Swear now therefore to me by the LORD, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Swear now therefore unto me.—So strongly was Saul convinced at this moment that David would at no distant period of time occupy the throne of Israel that he entreated him, when that day should come, not to destroy all his (Saul’s) children. This barbarous custom has been always too common a practice in the jealous East. It seems to have been equally dreaded by Jonathan, who made—it will be remembered—this condition of mercy to be shown by David in his day of power to his (Jonathan’s) children a part of the solemn covenant concluded between them. (See 1Samuel 20:15.) In the frequent dynastic changes which took place in the kingdom of Israel, we have instances of such wholesale massacres of the royal family of the fallen house. (See 1Kings 15:29, where Baasha slew King Nadab, the son of Jeroboam, and took his throne. Then Baasha, we read, “smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed; “and in 1Kings 16:11, where Zimri murdered his master, King Baasha. Zimri, “as soon as he sat on his throne, slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends.”) A similar massacre is described, only with more ghastly details, in 2 Kings 10, where “Jehu slew all that remained to Ahab in Samaria.” There the story is peculiarly an Oriental scene of history, with the seventy baskets containing the seventy heads of princes presented as an acceptable offering to the new stern king of Israel—Jehu. It was, therefore, no vain dread of what might happen in the future which made King Saul ask this of David. Doubtless the fear of some such awful catastrophe happening to his own loved children and friends was no small part of the punishment of Saul.1 Samuel 20:15. The deep, genealogical feeling of the Israelites breaks out here as so often elsewhere.
8-15. David also arose … and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul—The closeness of the precipitous cliffs, though divided by deep wadies, and the transparent purity of the air enable a person standing on one rock to hear distinctly the words uttered by a speaker standing on another (Jud 9:7). The expostulation of David, followed by the visible tokens he furnished of his cherishing no evil design against either the person or the government of the king, even when he had the monarch in his power, smote the heart of Saul in a moment and disarmed him of his fell purpose of revenge. He owned the justice of what David said, acknowledged his own guilt, and begged kindness to his house. He seems to have been naturally susceptible of strong, and, as in this instance, of good and grateful impressions. The improvement of his temper, indeed, was but transient—his language that of a man overwhelmed by the force of impetuous emotions and constrained to admire the conduct, and esteem the character, of one whom he hated and dreaded. But God overruled it for ensuring the present escape of David. Consider his language and behavior. This language—"a dead dog," "a flea," terms by which, like Eastern people, he strongly expressed a sense of his lowliness and the entire committal of his cause to Him who alone is the judge of human actions, and to whom vengeance belongs, his steady repulse of the vindictive counsels of his followers; the relentings of heart which he felt even for the apparent indignity he had done to the person of the Lord's anointed; and the respectful homage he paid the jealous tyrant who had set a price on his head—evince the magnanimity of a great and good man, and strikingly illustrate the spirit and energy of his prayer "when he was in the cave" (Ps 142:1).
Thou wilt not destroy my name, to wit, by cutting off my seed. So it is the same thing repeated in other words, as is usual in Scripture.
that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me; as was usually done in despotic governments in the eastern countries, and is at this day, when one is advanced to the throne of another, by whom issue is left, who may be rivals and competitors with him:
and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house; by cutting off his seed, the same thing in different words repeated, for the confirmation of it; children bear the names of their fathers, and by them their memory is perpetuated, and cutting off them is destroying the name of their parents.Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. Swear now, &c] Saul pledges his successor not to follow the barbarous Oriental custom. See on 1 Samuel 20:14.
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