1 Kings xviii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Soul. Pythagoras said, “that friendship is an equality, and one soul, and that the friend is another self.” It would be difficult to find two souls more tender and generous than those of David and Jonathan. (Calmet) — Josephus speaks of their friendship on another occasion, as these five verses are omitted in the Roman Septuagint, &c. (Kennicott)
Ver. 3. For he, Jonathan. (Haydock) — Soul. “Friends have one soul.” (Arist.[Aristotle?] Mor. ix. 8.)
Ver. 4. Girdle, which perhaps was of great value, Job xii. 18. He wished that David should lay aside his shepherd’s dress, and appear like himself at court, that all might know how much he loved him. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Prudently, or with success. (Calmet) — Especially. Hebrew, “also,” which enhances his praise, as courtiers are but too apt to envy those who are taken from a low condition and set over them in the king’s favour. David must have displayed great wisdom and moderation. (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Philistine. Some explain this of some fresh achievement against that nation, (Malvenda; Worthington) but without reason. — Dancing. Hebrew also playing on the flute, or on some such instrument of music. (Calmet) — So Mary [Miriam] sung after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, Exodus xv. 20., 2 Kings i. 20., and Judges xi. 34.
Ver. 7. Sung. The chorus of their song is given. (Calmet) — “The women sung, Saul slew his thousands; and the virgins answered, And David,” &c. (Josephus) — The death of Goliath was equivalent to the slaughter of thousands, as he had filled the whole army of Israel with dismay. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. A thousand. These women were guilty of an indiscretion, through excess of zeal, as it is always displeasing for the sovereign to hear any of his subjects preferred before him. (St. Chrysostom, hom. i. de Saul.) — The jealousy of Saul was the more excited, as he had been threatened with the loss of his kingdom, and perceived in David all the qualifications of a king. A malo principe tanquam successor timetur quisquis est dignior. (Pliny in Traj.) — But was David responsible for what was spoken in his praise? (Calmet) — The Vatican Septuagint omit what follows till ver. 12. “And Saul feared David, (13) and he removed,” &c. The Alexandrian copy agrees with the Vulgate. (Haydock) — Those who are proud, cannot bear the praises of others. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Eye. Septuagint, “and Saul suspected.” (Haydock) — Chaldean, “laid snares for David.” (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Prophesied. Acted the prophet in a mad manner, (Challoner) like an enthusiast, (Calmet; 2 Kings ix. 11.) or one possessed by the devil, as the Sybil was agitated by Apollo. Et rabie fera corda tument. (Virgil, Æneid vi.) To alleviate his distress, David took up his harp. (Haydock) — Spear. With this weapon he was generally armed, chap. xix. 10., and xxvi. 7. “It was used as a diadem formerly, and the ancients adored spears as gods.” (Justin. xliii.)
Ver. 13. People, as their leader. Saul gave him an honourable, but dangerous office, to procure his destruction. This is frequently the manner in which men of superior talents have been treated, (Calmet) as Corbulo, Germanicus, and Agricola were by three Roman emperors. (Tacitus, Ann. ii., &c.)
Ver. 15. Began. Septuagint, “he was filled with awe in his presence.” Hebrew, “he was afraid of him,” as he perceived that God protected him in all perils.
Ver. 17. And Saul. This and the two following verses are omitted in the Roman Septuagint, which subjoins, “and Michol, the daughter of Saul, loved David,” &c. (Haydock) — Wife. He had promised her already, (Menochius) if the verses in the preceding chapter be genuine. But why then had he delayed so long, and why does he require other conditions? The comparison made by the women, (ver. 7,) and the inconstant temper of Saul, might account for this. (Haydock) — The Lord defends his people. As long as the Israelites followed the orders of God, their wars might justly be attributed to him; but not when they were waged to satisfy the cravings of ambition. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Life. What exploits have I performed deserving such an honour? or what offices have my relations yet enjoyed? (Calmet) — David considers only his abject condition, and forgets his victories. (Haydock)
Ver. 19. Wife. If this were the case, the character of Saul is rendered more despicable and perfidious. David never reclaims Merob, as he did Michol. (Haydock) — All the children of the former were gibbeted, 2 Kings xxi. 9. The latter was given to David for his destruction, like Cleopatra (Daniel xi. 17,) to Ptolemy. (Tirinus)
Ver. 20. Other, is not found in the Hebrew, Septuagint, &c. (Haydock) — Some Latin copies read, “David loved Michol,” (Calmet) as the Douay Bible translates; the authors living before the Popes had published their authentic editions. (Haydock) — Both might be true. (Drusius)
Ver. 21. Day. Hebrew, “In two thou shalt,” &c. (Calmet) — Protestants, “in the one of the twain,” Merob or Michol. (Haydock) — Saul had deceived him with respect to the first; but he promises that he shall have “the second,” (Calmet) or two motives induced the king to make him this offer, the victory over Goliath, and the slaughter of 100 Philistines. (Menochius; Tirinus) — The Septuagint omit this sentence, and read, “And the hand of the Philistines was upon Saul, and Saul commended,” &c.
