1 Samuel 17:29
And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) Is there not a cause?—David answers his jealous and over-bearing elder brother with all gentleness and forbearance, but he does not cease to make his inquiries of the soldiers respecting the giant, nor does he refrain from loudly expressing his astonishment at such a public insult to the God of Israel being allowed to continue for so many days. The Hebrew here would be more literally rendered, “Is it not a word,” or “It was only a word,” thus deprecating his elder brother’s anger. “What have I done? It was but a mere word. I was only speaking with holy anger about this impious challenge of the Philistine; nothing more.” The ancient versions thus understand this clause.

If we render as the Authorised Version, then the sense is quite clear. “You seem bitterly displeased with my zeal in this matter, but surely, is there not a good cause for my passionate emotion here—such an insult to our God?”

1 Samuel 17:29. David said, Is there not a cause? — Of my thus speaking? Is this giant invincible? Is our God unable to oppose him, and subdue him? However, David is not deterred from his undertaking by the hard words of Eliab. They that undertake public services must not think it strange if they be opposed by those from whom they had reason to expect assistance; but must humbly go on with their work, in the face, not only of their enemies’ threats, but of their friends’ slights, suspicions, and censures.

17:12-30 Jesse little thought of sending his son to the army at that critical juncture; but the wise God orders actions and affairs, so as to serve his designs. In times of general formality and lukewarmness, every degree of zeal which implies readiness to go further, or to venture more in the cause of God than others, will be blamed as pride and ambition, and by none more than by near relations, like Eliab, or negligent superiors. It was a trial of David's meekness, patience, and constancy. He had right and reason on his side, and did not render railing for railing; with a soft answer he turned away his brother's wrath. This conquest of his own passion was more honourable than that of Goliath. Those who undertake great and public services, must not think it strange if they are spoken ill of, and opposed by those from whom they expect support and assistance. They must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of enemies' threats, but of friends' slights and suspicions.Is there not a cause? - i. e., is not Saul's promise, and the insolence of Goliath, a sufficent cause for what I am about to do? 25. make his father's house free in Israel—His family should be exempted from the impositions and services to which the general body of the Israelites were subjected. Either,

1. Of my coming; my father sent me on an errand. Or rather,

2. Of my thus speaking: is there not reason in what I say? Is this giant invincible? is our God unable to oppose him, and subdue him?

And David said, what have I now done?.... That is criminal and blameworthy; as if he should say, I have only expressed an indignation against this uncircumcised Philistine, and a concern for the glory of God, and the honour of the people of Israel:

is there not a cause? either for his coming to the camp, being sent by his father; or of his expressing himself with indignation at the Philistine's defiance of the armies of Israel. Some take the sense to be, that he had done nothing, he had not committed any fact; it was mere words what he had said, he had attempted nothing, and therefore there was no reason to bear so hard upon him; to this purpose is the Targum,"what have I done as yet? is it not a word "only" which I have spoken?''but the former sense seems best.

And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a {i} cause?

(i) For his father's sending was a just occasion, and also he felt himself inwardly moved by God's Spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. Is there not a cause] A sufficient cause for his coming, namely, his father’s command. But probably the words mean, “Is it not a [mere] word?” i.e. “May I not ask a harmless question?”

1 Samuel 17:29David answered very modestly, and so as to put the scorn of his reprover to shame: "What have I done, then? It was only a word" - a very allowable inquiry certainly. He then turned from him (Eliab) to another who was standing by; and having repeated his previous words, he received the same answer from the people.
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