Verse 13: Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them…
[And when he had passed over on the opposite side, וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ר דָּוִד֙ הָעֵ֔בֶר] And David crossed the crossing (Jonathan, Montanus), or its (that is, the camp’s) approach, or entrance (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), where those keeping watch are positioned (Junius, Piscator). Beyond (Septuagint). Unto a more distant place (Munster, Tigurinus).
[On the peak of a hill] Thence he cried out, so that he might be safe, and be heard more easily (Martyr).
Stood on the top of an hill afar off: That his person might be out of their reach, and yet his voice might be heard; which in a clear air, and in the silence of the night, might be heard at a great distance.
Verse 14: And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king?
[Wilt thou not answer, Abner?] That is to say, I have now repeatedly cried out, and answerest thou not? (Vatablus).
[Who criest, and disquietest the king, אֶל־הַמֶּלֶךְ] Near or beside the king; that is, with the King hearing; that is to say, who darest to rouse the king from his sleep (Vatablus out of the Chaldean, similarly Malvenda). It seems that he was thus solicitous for the sleep of his prince, while he was negligent concerning his safety (Martyr).
To the king: Or, with or beside the king, that is, so near to him, so as to disturb the king.
Verse 15: And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.
[Art not thou a man? (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus)] That is, a man distinguished, eminent, and illustrious (Vatablus, Junius, Malvenda). Hebrew: a man. A Synecdoche of genus: of which sort is found in Psalm 49:2; Proverbs 8:4 (Piscator). The term אָדָם signifies a plebeian man; אִישׁ, a noble man (Mariana). Ironically stated, or he commends in such a way that he turns the commendation into a reproach; that is to say, Doest thou, so great a man, so diligently keep the King? (Menochius).
Who is like to thee, for courage and conduct? and therefore thy fault herein is the greater.
[Wherefore hast thou not kept thy Lord? (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus), לֹ֣א שָׁמַ֔רְתָּ אֶל־אֲדֹנֶ֖יךָ] Verbatim: Hast thou not kept to thy Lord? (Montanus), hast thou not observed, standing by thy Lord? (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Pagnine).
[One entered…to destroy the king] There came one of the people, or from the people (Septuagint, Jonathan, Montanus, Vatablus), that is, a certain plebeian (Vatablus); there came a certain one (Arabic, Tigurinus); Abishai came, etc. (Menochius, Malvenda). Or he came; that is, one could come (Menochius, Malvenda, Junius, Piscator). That is, if thou act thus negligently (Piscator). He calls him thy Lord, rather than my Lord, because he was being treated by Saul like a foreigner and enemy (Menochius).
Verse 16: This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die (Heb. the sons of death, 2 Sam. 12:5), because ye have not kept your master, the LORD’S anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his bolster.
This thing is not good, that is, it is very bad, a great crime. A figure called meiosis, as Proverbs 18:5; 19:2.
[Ye are sons of death] A Hebraism: worthy of death (Vatablus); liable to death (Junius and Tremellius). For, according to the law of nations, this is capital (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda). He that deserts the palace watch is punished with death: Digest “Concerning Military Affairs” (Grotius). But you will say, God had sent sleep upon them. Why then are they accused? Responses: 1. They had indeed despised the paucity of David, and so we find that they did not station a watch. 2. Not always just is the excuse of necessity; that is, if we bring it upon ourseves, as these did, by following an impious king, by pursuing David, etc. (Martyr).
[See where his spear is, etc.] Do not think thyself accused undeservedly (Menochius).
Verse 17: And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, (1 Sam. 24:16) Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.
[My son David, etc.] Extraordinary lenience makes friends out of enemies; or, if hardness be excessive, it makes it, that they condemn themselves within; often they also reveal it in words. See 1 Samuel 24:18; 26:21 (Grotius).
My son David; as thou wast my son by marriage, so thou hast expressed the care and affection of a son to me now a second time.
Verse 18: And he said, (1 Sam. 24:9, 11) Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?
Verse 19: Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have (2 Sam. 16:11; 24:1) stirred thee up against me, let him accept (Heb. smell, Gen. 8:21; Lev. 26:31) an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; (Deut. 4:28; Ps. 120:5) for they have driven me out this day from abiding (Heb. cleaving) in the (2 Sam. 14:16; 20:19) inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.
