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The high-priest's defence, however, bad no | and take up boldness, insolence, and a contempt effect upon Saul, for his fear was so prevalent, that of both divine and human laws. And that at a he could not give credit to any apology that was time when they especially stand in need of piety very just. So he commanded his armed men to and righteousness; because they are then pecukill him, and all his kindred. But as they durst liarly exposed to envy, and all they think and say not touch the high-priest, but were more afraid are in the view of all men ; then it is that they beof disobeying God than the king; he ordered come so insolent in their actions, as though God Doeg the Syrian to kill them. Accordingly he saw them no longer, or were afraid of them, betook to his assistance such wicked men as were cause of their power. And whatsoever it is that like himself, and slew Ahimelech and his family; they are either afraid of by the rumours they hear, which were in all three hundred and eighty-five.* or they hate by inclination, or love without reason; Saul also sent men to Nob,f the city of the priests, these seem to them to be authentic, firm, and true, and slew all that were there, without sparing either and pleasing both to man and to God. But as women or children, or any other age, and burnt it. to what would come hereafter, they have not the Only there was one son of Ahimelech, whose least regard to it. They raise those to honour, name was Abiathar, who escaped.f. However, indeed, who have been at a great deal of pains these things came to pass as God had foretold to for them, and after that honour they envy them, Eli the high-priest; when he said that his pos- and when they have brought them unto high digterity should be destroyed, on account of the nity, they do not only deprive them of what they transgressions of his two sons.
had obtained; but on that very account, of their Now Saul,by perpetrating so barbarous a lives also: and that on wicked accusations, and crime, and murdering the whole pontifical family, such as, on account of their extravagant nature, by having no pity for the infants, nor reverence are incredible. They also punish men, not for for the aged; and by the overthrowing the city such actions as deserve condemnation, but from also which God had chosen for the property and calumnies and accusations without examination ; support of the priests and prophets which were and this extends not only to such as deserve to be there; and had ordained as the only city allotted punished, but to as many as they are able to kill. for the education of such men; gives all to un- This reflection is openly confirmed from the exderstand and consider the disposition of men: that ample of Saul, the son of Kish; who was the first while they are private persons, and in a low con- king who reigned after our aristocracy, and godition, because it is not in their power to indulge, vernment under the judges; and that by his slaughnor to venture upon what they wish for, they are ter of three hundred priests and prophets, on occaequitable and moderate, and pursue nothing but sion of his suspicion about Ahimelech, and by the what is just; and bend their whole minds and la- additional wickedness of the overthrow of their bours that way; then it is that they have this be- city; and this as if he were endeavouring in some lief about God, that he is present to all the actions sort to render the tabernacle destitute both of of their lives, and that he does not only see the priests and prophets; which endeavour he showed actions that are done, but clearly knows those by slaying so many of them, and not suffering the thoughts, also, whence their actions arise. But very city belonging to them to remain, lest others when once they are advanced into power and au- might succeed them. thority, they put off all such notions; and, as if But Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, who alone they were no other than actors upon a theatre, could be saved out of the family of priests slain they lay aside their disguised parts and manners, by Saul, fled to David ; and informed him of the Eighty-five, Hebrew. Three hundred and five, Septuagint.
$ We have here an admirable reflection of Josephus's, con† Nob was not a city allotted to the priests; nor had the proph. cerning the general wickedness of men in great authority, and ets, that we know of, any particular cities allotted to them. It the danger they are in of rejecting that regard to justice and seems the tabernacle was now at Nob; and probably a school humanity; to divine providence and the fear of God, which they of the prophets was here also. It was full two days' journey on either really had, or pretended to have while they were in a foot from Jerusalem. The number of priests here slain, in lower condition. It can never be too often perused by kings Josephus, is 385, and but 85 in our Hebrew copies; yet are and great men; nor by those who expect to obtain such elevated they 305 in the Septuagint. I prefer Josephus's number; the dignities among mankind. See the like reflections of our JoHebrew having, I suppose, only dropped the hundreds, the sephus's, VII. i, at the end, and VIII. 10, at the beginning, other the tens. This city Nob seems to have been the chief, also XIII. 7, about the middle. They are to the like purport or perhaps the only seat of the family of Ithamar; which here with one branch of Agur's prayer: “One thing have I required perished, according to God's former terrible threatenings to Eli, of thee; deny me not before I die: give me not riches, lest I i Sam. ji. 27–36. iii. 11-18.
be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord ?” Prov. XXX. 81 Sam. xxii. 20.
