Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 18:17

Then Saul said to David, "Here is my older daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife, only be a valiant man for me and fight the Lord's battles." For Saul thought, "My hand shall not be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   David;   Jealousy;   Malice;   Marriage;   Merab;   Prudence;   Thompson Chain Reference - Betrothals;   Home;   Treachery;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies of Israel, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Merab;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Saul, king of israel;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - God;   War, Holy War;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - David;   Merab;   Saul;   Holman Bible Dictionary - David;   Merab;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Merab;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Merab ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Merab;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Me'rab;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - David;   King;   Merab;   Samuel, Books of;   Valiant;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Merab;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for January 9;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Fight the Lord's battles - Mr. Calmet properly remarks that the wars of the Hebrews, while conducted by the express orders of God, were truly the wars of the Lord; but when the spirit of worldly ambition and domination became mingled with them, they were no longer the wars of the Lord, but wars of lust and profanity.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-18.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Saul had not hitherto fulfilled the promise of which David had heard (marginal reference); nor was it unnatural that Saul should delay to do so, until the shepherd‘s boy had risen to a higher rank.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-18.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Samuel 18:17

Fight the Lord’s battles.

Aggressive work

The history of the human race is one of progress. Divine revelation has moved accordingly. The character of David is a sore problem to the narrow observer, because he who killed his tens of thousands drew his courage from a Divine fountain. The blame is thrown upon the fountain. A much more elastic view must be taken, and the physical regarded as the basilar of the moral, as the flint hammer of Spiennes was the forerunner of the steam hammer of today. The prowess which slew the giant of Philistia has developed into a moral force which crushes tyranny, slavery, ignorance, and irreligion. As Saul said to David, “Fight the battles of the Lord,” so saith the Spirit, to the Christian Church. The weapons of our warfare differ, and the condition of our courage is not identical. The noble and disinterested Christian has taken the place of the lion-hearted warrior. There must be a determined opposition to every evil, and the war must be carried into the enemy’s camp. When the enormous crimes of today are taken out of the calendar, and society so far regenerated that all shall “know the Lord,” then, and not till then, may the Church lay aside the weapons of war, to enjoy the spoils, the dance, and the timbrel. The conditions of power and efficiency which the Church needs in order to aggressive work. The test question of the late Carlyle to persons seeking his influence was, “What work are you doing?” He measured men’s capacities for that, which they sought by that which they had accomplished. The fact that the followers of Jesus wield an enormous influence, and are doing a grand work at the present time, encourages the belief that they will yet do more. To extend that influence, and multiply actions, two things are needed, viz., the dedication of all learning, talent, riches, power, and time, which the Church possesses, to the service of Christ and man; and then the energising of all these resources by the Spirit of God, that they may become Divine forces in the salvation of the world. It is needless to say that this has not been done to the extent required.

1. There must be a deeper sense of the responsibility of the situation. The Master’s injunction is, “Occupy till I come.” See how it is acted upon in other spheres--the captain on the bridge, the soldier on the battlefield, the premier at the helm of the state, the merchant in the counting house, the scientist in his laboratory, the artist, before the canvas, the musician at the organ, the poet in his study, as well as the husbandman and the workman in their spheres of labour. They all occupy very earnestly their stations. Christians are the dramatis personae who take the stage to show the love of God in Christ Jesus. Time and eternity alike demand the white heat of that earnestness which sacrifices all in order to save come.

2. There must be a stronger faith in the weapons of our warfare. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” In the hand of faith the sword becomes omnipotent. (T. Davies, M. A.)

War! War! War!

I. The Lord’s battles, what are they?

1. The Lord’s battle is first of all with sin. Seek grace to fight that battle in your own heart. Endeavour by Divine grace to overcome those propensities which continually push you towards iniquity. On your knees wrestle against your besetting sins. As habits appear endeavour to break them by the battleaxe of strong resolution wielded by the arm of faith. Put down pride, and sloth, and lust, and unbelief, and you have now a battle before you which may fill your hands, and more than fill them. And while this battle is being fought, ay, and while it is still fighting, go out and fight with other men’s sins. Smite them first with the weapon of holy example. Be yourselves what you would have others be; be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. Be yourselves clean ere ye can hope to be the purifiers of the world. Let your testimony be unflinching; never let a sin pass under your eye without rebuke. Go ye forth where sin is the most rampant. Go down the dark alley; climb the creaking staircase; penetrate the dens of iniquity.

