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Poole on 1 Samuel 18:1-5: David at the Court of Saul

Verse 1:[1] And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that (Gen. 44:30) the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, (1 Sam. 19:2; 20:17; 2 Sam. 1:26; Deut. 13:6) and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.


[When he had made an end of speaking to Saul] He asked certain things, such as concerning his family, etc.; and he congratulated him (Menochius).


[And the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David] An excellent description of friendship. Thus Aristotle observes, Nicomachean Ethics 9, that fries have μίαν ψυχὴν, one soul; and Papinius said that their hearts are bound. The language of concordiæ[2] signifies the same thing, and ὁμονοίας, oneness of mind. Add what is said on 1 Samuel 20:17 (Grotius). The hidden Spirit of God joined them. There was also in both the highest similarity in age, piety, and zeal towards the republic (Martyr).


[And he love him, וַיֶּאֱהָבֵוּ] [Thus this word is written in the Bible Polyglots; but וַיֶּאֱהָבֵו in the Plantin. But all interpreters follow the Masoretic Qere, וַיֶּאֱהָבֵהוּ, and he loved him.]


Jonathan loved him: Partly, for his excellent virtues and endowments, which shone forth both in his speeches and actions; partly, for the great and good service which he had done to God and to his people; and partly, for the similitude of their age and qualities.


Verse 2:[3] And Saul took him that day, (1 Sam. 17:15) and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.


[And Saul took him on that day] Question: Of what day does he speak? And is this order correct, or a certain anticipation, or recapitulation? Response 1: This order is continuous; and these things were done immediately after those things conducted in the preceding chapter (Tostatus). Response 2: Others explain that day, not on which, with the Philistine killed, he was taken before Saul, 1 Samuel 17:57, 58; but on which, with legates sent to Jesse, he asked that he be left in his presence: which was proleptically narrated in 1 Samuel 16:18, etc. For it is a return to the interrupted history (Malvenda out of Junius, Piscator). [They prove their opinion in this way:] 1. The cause that moved Saul to take David into his court was different; namely, to play the lyre, 1 Samuel 16:16. 2. If this was the day of the slaying of Goliath, it follows that Saul from that day retained David with himself in the court, as it is here said. But, if this is so, then he did not ask from Jesse through messengers that he might send David to himself. But he did ask, as it is expressly narrated. 3. If the correct order is here preserved, then David at one and the same time was both known (as armorbearer and lyrist) and unknown, according to 1 Samuel 17:55 (Piscator). [But concerning these things see the things noted on that passage.]


Would let him go no more home to his father’s house: By which it appears, that beforetime David had not his constant residence at court, but did return to his father’s house, and thence again to the court, as occasion required.


Verse 3:[4] Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

[They entered into a covenant] That is, they mutually promised perpetual friendship. See 1 Samuel 20:3 (Grotius).


A covenant, that is, an agreement of sincere and perpetual friendship between them.


Verse 4:[5] And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.


[He stripped himself of the tunic, etc.] Jonathan was able to give other gifts to his friend; but he preferred to give garments, so that he might adorn him as highly as possible with courtly honor, lest he should be despised for his pastoral habit; and he willed that he be honored by all as a second Jonathan, and that they acknowledge and contemplate himself as in David (Menochius). Thus Thus David put off the shepherd, and put on the prince (Sanchez).


Gave it to David: Partly as a pledge of his great respect and affection to him; and partly to vindicate David from that contempt which might cleave to him for his former pastoral habit and condition, and to put him into a habit suitable to his present greatness and glory.


[Even unto the girdle] Thus the sacred text speaks; either, so that it might show that no part of the vestments, not even the least, was not given to David; or, because of old girdles were precious, as emblems of honor, to magnify the greatness of benevolence. See Job 12:18 (Menochius). The girdle was the principal ornament of soldiers: and it was a great punishment to be deprived of it (Sanchez).


Verse 5:[6] And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely (or, prospered,[7] 1 Sam. 17:14, 15, 30): and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.



David went out, upon military expeditions, of which that word is oft used.


[He was conducting himself prudently, יַשְׂכִּיל] He was acting intelligently (Montanus); he was understanding (Septuagint); he conducted himself (or the matter [Tigurinus]) prudently (Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Munster, Castalio); or, prospering (Jonathan, similarly the Arabic, Vatablus), that is, he was concluding matters with great felicity (Vatablus). What things are done with prudence, they happen prosperously (Mariana).


Set him over the men of war; gave him some considerable command in his army, though not the supreme.


