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Poole's on 1 Samuel 24:16-22: Saul Convicted!

Verse 16:[1] And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, (1 Sam. 26:17) Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.

[Surely this is not thy voice?] David stood at a distance from Saul, and so he was not able to know him by face; yet he recognizes his voice (Menochius).

Is this thy voice, my son David? he knew his voice though being at a great distance from him, he could not discern his face.

[And he wept, etc.] Some maintain that Saul did and said these things cunningly and deceptively, so that he might bring David back to court, and kill him when off his guard. But there is no necessity to say these things. For, in the impious is a great force of conscience, with the genuine motion of which they are sometimes touched. But, since they are πρόσκαιροι/temporary, they readily return to their nature (Martyr).

And wept; partly from the sense of his sin against God, and of his wicked and base carriage to David; (for there are some such temporary passions ofttimes in hypocrites and ungodly men;) and principally from the remembrance of so great and so late a danger as he had now escaped; which commonly produceth grief and tears; as 2 Samuel 13:36. Yet these may be tears of affection or tenderness (upon the sense of David’s kindness) rather than of grief.

Verse 17:[2] (1 Sam. 26:21) And he said to David, Thou art (Gen. 38:26) more righteous than I: for (Matt. 5:44) thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.

[Thou art more righteous than I] A confession extorted from him being unwilling, with his soul not at all emended. See also 1 Samuel 26:21 (Grotius). I am unjust, but thou art just (Menochius).

Thou hast rewarded me good for the evil that I have designed and done to thee. I have rewarded thee evil for thy good will to me.

Verse 18:[3] And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when (1 Sam. 26:23) the LORD had delivered (Heb. shut up,[4] 1 Sam. 23:12;[5] 26:8[6]) me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.

[And thou hast shown what good things thou hast done to me: how the Lord delivered me into thine hand,וְאַתָּה֙ הִגַּ֣דְתָּ הַיּ֔וֹם אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂ֥יתָה אִתִּ֖י טוֹבָ֑ה אֵת֩ אֲשֶׁ֙ר סִגְּרַ֧נִי וגוײ] [They render it variously:] And thou hast shown today that thou hast dealt well with me; because (or in that [Jonathan], or forasmuch as [English]) the Lord shut me up, etc. (Montanus, Dutch, Jonathan, English). Others: what good things thou hast done to me, as He shut up, etc. (Septuagint). Others: what the matter was, namely, what good things thou hast done to me, how He delivered, etc. (Osiander). Others: how thou hast conferred a blessing upon me; how He delivered me, etc. (Vatablus). Others: that thou affected me with good (Hebrew: to do with me good [Piscator]), which, although He gave me, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). Others: how great a good thou hast done to me (Munster, Pagnine, similarly the Arabic, Tigurinus, Castalio, Strigelius), since (or inasmuch as [Tigurinus, Strigelius]), when the Lord delivered me, etc. (Munster, Pagnine).

Verse 19:[7] For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.

[For who, when he will have found his enemy, will send him away in a good way? וְשִׁלְּח֖וֹ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ טוֹבָ֑ה] And he will send him in a good way? (Jonathan, Montanus). And he will dismiss (or will he dismiss [Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster) him by (or to [Munster]) good way? (Pagnine), in the way of the good (Junius, Piscator), uninjured? (Castalio, similarly Tigurinus), with blessing? (Junius and Tremellius), with peace (Strigelius). [Others connect these things with what follows in this way:] When one finds an enemy, etc., and dismisses him, etc., the Lord will reward good to him (Syriac, similarly the Septuagint, Arabic).

Will he let him go well away? that is, he will certainly destroy him. And therefore thou hast not dealt with me after the manner of men, but hast imitated the clemency of God in this act.

[For this, that thou hast wrought good to me this day] Or thou hast done to me (Pagnine, thus Junius and Tremellius, Arabic). Hebrew: for the present day what thou hast done to me.[8] A Trajection, as in Genesis 5:29 (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda). For that day what thou wrought upon me (Munster), or when (in which [Vatablus]) thou blessed me (Tigurinus). The sense: for the good of this day. The construction is inverted in a Hebrew manner (Mariana).

Verse 20:[9] And now, behold, (1 Sam. 23:17) I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.

[I know, etc.] From that singular providence towards David (Tirinus out of Tostatus).

I know well, or, am convinced, not only by the fame of Samuel’s anointing thee, but by God’s singular providence watching over thee, and by that good Spirit and those great and princely virtues wherewith God hath endowed thee.

Verse 21:[10] (Gen. 21:23) Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, (2 Sam. 21:6-8) that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father’s house.

[Swear to me, etc.] He asks for an oath, because he measures David by himself. He knows, that princes, so that they might reign securely, are wont to remove competitors (Martyr).

[That thou wilt not let my seed fall] Hebrew: if thou cut off,[11] etc. (Vatablus); that thou cut not off, etc. (Pagnine), that is, that thou shalt not exterminate my offspring after my death (Vatablus).

[Nor remove my name, etc.] Thou wilt not destroy, or erase, my name from my paternal family (Vatablus). The sense is able to be twofold; either, 1. by name he understands his progeny; with which remaining, the name of Saul would also remain. For the father is thought to live, as it were, in his children. Thus this clause is the same as the former. Or, 2. that degenerate sons are wont, not only to be dislodged from their inheritance, but also to be expunged from the roll of sons, and to be removed from the family; just as Cassius and Brutus were removed from the representations of the illustrious families: therefore, Saul was fearing that his name would be erased from his paternal family, because his sins were requiring it, that his name should not ever be heard in Israel. And Saul does indeed appear to have been expunged from his family. Hence his name is omitted in Esther 2:5 (Sanchez).

