1 Samuel 14:47
So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and wherever he turned himself, he vexed them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(47) So Saul took the kingdom over Israel.—Some expositors closely connect this verse with the successful termination of the Philistine war, considering that it was through this great victory over the nation which had so long harassed and impoverished Israel that Saul really acquired for the first time the regal authority over all Israel, and that previously his rule had only been acknowledged in certain of the tribes. It is, however, better to consider the statement contained in this verse as simply a general view of Saul’s reign, which was a reign of perpetual wars. The words, then, of our verse are simply introductory to the list of wars waged from the very beginning of his government. It should be observed that this view is supported by the mention of the Ammonite war, which took place a considerable time before the events just related. Such a mention would, therefore, be out of place, unless we take this verse as containing a general statement—in other words, “Saul assumed the reins of government, and during his reign he waged the following wars.”

On every side . . . Moab . . . Ammon . . . Edom . . . Zobah . . . Philistines.—This enumeration of the nations with whom he fought literally included the countries on every side of the Land of Promise. Moab and Ammon bounded the Israelites on the east; Edom on the south; the Philistines on the west, along the coast of the Mediterranean; while Zobah was a district of Syria on the north-east of the territory of the twelve tribes, lying between the Euphrates and the Syrian Orontes.

He vexed them.—The exact sense of the Hebrew word yar’shia, rendered in our version “he vexed,” has puzzled all commentators. The LXX. evidently read another word here, as they translate it by esōzeto, “he was preserved.” The majority of the versions and Gesenius, however, give the real sense: “Whithersoever he (Saul) turned himself lie was victorious.” Luther’s rendering is scholarly: “Whithersoever he turned he inflicted punishment,” and is adopted by Keil.

1 Samuel 14:47-48. Saul took the kingdom — That is, resumed the administration of it, after he had, in a manner, lost it by the Philistines, who had almost got the entire possession of it, and enslaved Israel. And fought against all his enemies on every side — He did not invade them, as may be gathered from the next verse, but repelled them, and kept them within their own limits. He gathered a host, and smote the Amalekites; which war is described at large in the next chapter.14:47-52 Here is a general account of Saul's court and camp. He had little reason to be proud of his royal dignity, nor had any of his neighbours cause to envy him, for he had but little enjoyment after he took the kingdom. And often men's earthly glory makes a blaze just before the dark night of disgrace and woe comes on them.Compare 2 Samuel 8:15. The preceding narrative shows that before this time Saul had been king in name only, since his country was occupied by the Philistines, and he could only muster 600 men, and those but half armed and pent up in a narrow stronghold. Now, however, on the expulsion of the Philistines from his country, and the return of the Israelites from their vassalage and from their hiding places 1 Samuel 14:21-22, Saul became king in deed as well as in name, and acted the part of a king through the rest of his reign in defending his people against their enemies round about. A comprehensive list of these enemies, including the Ammonite war which had already been described 1 Samuel 11:1-15, and the Amalekite war which follows in 1 Samuel 15, is given in 1 Samuel 14:47-48. There is not the slightest indication from the words whether this "taking the kingdom" occurred soon or really years after Saul's anointing at Gilgal. Hence, some would place the clause 1 Samuel 14:47-52 immediately after 1 Samuel 11:1-15, or 1 Samuel 12, as a summary of Saul's reign. The details of the reign, namely, of the Philistine war in 1 Samuel 13; 14, of the Amalekite war in 1 Samuel 15, and the other events down to the end of 1 Samuel 31:1-13, preceded by the formulary, 1 Samuel 13:1, would then follow according to the common method of Hebrew historical narrative.

Zobah - This was one of the petty Ara-roman kingdoms flourishing at this time (Psalm 60:1-12 title). It seems to have been situated between Damascus and the Euphrates.

47, 48. So Saul … fought against all his enemies on every side—This signal triumph over the Philistines was followed, not only by their expulsion from the land of Israel, but by successful incursions against various hostile neighbors, whom he harassed though he did not subdue them. Took the kingdom, i.e. recovered it, and resumed the administration of it, after he had in a manner lost it, partly by Samuel’s sentence, 1 Samuel 13:14, and partly by the Philistines, who had almost turned him out of it. But now, being encouraged by this success, he returns to the exercise of his kingly office.

Zobah lay not far from Damascus. See 2 Samuel 8:5.

