|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:1-6 When princes persecute God's people, let them expect vexation on all sides. The way for any country to be quiet, is to let God's church be quiet in it: if Saul fight against David, the Philistines fight against his country. David considered himself the protector of the land. Thus did the Saviour Jesus, and left us an example. Those are unlike David, who sullenly decline to do good, if they are not rewarded for services.
Verse 6. - When Abiathar... fled to David to Koilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. Literally, "an ephod came down in his hand, and so, word for word, the Syriac. The object of this verse is to explain how it was that David (in vers. 2 and 4) was able to inquire of Jehovah. The words to Keilah - Hebrew, Kelah-wards - do not mean that it was at Keilah that Abiathar joined David, but that he came in time to go thither with him. In 1 Samuel 22:20 it seems as if Abiathar must have joined David even at an earlier date, for he is represented as fleeing to him immediately after the massacre of the priests at Nob. Now, granting that David's stay at Gath with Achish was very brief, he must have remained at Adullam a considerable time, inasmuch as men joined him there in large numbers (1 Samuel 22:2), which seems to show that his hiding place had become generally known. It was probably this concourse of men to him that was "discovered," i.e. made known, to Saul, and, as being an act of formal revolt, so raised his ire. As being supposed to be in league with David, Saul put the priests to death, and Abiathar fled; but probably the news of this terrible act had already reached David, and, in anxiety about his father and mother, he had gone to find refuge for them in Moab. Thither Gad follows him, bringing prophetic approval of his conduct, but ordering him to return into the territory of his own tribe. If then David was on his way to Moab when Abiathar reached Adullam, he may have remained in hiding there till David's return to the thickets of Hareth. But, possibly, even before Abiathar joined him the news may have arrived of the Philistine foray, and David's mind was set Keilah-wards. But there were those who doubted of the prudence of this proceeding, and Abiathars arrival with the ephod enabled him to consult Jehovah's will. By his presence also David had now the approval of the priesthood.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah,.... Either when he was there, or near the place:
that he came down with an ephod in his hand; not with a linen ephod on his back, which the priests in common wore, but the ephod with the Urim and Thummim in his hand, which was peculiar to the high priest; and his father the high priest being dead, it belonged to him, and therefore he took care to bring it with him; though the words may be literally rendered, "the ephod came down in his hand" (k), as it were by chance, and not with design; and so some Jewish interpreters (l) understand it, that in his fright and flight, among his garments and other things he took hold of to carry with him, and not minding well what he took, this happened to be, being so ordered by the providence of God; though the Targum renders it,"the ephod he made to descend in his hand,''or brought it in his hand; and so Kimchi and Abarbinel observe it may be interpreted, though they seem to incline to the other sense.
(k) "ephod descendit in manu sua", Pagninus, Montanus; "ephod descendebat in manu sua", Munsterus; so Tigurine version and Piscator. (l) Kimchi & Ben Melech.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. an ephod—in which was the Urim and Thummim (Ex 28:30). It had, probably, been committed to his care, while Ahimelech and the other priests repaired to Gibeah, in obedience to the summons of Saul.
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