Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, May 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 1

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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;

Now it came to pass. — Heb., And it came to pass: for the history is here continued by some of Samuel’s disciples, and, as some gather from 1 Chronicles 29:29 , by Gad and Nathan.

After the death of Saul. — Who began his reign with great glory and renown, but ended it with shame. Contrariwise David; who therein also became a type of Christ. Philippians 2:7-9

When David was returned from the slaughter, … — And was now triumphing and sending presents to his friends, he is thus, for an allay to those his comforts, met by an evil messenger. Miscentur tristia laetis. It is in heaven alone that we shall have joys without measure or mixture.

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. — The Hebrews will have this man to be Doeg’s son, and further tell us that Doeg, Saul’s armourbearer, delivered to this son of his Saul’s crown and bracelets, willing him to repair therewith to David, so to win his favour.

With his clothes rent. — In token of greatest grief, as 1 Samuel 4:12 .

Verse 3

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

Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped. — But as good he had lost his life there; for his preservation was but a reservation to a worse end. Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him. "Bloody and deceitful persons shall not live out half their days." Psalms 55:23

Verse 4

And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.

How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. — He was very desirous to hear what was the issue of the battle, and how it went with the poor people of God; and hence this earnest inquiry. So 1 Samuel 4:13 . See Trapp on " 1 Samuel 4:13 "

Verse 5

And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?

Unto the young man. — The lad, the stripling, the servant, for so David took him to be: and such are called lads or boys in many languages. "Herod said to his servants"; Matthew 14:2 Gr., to his boys. And the Latins call the body Corpus or Corpor, quasi Cordis puer, as some will have it.

That Saul and Jonathan his son be dead. — For there lay the pinch of his grief, and the public concernment.

Verse 6

And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.

As I happened by chance. — An artificially composed speech, but scarce ever a true word. This Amalekite, which signifieth a licking-people, would, like a cur-dog, have sucked David’s blood only with licking; but was happily disappointed. Indeed, he happening happed upon Saul now dead, and brought away his crown and bracelets, for the which he promised himself some great preferment: but why should he tell so many lies? assuens mendacium mendacio, as Psalms 119:69 - viz., that he leaned, or fell, upon his spear, when it was upon his sword, 1 Samuel 31:4 that he talked to him, when his armourbearer saw him dead first, 1 Samuel 31:5 that he should desire an uncircumcised Amalekite to do for him that which he would not have done by the uncircumcised Philistines, …, Hugo observeth that Saul died by that sword wherewith he should have done to death the Amalekites. And another observeth that he is, if not slain, yet despoiled of his ornaments by an Amalekite whom he had spared. So at the hour of death men’s unmortified corruptions shall take their crown from them, - keep them out of heaven. Romans 8:13

Verse 7

And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here [am] I.

And when he looked behind him. — This fellow had taught his tongue to speak lies, and wearied himself to commit iniquity. Jeremiah 9:5 He was an artist at it: and, like Dolon in Homer,

“ Iσκε ψευδεα πολλα λεγειν ετυμοισιν ομοια .”

Verse 8

And he said unto me, Who [art] thou? And I answered him, I [am] an Amalekite.

I am an Amalekite.See Trapp on " 2 Samuel 1:6 "

Verse 9

He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life [is] yet whole in me.

For anguish σκοτος δεινον . - Sept. is come upon me. — Or, My chlamys ocellata, coat of mail, hindereth me, that I cannot die. Life may prove a mischief to a man; we should therefore set the less by it. Bernard saith it would be little better to us than hell, were it not for the hopes we have of heaven.

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.

So I stood upon him, and slew him. — Lie and all: but this word was his death, David judging him out of his own mouth. Plutarch telleth us that Artaxerxes commanded three needles to be thrust through the tongue of a certain soldier, qui mentitus fuerat duos hostes se obtruncasse, who lyingly said that he had killed two of the enemy.

Verse 11

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

Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them. — Which manner was taken up at first by extremity of passion, without any regard to the decency of whole apparel, or damage by tearing them; and afterwards, by the example of some eminent persons, drawn into common practice. This David and his men did cordially, as there was cause, for the public; though for their own particular there was no such great reason.

Verse 12

And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.

And they mourned, and wept, and fasted. — The manlier any man is, the milder and more merciful. Julius Caesar when he had Pompey’s head presented to him wept, and said, Non mihi placet vindicta, sed victoria, I sought not revenge, but victory. David was well pleased with Nabal’s death; but mourned for Saul’s: the case was not alike.

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.

I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite. — This he had said before in David’s hearing, 2 Samuel 1:8 but he being full of grief, minded it not belike.

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, … — William Parry was for burglary condenmed to die: and yet saved by Queen Elizabeth’s pardon. Speed. But he, ungrateful man, sought to requite her by vowing her death, A.D. 1584; but ever he was daunted, though he had opportunity, when he beheld the glory of her presence and majesty in her face.

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.

And he smote him that he died. — And alike sped those that murdered Ishbosheth, whom David caused instantly to be put to death, abhorring their treason, though attended with a kingdom. He that betrayed the Rhodes to the Turk was served in like sort, ending his life with shame and torment. So was Earl Godwin here, and Earl Doring in Bohemia by Duke Neda.

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.

