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1Sa 26:1-4. SAUL COMES TO THE HILL OF HACHILAH AGAINST DAVID.
1, 2. the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah--This people seem to have thought it impossible for David to escape, and therefore recommended themselves to Saul, by giving him secret information (see on 1Sa 23:19). The knowledge of their treachery makes it appear strange that David should return to his former haunt in their neighborhood; but, perhaps he did it to be near Abigail's possessions, and under the impression that Saul had become mollified. But the king had relapsed into his old enmity. Though Gibeah, as its name imports, stood on an elevated position, and the desert of Ziph, which was in the hilly region of Judea, may have been higher than Gibeah, it was still necessary to descend in leaving the latter place; thence Saul (1Sa 26:2) "went down to the wilderness of Ziph."
4, 5. David . . . sent out spies . . . and David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched--Having obtained certain information of the locality, he seems, accompanied by his nephew (1Sa 26:6), to have hid himself, perhaps disguised, in a neighboring wood, or hill, on the skirts of the royal camp towards night, and waited to approach it under covert of the darkness.
1Sa 26:5-25. DAVID STAYS ABISHAI FROM KILLING SAUL, BUT TAKES HIS SPEAR AND CRUSE.
5. Saul lay in the trench, and the people pitched round about him--Among the nomad people of the East, the encampments are usually made in a circular form. The circumference is lined by the baggage and the men, while the chief's station is in the center, whether he occupy a tent or not. His spear, stuck in the ground, indicates his position. Similar was the disposition of Saul's camp--in this hasty expedition he seems to have carried no tent, but to have slept on the ground. The whole troop was sunk in sleep around him.
8-12. Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into
thine hand--This midnight stratagem shows the activity and heroic
enterprise of David's mind, and it was in unison with the style of
warfare in ancient times.
11. the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water--The
Oriental spear had, and still has, a spike at the lower extremity,
intended for the purpose of sticking the spear into the ground when the
warrior is at rest. This common custom of Arab sheiks was also the
practice of the Hebrew chiefs.
13-20. Then David . . . stood on the top of an hill afar off . . . and cried to the people--(See on Jud 9:7). The extraordinary purity and elasticity of the air in Palestine enable words to be distinctly heard that are addressed by a speaker from the top of one hill to people on that of another, from which it is separated by a deep intervening ravine. Hostile parties can thus speak to each other, while completely beyond the reach of each other's attack. It results from the peculiar features of the country in many of the mountain districts.
15. David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man: . . . wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king?--The circumstance of David having penetrated to the center of the encampment, through the circular rows of the sleeping soldiers, constituted the point of this sarcastic taunt. This new evidence of David's moderation and magnanimous forbearance, together with his earnest and kindly expostulation, softened the obduracy of Saul's heart.
19. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me--By the evil spirit
He had sent, or by any spiritual offenses by which we have mutually
20. as when one doth hunt a partridge--People in the East, in hunting the partridge and other game birds, pursue them, till observing them becoming languid and fatigued after they have been put up two or three times, they rush upon the birds stealthily and knock them down with bludgeons [SHAW, Travels]. It was exactly in this manner that Saul was pursuing David. He drove him from time to time from his hiding-place, hoping to render him weary of his life, or obtain an opportunity of accomplishing his destruction.
25. So David went on his way--Notwithstanding this sudden relenting of Saul, David placed no confidence in his professions or promises, but wisely kept at a distance and awaited the course of Providence.