7, 8, 9.
OF THE DEATH OF SAMUEL AND NABAL.
calamity that had befallen their family; and of him, and saluted him, and exhorted him to be of the slaughter of his father. David replied that he good courage, and to hope well as to his future conwas not unapprized of what would follow with re- dition, and not to despond at his present circumlation to them, when he saw Doeg there; for he stances; for that he should be king, and have all had then a suspicion that the high-priest would be the forces of the Hebrews under him ; but told falsely accused by him to the king ; and he blamed him, that such happiness uses to come with great himself as having been the cause of this misfor- labour and pains. They also took oaths, that tune. But he desired him to stay there, and abide they would all their lives long continue in goodwith him,* as in a place where he might be better will and fidelity one to another: and David called concealed than anywhere else.
God to witness, as to what execration he had
made upon himself, if he should transgress his CHAP. XIII.
covenant, and should change to a contrary be
haviour. So Jonathan left him there, having renOF DAVID'S GENEROSITY IN REPEATEDLY SPARING THE LIFE OF SAUL, WHEN OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED FOR HIS DESTRUCTION, AND dered his cares and fear somewhat lighter, and
returned home. Now the men of Ziph, to gratify About this time David heard that the Philis- Saul, informed him that David abode with them; tines had made an inroad into the country of and assured him that if he would come to them, Keilah,t and robbed it. So he offered himself to they would deliver him up; for that if the king fight against them, if God, when he should be con- would seize on the straits of Ziph, David could not sulted by the prophet, would grant him the vic- escape to any other people. So the king comtory. And when the prophet said, that God gave mended them, and confessed that he had reason the signal of victory, he made a sudden onset to thank them, because they had given him inupon the Philistines, with his companions; and he formation of his enemy: and he promised that it shed a great deal of blood, and carried off their should not be long ere he would requite their prey, and stayed with the inhabitants of Keilah till kindness. He also sent men to seek for David, they had securely gathered in their corn, and their and to search the wilderness wherein he was, fruit. However it was told Saul, that David was resolving to follow them in person. Accordingly with the men of Keilah; for what had been done, they went before the king, to search for David ; and the great success that had attended him, and used endeavours not only to show their goodwere not confined among the people where the will to Saul, by informing him where his enemy was, things were done; but the fame of it went all but to evince the same more plainly, by delivering abroad, and came to the hearing of others; and him up into his power. But a failure attended both the fact as it stood, and the author of the the unjust and wicked desires of these men, who, fact, were carried to the king's ears. Then was while they underwent no hazard by not discoverSaul glad when he heard that David was in ing such an ambition of revealing this to Saul, Keilah ; and he said, "God hath now put him into yet did they falsely accuse, and promise to demy hands, since he hath obliged him to come into liver up a man beloved of God, and one that was a city that hath walls, and gates, and bars.” So unjustly sought for to be put to death, and who he commanded all the people to set upon Keilah might otherwise have lain concealed; and this suddenly; and when they had besieged and taken | out of flattery and expectation of gain from the it, to kill David. But when David perceived this, king. For when David was apprized of the maligand learned of God that if he stayed there the nant intentions of the men of Ziph, and of the apmen of Keilah would deliver him up to Saul, he proach of Saul, he left the straits of that country, took his four hundred men, and retired into a and fled to the great rock that was in the wilderdesert, that was over a city called Engaddi. So ness of Maon. when the king heard he was fled away from the Hereupon Saul hastened to pursue him thither. men of Keilah, he left off his expedition against For as he was marching, he learned that David him.
