« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK OF SAMUEL.
The period embraced in this book may be roughly culture and poetic inspiration, witnessed by the psalms described as the forty years of the reign of David. of his composition, of such fervent piety as to be called The book opens immediately upon the death of Saul, a of God" a man after my own heart, yet he was withal few days before David ascended the throne, and it eminently“ a man of affairs,” a skilful general, a wise closes while David was still living, though “old and statesman, and possessed of that personal magnetism by stricken in years.” It was an eventful period in Israel's which all who came under his influence were deeply history. David came to the throne immediately after and permanently attached to him. He was also a man the crushing defeat of Saul by the Philistines, and of strong natural passions, which, although generally when almost the whole land was held in their grasp; kept under control, yet led him at times to the comand when the tribes of Israel were at variance with one mission of grievous sins from which both he and his another, and for seven and a half years refused to people suffered severely. There was also a strain of unite in the recognition of a common monarch. But weakness in his character. His domestic affections at David's death the enemies of Israel had been subdued were indulged to the neglect of positive duties, and on every side, and he transmitted to Solomon an united caused grave troubles and crimes in his household. empire, extending from “the river of Egypt” to the The latter part of his reign was disturbed by formidEuphrates, and from the Red Sea to Lebanon. The able rebellions. He failed to deal with some of his maritime nations of the Phænicians alone appear not powerful subjects as he knew that justice required. to have been conquered, but they were united to the The period treated in this book is altogether a Israelites in the closest bonds of friendship, and as- chequered one, presenting a history of earnest piety, sisted both David and his successor in their works. of outrageous sin, and of deep repentance; of great The religious development of the people received a prosperity and unusual blessings on the one hand, and great impulse from the piety of the monarch and the of severe afflictions and punishments on the other. influence of his sacred poetry. The outward observances Nevertheless, it was, on the whole, a period of marked of religion shone forth indeed with more splendour in advance in both religious development and earthly the early part of the succeeding reign of Solomon; but prosperity, and it cannot fail to reward the most at no period was there a more earnest effort to con- careful study. duct the affairs of the nation on religious principles, or The great prophet Samuel had now passed to his a truer devotion on the part of their ruler. Moreover, rest, but David's early intercourse with him must have the services of the sanctuary were systematically ar- remained vividly in his memory, and his life and ranged, and sacred song made prominent in them; the government was doubtless largely influenced by the priesthood was had in honour; and abundant material prophet's counsels. The “schools of the prophets," and wealth were accumulated for the future building of founded by him, were still flourishing, and it may have the Temple.
been in them that Gad and Nathan and Iddo were David himself, the hero of the book, was a man to trained. attract attention in any age of the world. Raised from This is not the place to speak of the date and author. the sheepfold of Bethlehem to a throne, tried by every ship of the book, since it is simply a continuation of the vicissitude of great prosperity and great adversity, a First Book of Samuel. Only it is not to be forgotten man of noble presence and warlike prowess, of such that the original documents from which it was comphysical power as to be able to wield the sword of piled must have been somewhat later-in accordance Goliath, of such skill upon the harp as to be chosen to with the events to which they relate. The literature in allay the paroxysms of Saul's insanity, of high literary relation to the two books is essentially the same.
SECOND BOOK OF SAMUEL,
THE SECOND BOOK OF THE KINGS.
B. C. cir, 1066.
@ 1 Sam. 30. 17,
CHAPTER 1.-(1) Now it came to
That the people are fled from the battle, pass after the death of Saul, when David
and many of the people also are fallen was returned from the slaughter of the
and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his Amalekites, and David had abode two
son are dead also. days in Ziklag ; (2) it came even to pass
(5) And David said unto the young on the third day, that, behold, a man
man that told him, How knowest thou came out of the camp from Saul with
that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead? his clothes rent, and earth upon his
(6) And the young man that told him head : and so it was, when he came to
said, As I happened by chance upon David, that he fell to the earth, and did
mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon obeisance. (3) And David said unto him, 1 Web. What was, his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horseFrom whence comest thou ? And he
men followed hard after him. (7) And said unto him, Out of the camp of
when he looked behind him, he saw me, Israel am I escaped. (1) And David said
and called unto me. And I answered, unto him, "How went the matter? I
2 Here am I. (8) And he said unto me, pray thee, tell me. And he answered,
Who art thou ? And I answered him, I
2 Heb., Behold me.
At the moment when this book opens, the events (3) Out of the camp of Israel. It has been narrated in 1 Sam. xxxi. were not known to David. At questioned whether this Amalekite had actually been in the time of the fatal battle between Saul and the the army of Israel, and the expression in verse 6, “ As Philistines, David had been engaged in his successful I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa,” has been attack upon the Amalekites who had spoiled Ziklag cited to show that his presence there was merely acci. (1 Sam. xxx.) and it was not until two days after his dental, but no one who is not concerned in the matter return (verse 2) that the news reached him.
