1 Samuel 18
Matthew Poole's 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.
Jonathan loveth David; they covenant together, 1 Samuel 18:1-4. Saul envieth David’s praise; in his fury seeketh to kill him, 1 Samuel 18:5-11: is afraid of him; and removeth him: he is loved by the people, 1 Samuel 18:12-16. Saul offereth David his daughters; first Merab, who is given to Adriel; then Michal, who loveth David, 1 Samuel 18:17-20. Saul demandeth one hundred foreskins of the Philistines for a dowry: David promiseth; delivereth double the number; obtaineth Michal, 1 Samuel 18:21-27. Saul’s fear and hatred, and David’s glory, increaseth, 1 Samuel 18:28-30.

Partly for his excellent virtues and endowments, which shone forth both in his speeches and actions; partly, for the great and good service which he had done to God and to his people; and partly, for the similitude of their age and qualities.

And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
By which it appears, that beforetime David had not his constant residence at court, but did return to his father’s house, and thence again to the court, as occasion required.

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
A covenant, i.e. an agreement of sincere and perpetual friendship between them.

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.
Partly as a pledge of his great respect and affection to him; and partly to vindicate David from that contempt which might cleave to him for his former pastoral habit and condition, and to put him into a habit suitable to his present greatness and glory.

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.
David went out, upon military expeditions, of which that word is oft used.

Set him over the men of war; gave him some considerable command in his army, though not the supreme.

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.
When David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine; either, first, From some eminent victory obtained by him against the Philistines, though not particularly related, wherein also Saul might be present and concerned. Or rather, secondly, From the slaughter of Goliath, and the other Philistines with him. Against this it is objected, that this song was sung either after David was advanced and employed, as is related 1 Samuel 18:5, and therefore not immediately after that great victory; or, before he was so advanced; and then it would have raised Saul’s jealousy and envy, and consequently hindered David’s advancement. But it may be replied, that this song, though placed afterwards, was sung before David’s advancement, related 1 Samuel 18:5. And that this did not hinder David’s preferment, must be ascribed partly to Saul’s policy, who, though he had an eye upon David, and designed to crush him upon a fit occasion; yet saw it necessary for his own reputation, and the encouragement of other men’s valour, and for the satisfaction of Jonathan’s passionate desire, and the just and general expectation of the whole army and people, to give him some considerable preferment for the present; and principally to God’s providence overruling Saul, against his own inclination, and his mistaken interest.

Out of all cities of Israel, i.e. out of all the neighbouring cities, by or through which the victorious army marched.

Singing and dancing, according to the custom of those times and places; of which See Poole "Exodus 15:20", See Poole "Judges 11:34".

And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
Answered one another; singing by parts alternately.

David his ten thousands; so they said, because David killed Goliath, which was the principal cause of all the following slaughter of the Philistines.

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?
What greater honour can they give him but that of the kingdom? Or thus, And moreover. this will not rest here, they will certainly give him the kingdom; they will translate the crown from me to him. Or thus, And moreover, the kingdom certainly belongs to him, i.e. I now perceive that this is the favourite of God, and of the people; this is that man after God’s own heart, to whom Samuel told me that God would transfer my kingdom.

And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
i.e. Narrowly observed all his counsels and actions, that he might understand whether he had any design upon the kingdom or no, and that he might find some colourable pretence of putting him to death.

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.
Saul’s envy, and jealousy, and discontent revived his melancholic distemper, which the devil, according to his wont, struck in with.

He prophesied, or, he feigned himself to be a prophet, for so the Hebrew verbs in Hithpahel oft signify, i.e. he used uncouth gestures, and signs, and speeches, as the prophets, or sons of the prophets, used to do; for which they were by the ignorant and ungodly sort reputed madmen, 2 Kings 9:11. And it may seem probable that Saul did now speak of Divine things politicly, that thereby he might lull David asleep, and kill him before he suspected any danger.

There was a javelin in Saul’s hand, which he kept there for the following purpose.

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.
Once at this time, and another time upon a like occasion, 1 Samuel 19:10.

And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.
Saul was afraid of David, lest as he had gotten the favour of God and of all the people, he should also take away his kingdom.

Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
From him; from his presence and court; which he did, partly, because he feared lest David should watch and find an opportunity to kill him, as he had designed to kill David; partly, because he was a great eyesore, and his presence now made him more sad than ever his music had made him cheerful; and principally, that hereby he might expose him to the greatest hazards, and in some sort betray him into the hands of the Philistines.

He went out and came in; he led his soldiers forth to battle, and brought them back again with safety. Compare 2 Samuel 5:2. Or else the phrase of coming in and going out may be understood (as elsewhere) for conversing; or (as we use to say) going to and fro about business, as 1 Samuel 29:6.

And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.
So that he had great prudence in his conduct, and prosperous success following his designs; which are two principal qualifications of a general and of a prince. Thus God turned all Saul’s devices upon himself, and to David’s advantage.

Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
No text from Poole on this verse.

But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
Her will I give thee to wife: this was no more than Saul was obliged to do by his former promise, 1 Samuel 17:25, which here he renews and pretends to perform, though he intended nothing less, as the sequel shows; whereby he makes himself guilty of ingratitude, injustice, and breach of trust, and withal of gross hypocrisy.

Let the hand of the Philistines be upon him; he thought so great an offer would oblige him, who was of himself valiant enough to give proofs of more than common valour, and to venture upon the most dangerous enterprises.

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?
My life, i.e. my manner of living. How obscure is that condition in which I was born, and have been bred! Or rather thus, How little is my life worth, that by the exposing of that to some hazard (which Saul required of him). I should purchase a king’s daughter! In these expressions David showeth not only his humility, but also his wisdom, in discovering so deep a sense of his own meanness, that Saul might see how far he was from aspiring at the kingdom, and might have no occasion to suspect that he was already anointed thereto.

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.
When Merab should have been given to David; when the marriage was even ready to be solemnized.

Adriel the Meholathite, the son of Barzillei, as he is called, 2 Samuel 21:8. This was an act of great injustice and perfidiousness; and accordingly this marriage was accursed by God, and the children begotten in it were by God’s appointment cut off, 2Sa 21$.

And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
Not for any respect he had to David, but for his own malicious and wicked ends, that he might make use of her love to David, to insnare and ruin him, which he thought might be done many ways, whereof one is here expressed.

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.
This day, i.e. suddenly, within a time which probably Saul prefixed.

In the one of the twain: whereas I have only two daughters, and thou wast disappointed of thy expectation in the one by an unexpected accident, thou shalt certainly have the other, which is the same thing. Heb. in the twain. Thus the cities of Gilead is put for one of them, Judges 12:7; and the sides of the ship for one of the sides, Jonah 1:5. Or he saith in the twain, or in both, because he was in effect betrothed to the one, and should be married to the other, and so was I his son-in-law upon a double account.

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.
Commune with David, whom having so lately and grossly deceived, he found backward to embrace his motion, and therefore sets others on work to persuade him.

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?
And therefore neither have estate nor credit to give (according to the manner, Genesis 34:12 Exodus 22:16,17) a dowry suitable to her quality.

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.
No text from Poole on this verse.

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.
An hundred foreskins: these he desires rather than their heads; partly, for the greater convenience of bringing them, and presenting them before him; partly, to cover his malice against David with a pretence of zeal for God, and for his people, and for the covenant of circumcision; and partly, that the Philistines might be the more enraged against David for this reproachful and barbarous usage of them, and might therefore watch all opportunities to destroy him.

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.
It pleased David; as for other reasons, so especially because this opened the door to the kingdom which God had promised him. The days, i.e. the time allowed by Saul to David for the execution of this exploit.

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.
He doubled the number required; partly to oblige Saul the more to the performance of his promise; and partly to show his great respect and affection to Saul’s daughter.

And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him.
No text from Poole on this verse.

And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.
Because he both lost his design against David’s life, and had now paved a way for him to the throne.

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.
Went forth, to wit, to war against the Israelites, being provoked both by their former losses, and especially by that act of David’s, related above, 1 Samuel 18:27.

Matthew Poole's Commentary

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