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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 21

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verses 8-9


‘And David said unto Abimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword?’ etc.

1 Samuel 21:8-9

The token of the victories of youth. There is nothing like that—no such talisman, no such weapon as that to be borne or wielded—no marvel that David rejoices to hear it is within reach.

The sword was to David (1) The token of a good deed which he had done in singleness of heart. (2) The token of God’s certain help in answer to faith. (3) The memory of a great danger past.

I. The thought of a good deed done in singleness of spirit lies at the heart as the warmest of God’s comforts.—Forty days the Philistine drew near, morning and evening, and presented himself. What lay before Israel, if the boy champion had not arrived, was to be the servant of the enemy; yet no one stirred. But David’s spirit had not been overpowered. His instinct was not to watch till the fascination of fear had overcome him as it did the other warriors. It was to strike—strike with the simple weapon he was used to, and lo, the terror was gone. Our solitary souls, as well as the great world, are such a battlefield. The struggle is daily renewed. Two principles within—one godless and defying, one whose eyes are lit with the eternal light. Sin will overcome faith, or faith will overcome sin; and each memory of a victory of faith is a strength in itself.

II. And then, again, to look back on the signs of God’s ready help, old answers to prayer when we were in trouble, the expected strength which did not disappoint us but was with us in some trial; these things bring home to us the sense of God’s presence and of God’s help, until we are most sure of this, that all things work together for good to them that love Him.

III. But above all sources of strength, the memory of a great danger past is the most fruitful. A terror taken possession of, the assurance that it will terrify us no more; this is what God gives to good men in the evening of life.

—Archbishop Benson.


(1) ‘David is low enough now, a fugitive with manifold straits and dangers in store. This sword reminds him how the Lord delivered him in his encounter with the giant. It calls up his old faith; rebukes his unbelieving thoughts, and bids his fears be gone. He is assured the Lord will carry him through.’

(2) ‘There are two notable sayings here which we may well appropriate. The business of our king requires haste, and there is no sword to be compared with that of the Word of God, with which our David defeated the tempter in the wilderness. But when first spoken they were each coloured by the deceit of him who uttered them.’

(3) ‘David knew both its weakness and its power—its weakness, as a mere human instrument, apart from, and raised against, the power of God—and its strength when wielded in God’s service, for with it he had cut off the head of the Philistine. Let us learn, First, the powerlessness of the greatest human means, if God be not working with them. Secondly, how God can, and does, work quite without the use of means—and Thirdly, how ordinarily He blesses means, and works through them, if employed by faithful hands.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 21". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-samuel-21.html. 1876.
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