1 Samuel 26


The Ziphites inform Saul of David's hiding place, 1.

Saul, with three thousand men, goes in pursuit of him, 2, 3.

David sends out spies; and finds where Saul had pitched his

camp; and he and Abishai come to the camp by night, find all

asleep, and bring away Saul's spear, and the cruse of water

that was at his head, 4-12.

David goes to the opposite hill; awakes Abner, captain of Saul's

host; chides him for being so careless of his master's life;

and calls on Saul to send one of his servants for the spear;

and severely chides him for his continued hostility to him,


Saul humbles himself to David; promises to persecute him no

more; and returns to his own place, 25.


Verse 1. The Ziphites came] This is the second time that these

enemies of David endeavoured to throw him into the hands of Saul.

See 1Sa 23:19.

Verse 2. Three thousand chosen men] Though they knew that David

was but six hundred strong, yet Saul thought it was not safe to

pursue such an able general with a less force than that mentioned

in the text; and, that he might the better depend on them, they

were all elect or picked men out of the whole of his army.

Verse 5. David arose] As David and his men knew the country,

they had many advantages over Saul and his men; and no doubt could

often watch them without being discovered.

Saul lay in the trench] The word bammaegal, which we

translate in the trench, and in the margin in the midst of his

carriages, is rendered by some in a ring of carriages, and by

others in the circle, i.e., which was formed by his troops. Luther

himself translates it wagenburg, a fortress formed of wagons or


As agal signifies any thing round, it may here refer to a

round pavilion or tent made for Saul, or else to the form of his

camp. The Arabs, to the present day, always form a circle in their

encampments, and put their principal officers in the centre.

Verse 6. Abishai the son of Zeruiah] She was David's sister; and

therefore Abishai and Joab were nephews to David.

Verse 8. God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand] Here

Abishai uses the same language as did David's men, when Saul came

into the cave at En-gedi, (see 1Sa 24:4, &c.,) and David uses the

same language in reply.

Verse 10. The Lord shall smite him] He shall die by a stroke of

the Divine judgment; or his day shall come to die-he shall die a

natural death; which in the course of things must be before mine,

and thus I shall get rid of mine enemy; or he shall descend into

the battle, and perish-he shall fall by the enemies of his

country. These are the three ordinary ways by which man

accomplishes, as a hireling, his day. Murder David could not

consider to be lawful; this would have been taking the matter out

of God's hand, and this David would not do.

Verse 12. David took the spear and the cruse] The spear, we have

already seen, was the emblem of power and regal dignity. But it is

usual, in Arab camps, for every man to have his lance stuck in the

ground beside him, that he may be ready for action in a moment.

The cruse of water resembled, in some measure, the canteens of our

soldiers. In such a climate, where water was always scarce, it was

necessary for each man to carry a little with him, to refresh him

on his march.

A deep sleep from the Lord] It is the same word which is used,

Ge 2:21, to describe the

sleep which God caused to fall upon Adam, when he formed Eve out

of his side.

Verse 15. Art not thou a valiant man?] This is a strong irony.

Ye are worthy to die; ye are sons of death-ye deserve death for

this neglect of your king. And had not Saul been so deeply

affected with David's generosity in preserving his life, he had

doubtless put Abner and his chief officers to death; though they

were not to blame, as their apparent neglect was the effect of a

supernatural sleep.

Verse 19. Let him accept an offering] If God have stirred thee

up against me, why, then, let him deliver my life into thy hand,

and accept it as a sacrifice. But as the word is minchah, a

gratitude-offering, perhaps the sense may be this: Let God accept

a gratitude-offering from thee, for having purged the land of a

worker of iniquity; for, were I not such, God would never stir

thee up against me.

But if they be the children of men] If men have, by false

representations, lies, and slanders, stirred thee up against an

innocent man, then let them be cursed before the Lord. If I am

guilty, I deserve to die; if not, those who seek my life should be


Saying, Go, serve other gods.] His being obliged to leave the

tabernacle, and the place where the true worship of God was

performed, and take refuge among idolaters, said in effect, Go,

serve other gods.

Verse 20. As when one doth hunt a partridge] It is worthy of

remark that the Arabs, observing that partridges, being put up

several times, soon become so weary as not to be able to fly; they

in this manner hunt them upon the mountains, till at last they can

knock them down with their clubs.

It was in this manner that Saul hunted David, coming hastily

upon him, and putting him up from time to time, in hopes that he

should at length, by frequent repetitions of it, be able to

destroy him. See Harmer.

Verse 21. I have sinned] Perhaps the word chatathi, "I

have sinned," should be read, I have erred, or, have been

mistaken. I have taken thee to be a very different man from what

I find thee to be. Taken literally it was strictly true. He often

purposed the spilling of David's blood; and thus, again and again,

sinned against his life.

Verse 25. Thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still

prevail.] The Hebrew is gam asoh thaaseh,

vegam yachol tuchal; "Also in doing thou shalt do, and being able

thou shalt be able; which the Targum translates, also in reigning

thou shalt reign, and in prospering thou shalt prosper; which in

all probability is the meaning.

There is a vast deal of dignity in this speech of David, arising

from a consciousness of his own innocence. He neither begs his

life from Saul, nor offers one argument to prevail upon him to

desist from his felonious attempts, but refers the whole matter to

God, as the judge and vindicator of oppressed innocence. Saul

himself is speechless, except in the simple acknowledgment of his

sin; and in the behalf of their king not one of his officers has

one word to say! It is strange that none of them offered now to

injure the person of David; but they saw that he was most

evidently under the guardian care of God, and that their master

was apparently abandoned by him. Saul invites David to return, but

David knew the uncertainty of Saul's character too well to trust

himself in the power of this infatuated king. How foolish are the

counsels of men against God! When he undertakes to save, who can

destroy? And who can deliver out of his hands?

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