1 Kings xxvi.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Ziph. Having declared themselves so decidedly against David, they apprehended the utmost danger if he should ascend the throne. — Hill. Hebrew, “Gabaa,” as the Vulgate leaves it, ver. 3. It lay to the right hand of Ziph, (chap. xxiii. 19,) or “of Jesimon.” (Septuagint)
Ver. 4. Certainly, or in a place strongly secured by nature. Septuagint, “well armed.”
Ver. 5. Tent, or covered chariot, such as the Scythians use in their marches, (Justin i.) or in a “royal tent.” Septuagint lampene, (Pollux.; Menochius) “richly ornamented,” (Lucifer of Cagliari) “in the midst” (Aquila) of his troops. (Calmet) — David might see all was quiet from an eminence, or he might be informed by his spies. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Hethite. He had probably embraced the Jewish religion. — Abisai was the son of Sarvia, David’s sister, and made a great figure at court. (Calmet) — David was directed by God to manifest his clemency (Menochius) and reverence for Saul in this perilous attempt. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. My. Hebrew, “the spear,” which was fixed in the ground at Saul’s pillow. Protestants, “let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear, even to the earth, at once, and I will not smite him a second time.” (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Guiltless. Saul was still his king, how wicked soever, and this title rendered his person inviolable. The eastern nations are very seldom guilty of rebellion, or of murdering their kings; a thing of which we find so many examples in the Roman, English, and French histories. (Calmet) — A private man could not lay violent hands upon the king without a crime; and therefore David represses Abisai, and commits his cause to God, chap. xxiv. 13. (Menochius) — He will not permit any one to destroy the life of the king, though he was already anointed to succeed him. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. To die a natural death. Thus those who are slain, are said to die before their day, Psalm liv. 28. Jesus was not taken, because his hour was not yet come, John ii. 4., and vii. 30. (Calmet) — David waits with patience, that God might take off his adversary by sickness, old age, or the sword. (Menochius) — He will not ascend the throne before the time appointed, and he will not kill Saul, except it be in battle, in his own defence. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Water, for refreshment, or for purifications. — Lord. It is not necessary to have recourse to a miracle, (Calmet) though it must have been by a special providence that all continued in such a deep sleep, (Haydock) to give David an opportunity of manifesting his innocence. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Israel. This was a cutting irony. (Calmet) — Salien attributes to it the enmity which Abner bore to David for above seven years. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Death; i.e., you deserve to die. Such negligence was punishable with death, according to the Roman laws; & qui excubias. (Grotius)
Ver. 19. Sacrifice, that he may be appeased; (Jonathan; Vatable) or rather, I am willing to fall a victim, (Menochius) and pray that thy sacrifice may be acceptable, and all thy designs against me succeed, Psalm xix. 4. — They are. The opposition of this sentence to the preceding seems to require “let them be,” &c. What in effect did not those deserve who wished to make David adore false gods? (Calmet) — Lord in the land of Israel. — Gods. They said so, at least by their actions. (Menochius) — All other countries were in a manner abandoned to idol-worship, so that a person could not dwell in them, without the most imminent danger. See 2 Kings xiv. 16., and Psalm lxxxiii. 12. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Before, and contrary to the decrees of the Lord, (Haydock) who will be my avenger. — Hunted, (persequitur) is here used in a passive sense; (Calmet) or it may be rendered, “as a partridge pursues” what it feeds upon. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Precious, and treated as such, with care and respect. See 4 Kings i. 14., Psalm xlviii. 9., and Isaias xliii. 4. — Ignorant. Yet Saul was inexcusable, 2 Kings xxiv. 10, &c.
Ver. 22. It. He would not keep the spear, lest it might seem disrespectful.
Ver. 24. Set by. Literally, “magnified,” or deemed very precious. (Haydock) — Distress. These were the last words which David addressed to Saul; and they seem to have made a deep impression upon him. But as no dependance could be placed on Saul’s most solemn promises, David resolved, by God’s advice, to retire to the country of Geth. (Salien, the year of the world 2978)
Ver. 25. Prevail, and mount the throne. — Place, Gabaa. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Saul goeth out again after David, who cometh by night where Saul and his men are asleep, but suffereth him not to be touched. Saul again confesseth his fault, and promiseth peace.
1 And *the men of Ziph came to Saul in Gabaa, saying: Behold David is hid in the hill of Hachila, which is over-against the wilderness.
2 And Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having with him three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
3 And Saul encamped in Gabaa Hachila, which was over-against the wilderness in the way: and David abode in the wilderness. And seeing that Saul was come after him into the wilderness,
4 He sent spies, and learned that he was most certainly come thither.
5 And David arose secretly, and came to the place where Saul was: and when he had beheld the place, wherein Saul slept, and Abner, the son of Ner, the captain of his army, and Saul sleeping in a tent, and the rest of the multitude round about him,
6 David spoke to Achimelech, the Hethite, and Abisai, the son of Sarvia, the brother of Joab, saying: Who will go down with me to Saul into the camp? And Abisai said: I will go with thee.
7 So David and Abisai came to the people by night, and found Saul lying and sleeping in the tent, and his spear fixed in the ground at his head: and Abner and the people sleeping round about him.
8 And Abisai said to David: God hath shut up thy enemy this day into thy hands: now then I will run him through with my spear, even to the earth at once, and there shall be no need of a second time.
9 And David said to Abisai: Kill him not: for who shall put forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and shall be guiltless?
10 And David said: As the Lord liveth, unless the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go down to battle, and perish:
11 The Lord be merciful unto me, and keep me that I never put forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed. But now take the spear which is at his head, and the cup of water, and let us go.
12 So David took the spear, and the cup of water which was at Saul’s head, and they went away: and no man saw it, or knew it, or awaked, but they were all asleep, for a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.
13 And when David was gone over to the other side, and stood on the top of the hill afar off, and a good space was between them,
14 David cried to the people, and to Abner, the son of Ner, saying: Wilt thou not answer, Abner? And Abner answering, said: Who art thou, that criest, and disturbest the king?
15 And David said to Abner: Art not thou a man? and who is like thee in Israel? why then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to kill the king thy lord.
16 This thing is not good, that thou hast done: as the Lord liveth, you are the sons of death, who have not kept your master, the Lord’s anointed. And now where is the king’s spear, and the cup of water, which was at his head?
17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said: Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said: It is my voice, my lord the king.
18 And he said: Wherefore doth my lord persecute his servant? What have I done? or what evil is there in my hand?
19 Now therefore hear, I pray thee, my lord the king, the words of thy servant: If the Lord stir thee up against me, let him accept of sacrifice: but if the sons of men, they are cursed in the sight of the Lord, who have cast me out this day, that I should not dwell in the inheritance of the Lord, saying: Go, serve strange gods.
20 And now let not my blood be shed upon the earth before the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as the partridge is hunted in the mountains.
21 And Saul said: I have sinned; return, my son David, for I will no more do thee harm, because my life hath been precious in thy eyes this day: for it appeareth that I have done foolishly, and have been ignorant in very many things.
22 And David answering, said: Behold the king’s spear: let one of the king’s servants come over and fetch it.
23 And the Lord will reward every one according to his justice, and his faithfulness: for the Lord hath delivered thee this day into my hand, and I would not put forth my hand against the Lord’s anointed.
24 And as thy life hath been much set by this day in my eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the Lord, and let him deliver me from all distress.
25 Then Saul said to David: Blessed art thou, my son David: and truly doing thou shalt do, and prevailing thou shalt prevail. And David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
1: Year of the World 2947.; 1 Kings xxiii. 19.