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Poole's on 1 Samuel 24:8-15: Saul Confronted!

Verse 8:[1] David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth, and bowed himself.

Verse 9:[2] And David said to Saul, (Ps. 141:6; Prov. 16:28; 17:9) Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?

[Wherefore hearest thou men speaking, לֵאמֹר] Verbatim: saying (Vatablus); of one saying (Junius and Tremellius). David transfers the crime to his accusers; as if Saul were doing those things by their counsel, not out of his own malice (Martyr).

Wherefore hearest thou men’s words, etc.: He prudently and modestly translates the fault from Saul to his followers and evil counsellors.

Verse 10:[3] Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.

[And I contemplated killing thee, וְאָמַ֥ר לַהֲרָגֲךָ֖] And he said to kill thee (Montanus, Malvenda, similarly Munster), understanding, either my soul (Malvenda), or a certain one, someone (Pagnine, Vatablus). And said some (Jonathan), or my companions (Arabic, similarly the Syriac). There were some that were saying (Tigurinus). And it was certainly said (Osiander). Others refer it to God; thine eyes have seen that Jehovah delivered thee…as if Jehovah Himself had said that I should kill thee (Junius in Malvenda, Piscator).

[But mine eye spared thee, וַתָּ֣חָס עָלֶ֑יךָ] And (or but [Pagnine]) I spared thee (Septuagint, Pagnine, similarly Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Castalio, Strigelius) [they appear to have read וָאָחוֹס, and I spared, or at least to have had regard to the sense, not the words]. He spared thee (Vatablus) (or upon thee [Montanus]); understanding either Jehovah (Malvenda), or my soul (Munster, Malvenda, Vatablus), or mine eye (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Osiander, Malvenda, Glassius). The full expression is found in Deuteronomy 7:16,[4] and elsewhere (Malvenda out of Vatablus). Now, an action, and an active verb, is sometimes attributed to the sign signifying is some manner the action (Glassius’ “Grammar” 296). A work is wont to be attributed to that which shows it to have been done by another. Thus in Ecclesiasticus 48:23 the Sun is said to have added days to Hezekiah,[5] because it was the sign of a longer life. Therefore, the eyes project what lies hidden in the soul; they claim for themselves what is proper to souls; namely, to grieve, to rejoice; and here to take pity or to spare, because they show the soul moved with pity (Sanchez). See Deuteronomy 13:8;[6] Isiah 13:18[7] (Glassius). Some translate it impersonally, it was spared thee (certain interpreters in Malvenda, thus Tigurinus); or, there was a striving over thee, by connivance and indulgence (Malvenda).

Mine eye; which words are easily understood both from the nature of the thing, and from the use of this phrase in other scriptures, as Deuteronomy 7:16; 13:8. The eye is said to spare, because it affects the heart with pity, and moves a man to spare.

Verse 11:[8] Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is (Ps. 7:3; 35:7) neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou (1 Sam. 26:20) huntest my soul to take it.

[My father] Thus he calls him, 1. Because of his greater age (Menochius). 2. Because he is his father-in-law. 3. Because the King is the father of his people and Republic (Menochius, Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, Grotius). Out of reverence, just as the servants of Naaman were addressing him[9] (Martyr).

My father; so he calls him; partly, because he was his father-in-law; partly, in testimony of his respect and subjection to him as to a father; and partly, that by so amiable a compellation he might both insinuate himself into his favour, and mind him of that duty which as a father he owed to David.

[There is no evil in my hand] Neither in mind, nor in actuality, do I dally with evil against thee (Malvenda out of Junius).

There is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand; I neither design mischief against thee with my heart, nor will I execute it with my hand, which my false accusers told thee I would do, if thou didst at any time fall into my hand.

[But thou liest in wait, צֹדֶה] Thou huntest (Pagnine); that is, thou liest in wait after the manner of those hunting (Vatablus). Having pointed out his own innocence, he now modestly convicts Saul of iniquity (Sanchez).