was gone away from the straits of Ziph; and Saul Then David removed thence, and came to a removed to the other side of the rock. But the recertain place called the New Place, belonging to port that the Philistines had again made an incurZiph. Where Jonathan the son of Saul came to sion into the country of the Hebrews, called Saul another way; from the pursuit of David, when he to believe me, as to my regard to thee and to thy was ready to be caught; for he returned back house, and not to believe those who frame such acagain to oppose those Philistines, who were natu- cusations against me as never came into my mind; rally their enemies; as judging it more necessary nor are possible to be executed; and to this farther to avenge himself of them, than to continue the by pursuing after my life, and have no concern pursuit of a single enemy, and to overlook the either day or night, but how to murder me; which ravage that was made in the land.
1 Sam. xxii. 23.
† 1 Sam. xxiii. 1. et seq. of the Hebrew word : Bahadesa, in the new place, instead of that 11 Sam. xxiii. 13.
in our present Hebrew, Bahoresa, in the wood. Which was the The name of this place, Kusý, or the New Place, as it is original reading can hardly now be determined. Only two of both in the Septuagint and Josephus, 1 Sam. xxii. 15, is justly the best copies may well be preferred to one copy, which is not supposed by Dr. Hudson to have risen from a different reading li so good.
thing I think thou dost unjustly prosecute. For By this means David unexpectedly escaped out how is it, that thou hast embraced this false of the danger he was in, and came to the straits opinion, as if I had a desire to kill thee? or how of Engedi. And when Saul had driven the Philis- canst thou escape the crime of impiety towards tines out of the land, there came some messengers | God, when thou wishest thou couldst' kill, and wbo told him, that David abode within the bounds deemest thine adversary, a man, who had it in his of Engedi. So he took three thousand chosen men, power this day to avenge himself, and to punish that were armed, and hastened towards him. And thee, but would not do it, nor make use of such when he was not far from those places, he saw a an opportunity; which if it had fallen out to thee deep and hollow cave by the way-side. It was against me, thou hadst not let it slip? For when I open to a great length and breadth ; and there it cut off the skirt of thy garment, I could have done was that David, with his four hundred men, were the same to thy head.” So he showed him the concealed. Saul, having occasion to enter here piece of his garment, and thereby made him agree alone, was seen by one of David's companions, to what he said to be true: and added, “I cerand he that saw him said, that David had now, tainly have abstained from taking a just revenge by God's providence, an opportunity of avenging upon thee; yet art not thou ashamed to prosecute himself of his adversary, and advised him to cut me with unjust hatred. May God do justice, and off his head, and so deliver himself out of that determine about each of our dispositions.” Saul tedious wandering condition, and the distress he was amazed at the strange deliverance he had was in. David accordingly arose up, and cut off received ; and being greatly affected with the the skirt of Saul's garment; but he soon repented moderation and disposition of the young man, he of what he had done; and said it was not right groaned; and when David had done the same, 'to kill him that was his master, and one whom the king answered, “I have the justest occasion God had thought worthy of the kingdom.