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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 24

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats.

Saul ... went to seek David ... upon the rocks of the wild goats. Nothing but the blind infatuation of fiendish rage could have led the king to pursue his outlawed son-in-law among those craggy and perpendicular precipices, where were inaccessible hiding-places. The large force he took with him seemed to give him every prospect of succeeding. But the overruling providence of God frustrated all his vigilance.

Verse 3

And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

He came to the sheep-cotes by the way, where was a cave. On all sides, as Dr. Robinson states, the country is full of caverns, which might then serve as lurking-places for David and his men, as they do for outlaws at the present day. They are unchanged since the days of the first king of Israel, when, entering into one of them, Saul lay down to rest in the heat of the day; there are the same side-vaults too, where David and his men concealed, when, accustomed to the obscurity of the cavern, they saw Saul enter, while, blinded by the glare of light outside, he saw nothing of him whom he so bitterly persecuted. 'The largest cave,' says Lieutenant Lynch, of the American Exploration of the Dead Sea. 'that we entered at En-gedi could contain thirty men, and has a long, low, and narrow gallery running from one side, which would be invisible when the sun does not shine through the entrance.'

Verse 4

And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.

The men of David said ... Behold the day. God had never made any promise of delivering Saul into David's hands; but, from the general and repeated promises of the kingdom to him, they concluded that the king's death was to be effected by taking advantage of some such opportunity as the present. David steadily opposed the urgent instigations of his followers to put an end to his and their troubles by the death of their persecutor. A revengeful heart would have followed their advice; but David rather wished to overcome evil with good, and heap coals of fire upon his head: he, however, cut a fragment from the skirt of the royal robe. It is easy to imagine how this dialogue could be carried on, and David's approach to the king's person could have been effected without arousing suspicion. The bustle and noise of Saul's military men and their beasts, the number of cells or divisions in these immense caverns, and some of them far interior, being enveloped in darkness, while every movement could be seen at the cave's mouth; the probability that the garment David cut from might have been a loose or upper cloak lying on the ground, and that Saul might have been asleep-these facts and presumptions will be sufficient to account for the incidents detailed.

Verses 5-7

And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 8

David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.

David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul. The closeness of the precipitous cliffs, though divided by deep wadies, and the transparent purity of the air, enable a person standing on one rock to hear distinctly the words uttered by a speaker standing on another (Judges 9:7). The expostulation of David, followed by the visible tokens he furnished of his cherishing no evil design against either the person or the government of the king, even when he had the monarch in his power, smote the heart of Saul in a moment, and disarmed him of his fell purpose of revenge. He owned the justice of what David said, acknowledged his own guilt, and begged kindness to his house. He seems to have been naturally susceptible of strong, and, as in this instance, of good and grateful impressions. The improvement on his temper, indeed, was but transient-his language that of a man overwhelmed by the force of impetuous emotions, and constrained to admire the conduct and esteem the character of one whom he hated and dreaded. But God overruled it for ensuring the present escape of David. Consider his language and behaviour. This language, "a dead dog, a flea" - terms by which, like Eastern people, he strongly expressed a sense of his lowliness, and the entire committal of his cause to Him who alone is the judge of human actions, and to whom vengeance belongeth-his steady repulse of the vindictive counsels of his followers, the relentings of heart which he felt even for the apparent indignity he had done to the person of the Lord's anointed, and the respectful homage he had paid the jealous tyrant who had set a price on his head-evince the magnanimity of a great and good man, and strikingly illustrate the spirit and energy of his prayer 'when he was in the cave.' (Ps


Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 24". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-24.html. 1871-8.
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