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The history of David's persecution by Saul is again opened, and continued through this Chapter. The Ziphites inform Saul against David. Saul goes in quest of him. David is favoured with another opportunity of slaying Saul, but will not avail himself of it. A similar interview takes place to what happened before between David and Saul; after which they depart one from the other.
1 Samuel 26:1
(1) ¶ And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?
This is the second instance of the treachery of the Ziphites. (See 1 Samuel 23:19 .) And what had David done to deserve it at their hands?
(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. (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.
Observe, how little effect the pretended contrition of Saul had left upon his mind. Alas! until grace makes a saving change upon the heart, there is neither real sorrow, nor true repentance, wrought in the soul.
(4) David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.
It should seem that David could not be immediately brought to believe that Saul, after his former profession, would have pursued him anymore. But the fact proved it to be so. Reader! learn from hence, what a deceitfulness there is in the heart of man?
(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. (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. (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.
This bold attempt probably was from some secret influence imparted to David's mind. The sequel of the history of it proves, how sweet a lesson he gathered from it, and therefore it seems not improbable, that the Lord inclined his heart to the undertaking. Reader! it is very profitable at times to observe, how graciously the Lord leads on the minds of his people to do what they themselves would otherwise have never been competent to perform.
(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. (9) And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless?
Observe the different principles of nature and grace in the minds of Abishai and David. How lovely doth David appear in this instance. But for a more delightful instance look at the cross of Jesus. Luke 23:34 .
(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.
Was there not somewhat of a spirit of prophecy in those expressions of David, when we consider the close of Saul's life? 1 Samuel 31:4 . See also Psalms 43:5; Psalms 43:5 .
(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. (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.
This last verse becomes a clue for explaining this wonderful transaction, a sleep, from the Lord had sealed up their senses. Oh! what a volume of comfort ariseth out of this view, in the Lord's watchfulness over his people. How can the Lord seal, or how can the Lord open the faculties of our enemies, when either operation shall best promote the purposes of his glory and his people's welfare. See a sweet promise to this effect: Isaiah 54:16-17 .
(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: (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? (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. (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. (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. (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? (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. (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.
Here is a similar interview to what passed, 1 Samuel 24:8 . but here, David first calls to the servant of Saul, and afterwards to the master. The argument David makes use of in this conference is also stronger than in the former, he complains of being driven out of his inheritance; from the inheritance of the Lord; and as such, being tempted to mingle with the heathen and learn their works. But how beautiful is it to observe, that there is no railing against Saul, no accusation brought against him for a breach of his word and honor. When our Lord Jesus Christ was struck by one of the officers in the palace of the high priest, we find no answer of wrath, no charge, no crimination made by the Lamb of God; but only a justification of himself and a meek quest ion, Why smitest thou me? John 18:22-23 .
(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.
We have here once more the king of Israel's honest confession of the injury he had done David, and his promise that he would do so no more. But not a word of his sorrow for his sin against God. That repentance which begins not in God's grace, is never to be depended upon in man's mercy. Alas! Saul knew not his own heart! He was compelled from the moment to say as he said, but his heart remained the same.
(22) And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it. (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. (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. (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.
David points out in this account one grand motive why he had been so favourable to Saul, in that he considered him, as the Lord's anointed. And had Saul considered David in the same light, his life ought to have been set by as equally sacred. It doth not appear by what follows in the history of Saul and David, that they ever conferred with one another, or saw the face of each other after this anymore. David went on his way, it is said, the way of grace and salvation; for Jesus was then as he was afterwards, and is now and ever will be, the way, the truth, and the life. Saul returned to his place. An awful account though short: for where is the place of the wicked, where in this life, and where in that which is to come? Judas, when he fell, went to his own place. Acts 1:25 .
READER! again the Holy Ghost calleth us to behold the implacable and unmerciful malice of Saul, and the gracious exercises of the mind of David, in a renewed instance of the evil designs of the one, and the deliverance God wrought for the other. Let us obey the sacred call, and pause over what we have read, in order to mark the different dispositions, of these men; and yet more especially to behold the gracious interposition of God, in defeating the evil schemes of Saul and prospering the hand of David.
But may we not without violence to the subject, behold in the unremitting persecution of David by Saul, somewhat more than the mere jealousies of nature in the envy of Saul to David, respecting his succession in the kingdom? Are there not traces to be seen of the still greater envy arising in the mind of the unregenerate, in the view of the Lord's favour towards his people in a spiritual kingdom. Alas! what bitterness do the children of the wicked one manifest to the children of the kingdom? Like the corrupt stock from which they shoot, their very vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah. In this spiritual warfare what goings forth of the enemy, like Saul in the pursuit of David, are there every day to surprise by ambush, or to take by subtilty? And what Ziphites are there everywhere to join in the confederacy, to deliver the godly into the snare of the wicked. Ye soldiers of Jesus Christ, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God. Remember your enemies are the enemies of our God and of his Christ. He will fight your battles. Stand still and you shall shortly see the salvation of God. He hath delivered you hitherto, and doth deliver, and therefore trust in him, and he will yet deliver. Ere long the battle will be finished. That promise is absolute. The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany