Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.The bond of friendship which Jonathan formed with David was so evidently the main point, that in 1 Samuel 18:1 the writer commences with the love of Jonathan to David, and then after that proceeds in 1 Samuel 18:2 to observe that Saul took David to himself from that day forward; whereas it is very evident that Saul told David, either at the time of his conversation with him or immediately afterwards, that he was henceforth to remain with him, i.e., in his service. "The soul of Jonathan bound itself (lit. chained itself; cf. Genesis 44:30) to David's soul, and Jonathan loved him as his soul." The Chethibh ויּאהבו with the suffix ו attached to the imperfect is very rare, and hence the Keri ויּאהבהוּ (vid., Ewald, 249, b., and Olshausen, Gramm. p. 469). לשׁוּב, to return to his house, viz., to engage in his former occupation as shepherd.
And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.Jonathan made a covenant (i.e., a covenant of friendship) and (i.e., with) David, because he loved him as his soul.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.As a sign and pledge of his friendship, Jonathan gave David his clothes and his armour. Meil, the upper coat or cloak. Maddim is probably the armour coat (vid., 1 Samuel 17:39). This is implied in the word ועד, which is repeated three times, and by which the different arms were attached more closely to מדּיו. For the act itself, compare the exchange of armour made by Glaucus and Diomedes (Hom. Il. vi. 230). This seems to have been a common custom in very ancient times, as we meet with it also among the early Celts (see Macpherson's Ossian).
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.And David went out, sc., to battle; whithersoever Saul sent him, he acted wisely and prosperously (ישׂכּיל, as in Joshua 1:8 : see at Deuteronomy 29:8). Saul placed him above the men of war in consequence, made him one of their commanders; and he pleased all the people, and the servants of Saul also, i.e., the courtiers of the king, who are envious as a general rule.
And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.Saul's jealousy towards David.
(Note: The section 1 Samuel 18:6-14 is supposed by Thenius and others to have been taken by the compiler from a different source from the previous one, and not to have been written by the same author: (1) because the same thing is mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:13, 1 Samuel 18:14, as in 1 Samuel 18:5, though in a somewhat altered form, and 1 Samuel 18:10, 1 Samuel 18:11 occur again in 1 Samuel 19:9-10, with a few different words, and in a more appropriate connection; (2) because the contents of 1 Samuel 19:9, and the word ממּחרת in 1 Samuel 19:10, are most directly opposed to 1 Samuel 18:2 and 1 Samuel 18:5. On these grounds, no doubt, the lxx have not only omitted the beginning of 1 Samuel 18:6 from their version, but also 1 Samuel 18:9-11. But the supposed discrepancy between 1 Samuel 18:9 and 1 Samuel 18:10 and 1 Samuel 18:2 and 1 Samuel 18:5, - viz., that Saul could not have kept David by his side from attachment to him, or have placed him over his men of war after several prosperous expeditions, as is stated in 1 Samuel 18:2 and 1 Samuel 18:5, if he had looked upon him with jealous eyes from the very first day, or if his jealousy had broken out on the second day in the way described in 1 Samuel 18:10, 1 Samuel 18:11, - is founded upon two erroneous assumptions; viz., (1) that the facts contained in 1 Samuel 18:1-5 were contemporaneous with those in 1 Samuel 18:6-14; and (2) that everything contained in these two sections is to be regarded as strictly chronological. But the fact recorded in 1 Samuel 18:2, namely, that Saul took David to himself, and did not allow him to go back to his father's house any more, occurred unquestionably some time earlier than those mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:6. with their consequences. Saul took David to himself immediately after the defeat of Goliath, and before the war had been brought to an end. But the celebration of the victory, in which the paean of the women excited jealousy in Saul's mind, did not take place till the return of the people and of the king at the close of the war. How long the war lasted we do not know; but from the fact that the Israelites pursued the flying Philistines to Gath and Ekron, and then plundered the camp of the Philistines after that (1 Samuel 17:52-53), it certainly follows that some days, if not weeks, must have elapsed between David's victory over Goliath and the celebration of the triumph, after the expulsion of the Philistines from the land. Thus far the events described in the two sections are arranged in their chronological order; but for all the rest the facts are arranged antithetically, according to their peculiar character, whilst the consequences, which reached further than the facts that gave rise to them, and were to some extent contemporaneous, are appended immediately to the facts themselves. Thus David's going out whithersoever Saul sent him (1 Samuel 18:5) may indeed have commenced during the pursuit of the flying Philistines; but it reached far beyond this war, and continued even while Saul was looking upon him with jealous eyes. 1 Samuel 18:5 contains a general remark, with which the historian brings to a close one side of the relation between David and Saul, which grew out of David's victory. He then proceeds in 1 Samuel 18:6 to give the other side, and rounds off this paragraph also (1 Samuel 18:14-16) with a general remark, the substance of which resembles, in the main, the substance of 1 Samuel 18:5. At the same time it implies some progress, inasmuch as the delight of the people at the acts performed by David (1 Samuel 18:5) grew into love to David itself. This same progress is also apparent in 1 Samuel 18:13 ("Saul made him captain over a thousand"), as compared with 1 Samuel 18:5 ("Saul set him over the men of war"). Whether the elevation of David into a captain over a thousand was a higher promotion than his appointment over the men of war, or the latter expression is to be taken as simply a more general or indefinite term, denoting his promotion to the rank of commander-in-chief, is a point which can hardly be determined with certainty.)