2. And even so must we cry against error. It is the preacher’s business to preach the whole gospel of God, and to vindicate the truth as it is in Jesus from the opposition of man. Thousands are the heresies which now beset the church. O children of God! fight the Lord’s battles for truth. I am astonished, and yet more astonished when I come to turn it over, at the want of earnestness that there is in the Protestantism of the present age.

3. And yet again, it is the Christian’s duty always to have war with war. To have bitterness in our hearts against any man that lives is to serve Satan. We must speak very sternly against error, and against sin; but against men we have not a word to say. With men the Christian is one. Are we not every man’s brother? “God hath made of one flesh all people that dwell upon the face of the earth.” The cause of Christ is the cause of humanity. We are friends to all, and are enemies to none.

II. The Lord’s soldiers: who are they that are to fight the Lord’s battles? Not everybody. The Lord has His army, His church: who are they? The Lord’s soldiers are all of His own choosing. He has chosen them out of the world; and they are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world.

III. The exhortation. “Fight the Lord’s battles.” If you are the soldier of the heavenly King, “To arms! to arms!” And now, I will read you over the code martial--the rules which Christ, the Captain, would have you obey in fighting His battles.

Regulation

I.

No communication nor union with the enemy! No truce, no league, no treaty, are you to make with the enemies of Christ.

Regulation

II.--No quarter to be given or taken! Have nought to do with its pretended friendship. Ask nothing at its hands; let it be crucified to you, and you to it.

Regulation

III.--No weapons or ammunition taken from the enemy are to be used by Immanuel’s soldiers, but are to be utterly burned with fire!

Regulation

IV.--No fear, trembling, or cowardice! Fear not. Remember, if any man be ashamed of Christ in this generation, of him will Christ be ashamed in the day when He comes in the glory of His Father and all His holy angels.

Regulation

V.--No slumbering, rest, ease, or surrender! Be always at it, all at it, constantly at it, with all your might at it. No rest. I see sometimes the captains marching their soldiers to and fro, and you may laugh and say they are doing nothing; but mark, all that manoeuvring, that forming into square, and so forth, has its practical effect when they come into the field of battle. Suffer me, then, to put the Christian through his postures.

1. The first posture the Christian ought to take, and in which he ought to be very well practised, is this. Down upon both knees, hands up, and eyes up to Heaven!

2. The next posture is: Feet fast, hands still, and eyes up! A hard posture that, though it looks very easy.

3. Another posture is this: Quick march, continually going onward! Ah! there are some Christians who are constantly sleeping on their guns; but they do not understand the posture of going onward. Quick march!

4. Another posture is one that is very hard to learn indeed. It is what no soldier, I think, was ever told to do by his captain, except the soldier of Christ: Eyes shut, and ears shut, and heart shut! That is when you go through Vanity Fair.

5. And then there is another posture: Feet firm, sword in hand, eyes open; looking at your enemy, watching every feint that he makes, and watching too your opportunity to let fly at him, sword in hand! That posture you must maintain every day.

6. There is one other posture, which is a very happy one for the child of God to take up and I would have you remember today. Hands wide open, and heart wide open, when you are helping your brethren.

7. Above all, the best posture for Christ’s Church is that of patient waiting for the advent of Christ, a looking forward for His glorious appearance, Who must come and will not tarry, but Who will get unto Himself the victory. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Samuel 18:17". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-samuel-18.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

SAUL HOPED TO SEE THAT DAVID WAS KILLED IN BATTLE

"Then Saul said to David, "Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord's battles." For Saul thought, "Let not my hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him." And David said to Saul, "Who am I, and who are my kinsfolk, my father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king"? But at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife."

"Let the hand of the Philistines be upon him" (1 Samuel 18:17). So, it is clear enough. Saul's promotion of David in the army and the assignment of military campaigns to him was done, so Saul hoped, that it might result in David's being killed in battle.

We do not know why Saul failed to honor his promise of giving David his daughter Merab. It might have been because David (as he did later in regard to the dowry for Michal) indicated that he was unable to provide a suitable dowry. Certainly, there must have been some good reason for Saul's not honoring a promise that was known to the whole kingdom, namely, that the victor over Goliath would receive the king's daughter in marriage. It was not actually "a dowry," but the present which the bridegroom was supposed to give to the bride's father.

