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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 18

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-16

Saul's Regard Changes to Hatred

v. 1. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, when David had given the king the information which he desired concerning his family, that the soul of Jonathan, the heroic son of Saul, was knit with the soul of David, chained to his in a firm and inseparable union, bound by the band of love; and Jonathan loved him as his own soul, with a total absence of selfishness, in an ideal friendship.

v. 2. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house; he was now permanently in the king's service, and could no more, as he formerly did, 1 Samuel 17:15, return home from time to time to assist in the work and to perform his shepherd's duties.

v. 3. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, a formal sealing of their mutual love and friendship, because he loved him as his own soul; they promised each other perpetual friendship.

v. 4. And Jonathan, as a testimony and token of his love and friendship, stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword and to his bow and to his girdle. Thus the barrier of rank and position was completely set aside; for Jonathan's object was not only to have David appear at court in proper dress, but also to honor David as a military hero, the conqueror of the terrible Philistine, who should therefore appear in a dress befitting his station.

v. 5. And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, on any campaign for which the king thought his military ability fitted him, and behaved himself wisely, being both prudent and prosperous; and Saul set him over the men of war, made him commander of a body of soldiers, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, regarded very highly, and also in the sight of Saul's servants, the officials at Saul's court, who might have been jealous of his success.

v. 6. And it came to pass, as they came, when the army returned from the pursuit of the Philistines to celebrate the victory, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, to celebrate the victory in the proper manner, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets, castanets, with joy, with joyful outcry, and with instruments of music, with triangles.

v. 7. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. They not only performed choral dances, but also alternate dances intended to interpret the battle and the victory, while, at the same time, they raised their voices in antiphonal singing, their song showing the high regard in which David was held on account of his heroic deed.

v. 8. And Saul was very wroth, his jealousy immediately flared up, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands and to me they have ascribed but thousands; and what can he have more but the kingdom? All that was missing in David's case was the royal dignity and position, this being a presentiment which may almost have amounted to a suspicion, since Samuel had distinctly stated that the royal power would pass into another family.

v. 9. And Saul eyed David from that day and forward, he looked upon him with envious suspicion.

v. 10. And it came to pass on the morrow that the evil spirit from God, 1 Samuel 16:13-16, came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house, he raged and raved in madness; and David played with his hand, performed on the harp, as at other times; and there was a javelin, a small spear used as a scepter, in Saul's hand.

v. 11. And Saul cast the javelin, made a lunge at him; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it, pass it through David into the wall. And David avoided out of his presence twice, he dodged the attack, but remained at his post in the attempt to soothe the king, to drive away his madness.

v. 12. And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, as all the evidence plainly showed, and was departed from Saul; the king felt more and more that he had been forsaken and rejected by the Lord in favor of David.

v. 13. Therefore Saul removed him from him, from his position at court, where he was sheltered, and made him his captain over a thousand, probably promoted him to a higher position in the army; and he went out and came in before the people, in various military campaigns.

v. 14. And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways, he used good judgment in all his undertakings and was correspondingly successful; and the Lord was with him, crowning his work with blessing.

v. 15. Wherefore, when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him, every new incident showing the trend of affairs added new fuel to the fire of his jealousy and anger, as well as to his fear.

v. 16. But all Israel and Judah loved David because he went out and came in before them; their regard for him increased as they noted that he went about his business quietly and effectively, and that all his military undertakings were successful. All believers are bound to expect hatred on the part of the godless world, especially since the infidels cannot help but note that God is on the side of His children. But in the measure that they show their hatred in works of enmity God holds His protecting hand over those that trust in Him.

Verses 17-30

Saul Plans to have David Removed

v. 17. And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife, in fufilling the promise which was well known to all the soldiers of the army, 1 Samuel 17:25; only be thou valiant for me, distinguished for courage, and fight the Lord's battles. This was not a condition, but an obligation laid upon David, Saul taking this opportunity to impress the younger man with his zeal for the people of God and with the necessity of thwarting the evil intentions of the heathen neighbors. "But behind this proper language of Canaan was hid Saul's cunning and wickedness towards David. " (Lange. ) For Saul said, namely, within himself, this was the thought which urged him on, Let not mine hand be upon him, it would have been a dangerous matter for him to take the life of David outright, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him; Saul hoped that David would at some time fall in battle, and that the desired end would thus be obtained.

v. 18. And David said unto Saul, in true modesty, without the least suspicion of Saul's guile, Who am I? and what is my life or my father's family in Israel that I should be son-in-law to the king? David implied that neither his own person nor his position in life, nor his family connections made him worthy of the honor offered him by the king.

v. 19. But it came to pass at the time when Merab, Saul's daughter, should have been given to David that she was given unto Adriel, the Meholathite, to wife. It was simply a whim of Saul's which caused him to break his promise to David, for he grew more capricious as the years went by.

v. 20. And Michal, Saul's daughter, loved David; and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him, this turn of affairs promised to fit well with his plans.

v. 21. And Saul said, I will give him her that she may be a snare to him, serve as a bait or lure to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him; he had a scheme in mind which would surely be successful. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law in the one of the twain, literally, "The second time thou shalt become my son-in-law," namely, first by the betrothal to Merab, the second time by the actual marriage to Michal.

v. 22. And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, as if they did it without the king's knowledge, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee; now, therefore, be the king's son-in-law. The offer was pure hypocrisy, and all the more revolting since it was a part of the king's scheme to destroy David through Michal's love.

v. 23. And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David, remembering his first experience with Saul, said, Seemeth it to you a light thing, a small matter, to be a king's son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and lightly esteemed? His experience in the matter of Merab had impressed upon him once more the great distance between his station and the honored position for which he was supposed to strive, and being a poor man, it was hardly possible for him to pay the dowry or morning gift expected of a suitor.

v. 24. And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David, stating the objections advanced by David.

v. 25. And Saul said, still with the same anxiety to attain his object, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, taken, of course, from their dead bodies, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines; he was sure that this scheme to put David out of the way could not fail.

v. 26. And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law, especially since he was to win Michal by a heroic achievement; and the days were not expired, that is, the period set by Saul for obtaining the morning-gift.

v. 27. Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, the thousand of whom he was commander, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, counted them out in full number, not only those required, but the hundred extra ones as a free gift, that he might be the king's son-in-law. And Saul gave him Michal, his daughter, to wife. His hostile schemes being thwarted once more, he was obliged to fulfil his promise.

v. 28. And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, it was so obvious that he could not close his eyes against the fact, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him; even the fact of her love for David was a thorn in the king's side.

v. 29. And Saul was yet the more afraid of David, for it was evident that God shielded the young man against his wicked designs; and Saul became David's enemy continually, all the days of his life.

v. 30. Then the princes of the Philistines went forth, in campaigns to overthrow the power of Israel; and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul, he always exercised prudent judgment and thus had success in his undertakings, so that his name was much set by, he was highly thought of by all the people. All the upright in heart honor and love the faithful servants of God and acknowledge the blessings which the Lord gives to His people through them.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-samuel-18.html. 1921-23.
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