And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)They mourned.—On hearing the tidings of the Amalekite, David and all his people showed the usual Oriental signs of sorrow by rending their clothes, weeping, and fasting. Although David thus heard of the death of his persistent and mortal enemy, and of his own consequent accession to the throne, yet there is not the slightest reason to doubt the reality and earnestness of his mourning. The whole narrative shows that David not only, as a patriotic Israelite, lamented the death of the king, but also felt a personal attachment to Saul, notwithstanding his long and unreasonable hostility. But Saul did not die alone; Jonathan, David’s most cherished friend, fell with him. At the same time, the whole nation over which David was hereafter to reign received a crushing defeat from their foes, and large numbers of his countrymen were slain. It has been well remarked that the only deep mourning for Saul, with the exception of the men of Jabesh-gilead, came from the man whom he had hated and persecuted as long as he lived.
The people of the Lord.—Besides his personal grief, David had both a religious and a patriotic ground for sorrow. The men who had fallen were parts of that Church of God which he so earnestly loved and served, and were also members of the commonwealth of Israel, on whose behalf he ever laboured with patriotic devotion. The LXX., overlooking this distinction, has very unnecessarily changed “people of the Lord” into “people of Judah.”2 Samuel 1:12. They mourned and wept, and fasted — This is an evident instance of the disinterestedness and tenderness of David’s heart, in that he could not forbear bewailing this melancholy end of Saul, though he was his bitter enemy, and sought his life.
the bracelet that was on his arm—the armlet worn above the elbow; an ancient mark of royal dignity. It is still worn by kings in some Eastern countries.
and fasted until even; ate no food all that day until it was evening, the manner in which fasts used to be kept:
for Saul, and for Jonathan his son; it is no wonder that David and his men should mourn for Jonathan, a good man, and a valiant one, and a dear and faithful friend of David's; but it may seem not so clear a thing that they should, mourn for Saul, a wicked man, and a persecutor of David without cause: but it should be observed that he had been reconciled to David, and had not since attempted anything against him; besides, he was his prince, his father-in-law, and the rather he might be grieved for his death, and his men with him, because it was matter of joy to the Philistines, and they would endeavour to avail themselves of it; and especially the manner of his death, that he should be the cause of it himself, and die without repentance, as it might be feared, and quickly after consultation with a witch, and when left of God, if these particulars were known to David:
and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; that is, the people of the Lord, even the house of Israel, or who were of the house of Israel; or if they are to be distinguished, the former may respect the people of the Lord who died in battle, for whom mourning was made; and the latter the people that survived, the whole kingdom of Israel, which had sustained a great loss by the slaughter made in this battle, as it follows:And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)12. mourned] The word literally denotes the beating of the breast, which is still a common expression of mourning in the East.
fasted until even] Fasting is mentioned as a sign of mourning in 1 Samuel 31:13; 2 Samuel 3:35; 2 Samuel 12:21-22. The day’s fast was considered to terminate at sunset, as at the present day in Mahommedan countries.
for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel] By “the people of Jehovah” is meant the army, gathered to fight Jehovah’s battles against the heathen. Cp. 1 Samuel 25:28; and for people = army cp. 2 Samuel 1:4 and 1 Samuel 4:3. “The house of Israel” describes the whole nation united under Saul, and now broken and scattered by his defeat and death.
The Sept. has “for the people of Judah,” a reading which involves a very slight change of letters, but is probably either an accidental corruption or an intentional emendation to get rid of the apparent tautology.Verse 12. - They mourned, and wept, and fasted. The sight of Saul's royal insignia was clear proof of Israel's disaster; and this sorrow of David and his men shows how true their hearts were to their country, and how unbearable would have been their position had not the prudence of the Philistine lords extricated them from the difficulty in which they had been placed by David's want of faith. But David had other reasons besides patriotism for sorrow. Personally he had lost the truest of friends, and even Saul had a place in his heart for he would contrast with his terrible death the early glories of his reign, when all Israel honoured him as its deliverer from the crushing yoke of foreign bondage, and when David was himself one of the most trusty of his captains. Otto von Gerlach compares David thus weeping over the fall of his implacable enemy with David's Son weeping over Jerusalem, the city whose inhabitants were his bitter foes, and who not only sought his death, but delivered him up to the Romans, to be scourged and spitefully intreated, and slain upon the cross. 2 Samuel 1:6-10), "I happened to come (נקרא equals נקרה) up to the mountains of Gilboa, and saw Saul leaning upon his spear; then the chariots (the war-chariots for the charioteers) and riders were pressing upon him, and he turned round and saw me, ... and asked me, Who art thou? and I said, An Amalekite; and he said to me, Come hither to me, and slay me, for the cramp (שׁבץ according to the Rabbins) hath seized me (sc., so that I cannot defend myself, and must fall into the hands of the Philistines); for my soul (my life) is still whole in me. Then I went to him, and slew him, because I knew that after his fall he would not live; and took the crown upon his head, and the bracelet upon his arm, and brought them to my lord" (David). "After his fall" does not mean "after he had fallen upon his sword or spear" (Clericus), for this is neither implied in נפלו nor in על־חניתו נשׁען ("supported, i.e., leaning upon his spear"), nor are we at liberty to transfer it from 1 Samuel 31:4 into this passage; but "after his defeat," i.e., so that he would not survive this calamity. This statement is at variance with the account of the death of Saul in 1 Samuel 31:3.; and even apart from this it has an air of improbability, or rather of untruth in it, particularly in the assertion that Saul was leaning upon his spear when the chariots and horsemen of the enemy came upon him, without having either an armour-bearer or any other Israelitish soldier by his side, so that he had to turn to an Amalekite who accidentally came by, and to ask him to inflict the fatal wound. The Amalekite invented this, in the hope of thereby obtaining the better recompense from David. The only part of his statement which is certainly true, is that he found the king lying dead upon the field of battle, and took off the crown and armlet; since he brought these to David. But it is by no means certain whether he was present when Saul expired, or merely found him after he was dead.
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