, that he was a tyrant, and guilty of many bloody actions. And this seems to be added for the fuller vindication of God's justice, and to shew, that although God did at this time revenge a crime committed by this man's ancestors 400 years ago, yet he did not punish an innocent son for his father's crimes, but one that persisted in the same evil courses. Hewed - This he did by divine instinct, and in pursuance of God's express command, which being sinfully neglected by Saul, is now executed by Samuel. But these are no precedents for private persons to take the sword of justice into their hands. For we must live by the laws of God, and not by extraordinary examples.
35 To see Saul - That is, to visit him, in token of respect or friendship: or, to seek counsel from God for him. Otherwise he did see him chap.19:24. Though indeed it was not Samuel that came thither with design to see Saul, but Saul went thither to see Samuel, and that accidentally.

Chapter XVI

Samuel is appointed to anoint one of the sons of Jesse king, ver. 1 - 5. The elder sons are passed by, and David anointed, ver. 6 - 13. Saul growing melancholy is eased by David's music, ver. 14 - 23.

1 Mourn - And pray for his restitution, which the following words imply he did. Oil - Which was used in the inauguration of kings. But here it is used in the designation of a king; for David was not actually made king by it, but still remained a subject. And the reason of this anticipation was the comfort of Samuel, and other good men, against their fears in case of Saul's death, and the assurance of David's title, which otherwise would have been doubtful. I have provided - This phrase is very emphatical, and implies the difference between this and the former king. Saul was a king of the people's providing, he was the product of their sinful desires: but this is a king of my own providing, to fulfil all my will, and to serve my glory.
4 Trembled - Because it was strange and unexpected to them, this being but an obscure town, and remote from Samuel, and therefore they justly thought there was some extraordinary reason for it. Peaceable - The Hebrew phrase, comest thou in peace, is as much as to say (in our phrase) is all well?
5 He sanctified - It seems evident that there was something peculiar in Jesse's invitation. For first, both he and his sons were invited, whereas the others were only invited for their own persons. Secondly, the different phrase here used, that he sanctified these, when he only bade the other sanctify themselves; argues a singular care of Samuel in their sanctification. Which makes it probable, that the rest were only to join with them in the act of sacrificing; but these, and only these, were invited to feast upon the remainders of the sacrifices.
6 Before him - That is, in this place where God is now present. For it is observable, that not only the sacrifice is said to be offered, but even the feast upon the remainders of it is said, to be eaten before the Lord, Deut 12:7, that is, before or near his altar, where God was present in a special manner. This I take to be the person I am sent to anoint: wherein yet be was mistaken, as other prophets sometimes were, when they hastily spake their own thoughts, before they had consulted God.
10 Seven - There are but seven named, 1Chron 2:13 - 15, because one of them was either born of a concubine: or, died immediately after this time.
11 Keepeth sheep - And consequently is the most unfit of all my sons for that high employment. Either therefore he did not understand David's wisdom and valour, or he judged him unfit, by reason of his mean education. And God so ordered it by his providence, that David's choice might plainly appear to be God's work, and not Samuel's, or Jesse's. David signifies beloved: a fit name for so eminent a type of the Beloved Son. It is supposed, David was now about twenty years old. If so, his troubles by Saul lasted near ten years: for he was thirty years old when Saul died. Samuel having done this went to Ramah. He retired to die in peace, since his eyes had seen the salvation, even the sceptre brought into the tribe of Judah.
13 Anointed him - David's brethren saw David's unction, yet did not understand, that he was anointed to the kingdom; but were only told by Samuel, that he was anointed to some great service, which hereafter they should know. Thus Jesse only, and David, understood the whole business, and his brethren were able to attest to that act of Samuel's anointing him, which, with other collateral evidences, was abundantly sufficient to prove David's right to the kingdom, if need should be. The spirit, &c, - That is, he was immediately endowed with extraordinary gifts of God's Spirit, as strength, and courage, and wisdom, and other excellent qualities which fitted him for, and put him upon noble attempts.
14 Departed - God took away that prudence, and courage, and alacrity, and other gifts wherewith be had qualified him for his public employment. From the Lord - That is, by God's permission, who delivered him up to be buffeted of Satan. Troubled - Stirred up in him unruly and tormenting passions; as envy, rage, fear, or despair. He grew fretful, and peevish, and discontented, timorous and suspicious, frequently starting and trembling.
16 Be well - And the success confirms their opinion. For although music cannot directly have an influence upon an evil spirit to drive him away; yet, because the devil, as it seems, had not possession of him, but only made use of the passions of his mind, and humours of his body to molest him: and because it is manifest, that music hath a mighty power to qualify and sweeten these, and to make a man sedate and chearful; it is not strange, if the devil had not that power over him when his mind was more composed, which he had when it was disordered; as the devil had less power over lunaticks in the decrease, than in the increase of the moon: Matt 17:15,18. And seeing music prepared the Lord's prophets for the entertainment of the good Spirit, as 2Kings 3:15. Why might it not dispose Saul to the resistance of the evil spirit? And why might not the chearing of his heart, in some measure strengthen him against those temptations of the devil, which were fed by his melancholy humour? And by this means, David without any contrivance of him or his friends, is brought to court, soon after he was anointed to the kingdom. Those whom God designs for any service, his providence will concur with his grace, to prepare and qualify them for it.
18 Prudent - Wonder not, that David was so suddenly advanced, from a poor shepherd, to so great a reputation; for these were the effects of that Spirit of the Lord which he received when he was anointed. The Lord, &c. - That is, directs and prospers all his undertakings.
20 Sent him - This present, though in our times it would seem contemptible, yet was very agreeable to the usage of those times, and to the condition of Jesse, which was but mean in the world. And it seems to have been the custom of those times, (as it is yet in the eastern countries) when they made their appearance before princes, or great persons, to bring a present.
21 Stood before him - That is, waited upon him. And he loved him greatly - So there was something good in Saul still: he had not lost all, tho' he had lost the kingdom. Armour - bearer - He had that place conferred upon him, though we do not read that he ever exercised it; for it seems he was gone back to his father upon some occasion not related; and had abode with him some considerable time before the war described, chap.17:1 - 53, happened.
23 Departed - Namely, for a season. And the reason of this success, may be, partly natural, and partly, supernatural, respecting David; whom God designed by this means to bring into favour with the king, and so to smooth the way for his advancement.

Chapter XVII

Goliath challenges the armies of Israel, ver. 1 - 11. David coming into the camp, hears his challenge, ver. 12 - 27. Eliab chides David, whose words are related to Saul, ver. 28 - 31. David undertakes to fight Goliath, ver. 32 - 37. He rejects Saul's armour, and goes with his sling, ver. 38 - 40. He attacks and slays Goliath, ver. 41 - 51. The Israelites pursue the Philistines, ver. 52 - 53. David returns: the notice taken of him by Saul, ver. 54 - 58.

