From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)2 Samuel 1:22. The bow of Jonathan returned not back — Without effect. The arrows shot from his bow did not miss their mark, but pierced deep into the fat and flesh, the heart and bowels, and shed the blood of the mighty. The sword of Saul returned not empty — Always did great execution (as we now speak) upon those with whom he fought.Job 3:3-10; Jeremiah 20:14-18.
Nor fields of offerings - He imprecates such complete barrenness on the soil of Gilboa, that not even enough may grow for an offering of first-fruits. The latter part of the verse is better rendered thus: For there the shield of the mighty was polluted, the shield of Saul was not anointed with oil, but with blood). Shields were usually anointed with oil in preparation for the battle Isaiah 21:5.
the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away—To cast away the shield was counted a national disgrace. Yet, on that fatal battle of Gilboa, many of the Jewish soldiers, who had displayed unflinching valor in former battles, forgetful of their own reputation and their country's honor, threw away their shields and fled from the field. This dishonorable and cowardly conduct is alluded to with exquisitely touching pathos.Turned not back, to wit, without effect: compare Isaiah 45:23 55:2. Their arrows shot from their bows, and their swords, did seldom miss, and commonly pierced fat, and flesh, and blood, and reached even to the heart and bowels.
Empty, i.e. not filled and glutted with blood: for the sword is metaphorically said to have a mouth, which we translate an edge; and to devour, 2 Samuel 2:26 11:25 Jeremiah 2:30 46:10. And this their former successfulness is here mentioned as an aggravation of their last infelicity. Jeremiah 50:9,
and the sword of Saul returned not empty; but was the means of slaying many; though Abarbinel observes also that this may be interpreted of the blood of the slain, and of the fat of the mighty men of Israel; and that though Saul and Jonathan saw many of these fall before their eyes, yet "for" or "because" of their blood, they were not intimidated and restrained from fighting; the bow of the one, and the shield of the other, turned not back on that account.From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)22. From the blood, &c.] In the figurative language of poetry arrows are represented as drinking blood, the sword as eating flesh. See Deuteronomy 32:42; Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10.
the bow of Jonathan] His favourite weapon, by the gift of which he sealed his friendship with David. See 1 Samuel 18:4; 1 Samuel 20:20. Was it a reminiscence of that gift which made David call this elegy the Bow?Verse 22. - From the blood of the slain. In old time, Saul and Jonathan had been victorious warriors, who had returned from the battlefield stained with the blood of their enemies: from this battle they return no more, and their weapons have lost their old renown. 2 Samuel 1:15.), passing sentence of death in these words: "Thy blood come upon thy head (cf. Leviticus 20:9; Joshua 2:1;(1); for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord's anointed."
(Note: "Thy mouth hath testified against thee, and out of it thou art judged (Luke 19:22), whether thou hast done it or not. If thou hast done it, thou receivest the just reward of thy deeds. If thou hast not done it, then throw the blame upon thine own lying testimony, and be content with the wages of a wicked flatterer; for, according to thine own confession, thou art the murderer of a king, and that is quite enough to betray thine evil heart. David could see plainly enough that the man was no murderer: he would show by his example that flatterers who boast of such sins as these should get no hearing from their superiors." - Berleb. Bible.)
David regarded the statement of the Amalekite as a sufficient ground for condemnation, without investigating the truth any further; though it was most probably untrue, as he could see through his design of securing a great reward as due to him for performing such a deed (vid., 2 Samuel 4:10), and looked upon a man who could attribute such an act to himself from mere avarice as perfectly capable of committing it. Moreover, the king's jewels, which he had brought, furnished a practical proof that Saul had really been put to death. This punishment was by no means so severe as to render it necessary to "estimate its morality according to the times," or to defend it merely from the standpoint of political prudence, on the ground that as David was the successor of Saul, and had been pursued by him as his rival with constant suspicion and hatred, he ought not to leave the murder of the king unpunished, if only because the people, or at any rate his own opponents among the people, would accuse him of complicity in the murder of the king, if not of actually instigating the murderer. David would never have allowed such considerations as these to lead him into unjust severity. And his conduct requires no such half vindication. Even on the supposition that Saul had asked the Amalekite to give him his death-thrust, as he said he had, it was a crime deserving of punishment to fulfil this request, the more especially as nothing is said about any such mortal wounding of Saul as rendered his escape or recovery impossible, so that it could be said that it would have been cruel under such circumstances to refuse his request to be put to death. If Saul's life was still "full in him," as the Amalekite stated, his position was not so desperate as to render it inevitable that he should fall into the hands of the Philistines. Moreover, the supposition was a very natural one, that he had slain the king for the sake of a reward. But slaying the king, the anointed of the Lord, was in itself a crime that deserved to be punished with death. What David might more than once have done, but had refrained from doing from holy reverence for the sanctified person of the king, this foreigner, a man belonging to the nation of the Amalekites, Israel's greatest foes, had actually done for the sake of gain, or at any rate pretended to have done. Such a crime must be punished with death, and that by David who had been chosen by God and anointed as Saul's successor, and whom the Amalekite himself acknowledge in that capacity, since otherwise he would not have brought him the news together with the royal diadem.
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