Verse 12:[10] (Gen. 16:5; Judg. 11:27; 1 Sam. 26:10; Job 5:8) The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

[The Lord avenge me of thee (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Jonathan, similarly the Syriac, Arabic, Castalio, Tigurinus), וּנְקָמַ֥נִי יְהוָ֖ה מִמֶּ֑ךָּ] The Lord will avenge, etc. (Osiander, Junius and Tremellius). He will vindicate me against thee (Strigelius, similarly Mariana out of the Septuagint, Vatablus, Menochius). He will punish this thine injustice and cruelty, which thou exercisest against me (Osiander). It is not the expression of a wish, nor of an imprecation, but of the foretelling of the future, that the Lord would avenge him (Sanchez). It is not a petition of vengeance from God; nor thus [that is, if it be so] would there be any fault in David: as one that does not pursue his own injuries by private right is able to approach the magistrate, and to ask that he do justice upon the one vexing him; so also by a superior right are we able to put our complaints in the lap of the supreme judge, and defender; only let private hatred and bitterness of soul be put away (Menochius).

Avenge me of thee, or, will avenge me of thee, to wit, if thou dost persist in thy injurious and cruel designs against me. Mine hand shall not be upon thee; I will not execute vengeance on thee, but will leave it wholly to God.

Verse 13:[11] As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

[As in the proverb, etc., כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר יֹאמַ֗ר מְשַׁל֙ הַקַּדְמֹנִ֔י] As saith the proverb of the ancient (Montanus, Pagnine, Munster), understanding, man (Munster, Vatablus, Pagnine) (or author [Malvenda out of Vatablus]), who first said this proverb; afterwards it was in the mouth of all men (Vatablus). מָשָׁל/proverb is here in the construct state: which the points argue (Munster). Or the proverb of the ancients (Munster), or the ancient proverb (Septuagint), which is from the ancients (Jonathan); he speaks (will speak, that is, is wont to speak [Piscator], understanding, everyone [Junius, Piscator]) that sentence (Junius) (or speaks according to the parable [Piscator]) of the ancient (Junius, Piscator).

[From the impious will proceed impiety (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Arabic, Tigurinus, Munster, similarly the Septuagint, Junius and Tremellius), that is, is wont to proceed (Vatablus), מֵרְשָׁעִ֖ים יֵ֣צֵא רֶ֑שַׁע] From the impious issues their fault (Jonathan). [They explain it variously:] Impiety or iniquity, etc., signifies, either, 1. sin; or, 2. its punishment. Hence a twofold sense: For, either it clears David from that sin, or it indicates the punishment of Saul (Sanchez). [Some interpreters refer it to the punishment of Saul:] The impious slay themselves with their own sword; that is, they commit the crime because of which they perish; that is to say, in the end thou shalt be the cause of thine own ruin, unless thou repent (Vatablus). The impious are followed by the punishment of their impiety, just as a guilty man is followed by the hangman. Therefore, it is not needful, O King, that I should put forth my hand against thee; thine impiety shall slay thee: thou shalt be killed by an impious man, not by me (Lapide, similarly Menochius). An impious man, who would venture and fulfill this, shall not be wanting. Which verily happens in this way, 1 Samuel 31 (Sanchez, similarly Tostatus and Lyra and Dionysius in Sanchez). They were making use of this proverb, when the Lord through some evil man was taking vengeance upon another worse or equally evil (Osiander out of Lyra). Thus Erasmus, Adages 1:9:26 (Osiander). Others explain רֶשַׁע as an impious work; that is, I know that impious men are going to act impiously; that is to say, that I know that thou art going to act impiously, yet I will never put forth violent hands against thee (Vatablus). Similar is that of the Greeks, Κακοῦ κόρακος κακὸν ὠὸν, an evil egg of an evil raven. Actions are wont to be as is the quality of the soul (Grotius). Out of the heart of the impious is able to proceed nothing but what is impious (certain interpreters in Munster). Others thus: Impious men will cease at length to act impiously, since no violence is perpetual (Hebrews in Munster). The sense: The impious act impiously, but the pious piously. But I have acted piously with thee; therefore, I am not to be thought to have laid ambushes for thee (Menochius, similarly Lapide). If I were impious, my impiety could not have remained hidden for so long. An evil tree is not able to bring forth good fruit.[12] Thou shalt say, Hypocrites sometimes conceal their wickedness. Certainly; but only for a time. But, with occasion offered, it breaks forth immediately (Martyr). The sense: It is not needful that thou shouldest fear me; I will not put forth my hands against thee; for impious are those that perpetrate such outrages: but pious men are not wont to avenge themselves; but they commit their vengeance to the Lord:[13] thus will I do; I will not pollute my hands with regicide (Dutch). From the wicked, or restless, disturbers, seditious (for the term רְשָׁעִים signifies this) proceeds wickedness, disquiet, tumult, sedition: for רֶשַׁע properly signifies this. Some refer it to verse 9, Wherefore hearest thou the words of men speaking, etc.? as the ancient proverbs says, From the wicked shall come forth wickedness: that is to say, wicked men only speak wicked things (Malvenda).

Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked, etc.: that is, Wicked men will do wicked actions, among which this is one, to kill their sovereign lord and king; as David implied above, verse 6, and more fully expresseth, 1 Samuel 26:9. And therefore if I were so wicked and vile a person as thy courtiers represent me to thee, I should make no conscience of laying wicked and violent hands upon thee, but should assassinate thee when I had opportunity; which because I have now neglected and refused to do, though moved to it by some of my wicked soldiers, know therefore that I am not guilty of any wicked designs against thee, but am just and innocent towards thee. Or thus, Wicked actions (such as that would have been if I had killed thee) proceed only from the wicked, of which number I am none, and therefore my hand shall not be upon thee.

Verse 14:[14] After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? (1 Sam. 17:43; 2 Sam. 9:8) after a dead dog, after (1 Sam. 26:20) a flea.

[A dead dog] That is to say, a man altogether impotent and abject (Vatablus, thus Lapide, Sanchez, Menochius). Thou shalt set before thyself extraordinary glory and great spoils, if thou crush with thy well-equiped army me especially, and mine, miserable and almost defenseless, or not really wanting to resist, exiles: Therefore, thou dost poorly consult thy dignity (Osiander). Thou art doing that which is unworthy of so great a king (Junius). It is unworthy of a king to vie with a flea; just as it was unworthy of Domitian to hunt flies[15] (Lapide). A very παθητικὴ/impassioned address, and an indicator of the consummate modesty of David, concerning which see Psalm 131 (Grotius).

After a dead dog, after a flea: After a worthless, contemptible, and impotent person, such as I am. Thou disparagest thyself in contending with such a person; and even thy conquest of me will be inglorious and shameful.

Verse 15:[16] (1 Sam. 24:12) The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and (2 Chron. 24:22) see, and (Ps. 35:1; 43:1; 119:154; Mic. 7:9) plead my cause, and deliver (Heb. judge[17]) me out of thine hand.

[And let Him see] That is, Let Him consider the cause of each (Vatablus).

[Let Him judge my cause] Let Him litigate my suit; that is, let Him conduct my case, and defend me (Vatablus).

