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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 26

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-25

1 Samuel 26:5 . Saul lay in the trench. Junius reads, “among the waggons;” the Vulgate, “He slept in the tent.” The Romans mostly fortified their camp; the Greeks did the same on the Trojan shore.

1 Samuel 26:6 . Zeruiah. She was David’s sister, and had three sons; Abishai, Joab, and Asahel, the last of whom Abner slew. 1 Chronicles 2:16.

1 Samuel 26:25 . So David went on his way; and would not trust his life in the hands of the Benjamites.


Whether the Ziphites were afraid of Saul’s displeasure, or whether they thought to do the king a favour by acting as spies over David, is not asserted; but evident it is, that they acted a very insidious part. Had David been of Saul’s temper on his coming to the throne, their policy would have received a full reward.

Saul, who seems to have entertained no designs against David after losing the skirts of his robe, found all his bad and lurking passions revive on receiving information of the Ziphites. How lamentable and dangerous is it to suffer jealousy, malice, or any wicked passion to corrode the heart. It may rise with strength in the hour of temptation, and cover better men than Saul with confusion of face.

This new calamity coming on David, afforded him another opportunity for the display of virtue. The sudden and secret approach of the king inspired his soul, not with fear but with fortitude. He felt the spirit of his anointing return, as when he slew the lion and the bear; and as when he went against Goliath with a sling and a stone in the name of his God. Calumniated on every side, he had no way of justifying himself but by his actions. Presuming therefore on the negligence of Saul’s camp, and on his valour in case of alarm, he resolved to give the king a second proof of his innocence by sparing his life. Abishai seconded his view: so these two men performed a deed which enrolled their names in the annals of immortality.

Mark the providential care of God over his covenant servant. Correspondent to David’s courage, a deep sleep from God had fallen on Saul and his houshold troops. David and Abishai entered the camp; the weary monarch extended in profound repose, his guards were all secure around him; for David was their guardian. And happy that it was David, not Abishai, who presided in command. He left him as he found him, in profound safety and repose. He took only the splendid spear, and the pitcher from the bolster of the king. Here God gave David a most singular proof of his faithfulness and care, that he might learn to fear him and none besides.

No sooner did the day dawn, than David was the first to beat the reveille to the slumbering foe. He cried and shouted from the adjacent hill, bearing a trophy in each hand. His triumph over Abner in point of generalship is consummate in its kind. “Answerest thou not, Abner? Art not thou a valiant man? And who is like to thee in Israel? Wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king?” Abner was silent; Abner was covered with shame. Thus in the sight of God and all good men shall the workers of iniquity be put to silence.

Saul hearing David’s voice, and knowing now that he had twice spared his life, was pierced to the heart, and more deeply than Abishai could have pierced him while asleep. Coals of fire were heaped on his head; and his heart though very hard, melted in the flame. He confessed his sin, and avowed his folly; he blessed his son, and invited him home. And as Saul never saw David after that morning, it was a happiness that they parted so tenderly, and that the king so faithfully in future kept his covenant with his servant. Why should we not hope from this contrition all that charity would prompt us to hope?

Mark the piety of David amid the severities of a long exile. His chief grievance arose from being driven out from the Lord’s inheritance, and from being bid to go and serve other gods; a calamity which tempted him to the destruction of both his body and his soul: he himself knew best how to comment on this calamity, and to appreciate the privileges of an Israelite. ”How amiable are thy tabernacles, oh Lord of hosts. My soul longeth, yea, fainteth for the courts of the Lord.” He envied the little birds who could build their nests in his house, and preferred the office of a doorkeeper there to that of a prince in the tents of wickedness.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-samuel-26.html. 1835.
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