|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
28:1-6 David could not refuse Achish without danger. If he promised assistance, and then stood neuter, or went over to the Israelites, he would behave with ingratitude and treachery. If he fought against Israel, he would sin greatly. It seemed impossible that he should get out of this difficulty with a clear conscience; but his evasive answer, intended to gain time, was not consistent with the character of an Israelite indeed. Troubles are terrors to the children of disobedience. In his distress, Saul inquired of the Lord. He did not seek in faith, but with a double, unstable mind. Saul had put the law in force against those that had familiar spirits, Ex 22:18. Many seem zealous against, sin, when they are any way hurt by it, who have no concern for the glory of God, nor any dislike of sin as sin. Many seem enemies to sin in others, while they indulge it in themselves. Saul will drive the devil out of his kingdom, yet harbours him in his heart by envy and malice. How foolish to consult those whom, according to God's law, he had endeavoured to root out!
Verse 4. - The Philistines... pitched in Shunem. Having collected their forces, the Philistines entered Palestine as we have seen, by the valley of Jezreel, also called Esdraelon, and, marching eastward, encamped at Shunem. This was a village in the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), rendered famous as the abode of the woman who made a little chamber for Elisha (2 Kings 4:8); and from thence also came Abishag (1 Kings 1:8). Conder describes it as being at present only a mud hamlet, with cactus hedges and a spring, but the view extends, he says, as far as to Mount Carmel, fifteen miles away ('Tent-Work,' 1:123). It is now called Sulem, a name given to it also by Eusebius, and lies upon the slopes of the little Hermon, opposite Mount Gilboa, from which it is separated by the valley of Jezreel. This broad plain "is bounded on the east by the range of Gilboa, rising 1500 feet above the sea, and consisting of white chalk; while on the west a long spur runs out at about the same average elevation with Gilboa, and wends northwest to the ridge of Carmel (Conder, 'Handbook,' p. 209). As the valley is about 250 feet above the sea level, Saul, from an elevation of 1200 feet, would easily see the camp of the Philistines pitched upon the slopes of the opposite range at a distance of about four miles.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Philistines gathered themselves together,.... From different parts, and formed a considerable army:
and came and pitched in Shunem; a city, in the borders of the tribe of Issachar, of which See Gill on Joshua 19:18,
and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa; a range of mountains, near Jezreel, and which Jerom (b) calls the mountains of the Philistines, six miles from Scythopolis, where there is a large village called Gelbus.
(b) De loc. Heb fol. 92. D.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. the Philistines … pitched in Shunem—Having collected their forces for a last grand effort, they marched up from the seacoast and encamped in the "valley of Jezreel." The spot on which their encampment was fixed was Shunem (Jos 19:18), now Sulem, a village which still exists on the slope of a range called "Little Hermon." On the opposite side, on the rise of Mount Gilboa, hard by "the spring of Jezreel," was Saul's army—the Israelites, according to their wont, keeping to the heights, while their enemies clung to the plain.
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