King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 26

Saul goes after David, who again spares Saul’s life. (1-12) David exhorts Saul. (13-20) Saul acknowledges his sin. (21-25)

1 Samuel 26 Audio:

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Saul goes after David, who again spares Saul’s life

1 And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?

2 Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.

3 And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness.

4 David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed.

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, and the people pitched round about him.

6 Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee.

7 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 Abner and the people lay round about him.

8 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.

9 And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?

10 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.

11 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.

12 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.

David exhorts Saul

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:

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?

15 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? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord.

16 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.

17 And Saul knew David’s voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king.

18 And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand?

19 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 before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.

20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.

Saul acknowledges his sin

21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

22 And David answered and said, Behold the king’s spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it.

23 The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’s anointed.

24 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.

25 Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Ziph. Having declared themselves so decidedly against David, they apprehended the utmost danger if he should ascend the throne. — Hill. Heb. “Gabaa,” as the Vulg. leaves it, v. 3. It lay to the right hand of Ziph, (C. xxiii. 19,) or “of Jesimon.” Sept.

Ver. 4. Certainly, or in a place strongly secured by nature. Sept. “well armed.”

Ver. 5. Tent, or covered chariot, such as the Scythians use in their marches. Justin i. or in a “royal tent.” Sept. lampene, (Pollux. M.) “richly ornamented,” (Lucifer of Cagliari) “in the midst” (Aquila) of his troops. C. — David might see all was quiet from an eminence, or he might be informed by his spies. M.

Ver. 6. Hethite. He had probably embraced the Jewish religion. — Abisai was the son of Sarvia, David’s sister, and made a great figure at court. C. — David was directed by God to manifest his clemency (M.) and reverence for Saul in this perilous attempt. H.

Ver. 8. My. Heb. “the spear,” which was fixed in the ground at Saul’s pillow. Prot. “let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear, even to the earth, at once, and I will not smite him a second time.” H.

Ver. 9. Guiltless. Saul was still his king, how wicked soever, and this title rendered his person inviolable. The eastern nations are very seldom guilty of rebellion, or of murdering their kings; a thing of which we find so many examples in the Roman, English, and French histories. C. — A private man could not lay violent hands upon the king without a crime; and therefore David represses Abisai, and commits his cause to God. C. xxiv. 13. M. — He will not permit any one to destroy the life of the king, though he was already anointed to succeed him. W.

Ver. 10. To die a natural death. Thus those who are slain, are said to die before their day. Ps. liv. 28. Jesus was not taken, because his hour was not yet come. John ii. 4. and vii. 30. C. — David waits with patience, that God might take off his adversary by sickness, old age, or the sword. M. — He will not ascend the throne before the time appointed, and he will not kill Saul, except it be in battle, in his own defence. H.

Ver. 12. Water, for refreshment, or for purifications. — Lord. It is not necessary to have recourse to a miracle, (C.) though it must have been by a special providence that all continued in such a deep sleep, (H.) to give David an opportunity of manifesting his innocence. W.

Ver. 15. Israel. This was a cutting irony. C. — Salien attributes to it the enmity which Abner bore to David for above seven years. M.

Ver. 16. Death; i.e. you deserve to die. Such negligence was punishable with death, according to the Roman laws; & qui excubias. Grot.

Ver. 19. Sacrifice, that he may be appeased; (Jonathan. Vatab.) or rather, I am willing to fall a victim, (M.) and pray that thy sacrifice may be acceptable, and all thy designs against me succeed. Ps. xix. 4. — They are. The opposition of this sentence to the preceding seems to require “let them be,” &c. What in effect did not those deserve who wished to make David adore false gods? C. — Lord in the land of Israel. — Gods. They said so, at least by their actions. M. — All other countries were in a manner abandoned to idol-worship, so that a person could not dwell in them, without the most imminent danger. See 2 K. xiv. 16. Ps. lxxxiii. 12. C.

Ver. 20. Before, the contrary to the decrees of the Lord, (H.) who will be my avenger. — Hunted, (persequiur) is here used in a passive sense; (C.) or it may be rendered, “as a partridge pursues” what it feeds upon. H.

Ver. 21. Precious, and treated as such, with care and respect. See 4 K. i. 14. Ps. xlviii. 9. Isai. xliii. 4. — Ignorant. Yet Saul was inexcusable. 2 K. xxiv. 10, &c.

Ver. 22. It. He would not keep the spear, lest it might seem disrespectful.

Ver. 24. Set by. Lit. “magnified,” or deemed very precious. H. — Distress. These were the last words which David addressed to Saul; and they seem to have made a deep impression upon him. But as no dependance could be placed on Saul’s most solemn promises, David resolved, by God’s advice, to retire to the country of Geth. Salien. A. 2978.

Ver. 25. Prevail, and mount the throne. — Place, Gabaa. M.