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1Sa 26:1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, [which is] before Jeshimon?
Ver. 1. And the Ziphites came unto Saul. ] As they had done once before, 1Sa 23:19 and therefore being conscious of their former treachery, and in addition desirous to curry favour with Saul, they stir him up to destroy David, whom they ought to have favoured, as being of their own tribe. Jos 15:55
Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah? ] Is he not, with the hunted hare, returned to his old form? There he had found God appearing for him, as out of an engine, and there he hopeth to find him again. It is not amiss in our daily prayers, to accustom ourselves to the same place; faith may hereby be somewhat helped, as Jacob’s was by Bethel and Penuel.
1Sa 26:2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
Ver. 2. Then Saul arose. ] Though he had otherwise resolved. 1Sa 24:16-22 Good motions that fall into wicked hearts, are like some sparks that fall from the flint and steel into wet tinder; light some for the time, but soon go out.
1Sa 26:3 And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which [is] before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.
Ver. 3. He saw that Saul came after him. ] He had an inkling of it; and knowing that sine vano publica fama, rumours are neither to be too much heeded, nor yet altogether slighted.
1Sa 26:4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.
Ver. 4. David therefore sent out spies. ] A practice in war both lawful and prudential.
That Saul was come in very deed. ] The devil driving him: for as he, being cast out of heaven, keepeth ado, and is restless; so do unruly spirits, led by him. And as he, being god of this world, is vexed to see men in the world to walk above the world: so are his instruments. See. Psalms 27:12 .
1Sa 26:5 And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him.
Ver. 5. And came to the place. ] He came privily, saith the Vulgate, and as some think, in a disguise; as Alexander once did into the camp of King Porus: but surely not without a divine instinct, like as Gideon went to the host of the Midianites. Jdg 7:9-11
And Saul lay in the trench. ] Or, In the midst of the carriages; in ambitu plaustrorum, for safety’s sake; and in the midst of this people, which yet could not secure him. Henry IV, of France, was stabbed by a traitor in the midst of all his forces; so little trust is there to [be put in] men or means.
1Sa 26:6 Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.
Ver. 6. And to Abishai the son of Zeruiah. ] David’s own sister; her husband not mentioned, because, haply, of meaner rank, and no great deserts; her two sons Abishai and Joab were, as it is said of the two Roman Scipios,
“ Duo fulmina belli. ” - Lucan.
The two thunderbolts of war.
1Sa 26:7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster: but Abner and the people lay round about him.
Ver. 7. So David and Abishai came. ] Ahimelech belike durst not venture, or else David was willing to have but only one with him, for secrecy sake.
But Abner and the people lay round about him. ] See on 1 Samuel 26:5 .
1Sa 26:8 Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not [smite] him the second time.
Ver. 8. God hath delivered, &c. ] See on 1 Samuel 24:4 .
I will not smite him the second time. ] I desire to have but one blow at him, to give him his passport.
1Sa 26:9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless?
Ver. 9. Destroy him not. ] Hoc enim indecens et indignum mihi videtur. "Keep thee far from an ill matter." Exo 23:7 "Meddle not with them that are given to change." Pro 24:21 The Ruteni are said to have every day one new king or more, according as they are able to make themselves so. a
a Val. Max. Christian, p. 350.
1Sa 26:10 David said furthermore, [As] the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish.
Ver. 10. The Lord shall smite him. ] The offending lion is not to be lashed with every man’s whip, but by the rod of his accustomed governor. And as men endure with patience a barren year, if it happen, or unseasonable weather: so must they tolerate the imperfections of their rulers, and quietly expect either reformation or alteration. But ill accidents attend such princes, as being absolute in power, will be too resolute in will, and dissolute in life.
1Sa 26:11 The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that [is] at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
Ver. 11. And the cruse of water. ] Clepsydram, the hour glass, as some render it; others understand it of a bottle of rose-water standing there to refresh him. But probably it was a cruse of common water to be used either for drink or for washing. Iudaei etiam in lecto purgantur, saith Clement of Alexandia. a The Jews wash by night many times. The Turks also are much in this ceremony.
a Strom., lib. iv. cap. 7.
1Sa 26:12 So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul’s bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw [it], nor knew [it], neither awaked: for they [were] all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.
Ver. 12. So David took the spear. ] He took it himself, and would not trust Abishai with it, saith Vatablus, lest he should strike Saul with it; for his fingers even itched to be doing.
1Sa 26:13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space [being] between them:
Ver. 13. And stood on the top of a hill afar off. ] On a hill, that he might be heard; and afar off, that he might provide for his own safety. Vide hic ut David in omnes formas se transformet ad Saulem placandum, sanandum et salvandum. See here, saith one, a how David turneth himself into all shapes and forms of spirit and of speech for Saul’s good; and learn to do accordingly. Be all things to all men to win them to God.
a Illud nimirum sapere est, si ubicunque opus sit animum possis flectere.