[If the Lord stirreth thee up against me] If this wrath is just (Grotius). If God, because of some hidden sin in me, should wish thus to afflict me. Question: Whether God stirs or provokes anyone to sin? Response: By no means: except indirectly and by circumstance; as the law excites to sin: The sense is, if thou hast been incited by this, that thou hast heard that thou hast been rejected by Samuel, etc.; return to the Lord, and let Him smell thy sacrifice (Martyr).
If the Lord have stirred thee up against me; if the Lord have by the evil spirit which he hath sent, or by his secret providence, directed thy rage against me for the punishment of thine or my sins.
[Let Him smell a sacrifice (thus Pagnine, Tigurinus), יָרַ֣ח מִנְחָ֔ה] Let Him smell the gift (Junius and Tremellius), that is, the sacrifice (Piscator, similarly the Septuagint, Munster). Let us offer a sacrifice (Syriac); offer to Him a gift, in this hope, that He might accept it; in such a way that He might be reconciled to thee, and hence cease to stir thee against me (Piscator). If God has sent upon thee an evil spirit, whereby thou art harassed because of thy sins and art not able to rest, unless I be captured; go, let God be appeased by some sacrifice, so that He might free the from that fury of mind (Osiander). Others: Indicate it to me, so that I might offer a sacrifice (Arabic); let Him smell, that is, let Him be propitious towards me, since I bring gifts to Him (Vatablus). Others: He shall smell a sacrifice, understanding, my (certain interpreters in Vatablus, similarly Jonathan), that is, I will placate His anger with a gift (Vatablus). God, angry with me, will I conciliate by sacrifice (Martyr). Others thus: I am ready to endure death, as if a sacrificial victim consecrated to God for sweet-smelling odor (Menochius, thus Tirinus, Sanchez, Lapide). I ask for no other thing, than that a sacrifice might be acceptable to Him even through my own death (for which I present myself to thee, O King, judging rightly [Malvenda out of Junius]). Gift in place of the whole oblation. A metaphorical Synecdoche (Junius).
Let him accept an offering; let us offer up a sacrifice to God to appease his wrath against us.
[But if they be children of men, etc.] This was the second cause; there was also a third, from which this vexation was able to proceed, namely, the character, or spirit, of the King. Concerning this, although it be altogether true, he is silent out of respect for the King (Sanchez). He diverts the blame from the King to Doeg and similar advisers, as the prudent do (Grotius, similarly Menochius).
If they be the children of men; who by their crafty insinuations and calumnies have incensed thee against me. He showeth his prudence, and reverence, and meekness; that he accuseth not the king, but translateth the fault wholly upon his evil ministers; as the Israelites do in the like case, Exodus 5:16.
[They are cursed (thus Junius and Tremellius, Munster, Pagnine)] I would prefer, cursed be they (Piscator, Syriac, Arabic, Tigurinus), so that it might be a malediction, by force of antithesis (Piscator).
[They have cast me out this day, that I might not abide in the inheritance of the Lord, מֵהִסְתַּפֵּ֜חַ בְּנַחֲלַ֤ת יְהוָה֙] [They vary:] That I might not abide (stick fast [Syriac], be [Arabic]) in the inheritance of Jehovah (Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic). So that I might not adhere (be conjoined [Vatablus, similarly Tigurinus], be fixed [Munster], cleave as one appointed [Junius and Tremellius], join, or unite, myself [Piscator]) to the inheritance (possession [Junius and Tremellius]) of Jehovah (Pagnine), that is, to the people of God, which is as dear to him as an inheritance is a to a man (Piscator). Or, in the inheritance, etc., that is, in the land given to the people of God for an inheritance (Menochius).
From abiding in the inheritance of the Lord; from the land which God hath given to his people for their inheritance, and where he hath established his presence and worship.
[Saying, Go, serve strange Gods] They were urging this, not with their words, but by their deeds (Menochius, Tirinus). They are acting as if they were saying, Depart, worship, etc. (Vatablus). They cast me out to the nations, and in a manner compel me to the worship of idols (Munster). They cast me into those straits, with which pressed, many, even non-Idumeans, were going recede from God and His Law. For those times abounding in martyrs had not yet come (Grotius). David is not at all concerned about the seizure of his fields, estates, and inheritance; but about his habitation among idolaters (Martyr).