He vexed them, Heb. he condemned them, he treated them like wicked people, and enemies to God and his people; or, he punished them. So Saul took the kingdom over Israel,.... Which seemed to be almost taken from him when he was shut up in Gibeah, and the Philistines ravaged his country at pleasure; but now, having obtained a victory over them, he recovered his kingdom, and reassumed his power and authority; or he was now strengthened in it, as Kimchi interprets it; the people seeing that he succeeded in his wars with their enemies, they readily submitted to his government without any hesitation, and obeyed his commands; so the Targum,"Saul prospered in the kingdom over Israel;''and, according to Abarbinel, these words will admit of another sense, that whereas, after he was anointed and made king, he followed the herd, and attended rustic affairs; but now, after this victory over the Philistines, he took upon him the state and majesty of a king, and no more concerned himself with his farm and cattle, but betook himself wholly to regal and military affairs, as follows:

and fought against all his enemies on every side; who invaded his kingdom from different quarters; he defended himself against them, and preserved his kingdom:

against Moab, and against the children of Ammon; who lay to the east of him:

and against Edom; which was on the southern border of his land:

and against the king of Zobah; a part of Syria, which was to the north of the land of Israel, and was near Damascus, see 2 Samuel 8:3, and, according to Benjamin of Tudela (o), the same with Haleb, or Aleppo, There never were but two kings of it, Rehob and Hadadezer, who lived in the reigns of Saul and David, 2 Samuel 8:3.

and against the Philistines; who were on the western border of the land of Canaan:

and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them; disturbed and disquieted them, and made them very uneasy; he terrified and distressed them; the Targum is, he "condemned" them, he treated them as wicked and ungodly persons, and punished them as such.

(o) Itinerar. p. 59.

So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
47–52. Summary account of Saul’s wars and family

47. So Saul took the kingdom] The various wars undertaken by Saul whom the people elected king “to go out before them and fight their battles” are here summarily noticed. (1) Against Moab. See note on 1 Samuel 11:1. (2) Against the children of Ammon, as recorded in ch. 11, and perhaps upon other occasions. (3) Against the Edomites, the descendants of Esau, surnamed Edom (Genesis 25:30), who occupied Edom or Idumaea, previously called Mount Seir (= rugged), the mountainous district stretching from the Dead Sea to the head of the Gulf of Elath. The Edomites were conquered by David (2 Samuel 8:14), and remained subject to Judah till the reign of Jehoram (2 Kings 8:20). They are fiercely denounced by the later prophets, especially Obadiah, for their hostility to Judah. (4) Against the Syrian kingdom of Zobah on the north-east. This kingdom was probably situated between Damascus and the Euphrates, but its exact position and limits are undetermined. The “kings” were apparently independent chiefs; in David’s time it was ruled by a single king Hadadezer, and the account of David’s wars with it testify to its power and importance (2 Samuel 8:3-10). (5) Against the Philistines throughout his reign (1 Samuel 14:52). No special account of the wars against Moab, Edom and Zobah is given, for the object of the book is not to give a complete history of Saul’s reign, but to describe its salient features, and the sins which led to his rejection.

he vexed them] The word means literally “to condemn,” and so (if the reading is correct) “to conquer,” the war being regarded as a suit against the enemies of God, in which defeat was tantamount to a verdict of condemnation. The Sept. however reads simply, “he was victorious.”Verse 47. - So Saul took the kingdom. Instead of so the Hebrew has and, rightly; for this is no result or consequence of Saul's victory over the Philistines, but a mere historical introduction to the summary of his wars. The more correct translation would be, "When Saul had taken the kingdom over Israel, he fought," etc. Saul's reign was valiant and full of military glory. He was, in fact, in war all that the people had longed for, and not only. did he gain independence for Israel.. but laid the foundation of the vast empire of David and Solomon. But it is not the purpose of Holy, Scripture to give us the history of all Saul s valiant exploits, but only of his moral probation and failure. Of wars we read more than enough in profane history; here we read of the formation of character, and how a hero in the midst of noble and worthy feats of arms may yet lose something nobler and worthier - the favour of God. On every side. Moab and Ammon were on the east, Edom on the south, Zobah on the northeast, and the Philistines on the west. Zobah lay beyond Damascus, and, from the accounts given in 2 Samuel 8:3-8; 2 Samuel 10:6, must have been a powerful state. He vexed them. The verb is a judicial one, used of punishing the guilty, and might be translated "he chastised them." The Syriac and Vulgate give the real sense - "he was victorious." In order to find out the guilt, or rather the culprit, Saul proceeded to the lot; and for this purpose he made all the people stand on one side, whilst he and his son Jonathan went to the other, and then solemnly addressed Jehovah thus: "God of Israel, give innocence (of mind, i.e., truth). And the lot fell upon Saul and Jonathan (ילּכד, as in 1 Samuel 10:20-21); and the people went out," sc., without the lot falling upon them, i.e., they went out free.
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