1 Gathered, &c. - Probably they had heard, that Samuel had forsaken Saul, and that Saul himself was unfit for business. The enemies of the church are watchful to take all advantages, and they never have greater advantage, than when her protectors have provoked God's Spirit and prophets to leave them.
4 Six cubits - At least, nine feet, nine inches high. And this is not strange; for besides the giants mentioned in Scripture, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, and Pliny, make mention of persons seven cubits high.
5 Coat of mail - Made of brass plates laid over one another, like the scales of a fish. The weight, &c. - The common shekel contained a fourth part of an ounce; and so five thousand shekels made one thousand two hundred and fifty ounces, or seventy - eight pounds: which weight is not unsuitable to a man of such vast strength as his height speaks him to be.
6 Greaves - Boots.
7 Beam - On which the weavers fasten their web. It was like this for thickness. And though the whole weight of Goliath's armour may seem prodigious; yet it is not so much by far as one Athanatus did manage: of whom Pliny relates, That he saw him come into the theatre with arms weighing twelve thousand ounces. A shield - Probably for state: for he that was clad in brass, little needed a shield.
8 Come down - That the battle may be decided by us two alone.
11 Afraid - This may seem strange, considering the glorious promises, and their late experience of divine assistance. And where was Jonathan, who in the last war had so bravely engaged an whole army of the Philistines? Doubtless he did not feel himself so stirred up of God as he did at that time. As the best, so the bravest of men, are no more than what God makes them. Jonathan must sit still now, because this honour is reserved for David.
12 Old man - Therefore he went not himself to the camp.
15 Went - From Saul's court: where having relieved Saul, he was permitted to go to his father's house, to be sent for again upon occasion.
18 Pledge - That is, bring me some token of their welfare.
19 Fighting - That is, in a posture and readiness to fight with them; as it is explained, ver.20,21.
20 Went, &c. - Jesse little thought of sending his son to the camp, just at that critical juncture. But the wise God orders the time and all the circumstances of affairs, so as to serve the designs of his own glory.
24 Fled - One Philistine could never have thus put ten thousand Israelites to flight, unless their rock, being forsaken by them, had justly sold them and shut them up.
25 Free - Free from all those tributes and charges which either the court or the camp required.
28 Naughtiness - Thy false - confidence, and vain gloried curiosity. See the folly and wickedness of envy! How groundless its jealousies are, how unjust its censures, how unfair it representations? God preserve us from such a spirit!
29 A cause - Of my thus speaking? Is this giant invincible? Is our God unable to oppose him, and subdue him? However David is not deterred from his undertaking, by the hard words of Eliab. They that undertake public services must not think it strange, if they be opposed by those from whom they had reason to expect assistance, but must humbly go on with their work, in the face, not only of their enemies threats, but of their friends slights, suspicions, and censures.
30 He tarried - For being secretly moved by God's spirit to undertake the combat. He speaks with divers persons about it, that it might come to the king's ear.
32 Let no man's heart, &c. - It would have reflected upon his prince to say, Let not thy heart fail: therefore he speaks in general terms, Let no man's heart fail. A little shepherd, come but this morning from keeping sheep, has more courage than all the mighty men of Israel! Thus doth God often do great things for his people by the weak things of the world.
33 A youth - Not above 20 years old; and a novice, a raw and unexperienced soldier.
37 The Lord, &c. - The lion and the bear were only enemies to me and my sheep, and it was in defence of them I attacked them. But this Philistine is an enemy to my God and his people, and it is for their honour that I attack him.
38 Armour - With armour taken out of his armoury. He seems to speak of some military vestments which were then used in war, and were contrived for defence; such as buff - coats are now.
39 Proved them - I have no skill or experience in the managements of this kind of arms.
40 Staff - His shepherd's staff. These arms in themselves were contemptible, yet chosen by David; because he had no skill to use other arms; because he had inward assurance of the victory, even by these weapons; and because such a conquest would be more honourable to God, and most shameful, and discouraging to the Philistines.
41 Drew near - Probably a signal was made, that his challenge was accepted.
42 Fair - Not having so much as the countenance of a martial person.
43 Dog - Dost thou think to beat me as easily as thou wouldst thy dog?
46 A God - Heb. that God, the only true God, is for Israel; or on Israel's side, and against you. Or, that Israel hath a God, a God indeed, one who is able to help them; and not such an impotent idol as you serve.
47 Saveth - That is, that he can save without these arms, and with the most contemptible weapons. The battle - That is, the events of war are wholly in his power. He will - David speaks thus confidently, because he was assured of it by a particular inspiration.
48 Drew nigh - Like a stalking mountain. Ran - So far was he from fear!
49 Forehead - Probably the proud giant had lift up that part of his helmet which covered his fore - head; in contempt of David and his weapons, and by the singular direction of providence.
51 David took - Hence it appears, that David was not a little man, as many fancy; but a man of considerable bulk and strength, because he was able to manage a giant's sword. The stone threw him down to the earth, and bereaved him of sense and motion; but there remained some life in him, which the sword took away, and so compleated the work. God is greatly glorified, when his proud enemies are cut off with their own sword.
55 Whose son - David had been some considerable time dismissed from Saul's court, and was returned home. And therefore it is not strange, if Saul for the present had forgot David. Besides the distemper of Saul's mind might make him forgetful; and that David might be now much changed, both in his countenance and in his habit. I cannot tell - Abner's employment was generally in the camp, when David was at the court; and when Abner was there, he took little notice of a person so much inferior to him as David was.

Chapter XVIII

David becomes the friend of Jonathan, the constant attendant of Saul, and the favourite of all the people, ver. 1 - 5. Saul's envy raised, ver. 6 - 9. He seeks to kill David, ver. 10 - 11 Is afraid of him, ver. 12 - 16. Promises to give him his elder daughter, and gives him the younger, hoping to destroy him thereby, but in vain, ver. a 7 - 27. He is more feared by Saul and esteemed by the people, ver. 28 - 30.

1 Loved him - For his excellent virtues and endowments, which shone forth both in his speeches and actions; for the service he had done to God and to his people; and for the similitude of their age and qualities.
2 Took him, &c. - By which it appears, that before this David had not his constant residence at court.
5 Went - Upon military expeditions, of which that word is often used.
10 The evil spirit, &c. - His fits of frenzy returned upon him. The very next day after he conceived envy at David, the evil spirit was permitted by God to seize him again. Such is the fruit of envy and uncharitableness. Prophesied - That is, he used uncouth gestures, and signs, as the prophets often did.
11 And Saul cast the javelin - Being now quite under the power of that evil spirit. Twice - Once now, and another time upon a like occasion, chap.19:10.
12 Afraid - Lest as he had gained the favour of God and of all the people, he should also take away his kingdom.
13 Removed him from him - From his presence and court; which he did, because he feared lest David should find an opportunity to kill him, as he had designed to kill David; because his presence now made him more sad than ever his musick made him chearful: and principally, that hereby he might expose him to the greatest hazards.
18 What is my life - How little is my life worth, that by the exposing of that to some hazard, I should purchase a king's daughter! In these expressions David sheweth not only his humility, but also his wisdom, in discovering so deep a sense of his own meanness, that Saul might see how far he was from aspiring at the kingdom.
19 Adriel - The son of Bar - zillai, as he is called, 2Sam 21:8. This was an act of great injustice; and accordingly this marriage was accursed by God, and the children begotten in it, were, by God's appointment cut off, 2Sam 21:8,9.
26 The days - That is, the time allowed by Saul to David for the execution of this exploit.
27 Two hundred - He doubled the number required; to oblige Saul the more to the performance of his promise; and to shew his great respect and affection to Saul's daughter.
30 Went forth - To war against the Israelites, being provoked by their former losses, and especially by that act of David's.

