2 Samuel 1:16
And David said to him, Your blood be on your head; for your mouth has testified against you, saying, I have slain the LORD's anointed.
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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.David might well think his sentence just though severe, for he had more than once expressed the deliberate opinion that none could lift up his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless (see 1 Samuel 24:6; 1 Samuel 26:9, 1 Samuel 26:11, 1 Samuel 26:16). 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. Thy blood be upon thy head; the guilt of thy bloodshed or death lies upon thyself, not upon me, for thy free and voluntary confession is sufficient proof of thy guilt in killing the king. And David said unto him, thy blood be upon thy head,.... The blood that he had shed, let him suffer for it; for as he had shed blood, his blood ought to be shed, according to the law of God; and for proof of this, that he had so done, he appeals to his own confession:

for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed; and what might serve to confirm the truth of what he had said were the crown and bracelet which he brought along with him; and besides he was an Amalekite, of a nation that was devoted to destruction; and, as Abarbinel thinks, David might suppose that he killed Saul to take vengeance on him for what he had done to their nation; but, after all, both he and Maimonides (n) allow the punishment of him was not strictly according to law, but was a temporary decree, an extraordinary case, and an act of royal authority; for in common cases a man was not to be condemned and put to death upon his own confession, since it is possible he may not be in his right mind (o); but David chose to exercise severity in this case, partly to show his respect to Saul, and to ingratiate himself into the favour of his friends, and partly to deter men from attempting to assassinate princes, who himself was now about to ascend the throne.

(n) Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 18. sect. 6. (o) T. Bab. Yehamot, fol. 25. 2. Maimon. ibid.

And David said unto him, {f} Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the LORD'S anointed.

(f) You are justly punished for your fault.

16. for thy mouth, &c.] For the expression cp. Job 15:6; Luke 19:22. He had accused himself of a capital crime, for which he deserved to die. Righteous indignation, and not merely political prudence, dictated his immediate execution.

This account of Saul’s death is obviously inconsistent with that given in 1 Samuel 31. It is useless to attempt to harmonize them, but it is quite unnecessary to assume that we have two different traditions of the manner of Saul’s death. The Amalekite’s story was clearly a fabrication. In wandering over the field of battle he had found the corpse of Saul and stripped it of its ornaments. With these he hastened to David, and invented his fictitious story in the hope of securing an additional reward for having with his own hand rid David of his bitterest enemy and removed the obstacle which stood between him and the throne. But he had formed a wrong estimate of the man he had to deal with. Whether David believed him or not, he summarily inflicted the penalty which the Amalekite deserved according to his own avowal, and proved to all Israel his abhorrence of such an impious act.

David’s chivalrous loyalty and generous unselfishness in mourning for the death of his unrelenting persecutor, whose removal opened the way for him to the throne, are striking evidences of the nobility of his character.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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