Verse 12: And the people said unto Samuel, (1 Sam. 10:27) Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? (see Luke 19:27) bring the men, that we may put them to death.
[To Samuel] Rather than to Saul, lest they should provoke Saul to vengeance in his own cause (Mendoza generally out of Tostatus).
[Shall Saul reign, etc.?] But they render it in a more grevious manner than they had spoken, shall he be able to save us? Then, they were obliged to restrain them on that day when they were setting forth such things; lest sedition run rampant: but now they demand vengeance at an unconnected time (Mendoza).
Shall Saul reign over us? they did not say so in terms, a we may see, 1 Samuel 10:27, but this was the design and consequence of their speech, as they rightly construe it. That we may put them to death; which till this time they were not able to do, because that infection was then almost universal.
Verse 13: And Saul said, (2 Sam. 19:22) There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day (Ex. 14:18, 30; 1 Sam. 19:5) the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel.
[And Saul said] But why not Samuel? For they addressed him. Response: Saul wanted to get ahead of the response of Samuel; for it was equitable for Saul to remit his own injuries, and for Samuel to avenge those of another (Mendoza). To the King alone was it lawful to pardon those things, which were pertaining to his own injury: which also the philosophers commend. Seneca, Concerning Clemency 1:20, speaking concerning a Prince: He is far more willing to forgive in the case of his own injuries, than in the case of others’, etc. Similarly Livy on Augustus. And Antoninus and Theodosius. See Concerning the Law of War and Peace 2:24:3. But the fault that is treated had something of an excuse in men unaccustomed to Royal Power (Grotius).
[Because the Lord hath wrought salvation] Such a happy day is not to be polluted by the slaughter of anyone (Menochius, Lapide). Well does Saul take an occasion of mercy from a day of victory. On what day devoid of punishment, when between sacrifices and prayers, at what time it was customary to abstain also from profane words, are chains and the noose introduced? say the Fathers, complaining of the cruelty of Tiberius in Tacitus, Annals 4. A similar thing was done in 2 Samuel 19:22 (Grotius). The argument rightly leads from mercy received to mercy to be given (Mendoza out of Carthusianus).
There shall not a man be put to death this day, etc.: I will not destroy any of those whom God hath so graciously preserved; nor sully the mirth of this glorious and comfortable day with the slaughter of any of my subjects; and therefore I freely forgive them. Wherein Saul showed his policy as well as his clemency, this being the most likely way to gain his enemies, and secure his friends, and stablish his throne in the hearts of his people.
[1095 BC] Verse 14: Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go (1 Sam. 10:8) to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there.