Chapter XIX

Saul is pacified by Jonathan, ver. 1 - 7. Attempts again to kill David, ver. 8 - 10. Is deceived by Michal, who sends David away, ver. 11 - 17. David flies to Ramah, and Saul prophesies, ver. 18 - 24.

4 Spake good - Which he could not do without hazard to himself. Herein therefore he performed the duty of a true friend, and of a valiant man.
6 As the Lord, &c. - And without all doubt, he intended what he said, feeling a real change in himself for the present. "God," says Mr. Henry, "inclined the heart of Saul to hearken to the voice of Jonathan."
8 And David, &c. - So David continues his good service, tho' it was ill requited. They who are ill paid for doing good, yet must not be weary of well doing, remembering how bountiful a benefactor God is, even to the evil and unthankful.
9 The evil spirit - David's successes against the Philistines revived his envy, and the devil watched the opportunity, as he had done before.
13 Goats hair - Or, put great goats hair upon his bolster; upon the head and face of the image, which lay upon his bolster, that it might have some kind of resemblance of David's head and hair, at least in a sick man's bed, where there useth to be but a glimmering light. Covered it - Upon pretence of his being sick, and needing some such covering.
18 To Samuel - Both for comfort and direction in his distress; and for safety, supposing that Saul would be ashamed to execute his bloody designs in the presence of so venerable a person as Samuel.
20 Over them - To instruct and direct them in those holy exercises. For though they prophesied by Divine inspiration, yet they were both to prepare themselves for it before hand, and to make good improvement of it afterwards, in both which they needed Samuel's counsel and assistance. And whereas some might falsely pretend to those raptures; or the devil might transform himself into an angel of light, Samuel's presence and judgment was necessary to prevent and to detect such impostures. Besides, Samuel would by his present conjunction with them in those holy exercises, encourage them, and stir up others to the coveting of those gifts, and to the performance of such religious duties. Prophesied - Being inspired by God as Balaam was; that being wrapt up into such an extasy, their minds might be wholly taken off from their design of seizing David.
23 The spirit - It came upon him in the way; whereas it came not upon his messengers 'till they came to the place. Hereby God would convince Saul of the vanity of his designs against David, and that in them he fought against God himself.
24 Lay down - Heb. fell, down upon the earth; for his mind being in an extasy, he had not the use of his senses. God so ordering it, that David might have an opportunity to escape. Naked - That is, stript of his upper garments, as the word naked is often used; and it is here repeated to signify how long he lay in that posture. Day and night - So God kept him as it were in chains, 'till David was got out of his reach. Is Saul - The same proverb which was used before, is here revived, as an evidence of God's wonderful care over David; he made Saul in some sort a prophet, that he mightst make David a king.

Chapter XX

David complains to Jonathan; and desires his help, ver. 1 - 5. Jonathan promises to give him intelligence, and confirms his friendship, ver. 9 - 23. He finds his father implacable, ver. 24 - 34. He gives David notice of it, in the manner they had agreed on, ver. 35 - 42.

2 Is it not so - For Jonathan gave credit to his father's oath, chap.19:6.
3 David sware - The matter being of great moment, and Jonathan doubting the truth of it, he confirms his word with an oath, which follows in the end of the verse. Only he interposeth a reason why Saul concealed it from Jonathan.
5 To the third day - That is, unto the next day, but one after the new moon. His meaning is not, that he would hide himself in any certain place all the three days, but that he would secure himself either at Bethlehem with his friends, or in any other place 'till the third day.
6 Asked me - Who being the king's son and deputy, used to give license to military men to depart for a season upon just occasions.
8 Deal kindly - In giving me timely notice, and a true account of Saul's disposition and intention towards me. A covenant of the Lord - That is, a solemn covenant, not lightly undertaken, but seriously entered into, in the name and fear of God, and in his presence, calling him to be the witness of our sincerity therein, and the avenger of perfidiousness in him that breaks it. Slay me - I am contented thou shouldst kill me. For why - Why shouldst thou betray me to thy father, by concealing his evil intentions from me?
12 O Lord God - Do thou hear and judge between us. It is an abrupt speech which is usual in great passions.
14 Kindness as the Lord - That kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself, in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God's presence. I die not - That thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line use to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them.
16 A covenant - The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David's side, which doubtless he obtained. Enemies - If either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it.
17 Swear again - Heb. and Jonathan added or proceeded to make David swear; that is, having himself sworn to David or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David's oath to him, by way of restipulation or confirmation. Loved him - Because he had a true friendship for David, he desired that the covenant might be inviolably observed through all their generations.
19 Was in hand - When this same business which now they were treating about, was in agitation formerly; namely, to discover Saul's mind and purpose towards him, chap.19:2,3. Ezel - By that stone which directs travellers in the way; namely, in some cave, or convenient place, which was near it.
21 I will send - I will send him out before I shoot, to find out, and take up the arrows which I shall shoot. And I shall shoot them either short of him, or beyond him, as I shall see occasion.
23 Between - As a witness and a judge between us and our families for ever, if on either side this league of friendship be violated.
24 Hid himself - Namely, at the time appointed: for it seems probable, that he went first to Bethlehem, and thence returned to the field, when the occasion required.
25 Arose - He rose from his seat where he was sat next the king, and stood at Abner's coming, to do honour to him, who was his father's cousin, and the general of the army.
26 Something - Some accident which has rendered him unclean, and so unfit to partake of this feast, which consisted in part of the remainders of the peace - offerings, according to the law, Levit 7:20. Unfit also to come into any company, much more, into the king's company, lest he should pollute them also.
27 Son of Jesse - So he calls him in scorn, to note the meanness of his original; and as not deigning to call him by his proper name. To day - For the uncleanness which came by some chance, usually lasted but for one day.
30 Thy confusion - Men will conclude that thou hast no royal blood in thy veins, that canst so tamely give up thy crown to so contemptible a person.
33 To smite him - Saul seemed to be in great care, that Jonathan should be established in his kingdom: and now he himself aims at his life! What fools, what worse than savage beasts does anger make.
37 To - That is, near the place. For the words following shew, that he was not yet come thither.
40 Artillery - His bow, and arrows, and quiver.

Chapter XXI

David coming to Nob, takes the shew - bread, and Goliath's sword, ver. 1 - 9. Goes to Achish, and feigns himself mad, ver. 10 - 13. Is dismissed by Achish, ver. 14, 15.

