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Saturday, June 15th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 19

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-17

Saul’s Strategy and David’s Escape (19:1-17)

It is generally assumed that this section belongs to the early armor-bearer-musician tradition concerning David. Saul now sought David’s murder, but Jonathan’s intercession led to a temporary truce between the king and his rival. The covenant bond between the two young men stood firm, and Jonathan’s affection for his friend provided a protection against Saul’s jealousy.

War against the Philistines broke out again, and presumably David’s further success here aroused a fresh outburst of envy in Saul. The story of Saul’s throwing a spear, already recorded in 1 Samuel 18:10-11 but omitted by the Septuagint, is probably here in its proper place. David fled from the mad king, aided by Michal who placed a "teraphim" (1 Samuel 19:13, margin), a household image, in the bed in his place. The Eastern habit of covering the head when asleep would delay identification (vs. 13).

The identification of the obscure word "teraphim" as an image in this passage raises a question. This image presumably was life-size, but when Rachel stole her father’s "teraphim," again obviously images, they were sufficiently small to be hidden in a camel’s saddle (Genesis 31:31-35). This story of David is evidence of the persistence of household gods or idols, even in the royal house that was dedicated to the worship of the Lord, a reminder both of the long struggle for a pure worship of the God of Israel against a pagan and polytheistic environment and of the need for the first command of the Decalogue.

Verses 18-24

The Events at Ramah (19:18-24)

This probably belongs to the late tradition of David as the shepherd boy secretly anointed by Samuel. It gives its own reason for the popular proverb, "Is Saul also among the prophets?", a reason quite distinct from that offered by the early tradition in 1 Samuel 10:10-12.

David fled to Samuel at Ramah. Three times Saul sent messengers to apprehend David. Each time they were overtaken by the Spirit of God pervading the band of prophets around Samuel and David at Naioth, which was probably the name of the dwelling of the prophetic community at Ramah. Finally, Saul himself went, only to have the same experience befall him. Hence the proverb arose.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Samuel 19". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/1-samuel-19.html.
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