Saying, Go, serve other gods: this was the language of their actions; for by driving him from God’s land, and the place of his worship, into foreign and idolatrous lands, they exposed him to the peril of being either insnared by their counsels or examples, or forced by their threats and power to worship idols.
Verse 20: Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek (1 Sam. 24:14) a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.
[And now let not my blood be shed upon the earth before the Lord,אַל־יִפֹּ֤ל דָּֽמִי֙ אַ֔רְצָה מִנֶּ֖גֶד פְּנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה] Let not my blood fall upon the earth over against the faces (from the sight [Pagnine, Malvenda], from the face [Strigelius]) of the Lord (Montanus), before the Lord (Tigurinus, Dieu, Grotius, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan). (Concerning מִנֶּ֖גֶד see on Proverbs 14:7 [Dieu]). With God looking on, and going to be the avenger, 2 Chronicles 24:22. Thus the word before is often taken in these books (Grotius). Others: far from the sight of Jehovah (Junius and Tremellius), that is, lest I be afflicted with death before it might properly be known concerning my case, and I might stand before the magistrate: who executes the judgments of God, and among whom God presides (Junius). I beseech thee, shed not my innocent blood (Lapide). That upon the earth in a proverbial figure indicates something useless. See above on 1 Samuel 3:19 (Sanchez). Act, O King, lest it fall (Piscator, Dutch); or, I pray God, in whose sight I live: that He would not permit to thee, O King, to shed blood. Let it not fall…from before the face, etc., that is, let God see and punish (Dutch). Let it not be poured out; what is poured out, we despise, comes to nothing and is forgotten. Therefore, blood shall not be poured out, that is, shall not be poured out and be forgotten, but shall ever demand vengeance from God against thee (Mariana). Let it not fall, etc. A Hebraism; let not the Lord ever forget my blood, etc., if thou kill me; but let it ever be in His sight, and let Him require it (Vatablus). Others thus: It is an argument from impossibility, my blood shall not be poured out, etc.; that is to say, thou wastest thy time; God will not fail His trust; thou art not able to shed, etc. He adds in the sight of Jehovah, because he was not doubting that he was living under the eyes and protection of God (Martyr). The Lord will not permit my blood to fall, etc. (thus nearly Castalio, Malvenda); yet I hope that my blood will not be shed…because the Lord is the keeper, etc. (Arabic).
Let not my blood fall to the earth; do not attempt to spill my innocent blood like water upon the ground. Before the face of the Lord; remember, if thou dost it, God the judge of all men seeth it, and will avenge it of thee, though I will not avenge myself.
[So that he might seek a flea] Thus all translate פַּרְעֹשׁ. If a single flea be sought, it is found only with difficulty, and, having been found, is captured with difficulty, and, having been captured, is a trifling prey for the hunter, especially a King (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:4:19:586): that is to say, my blood would neither be of use nor of glory to thee shedding it (Sanchez).
A flea; hard to be taken, and not worth catching; a mean and contemptible person.