1 Nob - A city of priests, where the tabernacle now was. Hither David resorted, for a supply of his necessities, which he supposed he might receive here, without danger of being betrayed into Saul's hands: and principally, that in this great distress, he might receive comfort and counsel from the Lord. Ahimelech - The chief priest, brother to that Ahiah, chap.14:3, and he being now dead, his successor in the priesthood, for they were both sons of Ahitub. Was afraid - Suspecting some extraordinary cause of his coming in such a manner. Alone - For though David had some servants as is manifest from ver.4,5, whom Jonathan probably had sent to a place appointed, yet they were left at another place: as David himself affirmeth, ver.2. And David was now alone, as also he was when he fled to Achish. He who had been suddenly advanced to the highest honour, is as soon reduced to the desolate conditions of an exile. Such changes are there in this world, and so uncertain are its smiles.
2 The king, &c. - This seems to be a plain lie extorted from him, by fear. But it was pernicious to all the priests there. Whence David afterwards declares his repentance for this sin of lying, Psalm 119:29. To such a place - To a certain place which it not convenient now to mention; because the whole business requires concealment.
4 There is, &c. - Here in the tabernacle: though doubtless he had other provisions is his house; but David was in great haste, and in fear of Doeg whom he saw, and knew and therefore would not stay 'till any thing could be fetched thence. There was a double impediment to the giving this bread to them;
  1. Its sacredness in itself; which the priest implies, and David answers ver.5, and the priest was satisfied therein by David's great necessities.
  2. The abstinence from all women, which he supposed should be in those that use it; concerning which he now enquires. And though he mentions this only concerning David's young men, and out of reverence forbears to name him; yet he is also included in the number, as David's answer shews.
5 Three days - As long as the law required, Exod 19:15. And so long David, and his men hid, it seems, hid themselves for fear of Saul, whereby they were kept both from women: and from food convenient for them. Vessels - That is, Either,
  1. Their garments, or other utensils for their journey. Or
  2. their bodies.
The bread - Heb. and this bread; is in a manner common: that is, considering the time, and our necessity, this maybe used in a manner, like common bread. For though for a season while it is to stand before the Lord, it be so holy, that the priest himself might not eat it; yet afterwards it is eaten by the priest, and his whole family, and so it may be by us, in our circumstances. Tho' it were - But newly put into the vessel, it must give place to the great law of necessity, and charity; because God will have mercy preferred before sacrifice.
7 Detained - Not by force but by his choice; he fixed his abode there for that day; either because it was the sabbath - day; on which he might not proceed in his journey, or for the discharge of some vow. Before the Lord - That is, at the tabernacle. An Edomite - By birth, but he was proselyted to the Jewish religion.
9 Ephod - That is, behind that holy place allotted for the keeping of the sacred, or priestly garments; all which are here comprehended under the ephod; which, as the chief is put for all the rest. Here it was laid up as a sacred monument of God's power and goodness. None like it - Because it not only served him for his use, for he was a strong and tall man, and one that could wield that sword, but was also a pledge of God's favour to him. Whenever be looked upon it, it would be a support to his faith, by reminding him of what God had already done.
10 To Achish - A strange action; but it must be considered, that Saul's rage was so great, his power also, and diligence in hunting after him that he despaired of escaping any other way: and a desperate disease, produceth a desperate remedy. The king elect is here an exile: anointed to the crown, and yet forced to run his country. So do God's providences sometimes run counter to his promises, for the trial of our faith, and the glorifying his name in accomplishing his counsels, notwithstanding the difficulties that lie in the way.
11 King of the land - Of Canaan. They call him king, either more generally for the governor, the most eminent captain and commander, or, as the king elect, the person designed to be king: for, by this time, the fame of Saul's rejection, and David's destination to the kingdom, was got abroad among the Israelites, and from them, probably to the Philistines. Did they not sing, &c. - And therefore consider what to do; and now our great enemy is in thy hand, be sure thou never let him go alive.
12 Was afraid - Lest either their revenge or policy should prompt them to kill him. Perhaps he was the more apprehensive, because he wore Goliath's sword, which was probably well known at Gath. He now learned by experience what he afterward taught us, Psal 118:9. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put any confidence in princes.
15 Mad men - It is highly probable, Achish was aware, that this madness was counterfeit. But being desirous to preserve David, he speaks as if he thought it real.

Chapter XXII

David escapes to the cave of Adullam, where many resort to him, ver. 1, 2. Lodges his parents with the king of Moab, ver. 3, 4. Comes to the forest of Hareth, ver. 5. Saul complains of his servants as unfaithful to him, ver. 6 - 8. On the information of Doeg, he orders the priests of Nob to be slain, and their city destroyed, ver. 9 - 19. David is informed of this by Abiathar, ver. 20 - 23.

2 Debt - Probably poor debtors, whom the creditors were obliged to spare, Exod 22:25. And though their persons were with David, yet their lands and goods were liable to their creditors. Captain over them - He did not maintain any injustice or wickedness, which some of them possibly might be guilty of; but on the contrary, he instructed and obliged them to the practice of all justice and honesty.
3 'Till I know, &c. - He expresses his hopes very modestly, as one that had entirely cast himself upon God, and committed his way to him, trusting not in his own arts or arms, but in the wisdom, power and goodness of God.
4 Hold - In holds; the singular number being put for the plural; as is frequent; that is, as long as David was forced to go from place to place, and from hold to hold, to secure himself: for it concerned David to secure his father, and he did doubtless secure him for all that time; and not only while he was in the hold of Mizpeh, or of Adullam, which was but a little while.
5 Abide not - Do not shut up thyself here. Judah - Go and shew thyself in the land of Judah, that thou mayest publicly put in thy claim to the kingdom after Saul's death; and that thy friends may be invited and encouraged to appear on thy behalf. Hereby also God would exercise David's faith, and wisdom, and courage; and so prepare him for the kingdom.
6 Spear - It seems, as an ensign of majesty, for in old times kings carried a spear instead of a sceptre.
7 Ye Benjamites - You that are of my own tribe and kindred, from whom David designs to translate the kingdom to another tribe. Will he distribute profits and preferments among you Benjamites, as I have done? Will he not rather prefer those of his own tribe before you?
8 That all, &c. - See the nature of jealousy, and its arts of wheedling to extort discoveries of things that are not.
10 He enquired - David chargeth him with the sin of lying, Psal 52:3, and it is not improbable, that he told many lies not here expressed; and withal, he was guilty of concealing part of the truth, which in this case he was obliged to declare for Ahimelech's just defence, namely, the artifice whereby David circumvented Ahimelech: making him believe, that he was then going upon the king's business, so that the service he did to David, was designed in honour to Saul.
11 The priests - Of the house of Eli, which God had threatened to cut off, chap.2:31.
14 And said - He doth not determine the difference between Saul and David; nor affirm what David now was: but only declared what David formerly had been, and what he was still, for anything he knew to the contrary.
15 Knew nothing of all this - Of any design against thee.
18 The Edomite - This is noted to wipe off the stain of this butchery from the Israelitish nation, and to shew, why he was so ready to do it, because he was one of that nation which had an implacable hatred against all Israelites, and against the priests of the Lord.
19 Both men, &c. - In all the life of Saul, there is no wickedness to be compared to this. He appears now to be wholly under the power of that evil spirit which had long tormented him. And this destruction could not but go to the heart of every pious Israelite, and make them wish a thousand times, they had been content with the government of Samuel.
20 Abiathar - Who by his father's death was now high - priest.