Thy blood be upon thy head. — For though Saul desired thee to despatch him, as thou hast said, and volenti non fit iniuria: yet because he was felo de se, as lawyers now speak, a suicide, it was not lawful for thee to help him out of the world, although the enemy had given him his death wound, and he therefore desired it of thee. Say that there was no wrong hereby done to Saul’s self, yet wrong was done to God the Lord of Saul’s life, as also to the commonwealth whereof Saul was the head; so saith Aquinas. Tho. iii. p. 9, 47, ar. vi. ad. 3.

Saying, I have slain the Lord’s anointed. — A just hand of God upon this Amalekite, for his lying.

Verse 17

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

And David lamented. — He composed this following elegy, or epitaph, this funeral song: a usual practice among the ancients.

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.)

Also he bade them teach. — Or, And he spake it to teach, …, sc., in honour of Jonathan, so skilful a bowman, 2 Samuel 1:22 and for their own future defence against the Philistine archers, who had wounded and slain Saul and his sons with these weapons, 1 Samuel 31:3 for which end also, among others, David made this doleful ditty to be sung by all sorts for their instruction and comfort. After the discomfiture of the Athenians in Sicily, those were relieved who could repeat somewhat out of Euripides, the tragedian.

The children of Judah the use of the bow. — David was not so overcome with grief but he could think of this, and gave order to have it done for a public good. The Lacedemonians, and before them the Ethiopians, accustomed their youth daily to fling javelins or great stones, to shoot at marks, to run races, …, before they either ate or drank.

Behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher. — A general chronicle, say some: a brief compend, say others, of the most memorable things touching that nation: and haply called the Book of Jasher, in allusion to the name of Jeshurun, whereby is meant Israel. Deuteronomy 32:15 ; Deuteronomy 33:5 See Trapp on " Joshua 10:13 "

Verse 19

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

The beauty of Israel. — Here beginneth this sad sonnet, whereof this verse is the foot, and is therefore repeated. 2 Samuel 1:25 ; 2 Samuel 1:27 Junius Est genus lamentationis cycloides. - Jun. Decus, desiderium, et gloria. readeth it, O thou beauty of Israel: which is, saith he, a periphrasis of God, of the land, saith Diodate. Daniel 8:9 ; Daniel 11:16 In this short song there are many things to be understood as being concise: the expressions of a man grieved for the death of his dear friends, and done in metre, which causeth a cloud.

How are the mighty fallen!q.d., By a divine hand doubtless, else they could hardly have been over matched: such notable warriors they were. In the remembrance of many that are yet alive at Ostend in the Netherlands, the most warlike soldiers of Europe, whilst they most eagerly contended for that barren plot of land, had, as it were, one common sepulchre, but an eternal monument of their valour. Camd., Elis.

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.Ah utinam saltem cladem hanc celare possemus hostes nostros. If wishing were anything, I could heartily wish that our enemies might never come to the knowledge of this great loss of ours. For how, alas! will they exult and insult over us, blaspheming God, and condemning his Church! as Judges 16:23-30 .

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. — A poetical exclamation, together with a hyperbolical imprecation-which possibly was as effectual as that of our Saviour pronounced upon the barren fig tree - in monumentum tanti mali, as a monument of this disastrous accident: the ground being clad in black as in mourning. Adrichomius and others say that these mountains of Gilboa are to this day rocky, dry, and barren: like unto which was Hesiod’s country Ascra: and St David’s in Wales is said to be a place neither pleasant, fertile, nor safe: for, as Giraldus Cambrensis reporteth of it, it is neither furnished with woods, watered with rivers, beautified with meadows, nor enriched with any kind of fruitful soil.

Is vilely cast away. — As either useless or cumbersome.

As though he had not, … — But either a usurper, or a common soldier. So it is a baleful business when God seemeth to cast off his people, as if they were nothing to him; not "holy," or "partakers of the heavenly calling." Hebrews 3:1

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. — The sword is in Scripture said to "devour flesh" and to "drink blood." Saul and Jonathan were not wont to be worsted, however it hath now fallen out. Hunniades fought five times upon one day with the Turks, and five times foiled them, and put them to flight. Our Black Prince was ever victorious.

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.

Lovely and pleasant in their lives. — Both to others and betwixt themselves: they loved one another dearly.

And in their death they were not divided. — A worthy pattern of true and perfect friendship; on the outside of whose garment was anciently written, Mors et Vita, Athen., lib. iii. death and life; in her forehead, summer and winter, … Such fast friends were the Sacra cohors sacred cohorts among the Thebans: Caes., De Bel. Gal., lib. iii. the Soldurii the elite corps among the old French: the sworn brethren among the Irish, …

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. — Women love fine array: see Isaiah 3:18-26 ; and see their wardrobes rifled. Queen Elizabeth used to wear costly apparel always: and well she deserved it.

Verse 25

How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, [thou wast] slain in thine high places.

In the midst of the battle. — Making good their station, and dying on the place: not flying to save themselves.

Thou wast slain, …Est hoc carmen spiritu militari conscriptum. David, as he fought, so he wrote.

Verse 26

I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

My brother Jonathan.Frater quasi fere alter. I loved thee as entirely as any one doth a brother: thou lovedst me as much as any woman doth her husband or child. Of women we say, Quicquid volunt, valde volunt.

Aut te ardenter amat, aut te capitaliter odit. ” - Virgil.

Verse 27

How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

How are the mighty fallen! — See 2 Samuel 1:19 .

And the weapons of war perished! — Yea, together with Saul and Jonathan, all the warlike glory of Israel is gone.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 1". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-samuel-1.html. 1865-1868.
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