1 Samuel 16:21
And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armor bearer.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) And he became his armour-bearer.—But probably only for a very short time. David returned, we should conclude, to Samuel, whose pupil and friend we know he was. The seer was watching over the young man with a view to his lofty destiny. Saul apparently, from his question in 1Samuel 17:55, “Whose son is this youth?” had forgotten all about him. There is no “note of time,” so we are not able to determine how long a period had elapsed between the events narrated in this chapter and the combat with the Philistines told in 1 Samuel 17. It is, however, likely that the king’s malady, which was making rapid progress in this period of his reign, had already obscured his once powerful mind; his memory for the past was likely enough to have been treacherous.

1 Samuel 16:21. David came to Saul and stood before him — Ministered unto him among the rest of his servants. This sufficiently shows that Saul had no knowledge of the anointing of David, otherwise it cannot be supposed that he would have had him brought to his court. And he loved him greatly — So there was something good in Saul still; he had not lost all, though he had lost the kingdom. He became his armour-bearer — He had that place conferred upon him, though we do not read that he ever exercised it; for it seems he was gone back to his father upon some occasion not related; and had abode with him some considerable time before the war, described chap. 17., happened.16:14-23 Saul is made a terror to himself. The Spirit of the Lord departed from him. If God and his grace do not rule us, sin and Satan will have possession of us. The devil, by the Divine permission, troubled and terrified Saul, by the corrupt humours of his body, and passions of his mind. He grew fretful, peevish, and discontented, and at times a madman. It is a pity that music, which may be serviceable to the good temper of the mind, should ever be abused, to support vanity and luxury, and made an occasion of drawing the heart from God and serious things. That is driving away the good Spirit, not the evil spirit. Music, diversions, company, or business, have for a time often been employed to quiet the wounded conscience; but nothing can effect a real cure but the blood of Christ, applied in faith, and the sanctifying Spirit sealing the pardon, by his holy comforts. All other plans to dispel religious melancholy are sure to add to distress, either in this world or the next.The difficulty of reconciling this verse with 1 Samuel 17:55-58, is met thus: The words here are the ultimate sequence of David's first visit to Saul, and of his skill in music, and are therefore placed here; but they did not really come to pass until after David's victory over Goliath (see 1 Samuel 18:2). It is quite conceivable that if David had only played once or twice to Saul, and then returned to his father's house for some months, Saul might not recognize him. 21. David came to Saul—Providence thus prepared David for his destiny, by placing him in a way to become acquainted with the manners of the court, the business of government, and the general state of the kingdom.

became his armour-bearer—This choice, as being an expression of the king's partiality, shows how honorable the office was held to be.

Stood before him, i.e. ministered unto him; or (as we use to speak) waited upon him, as that phrase oft signifies; as Deu 1:38 10:8.

He became his armour-bearer; he had that place conferred upon him, though we do not read that he ever exercised it; for it seems he was gone back to his father upon some occasion not related, and had abode with him some considerable time before the war described, 1Sa 17, happened. And David came to Saul, and stood before him,.... As a servant, and ministered to him in the way, and for the purpose for which he was sent:

and he loved him greatly; being a comely person, and a well behaved youth, and especially as he was serviceable to him with his music, in driving away melancholy from him:

and he became his armourbearer; that is, he appointed him to this office, though we never read that he exercised it; nor did he go with Saul in this capacity to the battle related in the following chapter: it may be literally rendered: "and he was to him a bearer of vessels", or "instruments" (q); and Abarbinel thinks this is to be understood not of instruments of war, but of instruments of music to play with; which he brought in and bare before him when he went in to the king.

(q) "et fuit ei ferens vasa", Montanus; "ferens instrumenta", Piscator.

And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 21-23. - David came to Saul, and stood before him. The latter phrase means, "became one of his regular attendants." This, and his being appointed one of Saul's armour bearers, happened only after the lapse of some time. The armour bearer, like the esquire in the middle ages, had to carry his lord's lance, and sword, and shield, and was always a tried soldier, and one whom the king trusted. It was apparently after the combat with Goliath that Saul sent to Jesse, and asked that David might be always with him; and until his jealousy burst forth David was very dear to him, and his music exercised a soothing influence upon his melancholy. At first, probably, these fits of insanity came upon Saul only at distant intervals, but afterwards more frequently, and with such loss of self-control that he more than once tried to murder David, and even Jonathan, his own son. We have, then, here a summary of the relations of Saul to David until the unfortunate day when the king heard the women ascribe to the youthful soldier the higher honor (1 Samuel 18:7); and thenceforward these friendly feelings gave way to a growing dislike which deprived Saul of a faithful servant, and finally cost him his crown and life on Mount Gilboa.



When Saul's attendants, i.e., his officers at court, perceived the mental ailment of the king, they advised him to let the evil spirit which troubled him be charmed away by instrumental music. "Let our lord speak (command); thy servants are before thee (i.e., ready to serve thee): they will seek a man skilled in playing upon the harp; so will it be well with thee when an evil spirit of God comes upon thee, and he (the man referred to) plays with his hands." The powerful influence exerted by music upon the state of the mind was well known even in the earliest times; so that the wise men of ancient Greece recommended music to soothe the passions, to heal mental diseases, and even to check tumults among the people. From the many examples collected by Grotius, Clericus, and more especially Bochart in the Hieroz. P. i. l. 2, c. 44, we will merely cite the words of Censorinus (de die natali, c. 12): "Pythagoras ut animum sua semper divinitate imbueret, priusquam se somno daret et cum esset expergitus, cithara ut ferunt cantare consueverat, et Asclepiades medicus phreneticorum mentes morbo turbatas saepe per symphoniam suae naturae reddidit."
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