Poole on 1 Samuel 19:18-21: The Ecstatic Rapture of Saul's Emissaries
Verse 18: So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.
[And he came to Samuel, etc.] So that David’s soul might be strengthened in the college of the Prophets and the fellowship of Samuel, and might prove the marvelous administration of God, in which he was trusting: perhaps, so that he might be safe in that college, as in a place of refuge; which profane histories teach was also received among all nations; and it is confirmed by the example in 1 Samuel 10:10, in which the Philistines did not molest the assembly of the Prophets (Junius, Piscator). Or, so that he might be protected by Samuel’s influence, authority, and dignity: and so that he might also be directed by his counsel (Malvenda).
Came to Samuel to Ramah; partly for comfort and direction in his great distress; and partly for safety, supposing that Saul would be ashamed to execute his bloody designs in the presence of so venerable a person as Samuel, who had laid so great obligations upon Saul, and had such great and just reputation with the people.
[And they dwelt in Naioth] As in a scholastic university, so that there they might refresh themselves as if in some haven, and take a breath. Therefore, let the afflicted, for the sake of consolation, betake themselves to the assembly of those hearing the word of God (Osiander). It is written נָויֺת/Navyoth, and is read נָיוֹת/Naioth, with the letters ו/Vau and י/Yod transposed (Munster). In Hebrew it is called both נָווֹת/Navoth and נָיוֹת/Naioth, from the pleasantness of the place (Malvenda). It signifies the place of the studious (Vatablus). In Naioth (Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus). In the house of instruction (Jonathan).
Verse 19: And it was told Saul, saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.
[In Naioth in Ramah] Naioth is believed to have been a place near Ramah, and so related to that city, in which was a school of the prophets (Osiander). Naioth was a place situated in the territory of Ramah (Vatablus out of the Hebrews). Naioth was not a place distinct from Ramah, except perhaps as a part from the whole, and as the thing contained from the thing containing (Tostatus in Lapide). Perhaps Naioth was a place suburban to the city of Ramah, into which Samuel was wont sometimes to withdraw with his assembly for refreshment, or meditation (Sanchez).
In Ramah: Or, near Ramah; the Hebrew preposition ב/beth, in, being oft put for near, as it is apparently used, Numbers 33:37, 38; Joshua 5:13; Jeremiah 20:2; 32:7. Naioth was either a house or college in the town of Ramah, or a village in the territory of Ramah, or near to the town of Ramah; in which there was a college of the prophets, amongst whom Samuel thought David might be secure.
Verse 20: And (see John 7:32, 45, etc.) Saul sent messengers to take David: (1 Cor. 14:3, 24, 25; 1 Sam. 10:5, 6) and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
Saul sent messengers to take David: thus Saul’s wickedness and fury increased; and he that at first used only secret practices against David, now breaks forth into open and impudent hostilities; plainly declaring that he neither feared God nor reverenced man. He would have punished Samuel, as afterwards he did Abimelech, for giving David entertainment, but that he feared the people, who had so great and unanimous a veneration for him.
[When they had seen the company of prophets, וַיַּ֗רְא אֶֽת־לַהֲקַ֤ת וגו״] And he saw (understanding, either the greatest, or the principal, of them [Vatablus], or each [Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus] of them [Vatablus]), or they saw (Septuagint, Syriac, Pagnine), the assembly of the prophets (Montanus, similarly all), with לַהֲקָה in the place of קַהֲלַת/assembly, with the first and last letters transposed (Munster). That is, because the root קָהַל, to assemble, is used, but not לָהַק; I do not oppose this. Nevertheless, in Æthiopic להק is to grow, Matthew 6:28; 13:30; thence it is also used of one that is older than another by birth, Matthew 22:25; whence also מלהקת חוב are πρεσβύτεροι τοῦ λαοῦ, the elders of the people. Hence you could translate לַהֲקַ֤ת הַנְּבִיאִים֙, either, as a great number of prophets, as if you would indicate an increase of prophets; or, the Senate, the eldership, of the Prophets. For, it is no stranger for Prophets to be called elders, than for those Seventy translators vulgarly to be called the Seventy elders (Dieu).
[Prophesying] That is, praising God with canticles and songs (Vatablus).
Prophesying, that is, speaking of God, or of the things of God, by Divine inspiration; either praising God, or instructing men. Compare Numbers 11:25; 1 Samuel 10:5.
[And Samuel standing over them, עֹמֵ֥ד נִצָּ֖ב עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם] Standing, appointed (presiding [Syriac, Septuagint], bishop [Tigurinus], who was in charge [Junius and Tremellius], teaching [Jonathan]) over them (Pagnine, Montanus). Appointed with respect to them (Menochius); put in charge of them (Vatablus). Standing, he was teaching them (Vatablus); he was directing, and instructing, them, and was leading the choir (Malvenda).