[And let Him pluck me out of thine hand, וְיִשְׁפְּטֵ֖נִי מִיָּדֶֽךָ׃] And let Him judge me out of thine hand (Pagnine); that is, By His judgment let Him free me from thine hand and power (Vatablus). To judge is able to be taken for to avenge and to liberate, as the Chaldean and Jerome have posited (Mariana). Let Him avenge (vindicate [Septuagint], liberate [Tigurinus, Jonathan]) me of thine hand (Munster).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֙קָם דָּוִ֜ד אַחֲרֵי־כֵ֗ן וַיֵּצֵא֙ מִן־הַמְּעָרָ֔ה וַיִּקְרָ֧א אַֽחֲרֵי־שָׁא֛וּל לֵאמֹ֖ר אֲדֹנִ֣י הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ וַיַּבֵּ֤ט שָׁאוּל֙ אַֽחֲרָ֔יו וַיִּקֹּ֙ד דָּוִ֥ד אַפַּ֛יִם אַ֖רְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּֽחוּ׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר דָּוִד֙ לְשָׁא֔וּל לָ֧מָּה תִשְׁמַ֛ע אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י אָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֵּ֣ה דָוִ֔ד מְבַקֵּ֖שׁ רָעָתֶֽךָ׃ [3] Hebrew: הִנֵּה֩ הַיּ֙וֹם הַזֶּ֜ה רָא֣וּ עֵינֶ֗יךָ אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־נְתָנְךָ֩ יְהוָ֙ה׀ הַיּ֤וֹם׀ בְּיָדִי֙ בַּמְּעָרָ֔ה וְאָמַ֥ר לַהֲרָגֲךָ֖ וַתָּ֣חָס עָלֶ֑יךָ וָאֹמַ֗ר לֹא־אֶשְׁלַ֤ח יָדִי֙ בַּֽאדֹנִ֔י כִּי־מְשִׁ֥יחַ יְהוָ֖ה הֽוּא׃ [4] Deuteronomy 7:16: “And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them (לֹא־תָחֹ֥ס עֵֽינְךָ֖ עֲלֵיהֶ֑ם): neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.” [5] Ecclesiasticus 48:23: “In his time the sun went backward, and lengthened the king’s life.” [6] Deuteronomy 13:8: “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him (וְלֹא־תָח֤וֹס עֵֽינְךָ֙ עָלָ֔יו), neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him…” [7] Isaiah 13:18: “Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare childrenעַל־בָּנִ֖ים) לֹֽא־תָח֥וּס עֵינָֽם׃).” [8] Hebrew: וְאָבִ֣י רְאֵ֔ה גַּ֗ם רְאֵ֛ה אֶת־כְּנַ֥ף מְעִילְךָ֖ בְּיָדִ֑י כִּ֡י בְּכָרְתִי֩ אֶת־כְּנַ֙ף מְעִֽילְךָ֜ וְלֹ֣א הֲרַגְתִּ֗יךָ דַּ֤ע וּרְאֵה֙ כִּי֩ אֵ֙ין בְּיָדִ֜י רָעָ֤ה וָ֙פֶשַׁע֙ וְלֹא־חָטָ֣אתִי לָ֔ךְ וְאַתָּ֛ה צֹדֶ֥ה אֶת־נַפְשִׁ֖י לְקַחְתָּֽהּ׃ [9] 2 Kings 5:13. [10] Hebrew: יִשְׁפֹּ֤ט יְהוָה֙ בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֔ךָ וּנְקָמַ֥נִי יְהוָ֖ה מִמֶּ֑ךָּ וְיָדִ֖י לֹ֥א תִֽהְיֶה־בָּֽךְ׃ [11] Hebrew: כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר יֹאמַ֗ר מְשַׁל֙ הַקַּדְמֹנִ֔י מֵרְשָׁעִ֖ים יֵ֣צֵא רֶ֑שַׁע וְיָדִ֖י לֹ֥א תִֽהְיֶה־בָּֽךְ׃ [12] Matthew 7:17, 18; Luke 6:43, 44. [13] Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 32:35; Proverbs 20:22; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30. [14] Hebrew: אַחֲרֵ֙י מִ֤י יָצָא֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אַחֲרֵ֥י מִ֖י אַתָּ֣ה רֹדֵ֑ף אַֽחֲרֵי֙ כֶּ֣לֶב מֵ֔ת אַחֲרֵ֖י פַּרְעֹ֥שׁ אֶחָֽד׃ [15] Titus Flavius Domitianus (51-96 AD) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 AD, the younger brother and successor of Titus. He was a ruthless and efficient ruler, zealous for the observance of traditional Roman religion, and a persecutor of Jews and Christians. Domitian was known to hunt flies in his chambers, and pierce them with his stylus. [16] Hebrew: וְהָיָ֤ה יְהוָה֙ לְדַיָּ֔ן וְשָׁפַ֖ט בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֑ךָ וְיֵ֙רֶא֙ וְיָרֵ֣ב אֶת־רִיבִ֔י וְיִשְׁפְּטֵ֖נִי מִיָּדֶֽךָ׃ [17] Hebrew: וְיִשְׁפְּטֵנִי.

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Study 1 Samuel with the Illustrious Matthew Poole!

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