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Poole's on 1 Samuel 24:5-7: The Smiting of David's Conscience

Verse 5:[1] And it came to pass afterward, that (2 Sam. 24:10) David’s heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.


[David smote his heart] Perhaps the beating of his breast was added for an argument of sorrow (Menochius).


[וַיַּ֤ךְ לֵב־דָּוִד֙ אֹת֔וֹ] David’s heart smote him (Malvenda, thus Munster, Pagnine, similarly Castalio). David’s soul affected him (Junius and Tremellius). His own heart blamed David (Tigurinus). His conscience accused him[2] (Munster, similarly Lyra, Menochius, Lapide). It struck him with the fear of the displeasure of God (Junius, Piscator). Perhaps this smiting is referred to that contemplation of killing (Estius).


[Because he had cut off, etc.] He had previously thought to kill Saul; but his conscience turned his pricked heart from that intention, and he considered it sufficient to cut his mantle; indeed, because of this his heart smote him, etc. (Sanchez), that at first sight this deed appeared injurious and disgraceful to the King (Martyr, similarly Junius).


David’s heart smote him, etc.: Not only because it was injurious, and reproachful, and dangerous to the king; but possibly because he had some secret thought of doing more to him, though he suppressed and overcame it; for he attempted this in pursuance of his soldiers’ suggestion, verse 4, which if followed would have carried him to further action.


Verse 6:[3] And he said unto his men, (1 Sam. 26:11) The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.


He said unto his men; either, first, Before he cut off Saul’s lap. Or rather, secondly, Afterwards, when he returned with Saul’s lap in his hand, and his soldiers were enraged that he had not killed him.


[The Lord be propitious to me, חָלִ֧ילָה לִּ֣י מֵֽיהוָ֗ה] This be far from me from Jehovah; that is, let Him not permit that I should do this; the Lord forbid, etc. (Vatablus). Let a prohibition lie upon me, etc. (Lapide). Let profanation be to me, etc.; that is to say, I will be profane to Jehovah, if I should do this (Malvenda). In the text here is a want of words of this sort; and David returned…bearing the border of his garment…and they said…Why didst thou not kill?...and David answered, Far be it, etc. (Munster).


This thing, which you persuade me to do, even cut off Saul.


[Unto my master] And so law and nature command, that I should preserve his life unharmed, not take it away (Sanchez, similarly Piscator, Martyr).


Unto my master, whom I must still own for my sovereign lord and king, to whom I owe allegiance whilst he lives, although after his death the right of the kingdom be mine. To stretch forth mine hand against him, to wit, to kill him. A synecdochical expression. See Genesis 37:22.


[He is the Christ of the Lord] Anointed to the kingdom, and hence holy and fortified against all injury, as in 1 Samuel 12:5; 24:10 (Malvenda and Piscator out of Junius). The person of Kings ought to be holy to all, 1 Samuel 26:9, 11. For God is their judge, 1 Samuel 13; 16. See what things were said in Concerning the Law of War and Peace 1:4:6 (Grotius). That body was most holy because of the sacred anointing; but religion forbids the violation of the sacred (Sanchez). Because of this unction, David both honored Saul while he lived, and avenged Saul when dead (Augustine in Menochius).


The anointed of the Lord, that is, anointed by God to the kingdom; by which unction his person was made sacred and inviolable, and is so to be accounted by me, and you, and all his subjects. And as God only exalted him, and God only could pronounce a sentence of deprivation of his kingdom against him; so it belongs to God only to execute his own sentence, and actually to depose him.


Verse 7:[4] So David (Ps. 7:4; Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:17, 19) stayed (Heb. cut off[5]) his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.