Chapter XXIII

David saves Keilah from the Philistines, ver. 1 - 6. His danger there, and deliverance from it, ver. 7 - 13. He remains in the wilderness of Ziph, and is visited by Jonathan, ver 14 - 18. Saul pursues him, ver. 19 - 25. His narrow escape, ver. 26 - 29

1 The Philistines, &c. - Probably it was the departure of God and David from Saul, that encouraged the Philistines to make this inroad. When princes begin to persecute God's people and ministers, let them expect nothing but vexation on all sides.
4 Enquired again - Not for his own, but for his soldiers satisfaction.
6 Ephod - With the Ephod, the high - priest's Ephod, wherein were the Urim and the Thummim, which when Ahimelech and the rest of the priests went to Saul, were probably left in his hand. This gave him the opportunity both of escaping, whilst Doeg the butcher was killing his brethren, and of bringing away the Ephod, which Saul now was justly deprived of.
11 The Lord said - From this place it may appear that God's answer by Urim and Thummim, was not by any change in the colour or situation of the precious stones in the breast - plate of the Ephod, but by a voice or suggestion from God to the high - priest. He will - He purposeth to come, if thou continuest here. For still as David's question, so God's answer, is upon supposition.
16 And strengthened - He comforted and supported him against all his fears, by minding him of God's infallible promises made to him, and his singular providence which hitherto had and still would be with him.
17 Next to thee - Which he gathered either from David's generosity, and friendship to him; or from some promise made to him by David concerning it. So that the whole imports thus much; I do not look to be king myself (as by my birth I might expect,) but that thou shalt be king (God having so appointed) and I but in a secondary place inferior to thee.
18 Made a covenant - They then parted, and never came together again, that we find, in this world.
19 Ziphites - Who were of David's own tribe tho' for this their unnatural carriage to him, he calls them strangers, Ps 54:3.
25 A rock - That is, into a cave which was in the rock; where at first he might think to hide himself, but upon farther consideration he removed from thence upon Saul's approach.
27 A messenger, &c. - The wisdom of God is never at a loss for ways, and means to preserve his people.
28 Called, &c. - That is, The rock of divisions, because there Saul was separated, and in a manner pulled asunder from David, who was now almost within his reach.

Chapter XXIV

Saul pursues David to Engedi, ver. 1, 2. David cuts off his skirt, ver. 3 - 7. He reasons with Saul, ver. 8 - 15. Saul owns his fault, and returns home, ver. 16 - 22

2 Rocks - Which the wild goats used to delight in and climb over. These very rocks are exceeding steep, and full of precipices, and dangerous to travellers, as an eye - witness hath left upon record. And yet Saul was so transported with rage, as to venture himself and his army here, that he might take David, who, as he thought, would judge himself safe, and therefore be secure in such inaccessible places.
3 Went in - To sleep there: Saul being a military man, used to sleep with his soldiers upon the ground. And it is not improbable, that being weary with his eager and almost incessant pursuit, first of David, then of the Philistines, and now of David again, he both needed and desired some sleep, God also disposing him thereto, that David might have this eminent occasion to demonstrate his integrity to Saul, and to all Israel. Of the cave - For that there were vast caves in those parts is affirmed, not only by Josephus, but also by Heathen authors; Strabo writes of one which could receive four thousand men.
4 Behold, &c. - Not that God had said these words, or made any such promise; but they put this construction upon those promises which God had made to him, of delivering him from all his enemies, and carrying him through all difficulties to the throne. This promise they conceived put him under an obligation of taking all opportunities which God put into his hand for their accomplishment.
10 Mine eye - The eye is said to spare, because it affects the heart with pity, and moves a man to spare.
12 Will avenge - If thou persistest in thy injuries and cruel designs against me.
13 Wickedness, &c. - That is, wicked men will do wicked actions, among which this is one, to kill their sovereign lord and king; and therefore if I were so wicked a person as thy courtiers represent me, I should make no conscience of laying violent hands upon thee.
16 Thy voice - He knew his voice, though being at a great distance from him, he could not discern his face. Wept - From the sense of his sin against God, and his base carriage to David. He speaks as one quite overcome with David's kindness, and as one that relents at the sight of his own folly and ingratitude.
17 More righteous than I - He ingenuously acknowledges David's integrity, and his own iniquity.
19 The Lord reward thee - Because he thought himself not able to recompense so great a favour, he prays God to recompense it.
22 Unto the hold - Of En - gedi, ver.1, for having had by frequent experience of Saul's inconstancy, he would trust him no more.

Chapter XXV

Samuel's death, ver. 1. The character of Nabal, ver. 2, 3. David's requests to him, ver. 4 - 9. His churlish answer, ver. 10 - 13. David's purpose to destroy him told to Abigail, ver. 13 - 17. She pacifies David, ver. 18 - 31. His answer, ver. 32 - 35. The death of Nabal, ver. 36 - 38. David marries Abigail and Ahinoam, ver. 39 - 44.

