King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 18

Jonathan’s friendship for David. (1-5) Saul seeks to kill David. (6-11) Saul’s fear of David. (12-30)

1 Samuel 18 Audio:

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Jonathan’s friendship for David

1 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.

2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.

3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

4 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.

5 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.

Saul seeks to kill David

6 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.

7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.

8 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?

9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.

10 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.

11 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.

Saul’s fear of David

12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.

13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.

14 And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.

15 Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.

16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.

17 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.

18 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?

19 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.

20 And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.

21 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.

22 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.

23 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?

24 And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.

25 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.

26 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.

27 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.

28 And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him.

29 And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.

30 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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Soul. Pythagoras said, “that friendship is an equality, and one soul, and that the friend is another self.” It would be difficult to find two souls more tender and generous than those of David and Jonathan. C. — Josephus speaks of their friendship on another occasion, as these five verses are omitted in the Rom. Sept. &c. Ken.

Ver. 3. For he, Jonathan. H. — Soul. “Friends have one soul.” Arist. Mor. ix. 8.

Ver. 4. Girdle, which perhaps was of great value. Job xii. 18. He wished that David should lay aside his shepherd’s dress, and appear like himself at court, that all might know how much he loved him. M.

Ver. 5. Prudently, or with success. C. — Especially. Heb. “also,” which enhances his praise, as courtiers are but too apt to envy those who are taken from a low condition and set over them in the king’s favour. David must have displayed great wisdom and moderation. H.

Ver. 6. Philistine. Some explain this of some fresh achievement against that nation, (Malvenda. W.) but without reason. — Dancing. Heb. also playing on the flute, or on some such instrument of music. C. — So Mary sung after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea. Ex. xv. 20. 2 K. i. 20. Judg. xi. 34.

Ver. 7. Sung. The chorus of their song is given. C. — “The women sung, Saul slew his thousands; and the virgins answered, And David,” &c. Josephus. — The death of Goliath was equivalent to the slaughter of thousands, as he had filled the whole army of Israel with dismay. H.

Ver. 8. A thousand. These women were guilty of an indiscretion, through excess of zeal, as it is always displeasing for the sovereign to hear any of his subjects preferred before him. S. Chrys. hom. i. de Saul. — The jealousy of Saul was the more excited, as he had been threatened with the loss of his kingdom, and perceived in David all the qualifications of a king. A malo principe tanquam successor timetur quisquis est dignior. Pliny in Traj. — But was David responsible for what was spoken in his praise? C. — The Vat. Sept. omit what follows till v. 12. “And Saul feared David, (13) and he removed,” &c. The Alex. copy agrees with the Vulg. H. — Those who are proud, cannot bear the praises of others. W.

Ver. 9. Eye. Sept. “and Saul suspected.” H. — Chal. “laid snares for David.” C.

Ver. 10. Prophesied. Acted the prophet in a mad manner, (Ch). like an enthusiast, (C. 2 K. ix. 11.) or one possessed by the devil, as the Sybil was agitated by Apollo. Et rabie fera corda tument. ├ćneid vi. To alleviate his distress, David took up his harp. H. — Spear. With this weapon he was generally armed. C. xix. 10. and xxvi. 7. “It was used as a diadem formerly, and the ancients adored spears as gods.” Justin. xliii.

Ver. 13. People, as their leader. Saul gave him an honourable, but dangerous office, to procure his destruction. This is frequently the manner in which men of superior talents have been treated, (C.) as Corbulo, Germanicus, and Agricola were by three Roman emperors. Tacit. Ann. ii. &c.

Ver. 15. Began. Sept. “he was filled with awe in his presence.” Heb. “he was afraid of him,” as he perceived that God protected him in all perils.

Ver. 17. And Saul. This an the two following verses are omitted in the Rom. Sept. which subjoins, “and Michol, the daughter of Saul, loved David,” &c. H. — Wife. He had promised her already, (M.) if the verses in the preceding chapter be genuine. But why then had he delayed so long, and why does he require other conditions? The comparison made by the women, (v. 7,) and the inconstant temper of Saul, might account for this. H. — The Lord defends his people. As long as the Israelites followed the orders of God, their wars might justly be attributed to him; but not when they were waged to satisfy the cravings of ambition. C.

Ver. 18. Life. What exploits have I performed deserving such an honour? or what offices have my relations yet enjoyed? C. — David considers only his abject condition, and forgets his victories. H.

Ver. 19. Wife. If this were the case, the character of Saul is rendered more despicable and perfidious. David never reclaims Merob, as he did Michol. H. — All the children of the former were gibbeted, 2 K. xxi. 9. The latter was given to David for his destruction, like Cleopatra (Dan. xi. 17,) to Ptolemy. T.

Ver. 20. Other, is not found in the Heb. Sept. &c. H. — Some Latin copies read, “David loved Michol,” (C.) as the Douay Bible translates; the authors living before the Popes had published their authentic editions. H. — Both might be true. Drus.

Ver. 21. Days. Heb. “In two thou shalt,” &c. C. — Prot. “in the one of the twain,” Merob or Michol. H. — Saul had deceived him with respect to the first; but he promises that he shall have “the second,” (C.) or two motives induced the king to make him this offer, the victory over Goliath, and the slaughter of 100 Philistines. M. T. — The Sept. omit this sentence, and read, “And the hand of the Philistines was upon Saul, and Saul commended,” &c.

Ver. 23. Ability, or riches. Sept. “without glory.” H. See v. 18.

Ver. 25. Dowry. Among the Hebrews, the man had to purchase his wife. — Philistines. They were the nearest nation of those who were not circumcised; and thus Saul would prove that David had attacked them, which would greatly irritate them against him. C. — Josephus specifies six hundred heads, (H.) falsely, (Horn) as he frequently disguises what might give his readers offence, as being either mean or incredible. C. — Hundred is not specified in the original Heb. copies, (Capel, iii. 17,) and David gives 200, v. 27. But Saul only stipulated for 100. See 2 K. iii. 14. C. — Wife, “thinking it mean to be guilty of an untruth,” &c. says Josephus; “yet his disposition was not altered. He resolved, therefore, to take away his life, and wished Jonathan and his most trusty servants to put his designs in execution.” He then mentions the friendship of these two. But he takes no notice of the proffered marriage of Merob, and he seems not to have known that she was ever promised. See v. 17. and 19. and C. xvii. 12. H.

Ver. 28. David. Of the subsequent verses, the Rom. Sept. has only the following words. “And all Israel lived him; (29) and Saul still continued to be in awe of him.” The Alex. MS. agrees with the Heb. only, instead of Michol, &c. it reads, “all Israel.” If the contested passages were omitted, the history would be less perplexed. But we must wait for the decision of the Church in matters of this nature, and never decide to peremptorily. H.

Ver. 30. Forth, probably to revenge the recent insult. C.