2 Samuel 1:15
And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall on him. And he smote him that he died.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Fall upon him.—All question of David’s authority to pronounce a capital sentence is here quite out of place. The Amalekite had just recognised him as king, and therefore acknowledged his authority. But, besides this, David and his band of 600 outlaws were accustomed to live by the sword, and to defend themselves against Philistines, Amalekites, and other foes as best they could; and here stood before them one, by his own confession, guilty of high treason.

2 Samuel 1:15. He smote him that he died — Abarbinel thinks that, as the man was an Amalekite, David supposed that he had killed Saul out of revenge for the slaughter he had made of the Amalekites. But, if not; if the fact were as this Amalekite stated, and Saul bid him despatch him, “David rightly judged, that Saul had no power over his own life; and, consequently, should not have been obeyed in such a command: God and the state had as much right to his life when he was weary of it as when he most loved it. And, besides all this, it behooved David to vindicate his own innocence to the world, by so public an execution: he might otherwise, perhaps, have been branded with the guilt of employing that wretch to murder his persecutor. David also, doubtless, had it in view to deter others by this example. He consulted his own safety in this, as Cesar is said, by restoring the statues of Pompey, to have fixed his own. This was a wise lecture to princes, and many of them have unquestionably profited by it.” — Delaney.1:11-16 David was sincere in his mourning for Saul; and all with him humbled themselves under the hand of God, laid so heavily upon Israel by this defeat. The man who brought the tidings, David put to death, as a murderer of his prince. David herein did not do unjustly; the Amalekite confessed the crime. If he did as he said, he deserved to die for treason; and his lying to David, if indeed it were a lie, proved, as sooner or later that sin will prove, lying against himself. Hereby David showed himself zealous for public justice, without regard to his own private interest.Whether David believed the Amalekite's story, or not, his anger was equally excited, and the fact that the young man was an Amalekite, was not calculated to calm or check it. That David's temper was hasty, we know from 1 Samuel 25:13, 1 Samuel 25:32-34. 13-15. David said unto the young man … Whence art thou?—The man had at the outset stated who he was. But the question was now formally and judicially put. The punishment inflicted on the Amalekite may seem too severe, but the respect paid to kings in the West must not be regarded as the standard for that which the East may think due to royal station. David's reverence for Saul, as the Lord's anointed, was in his mind a principle on which he had faithfully acted on several occasions of great temptation. In present circumstances it was especially important that his principle should be publicly known; and to free himself from the imputation of being in any way accessory to the execrable crime of regicide was the part of a righteous judge, no less than of a good politician. No text from Poole on this verse. And David called one of the young men,.... His servants that attended on him:

and said, go near, and fall upon him; by smiting him with his sword:

and he smote him, that he died; his orders were instantly obeyed. Kings and generals of armies had great power in those times and countries to execute a man immediately, without any other judge or jury: what may serve, or David might think would serve, to justify him in doing this, is what follows.

And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 15. - Go near, and fall upon him. This was no hasty sentence, for they had "fasted until even." And before pronouncing it David asks, "Whence art thou?" that is, he makes more full inquiry into his condition and previous doings. He knew that he was an Amalekite, and most probably had seen clearly enough that his whole story was false; but before deciding upon his fate, he desired fuller information as to the man's previous life. His question elicits from him that he was a subject of Saul. For the word "stranger" means a settler, who had withdrawn from his own country and joined himself to Israel. Moreover, it was the Amalekite's father who had done this, and probably he was one of many, who, finding their old nomad life too dangerous, had sought a home in the southern districts of Judah; but when the war broke out, the old instinct of these Bedaween made them follow the army for pilfer and trade in spoil. But as the son of a settler, the Amalekite owed by birth allegiance to Saul, and, should the occasion arise, was bound to render him loyal aid. Now, according to his own account, he had found Saul in no immediate danger of death, "for his life was still whole within him." Escape was at least possible with the Amalekite's aid, but he is eager to hill him. And David's question, "How wast thou not afraid...to destroy the Lord's anointed?" virtually means, "How wast thou not afraid to kill thy own king?" The Lord, that is, Jehovah, was no name of power to any outside the covenant people, nor in settling in Judea did the Amalekites accept the national religion. But the words would show even to a stranger that Saul was Israel's lawful and consecrated king. Commentators, with strange perverseness, have found in these words an outbreak of selfishness on David's part, and have supposed that he wished to guard his own person against future treason by making a wholesome example. But this is both to misunderstand the examination of the culprit summed up in vers. 13, 14, and also to put aside all account of the deep and agonizing sorrow which was rending David's heart. What would have been an Englishman's feelings if news had come that we had lost, for instance, the battle of Waterloo, and if the fugitive who brought the information had said that he had killed the wounded commander-in-chief? In David's case, besides deep distress at the disaster which had befallen his country, there was personal grief for the death of Jonathan and of Saul's other sons, who were David's brothers-in-law; and the words really prove his loyalty to Saul himself. He was still Jehovah's anointed, whatever his conduct might have been; and we have found David on previous occasions actuated by the same generous respect for duty when clearly it was contrary to his own interests (see, for instance, 1 Samuel 26:9). David put the wretch justly to death for meanly murdering one whom he might possibly have saved. And the man's very purpose was to suggest to David, in a covert way, that escape really was possible, but that he had made all things sure, and so deserved a large reward. As a matter of fact, he had not killed Saul, but had invented the story because, judging David by his own immoral standard, he had supposed that he would regard the crime as a valuable service. To David's further inquiry how he knew this, the young man replied (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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