Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 18:5

So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Prudence;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abner;   David;   Saul, king of israel;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - War;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Jonathan;   Samuel, Books of;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - David;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Army;   David;   Mowing;   Samuel, Books of;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Jonathan, Jehonathan;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Set him over the men of war - Made him generalissimo; or what we would call field marshal.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-samuel-18.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

SUMMARY OF AN EXTENSIVE TIME-PERIOD

"And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants."

"Saul set him over the men of war." This apparently refers to some subordinate position to that of Abner, the general of all Saul's armies.

This verse has no chronological connection whatever with the verses preceding or following it. "It covers a great deal of time."[2] Also, the events of 1 Samuel 18:1-4 probably took place at the end of this period of time, and not prior to it. Jonathan's soul being knit with David's was mentioned first, and out of sequence, because the sacred author wished to emphasize it.

During the indefinite time period mentioned here, David conducted military expeditions under Saul's order and proved to be very successful in all of them. Of course, his popularity was greatly increased. At the end of this somewhat extensive time, there was a sufficient victory over the Philistines that hostilities, for a time, were abated. The occasion was celebrated by some kind of a grand parade, which is recorded in the next verses.

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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 18:5". "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 David went out whithersoever Saul sent him,.... About any business whatsoever, especially about martial affairs, for which he was abundantly qualified:

and behaved himself wisely; in the management of them, using great prudence and discretion, and so failed not of success, and of recommending himself; the Targum renders it "prospering"; he was prosperous and successful in whatsoever he engaged, for the Lord was with him, and blessed him:

and Saul set him over the men of war; that is, of some of them, gave him the command of a troop; for Abner was captain or general of the army, and continued so:

and he was accepted in the sight of all the people; of all the people in the land in general, of all that knew or heard of him; being looked upon as a wise, valiant, and successful commander, and which gained him the esteem and affection of the people:

and also in the sight of Saul's servants; which was very much, and a rare thing, for servants are too apt to envy such as are rising in their credit and reputation; though this must not be understood of all, without exception; but of the generality of them; nor is the word "all" used of them, as is of the people; for some of them took the part of Saul afterwards against David, and were secretly his enemies, see 1 Samuel 18:22.

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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 18:5". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-18.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, [and] behaved himself b wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

(b) That is, he prospered in all his doings.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "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 18:5-9. Saul envies his praise.

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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 18:5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-samuel-18.html. 1871-8.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

And David went out, sc., to battle; whithersoever Saul sent him, he acted wisely and prosperously ( ישׂכּיל, as in Joshua 1:8 : see at Deuteronomy 29:8). Saul placed him above the men of war in consequence, made him one of their commanders; and he pleased all the people, and the servants of Saul also, i.e., the courtiers of the king, who are envious as a general rule.

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The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/1-samuel-18.html. 1854-1889.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

Went — Upon military expeditions, of which that word is often used.

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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 18:5". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-samuel-18.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

A WISE YOUNG KING

‘David behaved himself wisely.’

1 Samuel 18:5; 1 Samuel 18:14-15

There must be some strong reason for the fourfold repetition of this phrase in so short a space. It is as though the Holy Ghost would lay very distinct stress on the Divine prudence and circumspection which must characterise the man whose life is hid in God. Let us walk with God, abiding in Him, subjecting our thoughts and plans to His, communing about all things with Him, talking over our lives with Him before we go out to live them in the presence of our fellows. Then we too shall have this gracious wisdom, which is more moral than intellectual, the product of the grace of God rather than of human culture.

I. Our life shall commend itself to men.—David’s was good in the sight of all the people and, more wonderful still, in the sight of Saul’s servants, who might have been jealous. Be sure that a life lived in God disarms jealousy and envy.

II. Our life shall rebuke and awe our foes.—Saul stood in awe of him. When traps and snares are laid for us we shall be enabled to thread our way through them all, as Jesus did when they tried to entangle Him in His talk.

III. Our name will be precious (v. 30).—People loved to dwell on David’s; it was much set by; they noticed and were impressed with the beauty and nobility of his character. Let us so live that our name also may be precious for the honour of the name of our Lord.

Illustrations

(1) ‘David behaved wisely because “the Lord was with him,” and the Lord continued to be with and to prosper him because “he behaved wisely in all his ways,” because he trusted only in God, seeking simply to know and to do His will. With consummate prudence, in true loyalty of soul, he fulfils every mandate of the king, adds to his high repute as a warrior and leader, and augments the good-will and draws forth the commendations of the people, by the fuller manifestation of his inherently devout and kingly spirit.’