is likely to stray into the midst of a battle, and the
expression “ by chance ” is better referred to his coming (1) After the death of Saul.-These words are upon Saul when he was wounded. He certainly here immediately connected with 1 Sam. xxxi., and the fol- claims to have been a part of the “camp of Israel.” lowing words, “ when David was returned,” refer to He tells David the general facts of the defeat, and the 1 Sam. xxx. The two books really form one continuous death of Saul and Jonathan, as they really occurred. narrative.
(6) Upon mount Gilboa.—The battle appears to Two days in Ziklag.-The site of Ziklag has have been joined in the plain of Jezreel, but when the not been exactly identified, but it is mentioned in Josh. Israelites were routed they naturally fled the moun. xix. 5 as one of the cities in the extreme south, at first tain range of Gilboa, though apparently much scattered. assigned to Judah, but afterwards given to Simeon. It It was in this straggling flight that the Amalekite is also spoken of in connection with Beersheba and happened upon that part of the mountain where Saul other places of the south as re-occupied by the Jews The true account of the death of Saul is given on their return from Babylon (Neh. xi. 28). Its most in 1 Sam. xxxi. 3—6. (See Note on verse 10.) It is probable locality is some ten or twelve miles south of uncertain whether the man saw Saul at all before his Beersheba, and nearly equidistant from the Mediter. death, and it is extremely unlikely that he found him. ranean and the Dead Sea. It was thus quite four days' without warriors or armour-bearer, wounded and alone. journey from Mount Gilboa, and the messenger who
(8) An Amalekite.-The Amalekites were heredi. brought the news of the battle must have left the field tary foes of Israel, having attacked them on their first before David's return to Ziklag.
coming out of Egypt (Ex. xvii. 8—13), and at different (2) On the third day-viz., after David's return, times afterwards in the wilderness (Num. xix. 45 ; not the third day after Saul's death.
Deut. xxv. 18). During the period of the judges they Did obeisance.-The following verses show that had also repeatedly joined the foes of Israel (Judges this was not merely an act of Oriental respect, but iii. 13; vi. 3), but some years before this they had been was intended as a recognition of David's rank as terribly defeated by Saul (1 Sam. xv. 4-9), and it is having now become king. The messenger, although an possible that the present messenger may either have Amalekite (verses 8, 13), had earth upon his head and attached himself to the army of the conqueror, or have his clothes rent as marks of sorrow for the defeat of been compelled, according to ancient custom, to serve David's people, and the death of their king.
in its ranks. One of their bands had also just received
The Amalekite, who brought news
II. SAMUEL, I.
of Saul's Death, is Slain.
an Amalekite. (9) He said unto
(13) And David said unto the young me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me,
man that told him, Whence art thou? and slay me: for languish is come upon
And he answered, I am the son of a me, because my life is yet whole in me.
stranger, an Amalekite. (14) And David (10) So I stood upon him, and slew him, imui, my, content' said unto him, "How wast thou not because I was sure that he could not
afraid to stretch forth thine hand to live after that he was fallen : and I took
destroy the LORD's anointed?
(15) And the crown that was upon his head, and
David called one of the young men, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and
said, Go near, and fall upon him. And have brought them hither unto my lord.
he smote him that he died.
(16) And (11) Then David took hold on his a ch. 3. 31 & 18. 31. David said unto him, Thy blood be upon clothes, and arent them; and likewise
thy head; for thy mouth hath testified all the men that were with him : (12) and
against thee, saying, I have slain the they mourned, and wept, and fasted
LORD's anointed. until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan
(17) And David lamented with this his son, and for the people of the LORD,
lamentation over Saul and over Jonaand for the house of Israel; because
than his son : (18) (also he bade them they were fallen by the sword.
teach the children of Judah the use of
b Ps. 105. 15.
a severe blow at the hands of David, but of this last attack the Amalekite could not have known.
(9) Anguish is come upon me.—The word for anguish occurs only here, and probably does not have either of the meanings given to it in the text and margin of our version. The Rabbis explain it of cramp, others of giddiness, and the ancient versions differ as to its sense. It indicates probably some effect of his wound which incapacitated him for further combat.
