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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 1

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

Verse 1

Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;

David had abode two days in Ziklag. Though greatly reduced by the Amalekite incendiaries, that town was so completely sacked and destroyed, but David and his 600 followers, with their families, could still find some accommodation.

Verse 2

It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.

A man came out of the camp from Saul. Since the narrative of Saul's death, given in the last chapter, is inspired, it must be considered the true account, and the Amalekite's story a fiction of his own, invented to ingratiate himself with David, the presumptive successor to the throne, David's question, "How went the matter?" evinces the deep interest he took in the war-an interest that sprang from feelings of high and generous patriotism, not from views of ambition. The Amalekite, however, judging him to be actuated by a selfish principle, fabricated a story improbable and inconsistent, which he thought would procure him a reward. Having probably witnessed the suicidal act of Saul, he thought of turning it to his own account, and suffered the penalty of his grievously-mistaken calculation (cf. 2 Samuel 1:9 with 1 Samuel 31:4-5).

Verses 3-9

And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 10

So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

The crown - a small metallic cap or wreath, which encircled the temples, serving the purpose of a helmet, with a very small horn projecting in front, as the emblem of power.

The bracelet that was on his arm - the armlet worn above the elbow, an ancient mark of royal dignity. It is still worn by kings in some Eastern countries.

Verses 11-12

Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 13

And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.

Whence art thou? The man had at the outset stated who he was. But the question was now formally and judicially put.

Verse 14

And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?

How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed? This phrase, "the Lord's anointed," was so much used by David, and perhaps his men also, that the neighbouring nations came to use it as a title of the Hebrew monarch.

Verse 15

And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 16

And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD's anointed.

David said ... Thy blood, [ daamªkaa (H1818), thy bloods] - i:e., blood-guiltiness. The punishment inflicted on the Amalekite may seem too severe, but the respect paid to kings in the West must not be regarded as the standard for that which the East may think due to royal station. David's reverence for Saul, as the Lord's anointed, was in his mind a principle on which he had faithfully acted on several occasions of great temptation. In present circumstances it was especially important that his principle should be publicly known; and to free himself from the imputation of being in any way accessory to the execrable crime of regicide, was the part of a righteous judge, no less than of a good politician.

Verse 17

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:

David lamented with this lamentation. It has always been customary for Eastern people, on the death of great kings and warriors, to celebrate their qualities and deeds in funeral songs. This inimitable pathetic elegy, of which J. Olshausen ('Die Psalter, Einleitung,' p. 8) says, from internal evidence, it was David's-for no other poet than he could be the author-is supposed by many writers to have become national war song, and to have been taught to the young Israelites under the name of 'The Bow,' in conformity with the practice of Hebrew and many classical writers in giving titles to their song from the principal theme (Psalms 22:1-31; Psalms 56:1-13; Psalms 45:1-17; Psalms 60:1-12; Psalms 80:1-19; Psalms 100:1-5.) Although the words "use of" are a supplement by our translators, they may be rightly introduced; because the natural sense of this parenthetical verse is, that David took immediate measures for instructing the people in the knowledge and practice of archery, their great inferiority to the enemy in this military arm having been the main cause of the late national disaster. But the former is most probably the right view, since it is added, "behold, it is written in the book of Jasher" - i:e., embodied in the Hebrew anthology, or book of popular national songs (see the note at Joshua 10:13).

Verse 18

(Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 19

The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!

The beauty of Israel - literally, the gazelle or antelope of Israel (cf. 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8; Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5). In Eastern countries that animal is the chosen type of beauty and symmetrical elegance of form.

How are the mighty fallen! This forms the chorus.

Verse 20

Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

Tell it not in Gath ... In David's time Gath was one of the principal towns in the Philistine territory, ranking, in point of population, prosperity, and strength, with Askelon. In the age of Micah it had fallen into obscurity and insignificance, if it existed at all. Yet the poetical apostrophe of David, which had become proverbial, was still used by the Hebrews, as it often is by ourselves, although its original application has ceased.

Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph - (see the note at 1 Samuel 18:25, where the discrepancy between the language of Scripture and the statement of Herodotus, b. 2:, 104, as to the early practice of circumcision, is shown to be easily reconcilable.)

Verse 21

Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

Ye mountains of Gilboa, [ haareey (H2022) ba-Gilboa` (H1533)]. Gilboa is called a mountain, 1 Samuel 31:8, but here is described, in the plural, as a chain or ridge of low-lying hills.

Let there be no dew, neither ... rain. To be deprived of the genial atmospheric influences which, on those anciently cultivated hills, seem to have reared plenty of first-fruits in the grain harvests, was specified as the greatest calamity the lacerated feelings of the poet could imagine. The curse seems still to lie upon them for the mountains of Gilboa are naked and sterile.

The shield of the mighty is vilely cast away. To cast away the shield was counted a national disgrace. Yet, on that fatal battle of Gilboa, many of the Jewish soldiers who had displayed unflinching valour in former battles, forgetful of their own reputation and their country's honour, threw away their shields and fled from the field. This dishonourable and cowardly conduct is alluded to with exquisitely touching pathos.

The shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. This supplement in our translation is improper. The clause should stand thus: 'the shield of Saul, not anointed (unanointed) with oil,' which was besmeared or rubbed over it, to render the leather more tough and less penetrable (cf. Isaiah 21:5). [The suggestion of Dr. Delaney has been adopted by many-that for bªliy (H1097), not, the reading in the text should be kªliy (H3627), weapons, 'the armour of him anointed with oil.']

Verse 22

From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, [ gibowriym (H1368)]. Some think that this term was intended to describe the gigantic size of the Philistines; but since it is applied, 2 Samuel 1:25, to Saul and Jonathan, it must be considered as expressive of physical strength and courage, more than extraordinary stature.

Verse 23

Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 24

Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

Ye daughters of Israel. The reference is to the bands of young women, belonging to the cities of Israel, who flocked in great numbers to meet the general and his victorious army on their return from a war, and celebrated his gallant deeds in jubilant strains, receiving as their rewards part of the spoil, in the form of festive dresses and various ornaments.

Clothed you in scarlet, with other delights ... The fondness for dress which anciently distinguished Oriental women is their characteristic still. It appears in their love of bright, happy, and different colours, in profuse display of ornaments, and in various other forms. The inmost depths of the poet's feelings are stirred, and his amiable disposition appears in the strong desire to celebrate the good qualities of Saul as well as Jonathan. But the praises of the latter form the burden of the poem, which begins and ends with that excellent prince.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/2-samuel-1.html. 1871-8.
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