At any rate, Merab was given to Adriel instead of to David. The Bible records the tragic story of the unhappy death of the sons of Merab and Adriel in 2 Samuel 21:8.

Saul's scheme which he supposed might get David killed by the Philistines did not work out. Instead, David's many successful military missions led to his increasing popularity with all the people. Also, David in those excursions against the enemy learned many valuable lessons that better equipped him for the long struggle against Saul and his later duties as king.

David, unable to provide a proper gift to Saul for Merab, would have another opportunity to become the king's son-in-law; and the cunning and crafty Saul must have thought, "This time, I'll get him killed for sure." It came about when Saul learned that his daughter Michal had fallen in love with David.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-samuel-18.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Saul said to David,.... Not in friendship and good will to him, but designing to lay a snare for him:

behold, my eldest daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife; most interpreters understand it, that he was obliged to this by promise, on account of David's slaying Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:25; but Abarbinel is of another mind, and he rightly observes, that the words referred to are not the words of Saul, but of the men of Israel, who might suppose what the king would do; or if they heard anything like it spoken by Saul, it was only in a hyperbolical way, signifying he did not care what he gave, and what he parted with, to the man that killed the Philistine, but was not strictly bound to this particular thereby; nor did David ever claim such promise, nor did Saul think himself bound to do it, but proposes it as an instance of his great kindness and favour, as he pretended, and therefore expected great returns for it, as follows:

only be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord's battles: he knew he was a valiant man, and ready enough to fight; but he expected that in consideration of such a favour, and such high honour as this, that he would exert himself in an extraordinary manner, and engage in hazardous attempts, and show himself worthy to be the son of a king, in the defence of him and of his country, and for the glory of the God of Israel; all this he suggests, when his view was, that he should expose his life to such danger, that it might be hoped it would be taken away:

for Saul said; not openly and verbally, but in his heart; he thought within himself:

let not mine hand be upon him; he had attempted to lay hands on him, or to kill him with his own hands, but now he thought better, and consulted his credit among the people:

but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him; he hoped by these means that he would fall by their hands at the head of his troop, while he was displaying his valour, and hazarding his life for the good of his king and country; what Saul contrived proved his own case, he died in battle with the Philistines, 1 Samuel 31:4.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and g 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.

(g) Fight against them that war against God's people.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-samuel-18.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 Samuel 18:17-21. He offers him his daughter for a snare.

Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife — Though bound to this already [1 Samuel 17:25 ], he had found it convenient to forget his former promise. He now holds it out as a new offer, which would tempt David to give additional proofs of his valor. But the fickle and perfidious monarch broke his pledge at the time when the marriage was on the eve of being celebrated, and bestowed Merab on another man (see on 2 Samuel 21:8); an indignity as well as a wrong, which was calculated deeply to wound the feelings and provoke the resentment of David. Perhaps it was intended to do so, that advantage might be taken of his indiscretion. But David was preserved from this snare.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 18:17 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.

Ver. 17. Behold mine elder daughter Merab.] She was due to him before by promise, for killing Goliath; yet he that twice inquired into the reward of that enterprise before he undertook it, never demanded it after that achievement. Now, no remedy but he must be a son, where he was a rival. Love is pretended, but mischief purposed. So dealt Herod, Domitian, Charles IX.

Let not mine hand be upon him.] Saul did not kill David, because he durst not for fear of the people; or, as Kimchi thinketh, lest he should afterwards have been brought into question for murder.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-18.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Her will I give thee to wife: this was no more than Saul was obliged to do by his former promise, 1 Samuel 17:25, which here he renews and pretends to perform, though he intended nothing less, as the sequel shows; whereby he makes himself guilty of ingratitude, injustice, and breach of trust, and withal of gross hypocrisy.

Let the hand of the Philistines be upon him; he thought so great an offer would oblige him, who was of himself valiant enough to give proofs of more than common valour, and to venture upon the most dangerous enterprises.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-samuel-18.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.My elder daughter — Perceiving the growing popularity and influence of David, Saul feels under obligation to redeem his promise, recorded 1 Samuel 17:25.

