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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