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the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 18

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This forms an interesting Chapter, because it opens that account of the loves of David and Jonathan, which in the after history of David forms so very interesting a subject. Jonathan's heart is won by David. Saul at first seemed to be much pleased with David, but because the women in their songs and dances praised David's victories more than Saul's, from that day forth Saul envied David. This Chapter relates some of the evidences by which Saul manifested this malice towards him, in casting his javelin at him twice to slay him; then proposing to give him his eldest daughter to wife, but afterwards giving her to another; then offering his younger daughter, but with the hope of proving his ruin. Notwithstanding these things David prospers.

1 Samuel 18:1

(1) ¶ And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

There is somewhat very sweet and engaging in this account of Jonathan. Among carnal men such a success as David's would have called forth the greatest dislike. But in the breast of Jonathan we find love. And was it not grace that made all the difference? But how doth Jonathan's love sink to nothing, compared to thine, thou blessed Jesus, which thou hast manifested towards our poor nature? Of thee is it not the prophet speaks, when in allusion to thine unequalled love to thy people, he saith, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul? Jeremiah 32:41 .

Verses 2-5

(2) And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. (3) Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. (4) And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. (5) And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

Whatever this covenant between Jonathan and David might mean, yet it may serve to suggest to us that better covenant established upon better security, and better promises, which the Lord hath made for his people and with his people. The covenant for his people stands everlastingly and eternally secure, being founded between all the persons of the Godhead. See the outlines of it; Isaiah 59:21 and the covenant made with his people, see two sweet transcripts of it; Jeremiah 32:40; Jeremiah 32:40 . But there is another beautiful thought suggested to us in these verses, David was cloathed with Jonathan's raiment. And did not our Jesus put on our garments, when he clothed himself in our nature? Jesus indeed stript himself of his robes of glory, when he put on the garment of mortality, and as the apostle beautifully speaks, for our sakes became poor that we through his poverty might be made rich. Precious Redeemer! what love of Jonathan is to be named with thine? 2 Corinthians 8:9 .

Verses 6-9

(6) ¶ And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. (7) And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. (8) And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? (9) And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

Here we behold the sad consequences of jealousy and envy. David's victory now began to cost him dear. In all ages this hath been the case. And no sooner doth grace manifest itself in any man's heart, but the enmity of the carnal mind breaks out. How did the victories of our Jesus over diseases, the possession of evil spirits, and the like, subject him to the reproaches of bad men? He hath a devil and is mad, said some. He casteth out devils, said others, through Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Herod sought to kill him. Yes! dearest Lord! in all things it behoved thee to have the pre-eminency, though it be in suffering, and in persecution.

Verses 10-11

(10) And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. (11) And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.

What an awful account doth the scripture give of this unhappy man. No mercy from God, no deliverance from enemies, no services of friends, can work upon Saul's mind. The last state of that man, on whom Satan hath power, is worse than the first. Oh! Lord! whatever mercies thou art pleased to withhold, take not thine Holy Spirit from us. But while we mark the malice of Saul, led on by the devil, let us not overlook the safety of David, protected by the Lord. Oh! how eternally safe and secure are they kept, who are under the divine keeping!

Verses 12-16

(12) ¶ And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul. (13) Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. (14) And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him. (15) Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. (16) But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

It is worthy the Reader's remark, what is here said twice within a few verses of each other, of Saul's fear of David. Yes! there is a servile, pitiful, cowardly fear of the righteous, in the minds of the ungodly. And though the wicked hate the godly, and seek every occasion to slay them; yet in the midst of all, their minds are overawed at their presence. How did the Governor Felix tremble at the poor prisoner Paul's preaching; Acts 24:25 . And though it be in an infinitely higher instance, yet it ought not to be forgotten, how did the band of men and officers, who went to apprehend Christ, fall to the ground before him overawed, and trembling at his presence! John 18:3-6 .

Verses 17-19

(17) And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. (18) And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king? (19) But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.

This, in fact, was the original promise made by Saul to any man that should be found to kill Goliath. It was a breach of that promise it had not been done before. But it should seem that David's modesty had never demanded it. The giving his eldest daughter to another, was no doubt intended by Saul to displease David. But we find no resentment on David's part. Here, surely, David leads us to consider His unequalled patience, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.

Verses 20-30

(20) And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. (21) And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. (22) And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law. (23) And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed? (24) And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David. (25) And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. (26) And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired. (27) Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. (28) And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him. (29) And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually. (30) Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.

I class all these together, for the sake of shortness, and because one or two general observations will suit all. Saul's design is altogether evil, whether he withholds one daughter or promiseth another; it is but with a view to ruin David. But the humbleness of David's mind, under the gracious power of God, defeats all his stratagems. I cannot suffer those verses to pass away from our view without remarking to the Reader, that if David thus thought so highly of being made son-in-law to an earthly prince, what views ought the people of God to entertain of their adoption-character who are made sons and daughters to the Lord God Almighty! Behold (saith an Apostle) what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called sons of God! Well might the Prophet, in the contemplation of gospel mercies exclaim, O! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! See 2 Corinthians 6:18 ; 1 John 3:1 ; Romans 11:33 .

Verse 30


I would call upon the Reader, while calling upon my own soul, in the contemplation of this chapter, to pass by all other considerations, to pause over the view of the love of Jonathan to David; to remark its wonderful properties, to stand amazed at the extensiveness of creature love in this man; and then to ask my heart, whether there is not cause to blush in the view of it, when I compare his love to David to my love to Him, who is David's Lord? Was Jonathan's soul so instantly captivated, so strongly rivetted, and so engaged by covenant to David, as to love him as his own soul; to strip himself of his garments and of his princely robe, in order to cloath David; while I who have so long known the Lord Jesus; have been so often fed, so constantly cloathed, so ever lastingly protected, so graciously loved by him, feel such coldness, such deadness, and such little drawings of my heart towards him!

Oh! precious Jesus! thy love indeed is better than wine, thy favour than life itself. Thou hast shown it by ways infinitely surpassing the love of Jonathan to David. Thou hast not only cloathed the souls of thy people, with thy robe and garment of salvation, but thou hast made over thine whole soul to their welfare. All the blessings of grace flow from thy boundless, matchless love. And the various ways by which thou hast made the rich discoveries of thy love, all show its wonderful properties. The covenant thou didst make for them in the everlasting counsel of peace, makes known thy love, for thou art thyself the whole of the Covenant. Yes! clearest Lord! thou hast proved it by all thy suretyship engagements; by all thy gracious undertakings; by all thy great accomplishments; by all thou hast done, and art doing, and wilt do for thy people. Oh! dearest, blessed Jesus! add this one mercy to all thou hast wrought, as great a miracle as any; melt my cold icy heart into a love for thee, who hast so loved me, and knit my whole soul unto thee, that I may fear and love thy name. Then will my song correspond with that of David, and I shall say as he did; I will love thee, O Lord my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my high tower.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/1-samuel-18.html. 1828.
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