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and let us daily pray with a very serious mind, Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Once more,
3. Let us learn to guard against a revengeful spirit, as what will be bitterness in the end ; and to maintain a guard over our passions, especially anger, when we meet with unjust and unreasonable treatment. This is a great snare ; even the man after God's own heart was too easily provoked, and too intent upon revenge.
Το many persons, revenge is sweet; they are never satisfied till they are avenged. But it is a base, wicked disposition ; and brings sorrow and remorse with it. Many have done things when in a Farmth of temper, which they have a thousand times wished had never been done. Let us remember, that the less we indulge our passion, the more we consult our peace. We should depart from rash and wicked resolutions, yea, though we are bound to them by an oath ; and repent deeply before God that we ever made them. When angry, or tempted to revenge affronts, we should consider how it will appear upon reflection, and what a foundation we are laying for our own torment and vexation. It is the glory of a man to pass by an affront; and by the gospel, forgiveness of others is a necessary condition of our receiving pardon and acceptance from God. Let us therefore leave our cause with him, who will avenge it, if he sees good. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath ; for vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.
Saul in this chapter renews his pursuit of David ; who boldly ventures
into Saul's camp ; addresses Abner, and expostulates with Saul ; who acknowledges his fault, and returns home.
Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, (which is] before Jeshimon ? this was base, unprovoked malice
in the Ziphites ; perhaps they were afraid that if he came to the 3 throne he would revenge their ill usage of him. Then Saul, who
before seemed to be reconciled, arose, and, willing to embrace the opportunity, he went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having
three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David 3 in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul pitched in the hill of Ha
chilah, which [is] before Jeshimon by the way. But David
abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him in4 to the wilderness. David therefore sent out spies, and under
stood that Saul was come in very deed, and was very near him. 5 And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had
pitched : and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host : and Saul lay in the trench, near his chariot and Abner with him, and the people
6 pitcbed round about him. Then answered David and said to
Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, ( who was David's sister, 1 Chron. ii. 16.) brother to Joab, saying, Who will down with me to Saul to the camp ? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee ; he chose to have but one for the
sake of secrecy, and left the other on a hill, with directions what to 7 do in case of an alarm. So David and Abishai came to the people
by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster : but Abnen and the people lay round about him. Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day : now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not (smite] him the
second time ; the words express great eagerness, Let me nail 9 him to the ground at once. And David said to Abishai, Destroy
him not : for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's
anointed, and be guiltless ? being made king by God's appointe 10 ment, it will be wrong to injure him. David said furthermore,
(As) the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him ; or his day shall come to die ; or he shall descend into battle, and perish;
he shall fall by some sudden stroke, as Nabal did, or die by dise 11 ease, or fall in battle. The LORD forbid that I should stretch
forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed :* but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that [is] at his bolster, and the
cruse of water, and let us go ; by this they will see what we could 12 have done, had it not been out of respect to him. So David took
the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's bolster; and they gat them away, and no man saw [it] nor knew [it,] neither awaked : for they (were] all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them ; it was a special provia dence that they were not discovered in walking through so many
Tanks, and talking together. 13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the
top of an hill afar off ; a great space [being] between them,
yet so near that a voice might be heard in the stillness of the night. 14 And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner
saying, Answerest thou not, Abner ? Then Abner answered and
said, Who (art] thou (that) criest to the king, to disturb his 15 repose ? And David said to Abner, (Art) not thou a (valiant)
man ? and who [is] like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king ? why hast thou not observed betfer military discipline, and better guarded the king's person? for
there came one of the people in with an intention to destroy the 16 king thy lord, and he had a fair opportunity to do it. This thing
(is) not good that thou hast done. (As) the LORD liveth ye (are) worthy to die, because ye have not kept your master, the LORD's anointed. And now see where the king's spear (is,] and the cruse of water that (was] at his bolster ; he could as
• He would esteem is his oven act if he permitted mother to do it VOL. III.
37 easily have taken away his life as his spear. . And Saúl knew
David's voice, and said, (Is) this thy voice, my son David ? De vid's courage, generosity, and piety, and his own ungrateful return, ndw.crowded into Saul's mind. And David, acknowledging Saul's
authority, and his own allegiance to him, said, [It is] my voice, 18 my lord, O king. And, pleading his innocence, he said, 'Where
fore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant ? for what have 19 I done ? or what evil [is] in mine hand ? Now therefore, I pray
thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering :* but if [they be) the children of men, cursed [be] they be
fore the LORD ; for they have driven me out this day from : abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other
gods ; they have done that which has a tendency to bring me to -20 idolatry. Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth be
fore the face of the Lord, who sees it, and will avenge it of thee : for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one
doth hunt a partridge in the mountains. 21 Then said Saul, I have sinned both against God and thee : re
turn, my son David, to my court again : for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precioas in thine eyes this day :
behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly; I 22 ain ashamed and sorry for what I have done. And David, as an
evidence of Saul's danger, and his own innocence, answered and
said, Behold the king's spear ! and let one of the young men 23 come over and fetch it. The LORD render to every man his
righteousness and his faithfulness ; for the LORD delivered
thee into (my) hand today, but I would not stretch forth mine 24 hand against the Lord's anointed. And, behold, as thy life was
much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all
tribulation ; may God deal with me as I have done with thee. 25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed [be] thou, my son David :
thou shalt both do great things,] and also shalt still pretail ; I find it in vain to pursue thee any longer, whom God intends for
great things. So David went on his way, took the course he had . designed for his own safety, notwithstanding Saul's fair promises ;
and Saul returned to his place ; and we do not find that he pursued David any more.
