Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 12th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 18

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. They were nearly of an age. The prince had taken little interest in David as a minstrel; but his heroism, and modest, manly bearing, his piety and high endowments, kindled the flame, not of admiration only, but of affection, in the congenial mind of Jonathan.

Verse 2

And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.

Saul would let him go no more home. He was established as a permanent resident at court.

Verse 3

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant. Such covenants of brotherhood are frequent in the East. They are ratified by certain ceremonies, and in presence of witnesses, that the persons covenanting will be sworn brothers for life.

Verse 4

And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe ... and gave it to David. To receive any part of the dress which had been worn by a sovereign, or Iris oldest son and heir, is deemed in the East the highest honour which can be conferred on a subject (see the note at Esther 6:8). The girdle, being connected with the sword and the bow, may be considered as being part of the military dress, and great value is attached to it in the East.

Verse 5

And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 6

And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.

The women came out of all cities of Israel - in the homeward march from the pursuit of the Philistines.

With instruments of music, [ uwbshaalishiym (H7991); Septuagint, en kumbalois] - with cymbals. These were metallic instruments of percussion. They were in form somewhat like a cup, and on the outside of the hollow part was a strap, through which the player who held them struck one against the other with greater or less violence, as the music or the occasion called for (Psalms 150:5). In the open air their sound produced a martial effect. This is a characteristic trait of Oriental manners. On the return of friends long absent, and particularly on the return of a victorious army, bands of women and children issue from the towns and villages, to form a triumphal procession to celebrate the victory, and as they go along, gratify the soldiers with dancing, instrumental music, and extempore songs, in honour of the generals who have earned the highest distinction by feats of gallantry. They formed themselves into two choirs, which sung in alternate or responsive strophes. The chorus was:

"Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands."

(See the note at Exodus 15:20: cf. Psalms 68:11-12.) The Hebrew women, therefore, were merely paying the customary congratulations to David as the deliverer of their country; but they committed a great indiscretion by praising a subject at the expense of their sovereign.

Verses 7-8

And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 9

And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

Saul eyed David, [ `owyeen (H5770), was eyeing (the participle denoting continuous action upon another] -

i.e., invidiously, with secret and malignant hatred. [The Vatican copy of the Septuagint omits. The Alexandrian copy (Tischendorf's notes) has: een hupoblepomenos, was suspicious of, looked sternly at, David.]

Verse 10

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.

On the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul. This rankling thought brought on a sudden paroxysm of his mental malady.

He prophesied, [ wayitnabee' (H5012)]. The term denotes one under the influence either of a good or a bad spirit. In the present instance it is used to express that Saul was in a frenzy-a violent raving (cf. 1 Samuel 19:24). [The Septuagint, mistaking the sense-has proefeeteusen, prophesied, which our translators borrowed. But it is an unhappy translation.] David, perceiving the symptoms, "played with his hand" (1 Samuel 16:23 - i:e., hastened, by the soothing effects of his harp, to allay the stormy agitation of the royal mind. But ere its mollifying influence could be felt, Saul hurled a javelin at the head of the young musician.

There was a javelin in Saul's hand. It was the royal sceptre, which he always had. Had it been followed by a fatal result, the deed would have been considered the act of an irresponsible maniac. It was repeated more than once ineffectually, and Saul became impressed with a dread of David as under the special protection of Providence.

Verses 11-12

And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 13

Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.

Therefore Saul removed him from him - sent him away from the court, where the principal persons, including his own son, were spell-bound with admiration of the young and pious warrior.

And made him his captain over a thousand - gave him a military commission, which was intended to be an honourable exile. But this post of duty served only to draw out before the public the extraordinary and varied qualities of his character, and to give him a stronger hold of the people's affections.

Verses 14-16

And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 17

And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD's battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.

My elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife. Though bound to this already, he had found it convenient to forget his former promise, and now holds it out as a new offer, which would tempt David to give additional proofs of his valour.

Only be thou valiant for me. But the fickle and perfidious monarch broke his pledge at the time when the marriage was on the eve of being celebrated, and bestowed Merab on another man (see the note at 2 Samuel 21:8) - an indignity as well as a wrong, which was calculated deeply to wound the feelings and provoke the resentment of David. Perhaps it was intended to do so, that advantage might be taken of his indiscretion. But David was preserved from this snare.

Verses 18-19

And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 20

And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

Michal [Septuagint, Melchol], Saul's daughter, loved David. This must have happened some time after.

They told Saul, and the thing pleased him - not from any favour to David, but he saw that it would be turned to the advancement of his malicious purpose, and the more so when, by the artful intrigues and flattery of his spies, the loyal sentiments of David were discovered.

Verses 21-24

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 25

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

The king desireth not any dowry. In Eastern countries the husband purchases his wife either by gifts or services. Since neither David nor his family were in circumstances to give a suitable dowry for a princess, the king intimated that he would be graciously pleased to accept some gallant deed in the public service.

An hundred foreskins of the Philistines. Such mutilations on the bodies of their slain enemies were commonly practiced in ancient war, and the number told indicated the glory of the victory. Saul's willingness to accept a public service had an air of liberality, while his choice of so difficult and hazardous a service seemed only putting a proper value on gaining the hand of a king's daughter. But he covered unprincipled malice against David under this proposal, which exhibited a zeal for God and the covenant of circumcision.

Verse 26

And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired.

The days were not expired - the period within which this exploit was to be achieved was not exhausted.

Verse 27

Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.

David ... slew of the Philistines two hundred men. The number was doubled, partly to show his respect and attachment to the princess, and partly to oblige Saul to the fulfillment of his pledge. This passage and 2 Samuel 1:20 (cf. Genesis 34:1-31), where the Philistines are called "the uncircumcised," seems directly at variance with a well-known statement by Herodotus (b. 2:: cf. ch. 104: Diodorus, b. 1:, 28), of the fact that circumcision was practiced, not only by the Egyptians and Ethiopians, but by the Syrians of Palestine and the Phoenicians, But the two statements, though apparently conflicting, are capable of being adjusted. 'Subsequently to the time of Saul a great change took place in the population of the Philistine cities, and a considerable Egyptian element, practicing circumcision, had probably been introduced' (Blakesley's 'Notes;' also Wilkinson in Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' 2:, p. 104).

Gave them in full tale to the king. Trophies of this sort, whether hands, heads, or other dismembered relics of slaughtered remains, were minutely enumerated and carefully recorded (Gliddon's 'Ancient Egypt,' p. 99; Layard).

Verse 28

And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 29

And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.

Saul was yet the more afraid of David - because Providence had visibly favoured him, by not only defeating the conspiracy against his life, but through his royal alliance paving his way to the throne.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.
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