Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 21:17

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah helped him, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, "You shall not go out again with us to battle, so that you do not extinguish the lamp of Israel."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Abishai;   Armies;   Championship;   Citizens;   David;   Goliath;   Loyalty;   Thompson Chain Reference - Abishai;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Lamps;   Light;   Philistines, the;   Rephaim, or Giants, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Ishbibenob;   Lamp;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Lamp;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Anakim;   Giants;   Ishbi-Benob;   Lamp;   Philistines;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Anakim;   Candle;   Giants;   Ishbi-Benob;   Philistia;   Samuel, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Abishai;   Giants;   Ishbibenob;   Samuel, Books of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - David;   Giant;   Haggai;   Ishbi-Benob;   Israel;   Samuel, Books of;   Shamgar;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Abishai ;   Giant;   Ishbibenob ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Giants;   Ishbibenob;   Lamp;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abishai;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Abisha'i,;   Ish'bi-Be'nob;   Lamp;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Quench;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Abishai;   David;   Ishbi-Benob;   Samuel, Books of;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Abishai;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Giants;   Saul;   Shamgar;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

That thou quench not the light of Israel - David is here considered as the lamp by which all Israel was guided, and without whom all the nation must be involved in darkness. The lamp is the emblem of direction and support. Light is used in this sense by Homer: -

Ουδε τι Πατροκλῳ γενομην φαος, αυδ ' ἑταροισιπ

Τοις αλλοις, οἱ δη πολεες δαμεν Ἑκτορι διῳ.

Iliad, lib. xviii. ver. 102.

"I have neither been a Light to Patroclus nor to his companions, who have been slain by the noble Hector."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-21.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him,.... Observing him in danger, made haste to his relief:

and smote the Philistine, and killed him; it seems as if Abishai engaged with the Philistine, and killed him; but inasmuch as it will bear to be interpreted of David, and since the four giants here and hereafter mentioned are said to fall by the hand of David and his servants, 2 Samuel 21:22, it may be thought that this man fell by his hand; seeing it is clear that all the rest fell by the hands of his servants:

then the men of David sware unto him; after they had observed the danger he was exposed unto, and how narrowly he escaped with his life:

saying, thou shalt go no more with us to battle; they had persuaded him not to go to the battle with Absalom; they had suffered him to go with them now, he being, no doubt, forward and pressing to it; but now they were resolute, and determined he should never go more:

that thou quench not the light of Israel; signifying that their glory and prosperity depended on his life, and that, should he be taken away, they should be in affliction and adversity, their honour and their happiness would be at an end; the Targum is,"thou mayest not extinguish the kingdom of Israel,'the light and glory of it.

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the n light of Israel.

(n) For the glory and wealth of the country stands in the preservation of the godly magistrate.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-21.html. 1599-1645.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 21:17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Ver. 17. That thou quench not the light of Israel.] As Epaminondas, by his death, did the Thebans, who were after that famous for their calamities, and no more for their victories. The body drowneth not whilst the head is above water; when that once sinketh, death is near: so here. Pray therefore for the preservation of good princes; we cannot pray for them, and not pray for ourselves.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-21.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 21:17

The personal influence of King David was the spell by which Israel was reunited after long separations and out of great diversities of interests. A skilful general, a gallant soldier, a perfect bard, a saint of God, and, above all, a lifelong penitent after a great fall, this was the man whom his generals well called the "light of Israel;" this was he on whose life and name, they felt, depended the solidity of a yet fragmentary, a half-barbarised, nation. He was, as it were, the only lamp of God burning in a darkened sanctuary, the one pledge they had that strength, glory, and wisdom are not really of us, but of God.

I. David's personal influence was invaluable to the tribes; it was the most precious thing that God had given them as a nation. And therefore, valuable as it is on the field of battle, they will not use it there at all; they must keep it for the good of Israel in higher fields and for nobler achievements in the elevation of the people. This story teaches that the power of personal influence is the best gift which God gives to every one.

II. There is none too much light in Israel. If one man's name is not now, as in the old heroic savage times, a beacon blaze for all, so much the more careful should we be of all the rays of scattered light which here and there betoken that God's gifts are present.

III. But yet again we may rise higher. Let us not risk the light that is in our own souls. We all of us own some light of God burning in the dark places of our hearts. Bring not these sanctities into danger. Rekindle the light of Israel.

Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays at Wellington College, p. 55.


References: 2Sam 21—Parker, vol. vii., p. 207. 2 Samuel 22:20.—J. Baldwin Brown, The Higher Life, p. 131. 2Sam 22—W. M. Taylor, David King of Israel, pp. 269, 284.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/2-samuel-21.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Lest thou be slain, and thereby thy people be ruined. Good kings are in Scripture justly called the light of their people, as 1 Kings 11:36 15:4 Psalms 132:17, because the beauty and glory, the conduct and direction, the comfort, and safety, and welfare of a people depend upon them, and come from them.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17.Sware unto him — The word נשׁבעו seems here to have rather a causative signification, made him swear; that is, administered an oath unto him.

Quench not the light of Israel — David’s position as king over Israel and leader of the armies was like that of the sun in the heavens, or a lamp in a house. Let it be suddenly removed, and all would be involved in darkness and terror. Compare 2 Samuel 18:3.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/2-samuel-21.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 21:17. That thou quench not the light of Israel — Lest thou be slain, and thereby thy people lose their glory and happiness, and even be utterly ruined. Good kings are, in Scripture, justly called the light of their people, because the beauty and glory, the conduct and direction, the comfort and safety, and welfare of a people depend greatly upon them. A noble image this of a king!

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-21.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Lamp; glory and protection. Achilles reproaches himself for not having been "a light to" his friend. (Homer, Iliad Greek: S.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

light = lamp. Compare Genesis 15:17. 1 Kings 15:4. Proverbs 13:9; Proverbs 20:20, though not the same word in Genesis 15:17,

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel. They show the importance attached to the preservation of the king's life by this beautiful and expressive image (cf. 1 Kings 11:36; Psalms 132:17).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/2-samuel-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) And smote.—The original leaves it doubtful whether Abishai is the nominative to the verb, or whether it should be simply he, referring to David. 2 Samuel 21:22 seems to imply that one at least of the sons of the giant fell by David’s own hand.

Sware unto him.—This was a solemn transaction, by which David should hereafter be restrained from personal exposure in battle. That he should be spoken of as “the light of Israel” implies that his government over all Israel had continued long enough already to make its immense benefits sensible.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.
Abishai
20:6-10
succoured
22:19; Psalms 46:1; 144:10
Thou shalt
18:3
quench
14:7; 1 Kings 11:36; 15:4; Psalms 132:17; John 1:8,9; 5:35
light
Heb. candle, or lamp.
Reciprocal: Exodus 18:23 - and all this;  Deuteronomy 31:2 - I can no more;  1 Chronicles 11:20 - Abishai;  1 Chronicles 18:12 - Moreover;  Jeremiah 40:15 - wherefore;  Acts 19:30 - the disciples;  Hebrews 11:34 - escaped

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 21:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-21.html.