[As a patridge is pursued (the Vulgate takes this verb passively, as Sanchez and Tirinus assert and defend) in the mountains, כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר יִרְדֹּ֥ף הַקֹּרֵ֖א] Just as (understanding, one [Pagnine]) pursues a partridge (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius, Malvenda, similarly Jonathan, Arabic). The fowler often torments himself a whole day, so that he might capture one partridge. For the partridge consults many methods and arts for its own safety. And, if it be captured, the reward is not able to appear very great (Martyr). The word קֹרֵא only occurs twice, in this place, and in Jeremiah 17:11. That it is a partridge is not evident. For, 1. the קֹרֵא/kore bird (which is called koraa, or korea in Chaldean; and karia in Arabic) has a long beak, which is testified to in Bereshith Rabba, Aruch, Rabbi Aquinas, David de Pomis, and all the Hebrews, and also the Arabic writers. 2. It is a green bird, as the Arabs teach. Therefore, it is a bird unknown to us. Yet to this nearly approaches ὁ σκολόπαξ, the Scolopax, or the ἀσκαλόπαξ, Scolopax Rusticola, of Aristotle, namely, the gallinago/woodcock, even the rustic woodcock, or the country partridge. Now, it I called קֹרֵא/kore from קוֹרָה (the final א in the place of the ה, as in נִקְרָא in the place of נִקְרָה in 2 Samuel 1:6), which signifies in the first place a log, or a beam, then a sharpened stake, because it has a long and straight beak after the likeness of a σκόλοπος, that is, a stake; whence also in Greek it is called a σκολόπαξ/Scolopax. In addition, the קֹרֵא/kore agrees with the scolopax, because both, 1. are edible: 2. have small feet: 3. live in the mountains (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:1:12:82). You will ask, why then do all interpreters translate it as partridge. Responses: 1. The Greeks, who went before the rest, were able to take קֹרֵא/kore for כָּרָא/cara, which now means partridge among the Arabs. 2. Herodian defines Scolopax as the perdicem rusticam, country partridge. And, that the rusticæ/woodcock and perdici/partridge have the same taste, Martial testifies (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:1:12:89). Moreover, קֹרֵא/kore is translated by the Greeks as πέρδιξ/ partridge, Jeremiah 17:11, and in this place νυκτικόραξ/nycticorax/night-heron, undoubtedly from a corrupt reading. In the place of קֹרֵא they read קֹדֵא, which word among the Hebrews ceased to be in use: but thence the Chaldeans formed קָדְיָא, which the Chaldean has in the place of כּוֹס, little owl, in Leviticus 11:17. Now, to the Greeks כּוֹס is elsewhere νυκτικόραξ/nycticorax. Therefore, כּוֹס and קֹדֵא, whence קָדְיָא, are synonyms (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:1:12:83).
In the mountains, where his advantage doth no way compensate his labour.
 Hebrew: וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ר דָּוִד֙ הָעֵ֔בֶר וַיַּעֲמֹ֥ד עַל־רֹאשׁ־הָהָ֖ר מֵֽרָחֹ֑ק רַ֥ב הַמָּק֖וֹם בֵּינֵיהֶֽם׃  Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֙א דָוִ֜ד אֶל־הָעָ֗ם וְאֶל־אַבְנֵ֤ר בֶּן־נֵר֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הֲל֥וֹא תַעֲנֶ֖ה אַבְנֵ֑ר וַיַּ֤עַן אַבְנֵר֙ וַיֹּ֔אמֶר מִ֥י אַתָּ֖ה קָרָ֥אתָ אֶל־הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃  Hebrew: וַיֹּאמֶר֩ דָּוִ֙ד אֶל־אַבְנֵ֜ר הֲלוֹא־אִ֣ישׁ אַתָּ֗ה וּמִ֤י כָמוֹ֙ךָ֙ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְלָ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א שָׁמַ֔רְתָּ אֶל־אֲדֹנֶ֖יךָ הַמֶּ֑לֶךְ כִּי־בָא֙ אַחַ֣ד הָעָ֔ם לְהַשְׁחִ֖ית אֶת־הַמֶּ֥לֶךְ אֲדֹנֶֽיךָ׃  Hebrew: הֲלוֹא־אִ֣ישׁ אַתָּ֗ה.  Psalms 49:2: “Both low and high (גַּם־בְּנֵ֣י אָ֭דָם גַּם־בְּנֵי־אִ֑ישׁ), rich and poor, together.”  Proverbs 8:4: “Unto you, O men (אִישִׁים), I call; and my voice isto the sons of man (אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י אָדָֽם׃).”  