- Saul had no sooner attached the conqueror of Goliath to his court, than he began to be jealous of him. The occasion for his jealousy was the celebration of victory at the close of the war with the Philistines.
"When they came," i.e., when the warriors returned with Saul from the war, "when (as is added to explain what follows) David returned from the slaughter," i.e., from the war in which he had slain Goliath, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, "to singing and dancing," i.e., to celebrate the victory with singing and choral dancing (see the remarks on Exodus 15:20), "to meet king Saul with tambourines, with joy, and with triangles." שׂמהה is used here to signify expressions of joy, a fte, as in Judges 16:23, etc. The striking position in which the word stands, viz., between two musical instruments, shows that, the word is to be understood here as referring specially to songs of rejoicing, since according to 1 Samuel 18:7 their playing was accompanied with singing. The women who "sported" (משׂחקות), i.e., performed mimic dances, sang in alternate choruses ("answered," as in Exodus 15:21), "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?Saul was enraged at this. The words displeased him, so that he said, "They have given David ten thousands, and to me thousands, and there is only the kingdom more for him" (i.e., left for him to obtain). "In this foreboding utterance of Saul there was involved not only a conjecture which the result confirmed, but a deep inward truth: if the king of Israel stood powerless before the subjugators of his kingdom at so decisive a period as this, and a shepherd boy came and decided the victory, this was an additional mark of his rejection" (O. v. Gerlach).
And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.From that day forward Saul was looking askance at David. עון, a denom. verb, from עין, an eye, looking askance, is used for עוין (Keri).
And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.The next day the evil spirit fell upon Saul ("the evil spirit of God;" see at 1 Samuel 16:14), so that he raved in his house, and threw his javelin at David, who played before him "as day by day," but did not hit him, because David turned away before him twice. התנבּא does not mean to prophesy in this instance, but "to rave." This use of the word is founded upon the ecstatic utterances, in which the supernatural influence of the Spirit of God manifested itself in the prophets (see at 1 Samuel 10:5). ויּטל, from טוּל, he hurled the javelin, and said (to himself), "I will pierce David and the wall." With such force did he hurl his spear; but David turned away from him, i.e., eluded it, twice. His doing so a second time presupposes that Saul hurled the javelin twice; that is to say, he probably swung it twice without letting it go out of his hand, - a supposition which is raised into certainty by the fact that it is not stated here that the javelin entered the wall, as in 1 Samuel 19:10. But even with this view יטל is not to be changed into יטּל, as Thenius proposes, since the verb נטל cannot be proved to have ever the meaning to swing. Saul seems to have held the javelin in his hand as a sceptre, according to ancient custom.
And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul."And Saul was afraid of David, because the Spirit of Jehovah was with him, and had departed from Saul;" he "removed him therefore from him," i.e., from his immediate presence, by appointing him chief captain over thousand. In this fear of David on the part of Saul, the true reason for his hostile behaviour is pointed out with deep psychological truth. The fear arose from the consciousness that the Lord had departed from him, - a consciousness which forced itself involuntarily upon him, and drove him to make the attempt, in a fit of madness, to put David to death. The fact that David did not leave Saul immediately after this attempt upon his life, may be explained not merely on the supposition that he looked upon this attack as being simply an outburst of momentary madness, which would pass away, but still more from his firm believing confidence, which kept him from forsaking the post in which the Lord had placed him without any act of his own, until he saw that Saul was plotting to take his life, not merely in these fits of insanity, but also at other times, in calm deliberation (vid., 1 Samuel 19:1.).
Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.As chief commander over thousand, he went out and in before the people, i.e., he carried out military enterprises, and that so wisely and prosperously, that the blessing of the Lord rested upon all he did. But these successes on David's part increased Saul's fear of him, whereas all Israel and Judah came to love him as their leader. David's success in all that he took in hand compelled Saul to promote him; and his standing with the people increased with his promotion. But as the Spirit of God had departed from Saul, this only filled him more and more with dread of David as his rival. As the hand of the Lord was visibly displayed in David's success, so, on the other hand, Saul's rejection by God was manifested in his increasing fear of David.
Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.Craftiness of Saul in the betrothal of his daughters to David. - 1 Samuel 18:17. As Saul had promised to give his daughter for a wife to the conqueror of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:25), he felt obliged, by the growing love and attachment of the people to David, to fulfil this promise, and told him that he was ready to do so, with the hope of finding in this some means of destroying David. He therefore offered him his elder daughter Merab with words that sounded friendly and kind: "Only be a brave man to me, and wage the wars of the Lord." He called the wars with the Philistines "wars of Jehovah," i.e., wars for the maintenance and defence of the kingdom of God, to conceal his own cunning design, and make David feel all the more sure that the king's heart was only set upon the welfare of the kingdom of God. Whoever waged the wars of the Lord might also hope for the help of the Lord. But Saul had intentions of a very different kind. He thought ("said," sc., to himself), "My hand shall not be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him;" i.e., I will not put him to death; the Philistines may do that. When Saul's reason had returned, he shrank from laying hands upon David again, as he had done before in a fit of madness. He therefore hoped to destroy him through the medium of the Philistines.