1 Lamented him - Those have hard hearts, that can bury their faithful ministers with dry eyes, and are not sensible of the loss of them who have prayed for them, and taught them the way of the Lord.
2 Carmel - In some part of this wilderness Israel wandered, when they came out of Egypt. The place would bring to mind God's care concerning them, which David might now improve for his own encouragement.
3 Abigail - That is, the joy of his father: yet he could not promise himself much joy of her, when he married her to such an husband: it seems, in inquiring, (no unfrequent thing) more after his wealth, than after his wisdom. Caleb - This is added to aggravate his crime, that he was a degenerate branch of that noble stock of Caleb, and consequently of the tribe of Judah, as David was.
4 Shear sheep - Which times were celebrated with feasting.
6 Prosperity - By this expression David both congratulates Nabal's felicity, and tacitly minds him of the distress in which he and his men were.
7 We hurt not - This considering the licentiousness of soldiers, and the necessities David and his men were exposed to, was no small favour, which Nabal was bound both in justice, and gratitude, and prudence to requite.
8 A good day - That is, in a day of feasting and rejoicing; when men are most chearful and liberal; when thou mayst relieve us out of thy abundance without damage to thyself; when thou art receiving the mercies of God, and therefore obliged to pity and relieve distressed and indigent persons.
17 Can not speak - But he flies into a passion.
18 Abigail took, &c. - This she did without his leave, because it was a case of apparent necessity, for the preservation of herself, and husband, and all the family from imminent ruin. And surely, that necessity which dispenseth with God's positive commands, might dispense with the husband's right, in this case. Bottles - Casks or rundlets.
22 Enemies of David - That is, unto David himself. But because it might seem ominous to curse himself, therefore instead of David, he mentions David's enemies. But is this the voice of David? Can he speak so unadvisedly with his lips? Has he been so long in the school of affliction, and learned no more patience therein? Lord, what is man? And what need have we to pray, lead us not into temptation.
24 And said, &c. - Impute Nabal's sin to me, and if thou pleasest, punish it in me, who here offer myself as a sacrifice to thy just indignation. This whole speech of Abigail shews great wisdom, by an absolute submitting to mercy, without any pretence of justification, of what was done, (but rather with aggravation of it) she endeavours to work upon David's generosity, to pardon it. And there is hardly any head of argument, whence the greatest orator might argue in this case, which she doth not manage to the best advantage.
25 Nabal is his name - Nabal signifies a fool.
26 As Nabal - Let them be as contemptible as Nabal is, and will be for this odious action; let them be as unable to do thee any hurt as he is; let them be forced to yield to thee, and implore thy pardon, as Nabal now doth by my mouth: let the vengeance thou didst design upon Nabal and his family fall upon their heads, who, by their inveterate malice against thee, do more deserve it than this fool for this miscarriage; and much more than all the rest of our family, who, as they are none of thine enemies, so they were in way guilty of this wicked action. And therefore spare these, and execute thy vengeance upon more proper objects.
27 Blessing - So a gift or present is called here, and elsewhere; not only because the matter of it comes from God's blessing; but also because it is given with a blessing, or with a good will. Unto the young men - As being unworthy of thine acceptance or use.
28 The trespass - That is, which I have taken upon myself, and which, if it be punished, the punishment will reach to me. Sure house - Will give the kingdom to thee, and to thy house for ever, as he hath promised thee. And therefore let God's kindness to thee, make thee gentle and merciful to others; do not sully thy approaching glory with the stain of innocent blood; but consider, that it is the glory of a king, to profit by offences: and that it will be thy loss to cut off such as will shortly be thy subjects. The battles - For the Lord, and for the people of the Lord against their enemies; especially, the Philistines. And as this is thy proper work, and therein thou mayest expect God's blessing; so it is not thy work to draw thy sword in thy own private quarrel against any of the people of the Lord; and God will not bless thee in it. Evil hath not, &c. - Though thou hast been charged with many crimes by Saul and others; yet thy innocency is evident to all men: do not therefore by this cruel act, justify thine enemies reproaches, or blemish thy great and just reputation.
29 A man - Saul though no way injured. Thy soul - To take away thy life. Bundle of life - Or, in the bundle: that is, in the society, or congregation of the living; out of which, men are taken, and cut off by death. The phrase is taken from the common usage of men, who bind those things in bundles, which they are afraid to lose. The meaning is, God will preserve thy life; and therefore it becomes not thee, unnecessarily to take away the lives of any; especially of the people of thy God. With the Lord - That is, in the custody of God, who by his watchful providence, preserves this bundle, and all that are in it; and thee in a particular manner, as being thy God in a particular way, and special covenant. The Jews understand this. not only of the present life, but of that which is to come, even the happiness of departed souls, and therefore use it commonly, as an inscription on their grave - stones. "Here we have laid the body, trusting the soul is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord." Sling out - God himself will cut them off suddenly, violently, and irresistibly; and cast them far away; both from his presence, and from thy neighbourhood, and from all capacity of doing thee hurt.
31 No grief - The mind and conscience will be free from all the torment which such an action would cause in thee. By which, she intimates, what a blemish this would be to his glory, what a disturbance to his peace, if he proceeded to execute his purpose: and withal implies, how comfortable it would be to him to remember, that he had for conscience to God, restrained his passions. Causeless - Which she signifies would be done if he should go on. For though Nabal had been guilty of abominable rudeness, and ingratitude; yet he had done nothing worthy of death, by the laws of God or of man. And whatsoever he had done, the rest of his family were innocent. Avenged - Which is directly contrary to God's law, Levit 19:18 Deut 32:35. Then - When God shall make thee king, let me find grace in thy sight.
32 The Lord - Who by his gracious providence so disposed matters, that thou shouldst come to me: He rightly begins at the fountain of his deliverance; and then proceeds to the instruments.
33 From coming, &c. - Which I had sworn to do. Hereby it plainly appears, that oaths whereby men bind themselves to any sin, are null and void: and as it was a sin to make them; so it is adding sin to sin to perform them.
35 Accepted - That is, shewed my acceptance of thy person, by my grant of thy request.
36 A feast - As the manner was upon those solemn occasions. Sordid covetousness, and vain prodigality were met together in him. Told nothing - As he was then incapable of admonition, his reason and conscience being both asleep.
37 His heart died - He fainted away through the fear and horror of so great a mischief though it was past. As one, who having in the night galloped over a narrow plank, laid upon a broken bridge, over a deep river; when in the morning he came to review it, was struck dead with the horror of the danger he had been in.
38 Smote - God either inflicted some other stroke upon him, or increased his grief and fear to such an height, as killed him.
39 Blessed, &c. - This was another instance of human infirmity in David. David sent - But this doubtless was not done immediately after Nabal's death, but some time after it; though such circumstances be commonly omitted in the sacred history; which gives only the heads, and most important passages of things.

Chapter XXVI

The Ziphites inform Saul of David, who pursues him again, ver. 1 - 3. David sends out spies, and views his camp, ver. 4, 5. Comes to him, being asleep, and takes his spear and cruse of water, ver. 6 - 12. Reasons with him upon it, ver. 13 - 20. Saul again owns his spirit, and promises to pursue him no more, ver. 21 - 25

5 The Ziphites - Probably Saul would have pursued David no more, had not these wretches set him on.
6 Zerujah - David's sister. His father is not named either because he was now dead; or because he was an obscure person.
7 Came - That is, to Saul's host. It might seem a bold and strange attempt; but it may be considered:
  1. That David had a particular assurance that God would preserve him to the kingdom.
  2. That he had a special instinct from God, to this work; and possibly God might inform him, that he had cast them into a deep sleep, that he might have this second opportunity of manifesting his innocency towards Saul.
9 Destroy him not, &c. - Though Saul be a tyrant, yet he is our Lord and king; and I, though designed king, as yet am his subject; and therefore cannot kill him without sin, nor will I consent that thou shouldst do it.
11 Take the spear - Which will shew where we have been, and what we could have done.
13 Afar off - That his person might be out of their reach, and yet his voice might be heard; which in a clear air, and in the silence of the night might be heard at a great distance.
14 Cried to the people - It is probable this was early in the morning.
19 The Lord - If the Lord hath by the evil spirit which he hath sent, or by his secret providence, directed thy rage against me for the punishment of thine, or my sins. An offering - Let us offer up a sacrifice to God to appease his wrath against us. Driven me - From the land which God hath given to his people for their inheritance, and where he hath established his presence and worship. Go serve - This was the language of their actions. For by driving him from God's land, and the place of his worship, into foreign and idolatrous lands, they exposed him to the peril of being either ensnared by their counsels, or examples; or forced by their power to worship idols.
20 Before the Lord - Remember, if thou dost it, God the judge of all men seeth it, and will avenge it; though I will not avenge myself.
21 My soul, &c. - This second instance of David's tenderness wrought more upon Saul than the former. He owns himself melted and quite overcome by David's kindness to him. My soul was precious in thine eyes, which I thought had been odious. He acknowledges he had done very ill to persecute him: I have acted against God's law, I have sinned: and against my own interest, I have played the fool, in pursuing him as an enemy, who was indeed one of my best friends. And herein I have erred exceedingly, have wronged both thee and myself. Nothing can be more full and ingenuous than this confession: God surely now touched his heart. And he promises to persecute him no more: nor does it appear that he ever attempted it.
25 Blessed, &c. - So strong was his conviction now, that he could not forbear blessing him, foretelling his success, applauding David, and condemning himself, even in the hearing of his own soldiers. And this, it seems, was their last interview. After this they saw each other no more.

