And the prophet Gad said to David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get you into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The prophet Gad.—From this time onward throughout the life and reign of David, Gad the prophet occupied evidently a marked place. He is mentioned as the king’s seer in 2Samuel 24:11; and in 1Chronicles 29:29 he appears as the compiler of the acts of David, along with Samuel and Nathan. In 2Chronicles 29:25 he is mentioned with his brother prophet Nathan again, as the man who had drawn up the plan of the great Temple services, which have been the model now for eighteen centuries of the countless Christian Liturgies in all the Churches.
It was Gad also who, far on in the golden days of the exile’s rule, dared to reprove the mighty king for his deed of numbering the people, which act involved a great sin, or the design of a great sin, not recorded for us, and who brought as a message from the Highest the terrible choice of three evils (2Samuel 24:11, and following verses). As he appears in the last years of the great king’s life, and apparently survived his master and friend, Gad must have been still young, or at all events in the prime of life, when he joined the fugitive and his outlawed band. He had, therefore, not improbably been a fellow student and friend of David’s in the Naioth of Samuel by Ramah. It seems hardly a baseless conjecture which sees in Gad a direct messenger from the old prophet Samuel to his loved pupil David, “the anointed,” Samuel well knew, “of the Lord.” As has been before observed, among the many who were educated and brought up in the Schools of the Prophets as historians, preachers, musicians, and teachers, but very few seem to have received the Divine influence (the Spirit’s “afflatus”) which was needed to constitute a prophet in the true high sense of the solemn word as we now understand it. Gad, however, appears to have been one of these rarely favoured few, and the presence of such an one in this outlaw camp of David must have been of great advantage to the captain.
Abide not.—The wise advice of the prophet, suggested by a Divine influence, told David not to estrange himself from his own country and people by remaining in a foreign land, but to return with his followers to the wilder districts of Judah. There was work for him and his followers to do in that distracted, harassed land.
The forest of Hareth.—The LXX. and Josephus here read “the city of Hareth.” Lieutenant Conder, whose late investigations have thrown so much light upon the geography of the Promised Land, can find no trace of forest on the edge of the mountain chain of Hebron, where Kharas now stands, and he therefore believes the LXX. text the true one. Dean Payne Smith, however, considers that “the thickets,” which still grow here abundantly, are what the Hebrew word yar, here translated “forest,” signifies.1 Samuel 22:5. The Prophet Gad said unto David — We read nothing of this prophet before; and it is likely God raised him up at this time, on purpose for the support and direction of David. Abide not in the hold — That is, do not shut up thyself here; for he did not merely intend any particular strong place, where David might now be, but in general all those places where he kept himself concealed. Get thee into the land of Judah — As one that confides in God, and in the uprightness of his intentions. Go, show thyself to the people, that thou mayest publicly put in thy claim to the kingdom after Saul’s death; and that thy friends may be invited and encouraged to appear in thy behalf. Hereby also God would exercise David’s faith, wisdom, and courage, and so prepare him for the kingdom.
forest of Hareth—southwest of Jerusalem.Abide not in the hold; do not shut up thyself in holes and holds.
Get thee into the land of Judah; go and show thyself in the land of Judah, that thou mayst publicly put in thy claim to the kingdom after Saul’s death, and that thy friends may be invited and encouraged to appear on thy behalf. Hereby also God would exercise David’s faith, and wisdom, and courage; and so prepare him for the kingdom, and uphold and increase his reputation among the people.
In the forest of Hareth there were many caves and lurking-places. 1 Samuel 19:20,
abide not in the hold, depart, and get thee into the land of Judah; this seems to confirm it that the hold David was in was not the cave of Adullam, because that was in the tribe of Judah; but rather some hold in the land of Moab, which he is directed by the prophet to leave, and go into the country of Judah, his own tribe, where Saul would not be so forward to pursue him, and where he would be among his friends, and in the way, upon Saul's death, to be anointed king over Judah; besides, appearing more openly would show the innocence of his cause, and his confidence in the Lord, more than to lurk about in a foreign land:
then David departed; from "Mizpeh" in "Moab"; or, however, from the hold in which he was:
and came into the forest of Hareth; where he would have places and opportunity enough to hide himself as he saw fit. Jerom (a) speaks of a village called Arath, where David abode, to the west of Jerusalem. Kimchi says this was a dry barren place, but for the sake of David it was made by the Lord a well watered and fruitful one.And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)5. the prophet Gad] Mentioned here for the first time, and not again till David had come to the throne, when he appears as holding the office of “the king’s seer.” He was one of the chroniclers of David’s reign (1 Chronicles 29:29); helped in the arrangement of the musical services in the Temple (2 Chronicles 29:25); and was sent to offer David his choice of punishments for his sin in numbering the people (2 Samuel 24:11 ff.).
Abide not in the hold] The future king must not remain in a foreign land, but in the face of all risk return to his own country, in order that by such exploits as the relief of Keilah he might gain reputation, and prepare his way to the throne.
the forest of Hareth] Nowhere else mentioned and not identified with any certainty. Perhaps the name survives in Kharâs on the edge of the mountain chain two or three miles east of Keilah.
Psalms 63. is referred by its title to the time when David was in the wilderness of Judah: but internal evidence points rather to his flight from Absalom; 1 Samuel 22:11 implies that he was already king.Verse 5. - The prophet Gad. This sudden appearance of the prophet suggests Stahelin's question, How came he among such people? But, in the first place, David's followers were not all of the sort described in ver. 2; and, next, this must be regarded as a declaration of the prophetic order in his favour. As we have a summary of David's proceedings in ver. 4, extending over some time, during which the massacre of the priests at Nob took place, we may well suppose that Saul had alienated from him the minds of all religious people, and that Gad, probably by Samuel's command, came to be David's counsellor. The advice he gives is most important - Abide not in the hold. I.e. do not remain in the land of Moab. Had David done so he probably would never have become king. By remaining in Judah, and protecting the people from the Philistines, which Saul could no longer do, David grew in reputation and power, and from the list of those who joined him at Ziklag (1 Chronicles 12:1-22) it is evident not only that such was the case, but that there was a strong enthusiasm for him throughout not merely Judah, but all Israel. In the happier times which followed Gad became David's seer (2 Samuel 24:11), was God's messenger to punish David for numbering the people (ibid. ver. 13), and finally wrote a history of his life (1 Chronicles 29:29). As he thus survived David, he must have been a young man when he joined him, and possibly had been a companion of David in the prophetic schools at Naioth in Ramah. The forest of Hareth. Or, rather, Hereth. "This lay on the edge of the mountain chain (of Hebron), where Kharas now stands, surrounded by the thickets which properly represent the Hebrew yar, a word wrongly supposed to mean a woodland of timber trees" (Conder, 'Tent Work,' 2:88). Yar is translated forest here. Hereth was about three miles from Adullam (see on ver. 1). MASSACRE OF THE PRIESTS AT NOB (vers. 6-19).
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