1Sa 26:14 And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who [art] thou [that] criest to the king?
Ver. 14. Answerest thou not, Abner? ] It seemeth that David had often called unto him, and that by name; for so men asleep are soonest waked.
That criest to the king, ] i.e., To the disturbance of the king.
1Sa 26:15 And David said to 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? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
Ver. 15. Art not thou a valiant man? ] Heb., A man, that is, a man every inch of thee? and hast thou not played the man in guarding thy sovereign so carefully? If Philip sleep, should not Antipater watch the while? Lilloe slept between the murderer and King Edwin his master, to intercept the deadly thrust intended and aimed at the heart of his sovereign. a
1Sa 26:16 This thing [is] not good that thou hast done. [As] the LORD liveth, ye [are] worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear [is], and the cruse of water that [was] at his bolster.
Ver. 16. Ye are worthy to die, ] sc., Ex iure Gentium, because ye keep no better a watch. Epaminondas walking the round, slew a watchman whom he found sleeping; and defended the fact by saying, Talem reliqui, qualem inveni, I left him no otherwise than I found him.
And now see where the king’s spear is.] Ecce signum, lo here an ocular demonstration of thy blameworthiness, but of mine integrity and innocence.
1Sa 26:17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, [Is] this thy voice, my son David? And David said, [It is] my voice, my lord, O king.
Ver. 17. Is this thy voice, my son David? ] See 1 Samuel 24:16 , See Trapp on " 1Sa 24:16 "
1Sa 26:18 And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil [is] in mine hand?
Ver. 18. Wherefore doth my lord. ] Nothing is more irrational than irreligion. Would wicked persons but consider their ways, as they are oft advised, Haggai 1:5 ; Hag 1:7 they would see them compact of mere incongruities and absurdities. But their lusts do so hang in their light that they think they have reason to be mad; and that there is no small sense in sinning.
1Sa 26:19 Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if [they be] the children of men, cursed [be] they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.
Ver. 19. Let him accept an offering. ] Heb., Let him smell, viz., the savour of a sacrifice, and be reconciled through the passion of Christ, whereof those sacrifices were sacraments. And hereunto David doubted not but God would condescend, for he is gracious, and doth abundantly pardon. Isa 55:7
From abiding in the inheritance of the Lord. ] This troubled David more than the loss of all other comforts and accommodations.
Saying, Go, serve other gods. ] This they said not verbally, but interpretatively, and upon the matter, when they compelled him to sojourn in Mesech and Kedar.
1Sa 26:20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.
Ver. 20. Let not my blood fall to the earth. ] Slay me not, for God seeth and will require it. 2Ch 24:22
“ Ne pecces, Deus ipse videt, bonus Angelus astat. ”
To seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge. ] Out of his modesty and low mindedness, comparat se pulici et perdici, he compareth himself to these contemptible creatures, see 1 Samuel 24:14 .
1Sa 26:21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
Ver. 21. For I will no more do thee harm. ] No more till next time. Saul’s good affections and resolutions were so far from being like the Persian decrees, unalterable, that they were more like the Polonian laws, which, they say, last but three days.
Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. ] Nay, you have done worse than all that: for, against the light of your own mind, you have maliciously persecuted that godly man whom God had set apart for himself. Psa 4:3
1Sa 26:22 And David answered and said, Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.
Ver. 22. Behold the king’s spear!] Which I took away, not to retain it, but to return it, whereas thereby I had cleared nay much wronged innocence.
1Sa 26:23 The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into [my] hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed.
Ver. 23. The Lord render to every man his righteousness. ] Saving me from thy tender mercies, for they are cruelties, and from thy fair promises, for there is no trusting to them.
But I would not stretch forth mine hand. ] Here is his holy gloriation: for as every flower hath its sweet smell, so hath every good action its comfort and refreshing; but especially when we withstand a strong temptation, as here.
1Sa 26:24 And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.
Ver. 24. And, behold, as thy life, &c. ] What brave rhetoric is here! what heart could be so hard as to resist it? Ipsa Suada, credo, si loqui posset, non potuisset εμφατικοτερως .
1Sa 26:25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed [be] thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great [things], and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
Ver. 25. Thou shalt both do great things. ] Faciendo facies. The Tigurines translate it, Et facies et omnino perficies, thou shalt do the deed, and go thorough stitch with it, as we use to say. And so David did indeed above all that went before him; so that in his days, and his son Solomon’s, that kingdom was at its highest ακμη but no thanks to Saul, who truly foretold it, but maliciously opposed it to his utmost.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29