Chapter XXVII

David retires to Gath, ver. 1 - 4. Achish gives him Ziklag, ver. 5 - 7. David destroys the Canaanites, ver. 8, 9. Persuades Achish he fought against Judah, ver. 10 - 12.

1 I shall perish - But this was certainly a very great fault in David: for
  1. This proceeded from gross distrust of God's promise and providence; and that after such repeated demonstrations of God's peculiar care over him.
  2. He forsakes the place where god had settled him, chap.22:5, and given him both assurance and experience of his protection there.
  3. He voluntarily runs upon that rock, which he cursed his enemies for throwing him upon, chap.26:19, and upon many other snares and dangers, as the following history will shew; and withal, deprives the people of the Lord of those succours which he might have given them, in case of a battle.
But God hereby designed to withdraw David from the Israelites, that they might fall by the hand of the Philistines, without any reproach or inconvenience to David.
4 Sought no more for him - At their meeting Saul's heart was deeply wounded, and he had said, "Return, my son David, Be with me as in time past." Nor have we the least proof, that he would have sought for him again, with any other design.
5 Give me a place - A prudent desire. Hereby David designed to preserve his people, both from the vices, which conversation with the Philistines would have exposed them to; and from that envy, and malice, which diversity of religion might have caused. With thee - Which is too great an honour for me, and too burdensome to thee, and may be an occasion of offence to thy people.
6 Gave Ziklag - Not only to inhabit, but to possess it as his own. Which he did, to lay the greater obligations upon David, whom he knew so able to serve him. It was given to the tribe of Judah before, Josh 15:31, but the Philistines kept the possession of it 'till this time. And being given by them to David, it now belonged not to the tribe of Judah; but to the king of Judah, David and his heirs forever. To this day - This, and some such clauses seem to have been added, after the main substance of the several books was written.
8 Amalekites - The remnant of those whom Saul destroyed, chap.15:3 - 9, who retired into remote and desert places.
9 Let neither man, &c. - In that part where he came: but there were more of the Amalekites yet left in another part of that land.
10 David - These and the following words are ambiguous, and contrary to that simplicity which became David, both as a prince, and as an eminent professor of the true religion. The fidelity of Achish to him, and the confidence he put in him, aggravates his sin in thus deceiving him, which David seems penitently to reflect on, when he prays, Remove from me the way of lying.

Chapter XXVIII

The conference between Achish and David, ver. 1 - 2. The preparation of the Philistines, and the distress of Saul, ver. 3 - 6. He applies to a woman which had a familiar spirit, to raise Samuel, ver. 7 - 11. Samuel appears, and foretells his defeat and death, ver. 12 - 19. Saul faints, and is with difficulty persuaded to take any sustenance, ver. 20 - 25.

2 Can do - He speaks ambiguously, as he did before.
5 He trembled - Had he kept close to God, he needed not fear all the armies of the Philistines.
7 That hath, &c. - One that converseth with the devil, or dead men's ghosts, and by them can discover future things. See Isa 8:19.
8 Disguised - Both because he was ashamed to be known, or thought guilty of this practice; and because he suspected, the woman, had she known him, would not practice her art before him.
11 Samuel - Whose kindness and compassion as he had formerly experienced, so now he expected it in his deep distress. This practice of divination by the dead, or the souls of dead persons, was very usual among all nations.
12 Saw Samuel - The words are express, the woman saw Samuel, instead of the spirit whom she expected to see, God ordering it so for his own glory. She cried with a loud voice - Terrified and astonished, and thence easily conjectured, whom she had been talking with.
13 Gods - That is, a god, and divine person, glorious, and full of majesty and splendor, exceeding not only mortal men, but common ghosts. She used the plural number, gods, either after the manner of the Hebrew language, which commonly uses that word of one person: or, after the language and custom of the heathens.
14 A mantle - The usual habit of prophets, and particularly of Samuel, chap.15:27. If it was not Samuel, but an other spirit in his shape, it is not true, that Saul perceived it was Samuel. It seems Saul did not see him, so soon as the woman, which occasioned his asking those questions.
15 Called Samuel - Happy had it been, if he had called Samuel sooner, or rather the God of Samuel! It was now too late: destruction was at hand and God had determined, it should not be stayed.
17 To him - To David.
19 Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me:
"What do these solemn words portend? A gleam of hope when life shall end. Thou and thy sons, tho' slain shall be To-morrow in repose with me. Not in a state of health or pain If Saul with Samuel doth remain; Not in a state of damn'd despair, If loving Jonathan is there."
Tho' these words may only mean, ye shall surely die, without any reference to the state of their souls after death. See note on "1Sa 31:8"
20 Fell - As if the Archers of the Philistines had already hit him, and there was no strength in him, to bear up against these heavy tidings: especially, as we cannot doubt, but all his past sins were now brought to his remembrance and what authority has any man to affirm, that he felt no contrition all this time? Altho' it did not seem good to the holy ghost, to leave it upon record?
21 Came to Saul - From whom she departed, when she had brought him and Samuel together, that they might more freely converse together.
24 Unleavened - Not having time to leaven it.

Chapter XXIX

The princes of the Philistines object against David's going with them to the battle, ver. 1 - 5. He is dismissed by Achish, ver. 6 - 11.

