Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 18

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-30

1 Samuel 18:4 . Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David. This was the highest mark of favour he could show him, and it is still esteemed as such in the oriental courts. Travenier’s Travels.

1 Samuel 18:6 . Instruments of music. Hebrews שׁלשׁים shalashim, as in the margin, three stringed instruments, sistrums, or pandrums touched with the fingers, as among the Spaniards: but the Chaldee and the LXX read cymbals.

1 Samuel 18:7 . Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. This is a triumphant song, or at least the chorus or burthen of one, similar to that which Miriam and the women sung. Exodus 15:20-21.

1 Samuel 18:8 . Saul was very wroth. He began to be very jealous that they would soon place David on the throne of Israel, as they now so highly magnified him above their king.

1 Samuel 18:11 . Saul cast the javelin at David; a species of sceptre, with a spear point at the end. The thyrsus of Bacchus was both a sceptre and a spear, entwined with leaves of the vine. Saul’s was a wicked act of melancholy, cunning and malice.

1 Samuel 18:13 . Saul removed him from him. Disappointed in his intent to kill David, Saul determined to remove him from the court; and instead of commanding in the guards, as he had done before, made him a captain of another troop, where he hoped he might be slain in some expedition, or he himself have an opportunity of taking away his life.

There is an ancient version of these two foregoing chapters, viz. the Vatican, which appears to have been made from a Hebrew copy which had none of the many verses which are here supposed to be interpolated, and not genuine; which whoever considers, will find the accounts there given regular, consistent, and probable. ”As the nature of this work requires brevity, suffice it just to enumerate some of the verses that are supposed to have been inserted by some transcriber. Those who choose to examine these chapters further, may pursue Mr. Pilkington’s excellent remarks on the passages of sacred scripture, page 62; and Mr. Kennicott’s dissertation. See index to the texts. The first passage, which is not translated in the Vatican copy, is no less than twenty verses; viz. from the 11th to the 32nd verse of chapter 17., containing an account, which if seriously examined, will not carry much probability along with it. Without these verses the connection stands thus: 1 Samuel 17:11, When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid. 1 Samuel 17:32, Then David said unto Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of him. No connection can be more proper. The next passage omitted in the Vatican copy is the 41st verse, though not specified by Mr. Pilkington; and then the 50th, which seems to be a needless recapitulation. The next interpolation is of nine verses; viz. the four last of chap. 17. and the five first of chap. 18. Leave these out, and the connection is entire, and the whole account consistent. 1 Samuel 17:51. David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, and he put his armour in his tent. 1 Samuel 18:6. And as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, the women came out. The other verses of chap. 18. which are supposed not to be genuine, are the 9th, 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 30th. On the whole, the Vatican copy is looked upon as the genuine translation of this part of David’s history.” Dr. Wall’s critical notes. Bishops Warburton, Hall, Horsley and others do not admit any interpolation, but merely a confusion in the arrangement; the interlocutory passages having been misplaced. After these latter critics, Mr. Townsend thus arranges his HARMONY: 1 Samuel 16:1-14; 1 Samuel 17:1-41; 1Sa 18:1-10 ; 1 Samuel 16:14-23, and forward.

1 Samuel 18:19 . Merab, Saul’s daughter, was given to Adriel. This was a breach of covenant before the battle; so Samson was treated. Judges 15:0. How excellent was David’s piety in abstaining from revenge. By this princess David might have had sons, who would have claimed the throne. It might also have interfered with the wiser designations of heaven to give the kingdom to Solomon. All things work for good to those who love God.

1 Samuel 18:21 . I will give him Michal, that she may be a snare to him; a snare for his life; a Delilah, a Cleopatra. This was strange counsel: he hated David more than he loved his daughter.


The fall of Goliath had distinguished David’s character, and unfolded the greatness of his soul. Jonathan had been equally distinguished by defeating the Philistines garrison, and spreading the panic through all their host. Jonathan was a man of sound heart and noble mind: and it is real merit which knows best how to appreciate merit. Hence his soul was knit to David’s, for they were congenial souls; the bonds were pure, and lasting as life and immortality. And how preferable was this love to the gnawing jealousy of Saul. How happy it tended to make Jonathan, while envy made his father wretched. Grace makes the soul noble; it tramples on hatred, envy and jealousy, to taste the pleasures of spotless friendship and of equal love.

But while the son is distinguished by a most virtuous friendship, the father is distinguished by the basest treasons and plots for David’s destruction; by a shameful breach of public faith in giving his daughter to another, and by a murderous hypocrisy in giving David promotion and partial command, solely with a view to procure his death. Ah, Saul, thy counsel shall not stand; the persecuted shall rise, and thou shalt fall; for the spirit of glory is departed from thee, and rested on him. Caleb, whose faith gave Achsah to Othniel, shall make thy perjury ashamed; yea, thine own conscience shall so confound thee that thou shalt be compelled to give him another daughter, though against thy will. So God is the defence of those who trust in his name. David at length received the princess who loved him for his virtues.

Christians should be cautious how they oppose and injure a young man of piety, of talents, and rising excellence in the church: let them neither spoil him by flattery, nor degrade him by unavailing efforts of envy and malice.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.