Appointed over them, to instruct, moderate, and direct them in those holy exercises. For though they prophesied by Divine inspiration, which Samuel could not govern; yet they were both to prepare and dispose themselves for it beforehand, and to make good improvement of it afterwards, in both which they needed Samuel’s counsel and assistance. And whereas some might falsely pretend to those raptures, or the devil might transform himself into an angel of light, and convey some evil or false suggestions into some of their minds, Samuel’s presence and judgment was necessary to prevent and to detect such impostures. Besides, Samuel would by his present conjunction with them in those holy exercises encourage them, and stir up others to the coveting of those gifts, and the performance of such religious duties.
[They also began to prophesy] Chaldean: and they were praising, understanding, God (Vatablus). Some think that all were so changed in heart and will, that they did it from true piety; just like those in John 7. Others say with greater probability that they were thus divinely compelled to praise God, just like Balaam to bless (Estius). I translate it, so that they acted in the prophetic manner: Now, it appears from the last verse in this chapter that they put off that military habit, in which they had come to capture David, so that they might act the part of prophets in habit and gesture (Piscator out of Junius). Perhaps to Prophesy here is taken for to be frenzied. [Thus Castalio translates it:] and to speak things discordant: For to this appears to pertain the fact that they stripped themselves, etc. Perhaps all did not prophesy in one way: But Saul and the soldiers with their sense alienated; the sons of the prophets praising God; Samuel and David prophesying future things (Mariana). The sense: they were singing sacred songs, and were free for, and delighting in, that exercise; at the same time, they were forgetful of their impious purpose, namely, that they had come to seize David (Osiander). God brought this to pass, so that Saul might acknowledge the power of God, against which he was fighting in vain, and so that he might at the same time understand how dear David was to God, whom He was protecting with this miracle (Menochius). Learn here just how powerful good society is. Among the prophets these impious scoundrels are made prophets among the prophets (Lapide).
They also prophesied; being inspired by God to do so, as wicked Balaam also was; that, being rapt up into such an ecstasy, their minds might be wholly taken up with those matters, and quite taken off from their design of seizing David.
Verse 21: And when it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. And Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also.
 Hebrew: וְדָוִ֙ד בָּרַ֜ח וַיִּמָּלֵ֗ט וַיָּבֹ֤א אֶל־שְׁמוּאֵל֙ הָרָמָ֔תָה וַיַּ֙גֶּד־ל֔וֹ אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָֽשָׂה־ל֖וֹ שָׁא֑וּל וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ הוּא֙ וּשְׁמוּאֵ֔ל וַיֵּשְׁב֖וּ בְּנְוָיֹֽת׃ נָוָה signifies to be beautiful.  Hebrew: וַיֻּגַּ֥ד לְשָׁא֖וּל לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֵּ֣ה דָוִ֔ד בְּנְוָיֹ֭ת בָּרָמָֽה׃  Numbers 33:37: “And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom (בְּהֹ֣ר הָהָ֔ר בִּקְצֵ֖ה אֶ֥רֶץ אֱדֽוֹם׃).”  Joshua 5:13: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho (בִּירִיחוֹ), that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”  Jeremiah 20:2: “Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord (אֲשֶׁ֙ר בְּשַׁ֤עַר בִּנְיָמִן֙ הָֽעֶלְי֔וֹן אֲשֶׁ֖ר בְּבֵ֥ית יְהוָֽה׃).”  Jeremiah 32:7: “Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth (בַּעֲנָתוֹת): for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.”  Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֙ח שָׁא֣וּל מַלְאָכִים֮ לָקַ֣חַת אֶת־דָּוִד֒ וַיַּ֗רְא אֶֽת־לַהֲקַ֤ת הַנְּבִיאִים֙ נִבְּאִ֔ים וּשְׁמוּאֵ֕ל עֹמֵ֥ד נִצָּ֖ב עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם וַתְּהִ֞י עַֽל־מַלְאֲכֵ֤י שָׁאוּל֙ ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ גַּם־הֵֽמָּה׃ עָמַד signifies to stand; נָצַב, in the Niphal, to stand, or to be stationed.  Hebrew: וַיַּגִּ֣דוּ לְשָׁא֗וּל וַיִּשְׁלַח֙ מַלְאָכִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ גַּם־הֵ֑מָּה וַיֹּ֣סֶף שָׁא֗וּל וַיִּשְׁלַח֙ מַלְאָכִ֣ים שְׁלִשִׁ֔ים וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ גַּם־הֵֽמָּה׃