* For to groan; for thou hast been the author of good that, although he were wickedly disposed, yet was to me; as I have been the author of calamity to it not lawful to touch his life. But when Saul had thee. And thou hast demonstrated this day, that left the cave, David cried aloud, and desired Saul thou possessest the righteousness of the ancients,t to hear him. Hereupon the king turned his face, who determined, that men ought to save their and David, according to custom, prostrated him- enemies, though they caught them in a desert self before the king, and said, “O king! thou place. I am now persuaded, that God reserves oughtest not to hearken to wicked men, nor to the kingdom for thee; and that thou wilt obtain such as forge calumnies, nor gratify them so far the dominion over all the Hebrews. Give me then as to believe what they say, nor to entertain sus- assurances upon oath, that thou wilt not root out picions of such as are thy best friends; but to my family ; nor, out of remembrance of what evil judge of the disposition of all men by their actions. I have done thee, destroy my posterity ; but save For calumny deludes men; but their own actions and preserve my house." So David sware as he are a clear demonstration of their kindness. Words desired, and sent Saul back to his own kingdom. indeed, in their own nature, may be either true or But he, and those that were with him, went up to false; but actions expose intentions nakedly to our the straits of Masteroth. view. By these, therefore, it would be well for thee About this time Samuel the prophet died.|| He was a man whom the Hebrews honoured in taken of his affairs. This person was Nabal; a an extraordinary degree; for that lamentation harsh man, and of a very wicked life; being like a which the people made for him during a long cynic in the course of his behaviour; but still had time, manifested his virtue, and the affection obtained for his wife a woman of good character, which they bore him; as also did the solemnity wise, and handsome. To this Nabal, therefore, and concern that appeared about his funeral, and David sent ten of his attendants, at the time when about the complete observance of all his funeral he sheared his sheep; and by them saluted him, and rites. They buried him in his own city Ramah ;* also wished he might do what he now did, for many and wept for him a very great number of days; years to come; but desired him to make him a presnot looking on it as a sorrow for the death of ent of what he was able to give him; since he must another man, but as that in which they were in- have learned from his shepherds, that he had done dividually concerned. He was a righteous man, them no injury, but had been their guardians a long and gentle in his nature, and on that account he time, while he continued in the wilderness, and be was very dear to God. Now he governed and assured he should never repent of giving any thing presided over the people alone, after the death of to David. When the messengers had declared their Eli the high-priest,t twelve years; andt eighteen errand to Nabal, he accosted them after an inhuman years together with Saul the king, and thus we and rough manner; for he asked them who David have finished the history of Samuel.
* If it be asked, how David could do this without Saul's per- by a much greater noise which Saul's army, waiting for him at ceiving it? the answer might be, that this possibly might be the mouth of the cave, may be supposed to make. Poole's Ansome upper loose garments, which Saul might put off, and lay | notations. B. aside at some distance from him, upon this occasion; and that † Whence this determination of the ancients is derived, I as there were several rooms, or particular cells in these large cannot tell. caverns, which might have secret passages from one to another, $1 Sam. xxiv. 22.
§ An. 1098 B. C. Saul, at the mouth of one of these cells, might lay down his || The Jews are of opinion that Samuel died only four months upper garment, which David perceiving, and knowing all the before Saul; but by the generality of Christian chronologers, he passages of the place, might go some secret way, and cut off is supposed to have died about two years before the death of that some small part of it. Nor could the noise which David's motion prince, and in the ninety-eighth year of his age, twenty of which made be well heard by Saul, because it must have been drowned | had been spent in the government of Israel, (though Sir John