2 With Achish - As the life - guard of Achish. Achish being, as it seems, the general of the army.
3 The princes - The Lords of the other eminent cities, who were confederate with him in this expedition. These days or years - That is, did I say days? I might have said years. He hath now been with me a full year and four months, chap.27:7, and he was with me some years ago, 1Sam 21:10, and since their time hath been known to me. And it is not improbable, but David, after his escape from thence, might hold some correspondence with Achish, as finding him to be a man of a more generous temper than the rest of the Philistines, and supposing that he might have need of him for a refuge, in case Saul continued to seek his life. Since he fell - Revolted, or left his own king to turn to me.
4 Make this fellow - Herein the wise and gracious providence of God appeared, both in helping him out of these difficulties, out of which no human wit could have extricated him, but he must have been, an ungrateful person either to the one or the other side, and moreover in giving him the happy opportunity of recovering his own, and his all from the Amalekites, which had been irrecoverably lost, if he had gone into this battle. And the kindness of God to David was the greater, because it had been most just for God to have left David in those distresses into which his own sinful counsel had brought him. These men - That is, of these our soldiers, they speak according to the rules of true policy; for by this very course, great enemies have sometimes been reconciled together.
8 David said &c. - This was deep dissimulation and flattery, no way to be justified. None knows, how strong a temptation they are in to compliment and dissemble, which they are in who attend great men.
9 Angel of God - In whom nothing is blame - worthy. The Heathens acknowledged good spirits, which also they worshipped as an inferior sort of deities, who were messengers and ministers to the supreme God; Achish had learned the title of angels, from the Israelites his neighbours, and especially from David's conversation.
11 Rose up early - David did not then know, how necessary this was, for the relief of his own city. But God knew it well, and sent him thither accordingly. On how many occasions may he say, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter?

Chapter XXX

Ziklag plundered: David and his men distressed, ver. 1 - 6. Encouraged of God, he pursues them, ver. 7 - 10. He gains intelligence from a straggler, ver. 11 - 15. Routs the enemy, and recovers all they had taken, ver. 16 - 20. Makes an order for dividing the spoil, ver. 21 - 25. Sends presents to his friends, ver. 26 - 31

1 The south - Namely, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent parts.
4 Wept - It is no disparagement to the boldest, bravest spirits, to lament the calamities of friends or relations.
6 Stoning him - As the author of their miseries, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites to this cruelty, and by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving their wives and children unguarded. Encouraged himself - That is, in this that the all - wise, and all - powerful Lord, was his God by covenant and special promise, and fatherly affection, as he had shewed himself to be in the whole course of his providence towards him. It is the duty of all good men, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in the Lord their God, assuring themselves, that he both can and will bring light out of darkness.
7 The ephod - And put it upon thyself, that thou mayst enquire of God according to his ordinance, David was sensible of his former error in neglecting to ask counsel of God by the ephod, when he came to Achish, and when he went out with Achish to the Battle; and his necessity now brings him to his duty, and his duty meets with success.
8 He answered - Before, God answered more slowly and gradually, chap.23:11,12, but now he answers speedily, and fully at once, because the business required haste. So gracious is our God, that he considers even the degree of our necessities, and accommodates himself to them.
10 Four hundred - A small number for such an attempt: but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.
12 Three days and nights - One whole day and part of two others, as appears from the next verse, where he saith, three days ago I fell sick, but in the Hebrew it is, this is the third day since I fell sick.
13 Egypt - God by his providence so ordering it, that he was not one of that cursed race of the Amalekites, who were to be utterly destroyed, but an Egyptian, who might be spared. Left me - In this place and condition: which was barbarous inhumanity: for he ought, and easily might have carried him away with the prey which they had taken. But he paid dear for this cruelty, for this was the occasion of the ruin of him and all their company. And God by his secret providence ordered the matter thus for that very end. So that there is no fighting against God, who can make the smallest accidents serviceable to the production of the greatest effects.
14 Cherethites - That is, the Philistines. Caleb - This is added by way of explication: that part of the south of Judah which belongs to Caleb's posterity.
15 Will bring thee - For his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them, as soon as he could.
16 Upon all the earth - Secure and careless, because they were now come almost to the borders of their own country, and the Philistines and Israelites both were otherwise engaged, and David, as they believed, with them. So they had no visible cause of danger; and yet then they were nearest to destruction.
17 Twilight - The word signifies both the morning and evening twilight. But the latter seems here intended, partly because their eating, and drinking, and dancing, was more proper work for the evening, than the morning; and partly, because the evening was more convenient for David, that the fewness of his forces might not be discovered by the day - light. It is probable, that when he came near them, he reposed himself, and his army, in some secret place, whereof there were many parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.
20 Other cattle - Before those that belonged to Ziklag. David's spoil - The soldiers, who lately were so incensed against David, that they spake of stoning him: now upon this success magnify him, and triumphantly celebrate his praise; and say concerning this spoil, David purchased it by his valour and conduct, and he may dispose of it as he pleaseth.
21 Saluted them - He spoke kindly to them, and did not blame them because they went no further with them.
23 My brethren - He useth his authority to over - rule them; but manageth it with all sweetness, tho' they were such wicked and unreasonable men, calling them brethren; not only as of the same nation and religion with him, but as his fellow - soldiers. What God hath freely imparted to us, we should not unkindly and injuriously withhold from our brethren.
24 Part alike - A prudent and equitable constitution, and therefore practiced by the Romans, as Polybius and others note. The reason of it is manifest; because they were exposed to hazards, as well as their brethren: and were a reserve to whom they might retreat in case of a defeat; and they were now in actual service, and in the station in which their general had placed them.
26 Elders of Judah - Partly in gratitude for their former favours to him: and partly, in policy, to engage their affections to him.

Chapter XXXI

Israel overthrown, and Saul, his three sons, his armour - bearer and all his men slain, ver. 1 - 6. The Israelites forsake their cities, ver. 7. The camp plundered and the dead bodies insulted, ver. 8 - 10. But rescued by the men of Jabesh - Gilead, ver. 11 - 13.

2 Jonathan - David's dear friend; God so ordering it for the farther exercise of David's faith and patience; and that David might depend upon God alone for his crown, and receive it solely from him, and not from Jonathan; who doubtless, had he lived, would have speedily settled the crown upon David's head. There was also a special providence of God, in taking away Jonathan, (who of all Saul's sons, seems to have been the fairest for the crown) for preventing divisions, which might have happened amongst the people concerning the successor: David's way to the crown being by this means made the more clear. Abinadab - Called also Ishui, chap.14:49. Ishbosheth was not here, being possibly at home for the management of affairs there.
8 Saul and his three sons - "The scripture, as Mr. Henry well observes, makes no mention of the souls of Saul and his sons, what became of them after they were dead: secret things belong not to us."
9 Cut off his head - As the Israelites did by Goliath, and fastened it in the temple of Dagon, 1Chron 10:10. Idols - To give them the glory of this victory. And by this respect shewn to their pretended deities, how do they shame those, who give not the honour of their achievements to the living God?
12 Took the body, &c. - This they did, not only out of a concern, for the honour of Israel, and the crown of Israel, but out of gratitude to Saul, for his zeal and forwardness to rescue them from the Ammonites.
13 Fasted - To testify their sorrow for the loss of Saul, and of the people of God; and to intreat God's favour to prevent the utter extinction of his people. But you must not understand this word of fasting strictly, as if they eat nothing for seven whole days; but in a more large sense, as it is used both in sacred and profane writers; that they did eat but little, and that but mean food, and drank only water for that time. This book began with the birth of Samuel, and ends with the death of Saul: The comparing these together will teach us to prefer the honour that comes from God, before all the honours of the world.

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