[In the sight of the servants of Saul] Who, nevertheless, were able to envy him (Vatablus). His glory was hurting few (Grotius). Moreover, these things are said by way of anticipation; for what things are narrated in verse 6 and following actually preceded (Menochius, Sanchez).

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י כְּכַלֹּתוֹ֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל וְנֶ֙פֶשׁ֙ יְה֣וֹנָתָ֔ן נִקְשְׁרָ֖ה בְּנֶ֣פֶשׁ דָּוִ֑ד וַיֶּאֱהָב֥וֹ יְהוֹנָתָ֖ן כְּנַפְשֽׁוֹ׃ [2] Literally a heart together. [3] Hebrew: וַיִּקָּחֵ֥הוּ שָׁא֖וּל בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֑וּא וְלֹ֣א נְתָנ֔וֹ לָשׁ֖וּב בֵּ֥ית אָבִֽיו׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיִּכְרֹ֧ת יְהוֹנָתָ֛ן וְדָוִ֖ד בְּרִ֑ית בְּאַהֲבָת֥וֹ אֹת֖וֹ כְּנַפְשֽׁוֹ׃ [5] Hebrew: וַיִּתְפַּשֵּׁ֣ט יְהוֹנָתָ֗ן אֶֽת־הַמְּעִיל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלָ֔יו וַֽיִּתְּנֵ֖הוּ לְדָוִ֑ד וּמַדָּ֕יו וְעַד־חַרְבּ֥וֹ וְעַד־קַשְׁתּ֖וֹ וְעַד־חֲגֹרֽוֹ׃ [6] Hebrew: וַיֵּצֵ֙א דָוִ֜ד בְּכֹל֩ אֲשֶׁ֙ר יִשְׁלָחֶ֤נּוּ שָׁאוּל֙ יַשְׂכִּ֔יל וַיְשִׂמֵ֣הוּ שָׁא֔וּל עַ֖ל אַנְשֵׁ֣י הַמִּלְחָמָ֑ה וַיִּיטַב֙ בְּעֵינֵ֣י כָל־הָעָ֔ם וְגַ֕ם בְּעֵינֵ֖י עַבְדֵ֥י שָׁאֽוּל׃ [7] Hebrew: יַשְׂכִּיל.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 19, 2022

William Jay's Morning Exercises: 'But connections and intimacies are not always to be accounted for. They often depend on things impossible for us to describe. They come from God, who has peculiar purposes to answer, and link us together by invisible chains. See an instance of this: "It came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, an…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 19, 2022

Henry Scudder's Christian's Daily Walk: 'Where this love is, it will unite hearts together, like Jonathan's and David's, 1 Samuel 18:1, making you to be of one heart and soul, Acts 4:32. It will make you enjoy each other's society with spiritual delight, Psalm 16:3. It will make you to sympathize with one another; and to bear each other's burthens, Galatians 6:2. It will make you to communicate in all things communicable, with gladness, and singleness of heart, Acts 2:46, as you are able, and that with a special love, Galatians 6:10, beyond that which you show to them which are not alike excellent. Yea, it is so entire and so ardent, that you will not hold your life t…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 19, 2022

William Gouge's Domestical Duties: 'Though love be a general duty which every one owes to another, even to his enemy, yet the nearer that God has linked any together, the more are they bound to this duty, and the more must they abound therein. But of all others are man and wife most nearly and firmly linked together. Of all others therefore are they most bound hereunto, and that in the highest degree that may be, even like to Jonathan's love, who loved David as his own soul. [1 Samuel 18:1,3] Solomon says, He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord: [Proverbs 18:22] which by the rule of relation is also true o…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 19, 2022

William Gouge's Domestical Duties: 'Love is the glue and solder which makes us one with Christ: for it is the property of love to unite those that love one another in one. Jonathan's soul was knit with the soul of David. For why? Jonathan loved him as his own soul. [1 Samuel 18:1] He that loves is well pleased with him whom he loves, and seeks also to please him, that they may mutually delight one in another. Were these three virtues well rooted in us, we would say, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, etc. [Romans 8:35]'

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Nov 19, 2022


Matthew Henry: 'David was anointed to the crown to take it out of Saul's hand, and over Jonathan's head, and yet here we find,


I. That Saul, who was now in possession of the crown, reposed a confidence in him, God so ordering it, that he might by his preferment at court be prepared for future service. Saul now took David home with him, and would not suffer him to return again to his retirement, 1 Samuel 18:2. And David having signalized himself above the men of war, in taking up the challenge which they declined, Saul set him over the men of war (1 Samuel 18:5), not that he made him general (Abner was in that post), but perhaps…


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