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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 17

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 28


‘Eliab’s anger was kindled against David.’

1 Samuel 17:28

I. There is something in the character of Eliab which makes him unfit for the office of king.—Eliab seems to have become a great man afterwards. We read of him as a prince of the tribe of Judah, and of his daughter or his granddaughter as the queen of Rehoboam. But, though the eldest son of the house and of the tribe, there was wanting in him the especial spirit of David: he showed, though in less degree, the fault of Saul, and the very next thing we find him doing is exhibiting the contrary character to Samuel’s and David’s, and saying and doing exactly what Saul might have done.

II. It is an instance of envy, of harsh, uncharitable judgment.—When David came down with a message from his father, Eliab, utterly misunderstanding the case, caring nothing to know the rights of it, heedless of justice or of feeling, forgets that the boy has been sent by his father, sent for his good and sent at a risk, and he shows penetration, as he thinks, in accusing David of coming down merely to see the battle. How prone we all are to ascribe our neighbour’s act to self-seeking and self-conceit and self-indulgence, while for our own faults we find excuses, justifications, easy assertions! There are pleasures greater than triumphs, clearer insight than worldly penetration. Let us rejoice over each other’s good and discern each other’s goodness, because ‘charity envieth not, seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil.’

—Archbishop Benson.


(1) ‘The strong faith by which David was actuated was attended with a meek temper and a forbearing heart. “And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” No railing returned for railing, when his noble spirit of self-sacrifice met with this undeserved abuse. This admirable spirit of self-command already marked out David as a ruler of men.’

(2) ‘The envious anger of Eliab against David, and David’s meekness and yet firm defence of his righteous indignation against this giant defier of Israel, form an instructive episode in this part of the narrative. The colloquy between Saul and David, too, is full of suggestion. Indeed, you read here the secret and inspiration of the after defiance, combat, and victory of David.’

(3) ‘ David and Eliab represent within the people of God the contrast between the disposition which looks above to the honour and the ends of the living God, and that which looks to earthly possession and earthly-worldly interests, which is not capable of recognising ideal moral motives in others, but judging by itself, ascribes to them only low and selfish aims. Selfishness, passionately roused by envy and jealousy, hinders a just judgment of the bearing and conduct of brethren, and leads to wicked accusation against them.’

Verse 37


‘David said, moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.’

1 Samuel 17:37

Consider: I. How David reasoned from past mercies, and grounded upon them the expectation of future aid from above.—He had been delivered from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, and this deliverance he recalled to mind in a moment of new danger, as feeling it to be prophetic of his victory over the giant, and thus had he commenced, even in his young days, that habit of appealing to his own experience of which we find frequent traces in his writings, and which cannot be too earnestly commended to all who wish to enjoy godly peace.

II. David’s readiness to make use of means, notwithstanding his full confidence in the succour and protection of God.—He tried the armour which Saul proposed, though he felt assured that the Lord would deliver him. If ever man might have ventured to neglect means, since the result was ordained, David might have been warranted in refusing the armour without trying it on. But this is just what David did not do; he proceeded on the principle that no expectation of a miracle should make us slack in the employment of means, but that so long as means are within reach we are bound to employ them, though it may not be through their use that God will finally work.

—Canon Melvill.


(1) ‘God strengthened him against the bear and lion; and what, or who is this Philistine that is prowling round the fold, like a wild beast in search of prey? Such is the use which David makes of his past life. Such is the use we ought to make of ours. We may have no miraculous deliverances to speak of, no victories over the lion and the bear; but we have much to tell of God and His providences, of God and His watchfulness, of God and His love. Our lives, though the poorest and commonest, are strewed all over with providences. It becomes us to interpret and to use these daily; each of them is a messenger from God. Are we using our lives rightly? Are we understanding and appreciating our experiences?’

(2) ‘David saw God upon the scene. Israel saw nothing but that tower of brass. He also saw the arm of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. They compared themselves with Goliath. He contrasted Goliath with Jehovah. They heard nothing but the derisive boasts of their adversary and the voice of their own misgivings. He heard only the promise of the faithful God: “Be strong … be not afraid, for the Lord thy God is with thee.” And David had experience of Jehovah’s faithfulness. The God who protected him when he fought for his father’s sheep he knew would not forsake him when he fought for God’s own fold. And David’s confidence in God was reasonable from another point of view. He might well ask, “Is there not a cause?” The interest of Israel, the honour of Jehovah, were at stake: it was reasonable, therefore, to believe that he would not be left to fight alone. It was reasonable to believe that God had not brought him there to leave him helpless or to have him turn his back and flee. That faith which we first draw from the promises of God may get confirmation from His providence, until doubt is banished and we advance without a fear. This is not fanaticism; it is the right blending of reason and faith.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 17". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-samuel-17.html. 1876.
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