Let not mine hand be upon him — In his calmer moods, when his madness had departed, he shrunk from openly attempting to destroy David; but, disguising his fell purpose under fair pretentious, he darkly plotted against his life.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-samuel-18.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 18:17. And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, &c. — He at last bethinks himself of the promise he had publicly made unto him that should kill Goliath; the performance of which David did not demand, but in modesty left it to Saul’s own conscience; who now judges it would be a proper bait to be laid for his destruction. “David had been very successful; but it did not follow that he must always be so; he had prudence, prowess, and conduct; but all these are often disappointed and defeated in their best-laid schemes. What means, then, so likely to destroy him as flattering him in his good fortune, and inflaming his vanity to yet higher and bolder attempts? What human heart is proof against flattery well conducted? and what so likely to point it right as the prospect of the king’s alliance? Merab, therefore, the king’s eldest daughter, is promised to him in marriage, on condition of his exerting all his fortitude in the defence of his master and his country, against the enemies of God and them.” — Delaney. Only be thou valiant for me — Thus, at the same time that he proposed to give David his daughter, he intimated that he should first perform some other military exploits, and, to give the better colour to this request, he calls it fighting the Lord’s battles. Let not my hand be upon him — Now he seems to have some sense of honour, and to lay aside those base thoughts of murdering him himself. But the hand of the Philistines — By whose hand God’s just judgment so ordered things that Saul himself fell!

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-samuel-18.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

And Saul. This an the two following verses are omitted in the Roman Septuagint, which subjoins, "and Michol, the daughter of Saul, loved David," &c. (Haydock) --- Wife. He had promised her already, (Menochius) if the verses in the preceding chapter be genuine. But why then had he delayed so long, and why does he require other conditions? The comparison made by the women, (ver. 7,) and the inconstant temper of Saul, might account for this. (Haydock) --- The Lord defends his people. As long as the Israelites followed the orders of God, their wars might justly be attributed to him; but not when they were waged to satisfy the cravings of ambition. (Calmet)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-18.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Behold. Figure of speech Asterismos. App-6.

valiant. Hebrew son of valour.

Let not mine hand, &c. Compare David and Uriah. 2 Samuel 11:15.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-samuel-18.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

My elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife. Though bound to this already, he had found it convenient to forget his former promise, and now holds it out as a new offer, which would tempt David to give additional proofs of his valour.

Only be thou valiant for me. But the fickle and perfidious monarch broke his pledge at the time when the marriage was on the eve of being celebrated, and bestowed Merab on another man (see the note at 2 Samuel 21:8) - an indignity as well as a wrong, which was calculated deeply to wound the feelings and provoke the resentment of David. Perhaps it was intended to do so, that advantage might be taken of his indiscretion. But David was preserved from this snare.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife.—This was but the fulfilment of a much earlier promise. The king had said he would give his daughter in marriage to the hero who should slay the Philistine giant champion. For one cause or other he had declined, or at least postponed, the carrying out of his pledge; and the dark thought crossed his mind, Could he not endanger the hated life, while seeming to wish to keep the old promise? He speaks of the Philistine war as the Lord’s battles. This was a feeling which inspired every patriotic Israelite. “He was,” when fighting with the idolatrous nations, “warring for the Lord”—so David felt when he spoke of the Philistine giant as having defied the ranks of the living God, and alluded to the battle as the Lord’s (1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:47). The same idea is expressed in the title of that most ancient collection of songs which has not been preserved to us—“Book of the Wars of the Lord” (Numbers 21:14).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
her will I give
17:25; Psalms 12:2; 55:21
valiant
Heb. a son of valour. the Lord's.
17:47; 25:28; Numbers 32:20,27,29
Let not mine
21,25; Deuteronomy 17:7; 2 Samuel 11:15; 12:9
Reciprocal: Genesis 29:30 - served;  Genesis 37:27 - let not;  Judges 5:23 - to the help;  1 Samuel 17:31 - sent for him;  1 Samuel 18:13 - removed;  2 Samuel 17:10 - thy father;  1 Chronicles 5:18 - valiant men;  Psalm 12:8 - when;  Psalm 35:8 - into;  Psalm 56:5 - all;  Proverbs 26:26 - Whose hatred is covered by deceit

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-18.html.