Ver. 23. Ability, or riches. Septuagint, “without glory.” (Haydock) See ver. 18.
Ver. 25. Dowry. Among the Hebrews, the man had to purchase his wife. — Philistines. They were the nearest nation of those who were not circumcised; and thus Saul would prove that David had attacked them, which would greatly irritate them against him. (Calmet) — Josephus specifies six hundred heads, (Haydock) falsely, (Horn) as he frequently disguises what might give his readers offence, as being either mean or incredible. (Calmet) — Hundred is not specified in the original Hebrew copies, (Capel, iii. 17,) and David gives 200, ver. 27. But Saul only stipulated for 100. See 2 Kings iii. 14. (Calmet) — Wife, “thinking it mean to be guilty of an untruth,” &c., says Josephus; “yet his disposition was not altered. He resolved, therefore, to take away his life, and wished Jonathan and his most trusty servants to put his designs in execution.” He then mentions the friendship of these two. But he takes no notice of the proffered marriage of Merob, and he seems not to have known that she was ever promised. See ver. 17., and 19., and chap. xvii. 12. (Haydock)
Ver. 28. David. Of the subsequent verses, the Roman Septuagint has only the following words. “And all Israel lived him; (29) and Saul still continued to be in awe of him.” The Alexandrian manuscript agrees with the Hebrew, only, instead of Michol, &c., it reads, “all Israel.” If the contested passages were omitted, the history would be less perplexed. But we must wait for the decision of the Church in matters of this nature, and never decide to peremptorily. (Haydock)
Ver. 30. Forth, probably to revenge the recent insult. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The friendship of Jonathan and David. The envy of Saul, and his design upon David’s life. He marries him to his daughter Michol.
1 And* it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father’s house.
3 And David and Jonathan made a covenant, for he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the coat with which he was clothed, and gave it to David, and the rest of his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
5 And David went out to whatsoever business Saul sent him, and he behaved himself prudently: and Saul set him over the soldiers, and he was acceptable in the eyes of all the people, and especially in the eyes of Saul’s servants.
6 Now when David returned, after be slew the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with timbrels of joy, and cornets.
7 And the women sung as they played, and they said: *Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
8 And Saul was exceeding angry, and this word was displeasing in his eyes, and he said: They have given David ten thousands, and to me they have given but a thousand, what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul did not look on David with a good eye from that day and forward.
10 And the day after, the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of his house. And David played with his hand as at other times. And Saul held a spear in his hand,
11 And threw it, thinking to nail David to the wall: and David stept aside out of his presence twice.
12 And Saul feared David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul himself.
13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him a captain over a thousand men, and he went out and came in before the people.
14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways, *and the Lord was with him.
15 And Saul saw that he was exceeding prudent, and began to beware of him.
16 But all Israel and Juda loved David, for he came in and went out before them.
17 And Saul said to David: Behold my elder daughter Merob, her will I give thee to wife: only be a valiant man, *and fight the battles of the Lord. Now Saul said within himself: Let not my hand be upon him, but let the hands of the Philistines be upon him.
18 And David said to Saul: Who am I, or what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law of the king?
19 And it came to pass at the time when Merob, the daughter of Saul, should have been given to David, that she was given to Hadriel, the Molathite, to wife.
20 But Michol, the other daughter of Saul, loved David. And it was told Saul, and it pleased him.
21 And Saul said: I will give her to him, that she may be a stumbling-block to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be upon him. And Saul said to David: In two things thou shalt be my son-in-law this day.
22 And Saul commanded his servants to speak to David privately, saying: Behold, thou pleasest the king, and all his servants love thee. Now, therefore, be the king’s son-in-law.
23 And the servants of Saul spoke all these words in the ears of David. And David said: Doth it seem to you a small matter to be the king’s son-in-law? But I am a poor man, and of small ability.
24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying: Such words as these hath David spoken.
25 And Saul said: Speak thus to David: The king desireth not any dowry, but only a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. Now Saul thought to deliver David into the hands of the Philistines.
26 And when his servants had told David the words that Saul had said, the word was pleasing in the eyes of David to be the king’s son-in-law.
27 And after a few days David rose up, and went with the men that were under him, and he slew of the Philistines two hundred men, and brought their foreskins and numbered them out to the king, that he might be his son-in-law. Saul therefore gave him Michol, his daughter, to wife.
28 And Saul saw, and understood that the Lord was with David. And Michol, the daughter of Saul, loved him.
29 And Saul began to fear David more: and Saul became David’s enemy continually.
30 And the princes of the Philistines went forth: and from the beginning of their going forth, David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul, and his name became very famous.
1: Year of the World 2942.
7: 1 Kings xxi. 11.; Ecclesiasticus xlvii. 7.
14: 1 Kings xvi. 13.
17: 1 Kings xxv. 28.