(2) ‘David’s prudence. (1) Amid the perils of sudden prosperity. The shepherd-youth honoured with the friendship of the prince, the plaudits of the multitude, military command, the prospect of entering the royal family—but he behaved wisely and prospered all the more. “Those that climb fast have need of good heads and good hearts.” “Honour shows the man.… He is out of the danger of folly, whom a speedy advancement leaveth wise.” (Comp. Joseph and Daniel.) (2) Amid the plots of jealous rivals—Saul, the courtiers—but he avoids the javelin of rage, and foils the cunning of hypocrisy. (3) Amid provocations to wrath, by promises broken, and fresh demands. The brilliant young warrior and poet as prudent as a sage statesman—for “the Lord was with him.”’

(3) ‘How wise it would have been for Saul to bind the son of Jesse to himself! Nothing could have been easier or more politic. But instead, Saul allowed his mad passion to smoulder always in his heart, sometimes breaking out into more fierce and bitter flame, and always affording an open door for Satan to enter into him. What a variety of methods jealousy will use to rid itself of its rival! Saul first threw the javelin, believing that the act would be imputed to his madness. Then he put David in positions of extreme peril. Next he incited his servants to take David’s life. But all were abortive. David seemed to live a charmed life; and every effort that Saul made against him was but a stepping-stone to a stronger position. Balak may bribe Balaam to curse Israel, but how shall he curse whom God hath not cursed, or defy whom the Lord hath not defied? “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise in judgment against thee shalt thou condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord”’ (Isaiah 54:17).

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-samuel-18.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Samuel 18:5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, [and] behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.

Ver. 5. And behaved himself wisely.] Or, Prospered, Virtute duce, comite fortuna. God will come, with a cornucopia in his hand, unto such as behave themselves wisely in a perfect way. [Psalms 101:2]

And Saul set him over the men of war.] Made him captain of his guard. Abner was general of the army.

And he was accepted in the sight of all the people.]. Virtue is very amiable and attractive. Aρετη quasi αιρετη: Aγαθον quasi αγαστον.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-samuel-18.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 18:5. And David went out whithersoever, &c.— Saul himself, highly pleased with David, intrusted him with the management of various affairs. Charged with divers expeditions, he signalised his prudence and his courage with such success, that Saul set him over the men of war, that is, raised him to a very distinguished rank among the officers of his army, of which Abner continued general; and he always gained the esteem of those about him, except of some few who envied his preferment.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-samuel-18.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

David went out, upon military expeditions, of which that word is oft used.

Set him over the men of war; gave him some considerable command in his army, though not the supreme.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". 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

DAVID’S HONOURS AND SAUL’S JEALOUSY, 1 Samuel 18:5-9.

After the battle, and after the covenant between Jonathan and David, the latter was advanced to great honour in the kingdom. The heart of the king, as well as that of the army, turned towards the heroic youth with one common feeling of gratitude and love. But the glories of this youthful warrior are soon to be clouded.

5.Saul set him over the men of war — We have no data to determine the exact chronology of the events recorded in this verse. But his appointment over the men of war, and his going out in obedience to Saul’s orders, are probably identical with what is related in 1 Samuel 18:13-14. The writer seems to have inserted them here to show the immediate results of David’s victory and Jonathan’s friendship.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "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 18:5. David went out, &c. — Upon military expeditions, of which that phrase is often used. And behaved himself wisely — Showed as much prudence in his conduct as he did courage. Saul set him over the men of war — Not over all, for Abner was general, as we speak, of all his forces; but he made him captain of his guard, or gave him some principal command in his army.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-samuel-18.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Prudently, or with success. (Calmet) --- Especially. Hebrew, "also," which enhances his praise, as courtiers are but too apt to envy those who are taken from a low condition and set over them in the king's favour. David must have displayed great wisdom and moderation. (Haydock)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/1-samuel-18.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

men. Hebrew. "enosh. App-14.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "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 David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "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

(5) And he was accepted.—The historian here calls especial attention to the strange power David was able to acquire over the hearts of men. It was not only over Saul and his great son that he rapidly won influence, but in the case of his colleagues at the Court and in the army, all of whom he was rapidly outstripping in the race for honour and distinction, he seems to have disarmed all jealousy. His rapid rise to high position was evidently looked upon with general favour. This is still farther enlarged upon in the next and following verses.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-samuel-18.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.
behaved
or, prospered.
14,15,30; Genesis 39:2,3,23; Psalms 1:3; Acts 7:10
wisely
Matthew 10:16; Ephesians 5:17; Colossians 4:5
the men of war
13:2; 14:52
Reciprocal: 1 Samuel 18:16 - all Israel;  2 Samuel 19:9 - The king;  1 Kings 2:3 - prosper;  2 Kings 18:7 - he prospered;  Psalm 62:9 - Surely;  Psalm 119:98 - through

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18:5". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-samuel-18.html.