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Bible Commentaries

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Samuel 20

Verse 2

And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.

Is it not so — For Jonathan gave credit to his father's oath, chap19:6.

Verse 3

And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.

David sware — The matter being of great moment, and Jonathan doubting the truth of it, he confirms his word with an oath, which follows in the end of the verse. Only he interposeth a reason why Saul concealed it from Jonathan.

Verse 5

And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.

To the third day — That is, unto the next day, but one after the new moon. His meaning is not, that he would hide himself in any certain place all the three days, but that he would secure himself either at Bethlehem with his friends, or in any other place 'till the third day.

Verse 6

If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.

Asked me — Who being the king's son and deputy, used to give license to military men to depart for a season upon just occasions.

Verse 8

Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?

Deal kindly — In giving me timely notice, and a true account of Saul's disposition and intention towards me.

A covenant of the Lord — That is, a solemn covenant, not lightly undertaken, but seriously entered into, in the name and fear of God, and in his presence, calling him to be the witness of our sincerity therein, and the avenger of perfidiousness in him that breaks it.

Slay me — I am contented thou shouldst kill me.

For why — Why shouldst thou betray me to thy father, by concealing his evil intentions from me?

Verse 12

And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;

O Lord God — Do thou hear and judge between us. It is an abrupt speech which is usual in great passions.

Verse 14

And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:

Kindness as the Lord — That kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself, in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God's presence.

I die not — That thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line use to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them.

Verse 16

So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.

A covenant — The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David's side, which doubtless he obtained.

Enemies — If either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it.

Verse 17

And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

Swear again — Heb. and Jonathan added or proceeded to make David swear; that is, having himself sworn to David or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David's oath to him, by way of restipulation or confirmation.

Loved him — Because he had a true friendship for David, he desired that the covenant might be inviolably observed through all their generations.

Verse 19

And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.

Was in hand — When this same business which now they were treating about, was in agitation formerly; namely, to discover Saul's mind and purpose towards him, chap19:2,3.

Ezel — By that stone which directs travellers in the way; namely, in some cave, or convenient place, which was near it.

Verse 21

And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the LORD liveth.

I will send — I will send him out before I shoot, to find out, and take up the arrows which I shall shoot. And I shall shoot them either short of him, or beyond him, as I shall see occasion.

Verse 23

And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between thee and me for ever.

Between — As a witness and a judge between us and our families for ever, if on either side this league of friendship be violated.

Verse 24

So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat.

Hid himself — Namely, at the time appointed: for it seems probable, that he went first to Bethlehem, and thence returned to the field, when the occasion required.

Verse 25

And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.

Arose — He rose from his seat where he was sat next the king, and stood at Abner's coming, to do honour to him, who was his father's cousin, and the general of the army.

Verse 26

Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.

Something — Some accident which has rendered him unclean, and so unfit to partake of this feast, which consisted in part of the remainders of the peace-offerings, according to the law, Leviticus 7:20. Unfit also to come into any company, much more, into the king's company, lest he should pollute them also.

Verse 27

And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?

Son of Jesse — So he calls him in scorn, to note the meanness of his original; and as not deigning to call him by his proper name.

To day — For the uncleanness which came by some chance, usually lasted but for one day.

Verse 30

Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?

Thy confusion — Men will conclude that thou hast no royal blood in thy veins, that canst so tamely give up thy crown to so contemptible a person.

Verse 33

And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

To smite him — Saul seemed to be in great care, that Jonathan should be established in his kingdom: and now he himself aims at his life! What fools, what worse than savage beasts does anger make.

Verse 37

And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?

To — That is, near the place. For the words following shew, that he was not yet come thither.

Verse 40

And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.

Artillery — His bow, and arrows, and quiver.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/1-samuel-20.html. 1765.