1 Samuel 26:15
And David said to Abner, Are not you a valiant man? and who is like to you in Israel? why then have you not kept your lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king your lord.
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(15) A valiant man.—The English translators have rightly emphasised the Hebrew ish here by rendering a “valiant” man. Ish was used not unfrequently in this “nobler” sense; so in Psalm 49:2, when the b’ne adam, as “the poor mean ones,” were contrasted with the b’ne ish, “the noble ones.” (See also Isaiah 2:9 : “mean men and great men.”)

Wherefore then hast thou not kept?—The whole of this bitter sarcastic address seems to imply that a deadly feud existed between David and Saul’s captain and kinsman, Abner. If this be the case, the royal generosity and nobility of David’s character was well shown in his subsequent friendship with this Abner, and in his deep sorrow for the great captain’s untimely death. (See 2 Samuel 3)

1 Samuel 26:15-17. Wherefore hast thou not kept, &c. — Observed better military discipline for the preservation of the king’s person? There came one of the people — Into the king’s camp, and had a fair opportunity to destroy him. Because ye have not kept your master — Guarded him better from any danger. It is probable they despised David’s small forces, and, therefore, were so negligent. It is my voice, my lord, O king — He still acknowledges Saul’s authority, and the allegiance he owed him, though he had done him so many injuries.26:13-20 David reasoned seriously and affectionately with Saul. Those who forbid our attendance on God's ordinances, do what they can to estrange us from God, and to make us heathens. We are to reckon that which exposes us to sin the greatest injury that can be done us. If the Lord stirred thee up against me, either in displeasure to me, taking this way to punish me for my sins against him, or in displeasure to thee, if it be the effect of that evil spirit from the Lord which troubles thee; let Him accept an offering from us both. Let us join in seeking peace, and to be reconciled with God by sacrifice.This incidental testimony to Abner's great eminence as a warrior is fully borne out by David's dirge at Abner's death 2 Samuel 3:31-34, 2 Samuel 3:38, as well as by his whole history. At the same time David's bantering tone in regard to Abner, coupled with what he says in 1 Samuel 26:19, makes it proable that David attributed Saul's persecution of him in some degree to Abner. Abner would be likely to dread a rival in the young conqueror of Judah (compare 2 Samuel 2:8). 15. David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man: … wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king?—The circumstance of David having penetrated to the center of the encampment, through the circular rows of the sleeping soldiers, constituted the point of this sarcastic taunt. This new evidence of David's moderation and magnanimous forbearance, together with his earnest and kindly expostulation, softened the obduracy of Saul's heart. Who is like to thee, for courage and conduct? and therefore thy fault herein is the greater. And David said to Abner, art not thou a valiant man?.... Or a man (u), a man of great fame for courage and valour, a man of great authority, who had the next post in the army under Saul, but had not behaved like a man, worthy of his character and office:

and who is like to thee in Israel? none that bare so great a name, or was in so high an office, who therefore should have been careful to have acted according to both:

wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? took care to have set a guard about his person while he slept; which perhaps was neglected through a contempt of David and his men, as being in no fear of them:

for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord; that is, there had been one in the camp that night, who had entered there with that view to have destroyed him, had he an opportunity, and which did offer; this was true of Abishai, who no doubt went down with David into the camp with that intent, though David did not, and therefore he says, "one of the people", not more; for though two went in, only one with that view: David observes to them the danger the king was in, his carefulness of him to preserve his life, to whom only it was owing, and the negligence of Abner, and those under his command.

(u) "vir", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Piscator.

And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant {f} man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.

(f) Esteemed most valiant and fit to save the king?

15. a [valiant] man] Heb. simply, a man, i.e. one worthy of the name.

who is like to thee in Israel] Abner was evidently the most powerful man in Saul’s court. His course of action after Saul’s death shews plainly the influence he had gained.

kept] i.e. kept guard over.When Abishai exclaimed, "God hath delivered thine enemy into thy hand: now will I pierce him with the spear into the ground with a stroke, and will give no second" (sc., stroke: the Vulgate rendering gives the sense exactly: et secundo non opus erit, there will be no necessity for a second), David replied, "Destroy him not; for who hath stretched out his hand against the anointed of the Lord, and remained unhurt?" נקּה, as in Exodus 21:19; Numbers 5:31. He then continued (in 1 Samuel 26:10, 1 Samuel 26:11): "As truly as Jehovah liveth, unless Jehovah smite him (i.e., carry him off with a stroke; cf. 1 Samuel 25:38), or his day cometh that he dies (i.e., or he dies a natural death; 'his day' denoting the day of death, as in Job 14:6; Job 15:32), or he goes into battle and is carried off, far be it from me with Jehovah (מיהוה, as in 1 Samuel 24:7) to stretch forth my hand against Jehovah's anointed." The apodosis to 1 Samuel 26:10 commences with חלילה, "far be it," or "the Lord forbid," in 1 Samuel 26:11. "Take now the spear which is at his head, and the pitcher, and let us go."
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