1 Kings xxiv.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Engaddi, below Jericho, on the west side of the Dead Sea. It was famous for rocks and caverns. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Goats; an hyperbole. (Menochius) — Hebrew, “upon the rocks of the wild goats.” (Haydock)
Ver. 4. Cotes. These were probably no other than the caverns, in which shepherds there secure themselves and their flocks, in the night, and from storms. (Tirinus) — Some of them, in Syria, are so capacious as to contain 4,000 men, (Strabo xvi.) so that David might well remain unperceived by Saul, who did not enter so far. Polyphemus and Cacus dwelt in caverns, with their flocks. (Virgil, Æneid viii.) — Nature. Hebrew, “to cover his feet,” which has the same import. Syriac and Arabic, “to rest, or sleep.”
Ver. 5. Eyes. This might have been spoken by Gad, or by Samuel; (Menochius) or they only mean that this is a most favourable opportunity. Some think that David ought to have embraced it, and put an end to these troubles, by the death of the usurper. But this was not the opinion of David; and God, who had promised him the throne, had not authorized him to lay violent hands on Saul. He might act on the defensive, but not be the aggressor. (Tirinus) — Arose, with an intention to kill his unjust persecutor, ver. 11. — Robe, to convince him how easily he might have taken away his life. (St. Augustine, de C. [City of God?] xii. 6.) — The noise of Saul’s attendants hindered him from being perceived. Perhaps Saul might have put off his robe. (Menochius) — St. Chrysostom observes, the David obtained more glory by sparing Saul than by killing Goliath. (Tirinus) — Clemency makes a man like God. (Cicero)
Ver. 6. Heart struck him; viz., with remorse, as fearing he had done amiss. (Challoner) — A tender conscience is uneasy about things which are not sinful, while some stick at nothing. (Worthington) — The action of David seemed disrespectful. (Calmet) — “The subjects of kings adore the royal name as a divinity.” (Curtius vii.) Regium nomen….pro deo colunt.
Ver. 7. Anointed. He was chosen by God, and to be judge by him. (Calmet) — Reges in ipsos imperium est Jovis. (Horace) — David was not to mount the throne, till Saul was removed, by God’s ordinance. (Worthington)
Ver. 11. A thought to kill thee. That is, a suggestion, to which I did not consent. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “and he spoke to kill thee, and he has pardoned thee; and he said, I will not,” &c. (Calmet) — Protestants, “and some bade me kill thee, but mine eye spared thee, and I said.” Septuagint, “and I would not kill thee, and I spared thee, and said,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Father. He had married Saul’s daughter; (Menochius) and the king ought to be the common father of his people. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Revenge me of thee; or, as it is in the Hebrew, will revenge me. The meaning is, that he refers his whole cause to God, to judge and punish according to his justice; yet so as to keep himself, in the mean time, from all personal hatred to Saul, or desire of gratifying his own passion, by seeking revenge. So far from it, that when Saul was afterwards slain, we find that, instead of rejoicing at his death, he mourned most bitterly for him. (Challoner) — If it be lawful to seek redress from a magistrate, much more may we appeal to the Sovereign Judge! (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Thee: the tree is known by its fruit. If therefore I have behaved in this manner, no longer trust the reports of others against me. (Calmet) — The wicked, if left to themselves, will be their own tormentors. He may thus indirectly threaten Saul, as iniquity is often put for punishment. (Menochius) — The wicked shall at last open their eyes, and be reclaimed. (Rabbins ap. Munster.) — David entertained hopes that even Saul would now be convinced of his innocence. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Dog. This expression is still used to denote a contemptible person, 2 Kings xvi. 9. What honour can so great a king derive, from gaining the victory over a man unarmed? &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Voice. He was at such a distance, as not to be able to distinguish his features. — Wept. The greatest reprobates may sometimes feel sentiments of compunction, so that we need not here doubt of Saul’s sincerity. (Calmet) — He might otherwise have turned upon David with his 3,000, and easily have seized his prey. (Haydock)
Ver. 22. Father. David complied with this request as far as he was able: but, as God was resolved to punish the posterity of Saul, for the injury done to the Gabaonites, he was forced to give them all up, except Miphiboseth, the son of Jonathan. (Calmet) — He could not promise to defend them, if they proved guilty.
Ver. 23. Places, knowing that no dependence was to be had on Saul. (Menochius) — How blind and ungrateful must this king have been, thus to fight against the known designs of Providence, instead of endeavouring to reward and to make a friend of so great a person! (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Saul seeketh David in the wilderness of Engaddi: he goeth into a cave, where David hath him in his power.
1 Then *David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds of Engaddi.
2 And when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, they told him, saying: Behold, David is in the desert of Engaddi.
3 Saul, therefore, took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went out to seek after David and his men, even upon the most craggy rocks, which are accessible only to wild goats.
4 And he came to the sheep-cotes which were in his way. And there was a cave, into which Saul went, to ease nature: now David and his men lay hid in the inner part of the cave.
5 And the servants of David said to him: Behold the day, of which the Lord said to thee: I will deliver thy enemy unto thee, that thou mayst do to him as it shall seem good in thy eyes. Then David arose, and secretly cut off the hem of Saul’s robe.
6 After which David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off the hem of Saul’s robe.
7 And he said to his men: The Lord be merciful unto me, that I may do no such thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, as to lay my hand upon him, because he is the Lord’s anointed.
8 And David stopped his men with his words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul: but Saul, rising up out of the cave, went on his way.
9 And David also rose up after him: and going out of the cave, cried after Saul, saying: My lord the king. And Saul looked behind him: and David bowing himself down to the ground, worshipped,
10 And said to Saul: Why dost thou hear the words of men that say: David seeketh thy hurt?
11 Behold this day thy eyes have seen, that the Lord hath delivered thee into my hand, in the cave, and I had a thought to kill thee, but my eye hath spared thee. For I said: I will not put out my hand against my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.
12 Moreover, see and know, O my father, the hem of thy robe in my hand, that when I cut off the hem of thy robe, I would not put out my hand against thee. Reflect, and see, that there is no evil in my hand, nor iniquity, neither have I sinned against thee: but thou liest in wait for my life, to take it away.
13 The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord revenge me of thee: but my hand shall not be upon thee.
14 As also it is said in the old proverb: From the wicked shall wickedness come forth: therefore my hand shall not be upon thee. After whom dost thou come out, O king of Israel?
15 After whom dost thou pursue? After a dead dog, after a flea.
16 Be the Lord judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and judge my cause, and deliver me out of thy hand.
17 And when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, Saul said: Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept:
18 And he said to David: Thou art more just than I: for thou hast done good to me, and I have rewarded thee with evil.
19 And thou hast shewed this day what good things thou hast done to me: how the Lord delivered me into thy hand, and thou hast not killed me.
20 For who when he hath found his enemy, will let him go well away? But the Lord reward thee for this good turn, for what thou hast done to me this day.
21 And now as I know that thou shalt surely be king, and have the kingdom of Israel in thy hand:
22 Swear to me by the Lord, that thou wilt not destroy my seed after me, nor take away my name from the house of my father.
23 And David swore to Saul. So Saul went home: and David and his men went up into safer places.
1: Year of the World 2946, Year before Christ 1058.