1. O W soon do wicked hearts lose all their serious impres
sions and convictions ! What could be more solemn than Saul's last promises to David ! He then seemed deeply affected,
Some suppose he here refers to Sáut; If God hath sent this spirit into thee, do thou humble thyself, and appease him who is angry with thee, by a sacrifice' Others say, it refers to David;' If it be my sins which have caused God to stir thee up against me, I am willing to become a sacrifice to appease his wrath. I think the beauty of the words lies in their ach bigu. ity; as they may be taken both ways, he leaves Saul's own conscience to find out the meaning.
+ Saul might probably knojy that David was anointed, and therefore he ought to be as tender of David's life, as David was of his.
and we should scarce expect he would ever have returned to his folly ; but the next temptation, the very next opportunity, he was as bad as ever. It is too common for men to be impressed with the folly of their ways; to see the sinfulness of their conduct ; to be ashamed and humbled for it, and resolve to be better ; and yet return to sing like the dog to his vomit. What need have we to watch over ourselves, to form deliberate resolutions, and to pray that God would keep us in a right mind, and be surety to his servants for good.
2. We see how easily God can confound the devices and overrule the designs of men. Saul and his three thousand men thought they should now have David safe ; but God laid them all asleep. So easily can he baffle the designs of his and his people's enemies. The stout kearted have slept their sleep, and none of the men of mighe have found their hands. Let us adore that God, who has so many ways of influencing the minds of men, and controlling their power. Let all good men trust in him, and make him their fear and their dread; then he will be their shield and their fortress.
3. We may observe, that to be banished from God's house and ordinances, is one of the greatest griefs to a devout mind.". To be absent from God's tabernacle, and in danger of serving other gods, David complained of as a greater grief than leaving the court, or his family, or his friends, or even his native country To lose the means of grace, and the privileges of God's house, is the greatest of all losses. That this may not be our case, let us highly value them, and carefully improve them while they are continued ; and esteem a day in God's courts better than a thousand spent in sin and vanity.
4. We learn, from the example of Saul, that sin in general, and especially the sin of persecution, is playing the fool, and erring erceedingly. Saul's pursuit of David was not only inveterate malice, but egregious folly ; it was driving away the wisest, bravest, greatest, and ingst worthy man in his dominions. Every instance in which we do evil, we play the fool, we act unwisely, and do that which we shall repent of. And in proportion to the degree of light and conviction against which we act, is our error great, and our folly excessive ; and proportionably great will be our shame and remorse. Whereas the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wish dom ; a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.
David, still fearing Saul, leaves his dominions, and goes over to
1 ND David said in his heart, I shall now perish one
day by the hand of Saul : (there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the
Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel : so shall I escape out of his hand. David thought Saul was not to be trusted, though he had promised fair ;
therefore, after consulting his friends, as Josephus tells us, he re2 solved to leave his dominions. And David arose, and he passed
over, with the six hundred men that[were] with him, unto Achish, 3 the son of Maoch, king of Gath.* And David dwelt with
Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household,
(even] David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and 4 Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife. And it was told Saul
that David was fled to Gath : and he sought no more again for 5 him, which otherwise he was disposed to have done. And David
said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may
dwell there : for why should thy servant dwell in the royal 6 city with thee ?+ Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day it
wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this
day. . By this means Achish laid a greater obligation on David, 7 and prevented any disturbances in his capital city. And the time
that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year
and four months. 8 And David and his men went up and invaded the Gesha
rites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites : for those (nations
were] of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, 9 even unto the land of Egypt.ll And David smote the land, and
left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and
returned, and came to Achish, to give account of the action, and 10 present him with a share of the spoils. And Achish said, Whither
have ye made a road today? And David said, Against the
south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and 11 against the south of the Kenites.* And David saved neither
man nor woman alive, to bring (tidings) to Gath, saying, lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so [will be] his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Phil.
• He was called the son of Maoch, to distinguish him from the former Achish. David perhaps had some assurance of protection from him. Achish would be glad to have such a brave man out of his enemy's country, as it would weaken the Israelites' forces, and keep up the division ; especially as they brought their wives and children as pledges of their fidelity.
+ David made this request to secure himself from the envy of the courtiers, to keep his pen employed, that they might not be in such danger of idolatry and the vices of the Philis tines, and have a free exercise of their religion, withour offering an affront to the gods of the Philistines.
This was a frontier town in the lot of Judah, (sce Joshua xv. 31.) but the Philistines had kept possession of it till now.
1 These were the remains of the nations that were devoted to destruction. Saul had not stain all the Amalekites, though he was commanded to do so; some had Aled who were
probe ably at enmity with Achish, at least not tributary to him, or confederates with him. Thus David subsisted himself and his people, served his own country, and did not injure his bene. factor.
This was a fraudulent equivocation, unworthy such a holy man as David was ; for Achisha Would understand that he made an inroad on the southern part of Judab, whereas be meant Whic couheries that lay south of Judah.