1 Samuel 18


Jonathan and David commence a lasting friendship; and David

acts prudently with respect to Saul, 1-5

Saul becomes jealous of David, on account of the esteem in

which he is held in Israel; and, in his fury endeavours to

destroy him, 6-12.

David is made captain over a thousand; and the people love and

respect him, 13-16.

Saul, in order to ensnare him, offers him his daughter in

marriage, 17-24;

and requires a hundred foreskins of the Philistines for dowry;

hoping that, in endeavouring to procure them, David might fall

by the hands of the Philistines, 25.

David agrees to the conditions, fulfils them, and has Michal to

wife, 26-30.


Verse 1. When he had made an end of speaking] These first five

verses are omitted by the Septuagint. See the notes on the

preceding chapter.

Jonathan loved him as his own soul] The most intimate

friendship subsisted between them; and they loved each other with

pure hearts fervently. No love was lost between them; each was

worthy of the other. They had a friendship which could not be

affected with changes or chances, and which exemplified all that

the ancients have said on the subject; τηνφιλιανισοτηταειναι

καιμιανψυχηντονφιλονετεροναυτον; "Friendship produces an

entire sameness; it is one soul in two bodies: a friend is another


Verse 4. Jonathan stripped himself] Presents of clothes or rich

robes, in token of respect and friendship, are frequent in the

East. And how frequently arms and clothing were presented by

warriors to each other in token of friendship, may be seen in

Homer and other ancient writers.

Verse 5. Set him over the men of war] Made him generalissimo; or

what we would call field marshal.

Verse 6. When David was returned] This verse connects well with

the 54th verse of the preceding chapter; 1Sa 17:54 and carries

on the narration without any break or interruption. See the notes


The women came out] It was the principal business of certain

women to celebrate victories, sing at funerals, &c.

With instruments of music.] The original word ( shalishim)

signifies instruments with three strings; and is, I think,

properly translated by the Vulgate, cum sistris, "with sistrums."

This instrument is well known as being used among the ancient

Egyptians: it was made of brass, and had three, sometimes more,

brass rods across; which, being loose in their holes, made a

jingling noise when the instrument was shaken.

Verse 7. Saul hath slain his thousands] As it cannot literally

be true that Saul had slain thousands, and David ten thousands; it

would be well to translate the passage thus: Saul hath smitten or

fought against thousands; David against tens of thousands.

"Though Saul has been victorious in all his battles; yet he has

not had such great odds against him as David has had; Saul,

indeed, has been opposed by thousands; David, by ten thousands."

We may here remark that the Philistines had drawn out their whole

forces at this time: and when Goliath was slain, they were totally

discomfited by the Israelites, led on chiefly by David.

Verse 10. The evil spirit from God] See on 1Sa 16:14, &c.

He prophesied in the midst of the house] He was beside himself;

made prayers, supplications, and incoherent imprecations: "God

preserve my life," "Destroy my enemies," or such like prayers,

might frequently escape from him in his agitated state. The Arabic

intimates that he was actually possessed by an evil spirit, and

that through it he uttered a sort of demoniacal predictions.

But let us examine the original more closely: it is said that

Saul prophesied in the midst of his house, that is, he prayed in

his family, while David was playing on the harp; and then suddenly

threw his javelin, intending to have killed David. Let it be

observed that the word vaiyithnabbe is the third person

singular of the future hithpael; the sign of which is not only to

do an action on or for one's self, but also to feign or pretend to

do it. The meaning seems to be, SAUL pretended to be praying in

his family, the better to conceal his murderous intentions, and

render David unsuspicious; who was, probably, at this time

performing the musical part of the family worship. This view of

the subject makes the whole case natural and plain.

Verse 11. Saul cast the javelin] The javelin or spear was the

emblem of regal authority; kings always had it at hand, and in

ancient monuments they are always represented with it.

In ancient times, says Justin, kings used a spear instead of a

diadem: Per ea tempora reges hastas pro diademate habebant, Hist.

lib. xliii. And as spears were the emblems of supreme power, hence

they were reputed as attributes of the Divinity, and were

worshipped as representatives of the gods. Ab origne verum, pro

DIIS immortalibus veteres HASTAS coluerent, ob cujus religionis

memoriam, adhuc deorum simulachris HASTAE adduntur.-Ibid.

Verse 13. Made him his captain] This was under pretence of doing

him honour, when it was in effect only to rid himself of the

object of his envy.

Verse 15. He was afraid of him.] He saw that, by his prudent

conduct, he was every day gaining increasing influence.

Verse 17. Fight the Lord's battles.] Mr. Calmet properly remarks

that the wars of the Hebrews, while conducted by the express

orders of God, were truly the wars of the Lord; but when the

spirit of worldly ambition and domination became mingled with

them, they were no longer the wars of the Lord, but wars of lust

and profanity.

Verse 21. That she may be a snare to him] Saul had already

determined the condition on which he would give his daughter to

David; viz., that he should slay one hundred Philistines: this he

supposed he would undertake for the love of Michal, and that he

must necessarily perish in the attempt; and thus Michal would

become a snare to him.

Verse 25. But a hundred foreskins] That is, Thou shalt slay one

hundred Philistines, and thou shalt produce their foreskins, as a

proof, not only that thou hast killed one hundred men, but that

these are of the uncircumcised. A custom similar to this still

prevails among the Abyssinians, according to Bruce. See his


Verse 27. Slew-two hundred men.] The Septuagint has only one

hundred men. Saul covenanted with David for a hundred; and David

himself says, 2Sa 3:14, that he espoused Michal for a

hundred: hence it is likely that one hundred is the true


Verse 30. Then the princes of the Philistines went forth]

Probably to avenge themselves on David and the Israelites: but of

this war we know no more than that David was more skilful and

successful in it than any of the other officers of Saul. His

military skill was greater, and his success was proportionate to

his skill and courage; hence it is said, he behaved himself more

wisely than all the servants of Saul.

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