Thou wilt not cut off my seed after me; as princes use to destroy their competitors, and those that have any hopes of or pretence to their crown; and Saul had endeavoured to destroy David for the same reason, and therefore he feared a retaliation. Thou wilt not destroy my name, to wit, by cutting off my seed. So it is the same thing repeated in other words, as is usual in Scripture.

Verse 22:[12] And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto (1 Sam. 23:29; Ecclus. 12:10, 11[13]) the hold.

[And David sware to Saul] Question: How did David fulfill this, who hung up so many of Saul’s sons? Response: Those were crucified at the command of God. All covenants, promises, vows, and oaths are to be referred to this principle, if God wills (Martyr, similarly Willet).

David sware unto Saul. Question: How then could David destroy so many of Saul’s sons, 2 Samuel 21:8, 9? Answer: David could bind himself by his oaths, but he could not bind God, to whose good pleasure all promises, vows, and oaths must in all reason be submitted; and that was done by God’s command, and God was well pleased with it, 2 Samuel 21:14. Nor is it to be supposed that David sware not to destroy any of them in case God should specially command it, or that should by miscarriage render themselves obnoxious to the sword of justice; but only that he would not do it barely on his own private account, nor seek occasions of so doing.

[They went up to safer places] He was unwilling thereafter to commit himself to the honesty of Saul (Junius). For he knew Saul’s character, inconstant heart, and unbridled fury, especially after the evil spirit agitated him (Sanchez).

Unto the hold, to wit, of En-gedi, 1 Samuel 24:1; for having had so great and frequent experience of Saul’s inconstancy, and malice, and perfidiousness, he would trust him no more.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֣י׀ כְּכַלּ֣וֹת דָּוִ֗ד לְדַבֵּ֞ר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֤ים הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙ אֶל־שָׁא֔וּל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שָׁא֔וּל הֲקֹלְךָ֥ זֶ֖ה בְּנִ֣י דָוִ֑ד וַיִּשָּׂ֥א שָׁא֛וּל קֹל֖וֹ וַיֵּֽבְךְּ׃ [2] Hebrew: וַ֙יֹּאמֶר֙ אֶל־דָּוִ֔ד צַדִּ֥יק אַתָּ֖ה מִמֶּ֑נִּי כִּ֤י אַתָּה֙ גְּמַלְתַּ֣נִי הַטּוֹבָ֔ה וַאֲנִ֖י גְּמַלְתִּ֥יךָ הָרָעָֽה׃ [3] Hebrew: וְאַתְּ֙ הִגַּ֣דְתָּ הַיּ֔וֹם אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָשִׂ֥יתָה אִתִּ֖י טוֹבָ֑ה אֵת֩ אֲשֶׁ֙ר סִגְּרַ֧נִי יְהוָ֛ה בְּיָדְךָ֖ וְלֹ֥א הֲרַגְתָּֽנִי׃ [4] Hebrew: סִגְּרַנִי. [5] 1 Samuel 23:12: “Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliverהֲיַסְגִּ֜רוּ בַּעֲלֵ֧י) קְעִילָ֛ה) me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up (יַסְגִּירוּ).” [6] 1 Samuel 26:8a: “Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered (סִגַּר) thine enemy into thine hand this day…” [7] Hebrew: וְכִֽי־יִמְצָ֥א אִישׁ֙ אֶת־אֹ֣יְב֔וֹ וְשִׁלְּח֖וֹ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ טוֹבָ֑ה וַֽיהוָה֙ יְשַׁלֶּמְךָ֣ טוֹבָ֔ה תַּ֚חַת הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתָה לִֽי׃ [8] Hebrew: תַּ֚חַת הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתָה לִֽי׃. [9] Hebrew: וְעַתָּה֙ הִנֵּ֣ה יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּ֥י מָלֹ֖ךְ תִּמְל֑וֹךְ וְקָ֙מָה֙ בְּיָ֣דְךָ֔ מַמְלֶ֖כֶת יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ [10] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה הִשָּׁ֤בְעָה לִּי֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה אִם־תַּכְרִ֥ית אֶת־זַרְעִ֖י אַֽחֲרָ֑י וְאִם־תַּשְׁמִ֥יד אֶת־שְׁמִ֖י מִבֵּ֥ית אָבִֽי׃ [11] Hebrew: אִם־תַּכְרִית. [12] Hebrew: וַיִּשָּׁבַ֥ע דָּוִ֖ד לְשָׁא֑וּל וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ שָׁאוּל֙ אֶל־בֵּית֔וֹ וְדָוִד֙ וַֽאֲנָשָׁ֔יו עָל֖וּ עַל־הַמְּצוּדָֽה׃ [13] Ecclesiasticus 12:10, 11: “Never trust thine enemy: for like as iron rusteth, so is his wickedness. Though he humble himself, and go crouching, yet take good heed and beware of him, and thou shalt be unto him as if thou hadst wiped a lookingglass, and thou shalt know that his rust hath not been altogether wiped away.”

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