(10) Slew him.-This story is inconsistent with that given in 1 Sam. xxxi. 4, 5, and was evidently invented by the Amalekite to gain favour with David. At the same time, he is careful not to carry the story too far, and asserts that Saul was only put to death at his own request, and after being mortally wounded. However, he must have been one of the first to find the body of Saul after his death, since he brought his crown and bracelet to David—a primâ facie evidence of the truth of his whole story. The offering of these emblems of royalty shows that the Amalekite recognised David as the future king, a recognition which most of the tribes of Israel were unwilling to make for a long time.
(12) They mourned.-On hearing the tidings of the Amalekite, David and all his people showed the usual Oriental signs of sorrow by rending their clothes, weeping, and fasting. Although David thus heard of the death of his persistent and mortal enemy, and of his own consequent accession to the throne, yet there is not the slightest reason to doubt the reality and earnestness of his mourning. The whole narrative shows that David not only, as a patriotic Israelite, lamented the death of the king, but also felt a personal attachment to Sanl, notwithstanding his long and unreasonable hostility. But Saul did not die alone; Jonathan, David's most cherished friend, fell with him. At the same time, the whole nation over which David was hereafter to reign received a crushing defeat from their foes, and large numbers of his countrymen were slain. It has been well remarked that the only deep mourning for Saul, with the exception of the men of Jabeshgilead, came from the man whom he had hated and persecuted as long as he lived.
The people of the Lord.-Besides his personal grief, David had both a religious and a patriotic ground for sorrow.
The men who had fallen were parts of
that Church of God which he so earnestly loved and served, and were also members of the commonwealth of Israel, on whose behalf he ever laboured with patriotic devotion. The LXX., overlooking this distinction, has very unnecessarily changed “people of the Lord ”into "people of Judah."
(14) How wast thou not afraid ?-David now turns to the Amalekite. It does not matter whether he fully believed his story or not, the man must be judged by his own account of himself. (See verse 16.) Regicide was not in David's eyes merely a political crime; he had showed on more than one occasion of great tempta. tion (1 Sam. xxiv. 6; xxvi. 9, 11, 16) that he considered taking the life of " the Lord's anointed” as a religious offence of the greatest magnitude. It was an especially grievous thing for a foreigner and an Amalekite thus to smite him whom God had appointed as the monarc! of Israel.
(15) Fall upon him. – All question of David's authority to pronounce a capital sentence is here quite out of place. The Amalekite had just recognised him as king, and therefore acknowledged his authority. But, besides this, David and his band of 600 outlaws were accustomed to live by the sword, and to defend themselves against Philistines, Amalekites, and other foes as best they could; and here stood before them one, by his own confession, guilty of high treason.
(17) Lamented with this lamentation.-This is the technical expression for a funeral dirge or elegy, such as David also composed on the death of Abner (chap. iii. 33, 34), and Jeremiah on the death of Josiah (2 Chron. xxxv. 25). It is the only instance preserved to us (except the few lines on the death of Abner) of David's secular poetry. “It is one of the finest odes of the Old Testament, full of lofty sentiment, and spring. ing from deep and sanctified emotion, in which, without the slightest allusion to his own relation to the fallen king, David celebrates without envy the bravery and virtues of Saul and his son Jonathan, and bitterly laments their loss." (Keil.)
(18) The use of the bow.-The words in italics, the use of, are not in the original, and should be omitted. David bade them teach the children of Judah the bow”: i.e., the following dirge called “the bow," not merely from the allusion to Jonathan's bow in verse 22, but because it is a martial ode, and the bow
II. SAMUEL, I.
over Saul and Jonathan.
the bow: behold, it is written in the a Josh. 10. 18. sword of Saul returned not empty. book 1 of Jasher.)