[David crushed his men with words, וַיְשַׁסַּע] And he split (Montanus), crushed (Pagnine), urged (Septuagint), prevailed upon with persuasion (Strigelius), turned from their purpose (Syriac, similarly Vatablus), warned (Arabic), restrained, or stayed (Castalio, English), pacified (certain interpreters in Vatablus). He broke up their anger (Hebrews in Vatablus); he parted (Tirinus, Munster, Tigurinus), divided (Dutch), separated (Junius and Tremellius), that is, he restrained on both sides his men now rising from both sides of the cave, where they were lurking, so that they might rush upon Saul (Junius, Piscator). Hebrew: he split; a καταχρηστικὴ/catachrestic[6] Metaphor (Piscator). He tore in pieces, and rendered void the conspiracy of the soldiers to kill Saul (Dutch). They were so intent upon killing Saul that David was obliged to apply force to them to crush these their purposes. With so great force did David fight for the life of him, by whom he was continually fought against; this was undoubtedly belonging to a soul mild, noble, and regal (Lapide). He that spares his enemy is not only worthy to be compared with the greatest Heroes, but is to be reckoned as like unto God, says Cicero (Tirinus). [Perhaps שָׁסַע indicates that he reproved them vehemently as if with cutting words (as the Psalmist sometimes expresses).] He shattered, but with restrained words and suitable speech (Mariana).


Stayed his servants; Hebrew, cut, or clave, or divided, or cut them off. The word notes both the eagerness and violence of David’s men in prosecuting their desire, and David’s resoluteness in opposing them, as it were, by force; wherein he shows great piety, and generosity, and loyalty to Saul.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיְהִי֙ אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֔ן וַיַּ֥ךְ לֵב־דָּוִ֖ד אֹת֑וֹ עַ֚ל אֲשֶׁ֣ר כָּרַ֔ת אֶת־כָּנָ֖ף אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְשָׁאֽוּל׃ [2] See Romans 2:15. [3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר לַאֲנָשָׁ֜יו חָלִ֧ילָה לִּ֣י מֵֽיהוָ֗ה אִם־אֶעֱשֶׂה֩ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֙ר הַזֶּ֤ה לַֽאדֹנִי֙ לִמְשִׁ֣יחַ יְהוָ֔ה לִשְׁלֹ֥חַ יָדִ֖י בּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־מְשִׁ֥יחַ יְהוָ֖ה הֽוּא׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיְשַׁסַּ֙ע דָּוִ֤ד אֶת־אֲנָשָׁיו֙ בַּדְּבָרִ֔ים וְלֹ֥א נְתָנָ֖ם לָק֣וּם אֶל־שָׁא֑וּל וְשָׁא֛וּל קָ֥ם מֵהַמְּעָרָ֖ה וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ בַּדָּֽרֶךְ׃ [5] Hebrew: וַיְשַׁסַּע. [6] That is, involving an improper use of words.

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Dr. Dilday
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William Gouge's Domestical Duties: 'Neither is it to be accounted folly only in superiors to submit themselves to their inferiors against the Lord, but also in inferiors to their superiors: for thereby they show that they fear man more than God, which Christ expressly forbids his friends to do. The captains which went to fetch Elijah, obeyed their king therein; but what got they thereby? Was the king able to save them from the fire which God sent down from heaven upon them? The women reproved for offering incense to the Queen of heaven, did it not without their husbands, yet were they not excused thereby. The children and others in the family submitted themselves to Dathan and Abiram i…

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Dr. Dilday
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Thomas Brooks' Heaven on Earth: 'That love that accompanies salvation, shews itself by working the heart to be affected and afflicted with the least dishonours that are done to Christ. Love is curious of little things; it is as much afflicted with an idle word or with an impure dream, as lovers of Christ are with adultery or blasphemy. David did but cut off the lap of Saul's garment, and his heart smote him, 1 Samuel 24:5; though he did it to convince Saul of his false jealousy, and his own innocency. Love will not allow of the least infirmity. Romans 7:15, "That which I do, I allow not." Love will make a man aim at angelical purity and perfec…


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Dr. Dilday
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Matthew Henry: 'David cut off the skirt of his robe, but soon repented that he had done this: His heart smote him for it (1 Samuel 24:5); though it did Saul no real hurt, and served David for a proof that it was in his power to have killed him (1 Samuel 24:11), yet, because it was an affront to Saul's royal dignity, he wished he had not done it. Note, It is a good thing to have a heart within us smiting us for sins that seem little; it is a sign that conscience is awake and tender, and will be the means of preventing greater sins....


He reasons strongly both with himself and with his servants against doing…

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Dr. Dilday
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Study 1 Samuel with the Illustrious Matthew Poole! www.fromreformationtoreformation.com/1-samuel

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