Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 26

Verse 1

THE ZIPHITES’ SECOND ATTEMPT TO BETRAY DAVID, 1 Samuel 26:1-5.

1.Ziphites’ Hachilah’ Jeshimon — See notes on 1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 23:19. The assumption of certain critics, that because this account resembles the one in chap. 23 it is therefore one and the same, is unworthy of serious attempt at refutation. In their argument the major premise is: Whenever two narratives resemble each other they must always be regarded as based upon the same identical facts!

Verse 2

2.Three thousand chosen men — His select standing army. 1 Samuel 13:2.

Verse 4

4.David’ sent out spies — Who knew all the windings of that desert. A most wily chieftain was David, and not to be taken unawares by Saul, or any other foe.

Verse 5

5.David arose — Probably just after dark.

Beheld the place where Saul lay — David was not content with the report of his men; he wished to survey the situation with his own eyes.

The trench — The wagon rampart. See note on 1 Samuel 17:20.

Verse 6

DAVID SPARES SAUL A SECOND TIME, 1 Samuel 26:6-25.

6.Ahimelech the Hittite — Mentioned here only.

Abishai’ Joab — Both sons of Zeruiah, and nephews of David. Compare 1 Chronicles 2:16. These brothers ever devoted themselves with the utmost loyalty and zeal to their uncle, both during the time of his wanderings and after he became king. See on 2 Samuel 2:18.

Abishai said, I will go — Did Ahimelech decline through fear of danger?

Verse 7

7.Spear’ at his bolster — Or, at his head, as we have rendered the Hebrew at 1 Samuel 19:13. “I noticed at all the encampments which we passed,” says Dr. Thomson, “that the sheik’s tent was distinguished from the rest by a tall spear stuck upright in the ground in front of it; and it is the custom, when a party is out on an excursion for robbery or for war, that when they halt to rest, the spot where the chief reclines or sleeps is thus designated.”

Verse 8

8.I will not smite him the second time — So complete will be the execution of the first stroke that there will be no need of a second.

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Verse 11

11.The cruse of water — Of which the king might drink if he awoke thirsty. “The cruse of water at Saul’s head.” adds Thomson, “is in exact accordance with the customs of the people at this day. No one ventures to travel over these deserts without his cruse of water, and it is very common to place one at the bolster, so that the owner can reach it during the night.”

Verse 12

12.David took the spear and the cruse — From this the most careless reader might see that we have in this chapter a different occurrence from that of chap. 24. There David cuts off a piece of Saul’s garment for a trophy; here he takes his spear and cruse. And, it may be added, there Saul was in a cave, here in the midst of the baggage wagons of his army; there he was performing an act of nature, here he was fast asleep.

A deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them — So that Divine Providence favoured David in his daring enterprise.

Verse 13

13.To the other side — Of the wady or valley which lay between the place of Saul’s encampment and the top of a hill afar off from which David cried to the people. “Saul had probably encamped with his fighting men on the slope of the hill Hachilah, so that a valley separated him from the opposite hill, from which David had no doubt reconnoitred the camp and then gone down to it, (1 Samuel 26:6,) and to which [hill] he returned after the deed was accomplished.” — Keil.

Verse 14

14.David cried to the people — “The people in these mountainous countries are able, from long practice, so to pitch their voices as to be heard distinctly at distances almost incredible. They talk with persons across enormous wadies, and give the most minute directions, which are perfectly understood. In the stillness of evening, after the people have returned home from their distant fields, the public crier of villages on Lebanon ascends the mountain side, above the place, or to the roof of some prominent house, and gives forth his proclamation with such distinctness that all can hear and understand it.” — Thomson.

Verse 17

17.Saul knew David’s voice — The distance and the dimness of the early morning hindered him from recognising David by sight.

Verse 19

19.If the Lord have stirred thee up against me — That God sometimes impels men into evil actions is seen from 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Samuel 24:1; but those very examples show that such instigation is but a part of the punishment of sins already committed. God tempts no man to sin, and the instigations to evil above referred to are not temptations, but judgments for sins already done and demanding punishment. David therefore tells the king that if the Lord has stirred him up to this evil persecution, then he (Saul) should regard himself as a sinner, and seek reconciliation by an offering.

Let him accept an offering — Both at thy hands and at mine. David here implies that he himself is a sinner and may need atonement, but that fact does not lessen Saul’s sin.

If’ the children of men — Such as the Ziphites and Doeg the Edomite.

Go, serve other gods — This was the effect of their driving him out of the inheritance of the Lord, that is, from among the chosen people, Israel. They thereby obliged him to be far away from the tabernacle and all the sacred services required by the law. Perhaps Psalms xlii and xliii were composed about this time.

Verse 20

20.Before the face of the Lord — Rather, At a distance from, or far off from, the face of the Lord. That is, in a distant land, or an enemy’s country.

A flea — An insignificant insect. Compare 1 Samuel 24:14.

As when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains — Additional comparison, instead of dead dog, in 1 Samuel 24:14. The partridge does not so much frequent the mountains as the fields and lowlands; it would therefore be idle for one to hunt a single partridge far off on the mountains, when he could find flocks of them in the lower brushwoods and the fields.

Verse 25

25.Saul returned to his place — To his home in Gibeah. These rivals never saw each other again.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-samuel-26.html. 1874-1909.