(23) Saul and Jonathan were lovely and (19) The beauty of Israel is slain upon
2 pleasant in their lives, and in their thy high places: how are the mighty
death they were not divided : they were fallen! (20) Tell it not in Gath, publish
swifter than eagles, they were stronger it not in the streets of Askelon; lest 10r, of the wthan lions. (24) Ye daughters of Israel,
right. the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
weep over Saul, who clothed you in lest the daughters of the uncircumcised
scarlet, with other delights, who put on triumph. (21) Ye mountains of Gilboa,
ornaments of gold upon your apparel. let there be no dew, neither let there be
(25) How are the mighty fallen in the rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings :
midst of the battle ! O Jonathan, thou for there the shield of the mighty is o Mic. 1. 10. wast slain in thine high places. (26) I am vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as
distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: though he had not been anointed with
very pleasant hast thou been unto me: oil. (22) From the blood of the slain,
thy love to me was wonderful, passing from the fat of the mighty, the bow of
the love of women. (27)How are the mighty Jonathan turned not back, and the 2 Or, sweet. fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
was one of the chief weapons of the time with which of the Philistines (Judg. xiv. 3; xv. 18; 1 Sam. xiv. 6; the Benjamites were particularly skilful (1 Chron. xvii. 26, 36; xxxi. 4; 1 Chron. x. 4). xii. 2; 2 Chron. xiv. 8; xvii. 17). The word is omitted (21) Norfields of offerings. - This somewhat in the Vatican LXX. He taught this song to “ the obscure expression seems to mean, “Let there not be upon children of Judah” rather than to all Israel, because you those fruitful fields from which may be gathered for the following seven and a half years, while the the offerings of first-fruits.” Of course, this maledicmemory of Saul was fresh, he reigned only over Judah tion upon the mountains of Gilboa is to be understood and Benjamin.
as it was meant, only in a poetical sense. In the book of Jasher.-This book is also re. Vilely cast away.-Another sense of this word ferred to in Josh. x. 13, and nothing more is really is defiled. The ancient versions, as well as modern known about it, although it has been the subject of commentators, adopt some one, and some the other endless discussion and speculation. It is supposed to meaning, either of which is appropriate. have been a collection of songs relating to memorable As though he had not been anointed.events and men in the early history of Israel, and it This translation follows the Vulg., and makes a good appears that this elegy was included among them. sense = as though Saul had not been a king; but it is
The song is in two parts, the first relating to both more than doubtful if the original can bear this conSanl and Jonathan (verses 19—24), the second to struction. There is no pronoun in the Hebrew, and the Jonathan, alone (verses 25, 26), each having at the word “anointed” refers to the shield, “the shield of beginning the lament, “ How are the mighty fallen!” Saul not anointed with oil.” It was customary to oil and the whole closing with the same refrain (verse 27). metal shields, as well as those of wood and leather, for
(19) The beauty of Israel, in the sense of the their preservation, and the idea here is that Saul's shield glory or ornament of Israel, referring to Saul and was thrown away uncared for. Jonathan. The rendering of the Syriac and some (23) Lovely and pleasant.- This applies pecucommentators, “the gazelle,” as a poetic name for liarly to Jonathan, but also in a good degree to Saul in Jonathan, is uncalled for, both because the words are his earlier years and his better moments, which David spoken of Saul and Jonathan together, and because chose at this moment to recall. It also applies truth. there is no evidence elsewhere that Jonathan was so fully to them both in their relations to each other. called, nor is there any allusion to him under this figure (24) Clothed you in scarlet. - This refers to
Saul's division among the people of the spoil of his con. Upon thy high places.-Comp. verses 21, 25. quered foes, and to the prosperity resulting from his This line may be considered as the superscription many successful campaigns. Notwithstanding that his of the whole song.
light at last went out under the cloud of a crushing (20) In Gath in the streets of Askelon. defeat, he had been on the whole a successful warrior. -Two chief cities of the Philistines, poetically put for The Philistines, the Ammonites, the Amalekites, and the whole. In the former David had himself resided others, had felt the power of his arm, and the relations (1 Sam. xxi. 10; xxvii. 3, 4), and in the latter was a of Israel to the surrounding nations had been wonderfamous temple of Venus, which was doubtless “the fully changed for the better during his reign. house of Ashtaroth” (1 Sam. xxxi. 10), where the (26) Passing the love of women. - By this Philistines put the armour of Saul. “Tell it not strong expression, comparing Jonathan's love for David in Gath" appears to have become a proverb. (See to that of the faithful wife for her husband, David shows Micah i. 10.)
his appreciation of that wonderful affection which had Lest the daughters of the Philistines.- existed between Jonathan and himself under the most It was customary for women to celebrate national de. untoward circumstances. It was such an affection as liverances and victories (Exod. xv. 21; 1 Sam. xviii. 6). could only exist between noble natures and those united The word uncircumcised might be applied to the hea- in the fear of God. In these last verses of the elegy, then generally, but it so happens that, with the exception which relate to Jonathan alone, David has given ex. of Gen. xxxiv. 14, it is used in the historical books only pression to his own personal sorrow.
in the song: