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1 Samuel 29:1. The Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel— As we are informed in the foregoing chapter, 1Sa 29:4 that the Philistines were come to Shunem, the verbs in this verse should be read in the past tense, had gathered,—had pitched:—David's departure from the army of the Philistines being prior to Saul's consulting the woman at Endor. The archbishop of Tyre tells us, that the Christian kings of Jerusalem used to assemble their forces at a fountain betwixt Nazareth and Sephoris, which was greatly celebrated on that account. This being looked upon to be nearly the centre of their kingdom, they could from thence consequently march to any place where their presence was wanted. He mentions also another fountain, near a town called Little Gerinum, which, he says, was the ancient Jezreel. Near this fountain Saladine pitched his camp for the benefit of its waters, while Baldwin king of Jerusalem had, as usual, assembled his army at the first mentioned place. This solicitude, in the princes of these sultry climes, to pitch near fountains; this mention of one by Jezreel, and this custom of assembling their armies in the centre of their kingdom, all serve to illustrate the present passage, which speaks of the encampment of Israel at a fountain, considerably distant from the proper country of the Philistines, just before the fatal battle which concluded the reign of Saul. If the Philistines had extended their territories at this time to mount Carmel; if they were wont to make their irruptions into the land of Israel that way, in that age; or if Saul had received intelligence of such a design at this time; these circumstances, or any of them, would farther explain the propriety of this pitching by the fountain of Jezreel: but what William of Tyre says about the managements of the Christian kings of Jerusalem of his days, and of their predecessors, is alone a more clear illustration of this passage than commentators have furnished us with. Observations, p. 335.
1 Samuel 29:3. These days, or these years— Long enough, even two years. Houb.
1 Samuel 29:4. Make this fellow return— The lords of the Philistines were suspicious of David's purposes; and, instead of placing that confidence in him which Achish did, they insist upon his dismission. His pleasure must certainly have been great, to find himself extricated out of so delicate a situation as he had been in, where there might have been a struggle between his gratitude to his friend, and his love to his country; and in which he did not possibly know what part he had to act, or was bound to act.
1 Samuel 29:6. Surely, as the Lord liveth— It is observable, that Achish on this occasion makes use of that form of swearing which obtained among the Jews, as the Lord liveth; from which some have concluded, that Achish had learned a part of David's religion; and others go into great extremes on the other side; for which, I own, I can see no grounds. David was a man of sufficient address; he well knew how to converse with kings; nor was Achish the first whose favour his accomplishments had acquired him. In all probability, he stipulated for the free exercise of his religion, before he threw himself into his service; and such a stipulation might naturally be attended with an apology in its favour. Nor will David's character suffer us to suppose him so cold and unconcerned in that point, as to omit any opportunity of recommending his religion to the best advantage; for surely no mortal ever had it more at heart; especially after that declaration, which he himself has made in the 119th Psalm, sect. 6. (vau) I will speak of thy testimonies even before kings, and will not be ashamed. What wonder then if David should have instructed, and Achish profited in this point from David's conversation? But after all, possibly, Achish might have sworn by Jehovah on this occasion, as that Jew did by Jesus, whom the old duke of Ormond, (so properly, and with so fine a satire upon that profaneness too common among Christians,) reproved for his assurance, in presuming to swear like a Christian.
1 Samuel 29:8. And David said—what have I done? &c.— Dr. Chandler observes, that "this answer was prudent, and such as became the circumstances in which he then stood; but promised nothing, and was only in general, that he never had given Achish any reason to suspect his gratitude and fidelity. He says nothing about fighting against Saul and the Hebrew army, but against the enemies of the king. Against the king's enemies, undoubtedly, he would have fought, where he could have done it consistently with his honour and duty; where he could not, whatever sense Achish might put upon David's words, David would have refused to have fought against them. Upon the whole, it is certain, that there is not the least intimation, in any thing he said, that he would impiously turn his arms against his king and country, which neither his conscience, nor his interest, would permit him to do; and it is certain, that if he could maintain his fidelity to Achish, without lending his assistance to the destruction of his nation, he would have done it." Dr. Delaney observes, "We may easily apprehend to what straits David was reduced, upon Achish's insisting that he must go with him against Saul. He was now under a necessity of warring against his country, or betraying his benefactor. The alternative, indeed, was distressful; but it is easy to see how a man of honour must determine himself under it. His prince had banished and outlawed him, innocent as he was; and his people had joined in the sentence. Nevertheless, he continued, as long as he could, not to injure either, but even to be beneficent to both. David would have still been beneficent if he could, but the times would not let him; and therefore, when things were brought to such an extremity, that either he must fight against a people who had made him their enemy, or betray a prince who had protected him in distress, he had no choice left. He owed Achish allegiance; for protection exacts allegiance: but he owed Saul none; and there is no question but he was determined to pay his debt; and therefore I cannot help thus far crediting the account that Josephus gives us of this matter, that he promised Achish his aid, and assured him that he would take this occasion to requite his kindness the best he could. That he promised him unwillingly, I have no doubt; and I can have none that he promised him faithfully. See Psalms 7:0. The man that could save Saul, could not betray Achish." But, whatever were his purposes, it pleased God, very providentially, to deliver him from this great dilemma.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 29". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
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