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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 26

A.M. 2944. B.C. 1060.

The Ziphites inform Saul of David, who pursues him again, 1 Samuel 26:1-3 . David sends out spies, and views his camp, 1 Samuel 26:4 , 1 Samuel 26:5 . Comes to him, bring asleep, and takes his spear and cruise of water, 1 Samuel 26:6-12 . Reasons with him upon it, 1 Samuel 26:13-20 . Saul again owns his fault and promises to pursue him no more, 1 Samuel 26:21-25 .

Verses 1-2

1 Samuel 26:1-2. Doth not David hide himself with us? The number of men whom David supported would not allow him to continue long in the same place, and therefore he was often obliged to shift his quarters for subsistence. We now find him again in the wilderness of Ziph. How much time had elapsed between his marriage of Abigail and his going thither, we are not informed, nor is it easy to determine, but it is probable it was considerable. Then Saul arose Probably he would have pursued David no more if these Ziphites had not thus excited him.

Verse 5

1 Samuel 26:5. David came to the place where Saul had pitched Within sight of it; where he might observe how he lay. Saul lay in a trench Hebrews במעגל bammanggal, in the carriage, or rather, within the circle of the carriages, that he might be safe from any sudden attack.

Verses 6-7

1 Samuel 26:6-7. Ahimelech the Hittite A valiant man of that nation, who was a proselyte to the Jewish religion; and not only followed David, but was always near to his person. Abishai Brother to Joab, the son of Zeruiah, David’s sister. His father is not named, either because he was now dead, or because he was an obscure person. Abishai said, I will go Either Ahimelech declined it, as too hazardous an enterprise; or Abishai, being a forward young man, offered himself while the other stood deliberating. David and Abishai came to the people by night A bold attempt for two men to come into the midst of an army of three thousand chosen men. But it should be considered, 1st, That David had a particular assurance that God would preserve him to the kingdom; and, 2d, That he probably had a particular impression from God, exciting him to this work, and, possibly, God might reveal to him that he had cast them into this deep sleep, in order that David might have this second opportunity of manifesting his innocence toward Saul.

Verses 8-9

1 Samuel 26:8-9 . Now, therefore, let me smite him Although David would not kill him himself, when he had the like opportunity, 1 Samuel 24:4; yet Abishai thought he might give him leave to do it; and he pledged himself to nail him to the ground with his spear at one thrust, so that he should make no noise by crying out. And David said, Destroy him not Saul having been made king by God’s special appointment, David looked upon it as a high crime to offer any violence to him: as if he had said, Though he be a tyrant, yet he is our lord and king; and I, although designed king, am yet his subject; and therefore I cannot kill him without sin, nor will I consent that thou shouldst do it.

Verses 10-11

1 Samuel 26:10-11. The Lord shall smite him, &c. David leaves it to the sovereign will and pleasure of God to put an end to Saul’s life when he saw best; either by a sudden stroke, or in the course of nature, or by causing him to fall in battle. Take the spear Which will show where we have been, and what we could have done. And the cruise of water Set there either for Saul to drink, if he were thirsty, or to wash himself, as was prescribed to the Israelites by the law, for many accidental pollutions.

Verses 13-14

1 Samuel 26:13-14. And stood on the top of a hill On such a rock or precipice that there was no coming to him but by taking a circuit round. So that it might be said, in respect of the way whereby only they could come to him, that he stood afar off, and that there was a great distance between them; and yet, though his person might thus be out of their reach, his voice might be distinctly heard, which in a clear air, and in the silence of the night, it might be at a considerable distance. David cried to the people It is probable this was early in the morning.

Verses 15-17

1 Samuel 26:15-17. Wherefore hast thou not kept, &c. Observed better military discipline for the preservation of the king’s person? There came one of the people Into the king’s camp, and had a fair opportunity to destroy him. Because ye have not kept your master Guarded him better from any danger. It is probable they despised David’s small forces, and, therefore, were so negligent. It is my voice, my lord, O king He still acknowledges Saul’s authority, and the allegiance he owed him, though he had done him so many injuries.

Verse 19

1 Samuel 26:19. If the Lord hath stirred thee up against me If he hath, by the evil spirit which he hath sent, or by his secret providence, directed thy rage against me for the punishment of thine or my sins; let him accept an offering Let us offer up a sacrifice to him to appease his wrath against us. They have driven me From the land which God hath given to his people for their inheritance, and where he hath established his presence and worship. Saying, Go, serve other gods This was the language of their actions. For by driving him from God’s land, and the place of his worship, into foreign and idolatrous lands, they exposed him to the peril of being either insnared by their counsels or examples, or forced by their power to worship idols.

Verse 20

1 Samuel 26:20. Before the face of the Lord The Lord seeing it, and being the avenger. Remember, if thou dost it, God, the judge of all men, observes and will call thee to account for it, though I will not avenge myself. Is come out to seek a flea Is come out for a purpose beneath him, and not of importance enough to deserve his trouble. As when one doth hunt a partridge The Hebrew word קרא , kore, does not seem to be rightly translated partridge here. Rabbi Salomon renders it cuculus, cuckow, so called from its crying. It certainly must be the name of a bird of no value for food, or any other use; and therefore the pursuing it on the mountains, through difficult places, was a useless and insignificant labour.

Verse 21

1 Samuel 26:21. Then said Saul, I have sinned This second instance of David’s tenderness wrought more upon Saul than the former. He owns himself melted, and quite overcome by David’s kindness to him. My soul was precious in thine eyes which I thought had been odious. He acknowledges he had done very ill to persecute him: I have acted against God’s law; I have sinned: and against my own interest; I have played the fool In pursuing thee as an enemy, who wast, indeed, one of my best friends. And herein I have erred exceedingly Have wronged both thee and myself. Nothing can be more full and ingenuous than this confession. God surely now touched his heart. And he promises to persecute him no more: nor does it appear that he ever attempted it afterward.

Verses 22-24

1 Samuel 26:22-24. Behold the king’s spear, &c. He did not think it proper to put himself in Saul’s power by going and presenting it himself to him. The Lord render to every man his righteousness In these words David shows the assurance he had that, however Saul dealt by him, the Lord would vindicate his cause on account of his integrity and righteous dealing. So let my life be much set by, &c. He prays that God would spare his life as he had spared Saul’s, and show him similar mercy, and then he trusted that he should be delivered out of all his troubles.

Verse 25

1 Samuel 26:25 . Blessed be thou, my son David Saul perceived that it was in vain to contend any longer against David, whom he saw God intended for great things. And so strong was his conviction now of this, as well as of his own sin and folly, that he could not forbear blessing him, foretelling his success, applauding him, and condemning himself, even in the hearing of his own soldiers. And this, it seems, was their last interview. After this they saw each other no more.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/1-samuel-26.html. 1857.