was? And when he heard that he was the son of There was a man that was a Ziphite, of the city Jesse, “ Now is the time,” said he, “that fugitives Mahon; who was rich, and had a vast number grow insolent, and make a figure, and leave their of cattle ; for he had a flock of three thousand masters.” When they told David this, he was wroth; sheep, and another of a thousand goats. Now and commanded four hundred armed men to follow David had charged his associates to preserve these him, and left two hundred to take care of the stuff, flocks from damage, and to do them no mischief; (for he had already six hundred,) and went against neither out of covetousness, nor because they were Nabal: he also swore that he would utterly destroy in want, nor because they were in the wilderness, the whole house and possessions of Nabal, for that and so could not easily be discovered; but to esteem he was grieved, not only that he had proved ungratefreedom from injustice above all other motives; and ful, without making any return for the humanity he to look upon the touching of what belonged to an- had shown him; but that he had also reproached other man as a horrible crime, and contrary to the them, and used ill language, when he had received will of God. Such were the instructions he gave; no cause of disgust. thinking that the favours he granted this man were Hereupon, one of those that kept the flocks of bestowed on one that deserved to have such care Nabal, said to his mistress, “ that when David sent
Marsham will have it no more than sixteen,) before Saul's in- ing him in the first book of Chronicles: as, That he enriched auguration, after which he lived about eighteen. He was at the tabernacle with several spoils which he took from the enefirst interred at Ramah; but in the time of the emperor Arca- mies of Israel during his administration, chap. xxvi. 28. That dius, his body was transported from Palestine to Constantinople, he assisted in regulating the distribution of the Levites, which and (as St. Jerom informs us) received both by the clergy and David afterwards prescribed for the service of the temple, chap. laity with a joy unspeakable, and honours almost infinite. He ix. 22. And, lastly, That he wrote the history of David, in conwas indeed, while he lived, an excellent governor, and through junction with the prophets Nathan and Gad: but as he was dead his whole administration, above vanity, corruption, or any pri- before David came to the throne, this can be meant only of the vate views. Those that attend to his life may observe, that he beginning of that history, which the other two prophets was modest without meanness, mild without weakness, firm might be continued and concluded. There is great probability. without obstinacy, and severe without harshness; or as the indeed, that he composed the twenty-four first chapters of the author of Ecclesiasticus has recorded his actions, and conse- first book of Samuel, which contain the beginning of David's crated this eulogy, to his memory: “Samuel, the prophet of the life, and several historical facts wherein he himself had a large Lord,” says he, “beloved of the Lord, established a kingdom, share; but as for the latter part of it, it was impossible for him and anointed princes over his people. By the law of the Lord he to write it, because, in the beginning of the 25th chapter, there judged the congregation, and the Lord had respect unto Jacob. is no mention made of his death. B. By his faithfulness he was found a true prophet, and by his * 1 Sam. xxv. 1. word he was known to be faithful in vision. He called upon the † From An. 1128 to 1116. mighty God when his enemies pressed upon him on every side, | From An. 1116 to 1098. when he offered the sucking lamb; and the Lord thundered The number of men that came first to David are distinctly from heaven, and with a great noise made his voice to be heard. in Josephus, and in our common copies, but 400. When he was He destroyed the rulers of the Syrians, and all the princes of at Keilah still but 400, both in Josephus and the Septuagint; the Philistines. Before his long sleep, he made protestations but 600 in our Hebrew copies. 1 Sam. xxiii. 13. See xxx. 3, in the sight of the Lord, and his anointed, and after his death 10. Now the 600 there mentioned, are here intimated by Johe prophesied and showed the king his end." Eccles. xlvi. 13, | sephus to have been so many, only by an augmentation of 200 &c. But besides the things that are recorded of this prophet in afterward; which I suppose is the true solution of this seeming the first book of Samuel, there are some other passages concern. disagreement.
