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1Sa 29:1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which [is] in Jezreel.
Ver. 1. To Aphek. ] Which was contiguous to Shunem. 1Sa 28:4
Which is in Jezreel. ] This also was near to mount Gilboa. Chronology and topography are the two eyes of history.
1Sa 29:2 And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.
Ver. 2. Passed on by hundreds, and by thousands. ] Lustrabrant exercitum, they made a general muster, and took a view of their forces, by their several companies, regiments, and brigades.
In the rereward with Achish. ] Whom they had chosen general; wherefore also he brought up the rear, having David and his men for his bodyguard, which the Philistines as much stomached as the French ever did their king’s guard of Scots.
1Sa 29:3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What [do] these Hebrews [here]? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, [Is] not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell [unto me] unto this day?
Ver. 3. What do these Hebrews here? ] A people ever as much hated by the heathens for their religion, as afterwards the Christians were: but now more than ordinarily by these Philistines, because their mortal enemies.
And I have found no fault in him. ] Faults David had not a few, Psa 19:12 and if the best man’s faults were written in his forehead, it would make him pull his hat over his eyes, but God had hid them from public notice; which was to him a greater mercy than it is to us, that the filth and stench that is within us annoyeth us not. If Seneca could say of Cato, that he was the lively image of all virtues: and Valerius Maximus of Scipio, that he was the man whom God would have [to be] born, ut esset in quo virtus per omnes numeros hominibus efficaciter se ostenderet, that he might be a perfect pattern to men of unblamable conversation: how much more might the same be said of the holy David?
1Sa 29:4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? [should it] not [be] with the heads of these men?
Ver. 4. And the princes of the Philistines were wroth. ] Therefore it appeareth they were his fellow princes, of the four other Satrapies, since they thus roughly ruffle with him: as also did Achilles in Homer with Agamemnon, -
“ οινοβαρες, κυνος ομματ εχων, κραδιην δ ελαφοιο ”
- Iliad., lib. i.
Make this fellow return. ] A happy word for David, who was now in a great perplexity and peril, either of betraying his trust or fighting against his own people: neither of which he could have done with a good conscience. Here, therefore, God cut asunder this gordian knot, which David knew not how to untie. It would be ill with us sometimes, were it not for God’s good providence, and others’ malice.
Lest in the battle he be an adversary to us. ] As some others have been. 1Sa 14:21 He is but a reconciled enemy at best: and Reconciliationes sunt vulpinae amicitiae: he is not to be trusted. This was military prudence in these princes, though Achish had endeavoured to justify David against their jealousies.
1 Samuel 29:5 [Is] not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
Ver. 5. Is not this David? ] They knew the acts of other countries. Princes should be good historians, and well seen in foreign affairs.
1Sa 29:6 Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, [as] the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host [is] good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.
Ver. 6. Surely, as the Lord liveth. ] He swareth by Jehovah, of whom haply he had got some notions, either from the ancient patriarchs, or at least from David, whom haply he thought to please herewith; Diodate saith, he flattered with him; sure it is that David flattered grossly with Achish, 1Sa 29:8 which if Achish had known, he would never have said -
Thou hast been upright. ] It is better, saith one, to live so as thine enemies may be amazed at thy virtues, than that thy friends should have cause to excuse thy vice.
Nevertheless the lords favour thee not. ] Great men are not always good men. That was an extraordinary example of a nobleman of this nation, who in the worst of times, when he came into jeering company of great ones, would begin and own himself one of those they called Puritans, and so anticipated them. a "Not many mighty, not many noble are called": blessed be God that any are.
a Mr Burroughs on Hosea i. p. 307.
1Sa 29:7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.
Ver. 7. Wherefore now return, and go in peace. ] Happy for David to be thus opportunely cashiered, when he was, as it were, inter saccum et saxum, in a great doubt what to do, and how to come off with comfort. They that trust in God shall never be confounded. If David had not been thus dismissed, what would have become of poor Ziklag, much about this time sacked by the Amalekites?
1Sa 29:8 And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?
Ver. 8. That I may not go fight against the enemies. ] This David pretended; but this he would not have done for any good: so that he evidently flattereth and glosseth with Achish. The best have their frailties, not a few: Nimis augusta res est, nuspiam errare.
1Sa 29:9 And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou [art] good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
Ver. 9. Thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God. ] Thou art both pious and prosperous; secunde fluunt omnia ubicunque ades. a See Genesis 33:19 2 Samuel 14:17 . Chrysostom calleth some eminent Christians of his time earthly angels; and Dr Taylor blessed the Lord that ever he came acquainted with that angel of God, John Bradford. The heathens were not without some blind notions of God and his angels; whom Plato maketh to be caeli motores; and Plutarch, messengers betwixt God and men, Iussa divina ferentes ad homines, et hominum vota ad deos; but excellent persons every way.
Notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said. ] He rehearseth not all, nor the worst of the princes’ words; to teach us, saith Osiander, that when we do report a tale from another man’s mouth, we should make not the worst, but the best of it.
1Sa 29:10 Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
Ver. 10. Wherefore now rise up early in the morning. ] Matutinum te age in mane, get up by peep of day, before the fight begin. Oh, happy word! the fruit of prayer doubtless, and therefore the sweeter to David; who could the better digest the contumely of being cashiered the army.
With thy master’s servants,] i.e., Cum meis servis qui sum dominus tuus, with my servants who are your lord, saith Piscator. But others understand it, and better, of Saul’s servants, and this bred the jealousy.
1Sa 29:11 So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
Ver. 11. To return into the land of the Philistines. ] Not to defend their borders, as Josephus will have it; but to do God service at Ziklag, and there to receive such as resorted unto him to make him king. See 1 Chronicles 12:19-21 .
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 29". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29