Darby's Bible Synopsis
Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
The following commentary covers Chapters 10, 11, and 12.
A brief recital of the ruin of Saul's house introduces Jehovah's establishment of the house of David. All that took place before the people gathered themselves to David at Hebron, and before the kingdom was established in his house over all Israel at Jerusalem, is passed over in silence.
After this we find, as a general subject, the order of the kingly power, and of the kingdom as established in the house of David-the kingdom, looked at as ordained of God in blessing, rather than the historical account of all that took- place;-excepting, so far as was necessary to furnish this picture. There is not perfection here; but there is the order which God appointed. The faults and the sufferings of David, whether before or after he was made king, are consequently passed over in silence.
After having mentioned the king himself, anointed by Samuel according to the word of Jehovah to rule over all Israel, the history begins with that which constituted the strength and glory of David's kingdom. The high priest no longer occupies the foreground. Jehovah's anointed is essentially a man of war, although it is not always to be so. Joab and the mighty men who had been David's companions in arms come immediately after the king. The first place next to the king is his who delivered Zion out of the enemy's hands [See Note #1]; and this spot, chosen of Jehovah, becomes the city of David and the seat of royal power. We are then told how David's companions in arms successively joined him, though yet for a long time rejected and pursued by Saul, mean as yet in appearance, a fugitive and without power to resist.
The first who are pointed out as having come to him-a proof that God and the knowledge of His will had more value in their eyes than parentage and the advantages which flow from thence-are from among the brethren of Saul (that is, of the tribe of Benjamin), and men of the greatest skill in handling the bow and the sling, the weapons with which Saul was slain in the battle in which he was overthrown. There were some who came from beyond Jordan to David, while he was still concealed in the wilderness; for faith and the manifestation of God's power tend to bring into play the energy and strength of those who connect themselves with it. He with whom God is attracts those with whom God is working; and their energy develops itself in proportion to the manifestation of His presence and favour. Many of these had been with Saul, but when with him they were not mighty men; many also had never been with him. Yet even in Saul's camp David had been able to slay the Philistines when all Israel was in terror. After that, similar achievements become almost common. At the beginning such things required immediate communion with God, so as to shut out the influence of all that surrounded the man who enjoyed this communion. Afterwards the surrounding influence was favourable, and, in this sense, faith propagates itself. These were but the chief of the mighty men whom David had. When God acts in power, He gives strength to the weak, and produces, by the energy of faith and of His Spirit, an army of heroes. In those who came from Benjamin and Judah we see that there was this link of faith (1 Chronicles 12:16). They knew that David's God helped him. David committed himself to God with respect to those who joined him, for he was in a very difficult position towards the end of his career of trial and affliction. Those to whom God had given energy and strength came to him in great numbers; for everything was ripe for his elevation to the throne of Israel, and for the transfer of Saul's kingdom to him.
There were various characteristics in this army of God: all famous for their valour, some among them had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do, and, in this case, all their brethren were at David's command; others were armed for battle; others had all instruments for war, and were not of a double heart. And these things were according to the gift of God, and they all came with one heart to make David king; their brethren had prepared everything in abundance, for there was joy in Israel. It is always thus when Christ is really magnified by upright hearts who only seek His glory.
David having built the city from Millo round about, Joab repaired the rest of the city. We may observe that Shammah the Harorite is not mentioned here. Perhaps it is Shammah in 1 Chronicles 11:27: but this is doubtful (see 2 Samuel 23:25). It may also be observed that the exploits of these mighty men consisted especially of victories over the Philistines, the enemies by whom Saul, who had been raised up for the purpose of destroying them, was overcome. Whatever may have been their subsequent achievements, it was there they learnt to conquer, and that they acquired the reputation which procured them a place in the archives of God. It is well that the reader should remember the connection between this whole history, and the establishment of the power of Christ, the Son of David, on the earth.
And the Philistines followed hard after Saul, and after his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, the sons of Saul.
And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers.
Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died.
So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together.
And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, then they forsook their cities, and fled: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
And when they had stripped him, they took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols, and to the people.
And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.
And when all Jabeshgilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul,
They arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it;
And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.