And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?But David replied with true humility, without suspecting the craftiness of Saul: "Who am I, and what is my condition in life, my father's family in Israel, that I should become son-in-law to the king?" חיּי מי is a difficult expression, and has been translated in different ways, as the meaning which suggests itself first (viz., "what is my life") is neither reconcilable with the מי (the interrogative personal pronoun), nor suitable to the context. Gesenius (Thes. p. 471) and Bttcher give the meaning "people" for חיּים, and Ewald (Gramm. 179, b.) the meaning "family." But neither of these meanings can be established. חיּים seems evidently to signify the condition in life, the relation in which a person stands to others, and מי is to be explained on the ground that David referred to the persons who formed the class to which he belonged. "My father's family" includes all his relations. David's meaning was, that neither on personal grounds, nor on account of his social standing, nor because of his lineage, could he make the slightest pretension to the honour of becoming the son-in-law of the king.
But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.But Saul did not keep his promise. When the time arrived for its fulfilment, he gave his daughter to Adriel the Meholathite, a man of whom nothing further is known.
(Note: 1 Samuel 18:17-19 are omitted from the Septuagint version; but they are so, no doubt, only because Saul's first promise was without result so far as David was concerned.)
And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.Michal is married to David. - The pretext under which Saul broke his promise is not given, but it appears to have been, at any rate in part, that Merab had no love to David. This may be inferred from 1 Samuel 18:17, 1 Samuel 18:18, compared with 1 Samuel 18:20. Michal, the younger daughter of Saul, loved David. When Saul was told this, the thing was quite right in his eyes. He said, "I will give her to him, that she may become a snare to him, and the hand of the Philistines may come upon him" (sc., if he tries to get the price which I shall require a dowry; cf. 1 Samuel 18:25). He therefore said to David, "In a second way (בּשׁתּים, as in Job 33:14) shalt thou become my son-in-law." Saul said this casually to David; but he made no reply, because he had found out the fickleness of Saul, and therefore put no further trust in his words.
And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.
And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king's son in law.Saul therefore employed his courtiers to persuade David to accept his offer. In this way we may reconcile in a very simple manner the apparent discrepancy, that Saul is said to have offered his daughter to David himself, and yet he commissioned his servants to talk to David privately of the king's willingness to give him his daughter. The omission of 1 Samuel 18:21 in the Septuagint is to be explained partly from the fact that בּשׁתּים points back to 1 Samuel 18:17-19, which are wanting in this version, and partly also in all probability from the idea entertained by the translators that the statement itself is at variance with 1 Samuel 18:22. The courtiers were to talk to David בּלּט, "in private," i.e., as though they were doing it behind the king's back.
And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?David replied to the courtiers, "Does it seem to you a little thing to become son-in-law to the king, seeing that I am a poor and humble man?" "Poor," i.e., utterly unable to offer anything like a suitable dowry to the king. This reply was given by David in perfect sincerity, since he could not possibly suppose that the king would give him his daughter without a considerable marriage portion.
And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.When this answer was reported to the king, he sent word through his courtiers what the price was for which he would give him his daughter. He required no dowry (see at Genesis 34:12), but only a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, i.e., the slaughter of a hundred Philistines, and the proof that this had been done, to avenge himself upon the enemies of the king; whereas, as the writer observes, Saul supposed that he should thus cause David to fall, i.e., bring about his death by the hand of the Philistines.
And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.
And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired.But David was satisfied with Saul's demand, since he had no suspicion of his craftiness, and loved Michal. Even before the days were full, i.e., before the time appointed for the delivery of the dowry and for the marriage had arrived, he rose up with his men, smote two hundred Philistines, and brought their foreskins, which were placed in their full number before the king; whereupon Saul was obliged to give him Michal his daughter to wife. The words "and the days were not full" (1 Samuel 18:26) form a circumstantial clause, which is to be connected with the following sentence, "David arose," etc. David delivered twice the price demanded. "They made them full to the king," i.e., they placed them in their full number before him.
Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him.The knowledge of the fact that David had carried out all his enterprises with success had already filled the melancholy king with fear. But when the failure of this new plan for devoting David to certain death had forced the conviction upon him that Jehovah was with David, and that he was miraculously protected by Him; and when, in addition to this, there was the love of his daughter Michal to David; his fear of David grew into a lifelong enmity. Thus his evil spirit urged him ever forward to greater and greater hardness of heart.
And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.
Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.The occasion for the practical manifestation of this enmity was the success of David in all his engagements with the Philistines. As often as the princes of the Philistines went out (sc., to war with Israel), David acted more wisely and prosperously than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was held in great honour. With this general remark the way is prepared for the further history of Saul's conduct towards David.