to her husband, he had received no civil answer, but hast thou prevented me, and seasonably mollified on the contrary, very reproachful language; while my anger; as being thyself under the care of God's yet David had taken extraordinary care to keep his providence. But as for Nabal; although, for thy Hocks from harm; and what had passed would prove sake, he now escape punishment, he will not always very pernicious to his master.” When the servant avoid justice for his evil conduct, which, on some had said this, Abigail, (for that was the wife's name,) other occasion, will be ruin.” saddled her asses, and loaded them with all sorts of When David had said this, he dismissed the presents; and without telling her husband any thing woman. And when she came home, and found her of what she was about, for he was not sensible on husband feasting with a great company, and opaccount of his drunkenness, she went to David. She pressed with wine, she said nothing to him about was then met by David, as she was descending a what had happened; but on the next day, when he hill, for he was coming against Nabal with the four was sober, she told him all the particulars, and made hundred men. When the woman saw him, she leaped his whole body to appear like that of a dead man, by from her ass, and fell on her face, and bowed down her words; and by that grief which arose from them. to the ground; and entreated him not to bear in So Nabal survived only ten days, and then died. mind the words of Nabal; since he knew that he | And when David heard of his death, he said that resembled his name: now Nabal, in the Hebrew God had justly avenged him of this man; for that tongue, signifies Folly. So she apologized by say- Nabal died by his own wickedness, and had suffered ing, that she did not see the messengers whom he punishment on his account; while he had kept bis sent. “Forgive me, therefore,” said she, “and thank own hand clean. At which time he understood, that God who hath hindered thee from shedding human the wicked are persecuted by God; that he does blood. For so long as thou keepest thyself* inno- not overlook any man, but bestows on the good cent, he will avenge thee of wicked men. For those what is suitable to them, and inflicts a deserved miseries which await Nabal, will fall upon the heads punishment on the wicked. So he sent to Nabals of thine enemies. Be thou gracious to me, and wife, and invited her to come to him, to live with think me so far worthy as to accept these presents ; him, and to be his wife. Whereupon she replied to and out of regard to me remit that wrath and anger those that came, that she was not worthy to touch which thou hast against my husband, and his house. his feet. However, she came with all her servants, For mildness and humanity become thee; especially and became his wife; having received that honour as thou art to be our king.” Accordingly, David on account of her wise and righteous course of life, accepted her presents, and said, “O woman! it was and also partly on account of her beauty. Now no other than God's mercy which brought thee to David had a wife before, whom he married from the us to-day. For otherwise thou hadst never seen city Abesar. For as to Michal, the daughter of another day; I havingt sworn to destroy Nabal's king Saul, who had been David's wife, her father house this very night, and to leave alive not one of had given her in marriage to Phalti, the son of you who belonged to a man that was wicked, and Laish, who was of the city Gallim.! ungrateful to me and my companions. But now After this came certain of the Ziphites, and told
* Here we may perceive how Josephus, nay, how Abigail | always be done, when the Scripture affirms something of another herself, would understand, the not avenging ourselves, but heap- that is not absolutely of the same nature. We may observe, ing coals of fire on the head of the injurious: Prov. xxv. 21, however, that this manner of expression is very common among 22. Rom. xii. 20: not as we commonly do now, of melting profane authors. Thus Ovid brings in Ariadne expressing her them into kindness; but of leaving them to the judgment of grief and astonishment at the loss of Theseus, who had left her God; to whom vengeance belongeth: Deut. xxxii. 35. Ps. xciv. in the island Dia: 1. Heb. x. 30: and who will take vengeance on the wicked.
Aut mare prospiciens in saxo frigida sedi. And since all God's judgments are just, and all fit to be exe.
Quamque lapis seges, tam lapis ipsa fui. cuted; and all, at length, for good of the persons punished, I The like expression is used of Hecuba, when she saw the dead incline to think that to be the meaning of this phrase, of heap. body of her son Polydorus : ing coals of fire on their heads. So also, as it seems to me, do the Apostolical Constitutions understand it, I. 2.
duroque simillima saro † We may note here, that how sacred soever an oath was
Torpet esteemed among the people of God in old times, as I have fully But in the case of Niobe, who is said to be turned into a statue shown in my Scripture Politics, p. 54–65, they did not think of stone, Cicero, in his Tusculan Questions, observes, that this it obligatory where the action was plainly, unlawful. For so we fable only represents her perpetual silence in mourning: and see it was in this case of David; who, although he had sworn accordingly Josephus tells us of Nabal, that when his wife told to destroy Nabal and his family, yet does he here, and 1 Sam. him of the danger he had escaped, he was struck with such an xxv. 32, 33, 34, bless God for preventing his keeping this oath, astonishment, that he fell into a dead numbness all over his and from shedding of blood as he had sworn to do.
body, of which he soon died. Le Clerc's Comment, and Dis. $ The words in the original are, “ He became a stone;" but De statua salis. B. our translation has wisely supplied the particle as, which should § 1 Sam. xxv. 38.
U 1 Sam. xxv. 44.