|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:11-16 David was sincere in his mourning for Saul; and all with him humbled themselves under the hand of God, laid so heavily upon Israel by this defeat. The man who brought the tidings, David put to death, as a murderer of his prince. David herein did not do unjustly; the Amalekite confessed the crime. If he did as he said, he deserved to die for treason; and his lying to David, if indeed it were a lie, proved, as sooner or later that sin will prove, lying against himself. Hereby David showed himself zealous for public justice, without regard to his own private interest.
Verse 15. - Go near, and fall upon him. This was no hasty sentence, for they had "fasted until even." And before pronouncing it David asks, "Whence art thou?" that is, he makes more full inquiry into his condition and previous doings. He knew that he was an Amalekite, and most probably had seen clearly enough that his whole story was false; but before deciding upon his fate, he desired fuller information as to the man's previous life. His question elicits from him that he was a subject of Saul. For the word "stranger" means a settler, who had withdrawn from his own country and joined himself to Israel. Moreover, it was the Amalekite's father who had done this, and probably he was one of many, who, finding their old nomad life too dangerous, had sought a home in the southern districts of Judah; but when the war broke out, the old instinct of these Bedaween made them follow the army for pilfer and trade in spoil. But as the son of a settler, the Amalekite owed by birth allegiance to Saul, and, should the occasion arise, was bound to render him loyal aid. Now, according to his own account, he had found Saul in no immediate danger of death, "for his life was still whole within him." Escape was at least possible with the Amalekite's aid, but he is eager to hill him. And David's question, "How wast thou not afraid...to destroy the Lord's anointed?" virtually means, "How wast thou not afraid to kill thy own king?" The Lord, that is, Jehovah, was no name of power to any outside the covenant people, nor in settling in Judea did the Amalekites accept the national religion. But the words would show even to a stranger that Saul was Israel's lawful and consecrated king. Commentators, with strange perverseness, have found in these words an outbreak of selfishness on David's part, and have supposed that he wished to guard his own person against future treason by making a wholesome example. But this is both to misunderstand the examination of the culprit summed up in vers. 13, 14, and also to put aside all account of the deep and agonizing sorrow which was rending David's heart. What would have been an Englishman's feelings if news had come that we had lost, for instance, the battle of Waterloo, and if the fugitive who brought the information had said that he had killed the wounded commander-in-chief? In David's case, besides deep distress at the disaster which had befallen his country, there was personal grief for the death of Jonathan and of Saul's other sons, who were David's brothers-in-law; and the words really prove his loyalty to Saul himself. He was still Jehovah's anointed, whatever his conduct might have been; and we have found David on previous occasions actuated by the same generous respect for duty when clearly it was contrary to his own interests (see, for instance, 1 Samuel 26:9). David put the wretch justly to death for meanly murdering one whom he might possibly have saved. And the man's very purpose was to suggest to David, in a covert way, that escape really was possible, but that he had made all things sure, and so deserved a large reward. As a matter of fact, he had not killed Saul, but had invented the story because, judging David by his own immoral standard, he had supposed that he would regard the crime as a valuable service.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And David called one of the young men,.... His servants that attended on him:
and said, go near, and fall upon him; by smiting him with his sword:
and he smote him, that he died; his orders were instantly obeyed. Kings and generals of armies had great power in those times and countries to execute a man immediately, without any other judge or jury: what may serve, or David might think would serve, to justify him in doing this, is what follows.
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