Hebrew: לֹא־ט֞וֹב הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּה֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂיתָ֒ חַי־יְהוָ֗ה כִּ֤י בְנֵי־מָ֙וֶת֙ אַתֶּ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־שְׁמַרְתֶּ֛ם עַל־אֲדֹנֵיכֶ֖ם עַל־מְשִׁ֣יחַ יְהוָ֑ה וְעַתָּ֣ה׀ רְאֵ֗ה אֵֽי־חֲנִ֥ית הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ וְאֶת־צַפַּ֥חַת הַמַּ֖יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר מְרַאֲשֹׁתָֽו׃  Hebrew: בְנֵי־מָוֶת.  2 Samuel 12:5: “And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die (בֶן־מָוֶת, is a son of death)…” The Digest, or Pandects, was a compendium of Roman law, compiled at the command of Justinian I.  Hebrew: וַיַּכֵּ֤ר שָׁאוּל֙ אֶת־ק֣וֹל דָּוִ֔ד וַיֹּ֕אמֶר הֲקוֹלְךָ֥ זֶ֖ה בְּנִ֣י דָוִ֑ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר דָּוִ֔ד קוֹלִ֖י אֲדֹנִ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃  Hebrew: וַיֹּ֕אמֶר לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֛ה אֲדֹנִ֥י רֹדֵ֖ף אַחֲרֵ֣י עַבְדּ֑וֹ כִּ֚י מֶ֣ה עָשִׂ֔יתִי וּמַה־בְּיָדִ֖י רָעָֽה׃  Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה יִֽשְׁמַֽע־נָא֙ אֲדֹנִ֣י הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ אֵ֖ת דִּבְרֵ֣י עַבְדּ֑וֹ אִם־יְהוָ֞ה הֱסִֽיתְךָ֥ בִי֙ יָרַ֣ח מִנְחָ֔ה וְאִ֣ם׀ בְּנֵ֣י הָאָדָ֗ם אֲרוּרִ֥ים הֵם֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה כִּֽי־גֵרְשׁ֣וּנִי הַיּ֗וֹם מֵהִסְתַּפֵּ֜חַ בְּנַחֲלַ֤ת יְהוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֵ֥ךְ עֲבֹ֖ד אֱלֹהִ֥ים אֲחֵרִֽים׃  Hebrew: יָרַח.  Genesis 8:21: “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour (וַיָּ֣רַח יְהוָה֮ אֶת־רֵ֣יחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ֒); and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.”  Leviticus 26:31: “And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odoursוְלֹ֣א אָרִ֔יחַ בְּרֵ֖יחַ) נִיחֹֽחֲכֶֽם׃).”  Hebrew: מֵהִסְתַּפֵּחַ.  See Romans 7. סָפַח in the Hithpael conjugation signifies to join oneself.  Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה אַל־יִפֹּ֤ל דָּֽמִי֙ אַ֔רְצָה מִנֶּ֖גֶד פְּנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה כִּֽי־יָצָ֞א מֶ֣לֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לְבַקֵּשׁ֙ אֶת־פַּרְעֹ֣שׁ אֶחָ֔ד כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר יִרְדֹּ֥ף הַקֹּרֵ֖א בֶּהָרִֽים׃  A woodenly literalistic rendering.  Proverbs 14:7: “Go from the presence (מִנֶּגֶד) of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.”  See Psalm 82.  The Vulgate rendering is persequitur, a deponent verb, passive in form but usually active in meaning.  Jeremiah 17:11: “As the partridge (קֹרֵא) sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.” Bereshith Rabba, or Genesis Rabbah, is a sixth century midrash on Genesis. It provides explanations and interpretations of words and phrases, which explanations are often only loosely connected with the text. It draws upon Mishna, Tosefta, and the Targums.  The Aruch is a celebrated Jewish lexicon published in 1101 by Nathan ben Jehiel of Rome, an Italian Jewish lexicographer (c. 1035-1106), who is sometimes called Baal Aruch. The Aruch is an encyclopedic work that has been expanded greatly since ben Jehiel completed the first edition.  Philippe d’Aquin (1578-1650) was a French Jew, but excommunicated for violation of the Sabbath. He converted to Catholicism, and served as Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic at the Royal College, becoming particularly renowned for his works in Hebrew and Aramaic philology.  David ben Isaac de Pomis (1525-1593) was an Italian physician, philosopher, and Rabbi. He produced Hebrew and Aramaic lexica.  2 Samuel 1:6: “And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance (נִקְרֹ֤א נִקְרֵ֙יתִי֙) upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.” קָרָה signifies to meet or encounter.  Herodian of Syria (c. 170-240) wrote a history of the Roman Empire covering the years between 180 and 238.  Epigrams 13:76.