|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:17-25 The Philistines considered not that David had the presence of God with him, which Saul had forfeited and lost. The kingdom of the Messiah, as soon as it was set up in the world, was thus attacked by the powers of darkness. The heathen raged, and the kings of the earth set themselves to oppose it; but all in vain, Ps 2:1, &c. The destruction will turn, as this did, upon Satan's own kingdom. David owns dependence on God for victory; and refers himself to the good pleasure of God, Wilt thou do it? The assurance God has given us of victory over our spiritual enemies, should encourage us in our spiritual conflicts. David waited till God moved; he stirred then, but not till then. He was trained up in dependence on God and his providence. God performed his promise, and David failed not to improve his advantages. When the kingdom of the Messiah was to be set up, the apostles, who were to beat down the devil's kingdom, must not attempt any thing till they received the promise of the Spirit; who came with a sound from heaven, as of a rushing, mighty wind, Ac 2:2.
Verse 21. - They left their images. This is a further proof of the suddenness of the attack, and the completeness of the Philistine discomfiture. For images we find "gods" in the parallel place in 1 Chronicles 14:12, and the word used here is rendered "idols" in 1 Samuel 31:9. As the Philistines supposed that these images of their deities would ensure their victory, they would set great store by them, as the Israelites did by the ark (1 Samuel 4:4), and the French by the oriflamme. Their capture, therefore, was a feat as great as the winning of the eagle of a Roman legion. David and his men burned them; Hebrew, took them away. This translation of the Authorized Version, made to force the words into verbal agreement with 1 Chronicles 14:12, is utterly indefensible; and, like most wrong things, it is absurd. The Bible cannot be improved by frauds, and really the two narratives complete one another. David and his men carried off these images as trophies, just as the Philistines carried off the ark (1 Samuel 4:11). But the ark proved mightier than the Philistine gods, and in terror the people restored it to Israel. But no avenging hand interfered to rescue these gods, and, after being paraded in triumph, they were made into a bonfire.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they left their images,.... Their idol gods, which they brought with them to protect and defend them, and give them success; perhaps in imitation of the Israelites, who formerly brought the ark of God into their camp against the Philistines, 1 Samuel 4:3; and it appears to have been the custom of other countries, in later times, to bring their gods with them to battle (x):
and David and his men burnt them: that is, his men burnt them at his command, 1 Chronicles 14:12; agreeably to the law of God, that so no profit might be made of them, Deuteronomy 7:5; the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and others, render it, "and took them", or "carried them away" (y); as they might do, and, after they had exposed them in triumph, then burnt them.
(x) "Omnigenumque Deum", &c. Virgil. Aeneid. l. 8. (y) , Sept. "tulit", V. L. Tigurine version, Montanus; "sustulit", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. there they left their images—probably their "lares" or household deities, which they had brought into the field to fight for them. They were burnt as ordained by law (De 7:5).
2 Samuel 5:21 Parallel Commentaries
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