Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
1Sa 18:1-4. Jonathan Loves David.
1. the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David—They were nearly of an age. The prince had taken little interest in David as a minstrel; but his heroism and modest, manly bearing, his piety and high endowments, kindled the flame not of admiration only, but of affection, in the congenial mind of Jonathan.
And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
2. Saul would let him go no more home—He was established as a permanent resident at court.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
3. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant—Such covenants of brotherhood are frequent in the East. They are ratified by certain ceremonies, and in presence of witnesses, that the persons covenanting will be sworn brothers for life.
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.
4. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David—To receive any part of the dress which had been worn by a sovereign, or his eldest son and heir, is deemed, in the East, the highest honor which can be conferred on a subject (see on Es 6:8). The girdle, being connected with the sword and the bow, may be considered as being part of the military dress, and great value is attached to it in the East.
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.
1Sa 18:5-9. Saul Envies His Praise.
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.
6. the women came out of all cities of Israel—in the homeward march from the pursuit of the Philistines. This is a characteristic trait of Oriental manners. On the return of friends long absent, and particularly on the return of a victorious army, bands of women and children issue from the towns and villages, to form a triumphal procession, to celebrate the victory, and, as they go along, to gratify the soldiers with dancing, instrumental music, and extempore songs, in honor of the generals who have earned the highest distinction by feats of gallantry. The Hebrew women, therefore, were merely paying the customary gratulations to David as the deliverer of their country, but they committed a great indiscretion by praising a subject at the expense of their sovereign.
And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
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?
And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
9. Saul eyed David—that is, invidiously, with secret and malignant hatred.
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.
1Sa 18:10-12. Seeks to Kill Him.
10. on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul—This rankling thought brought on a sudden paroxysm of his mental malady.
he prophesied—The term denotes one under the influence either of a good or a bad spirit. In the present it is used to express that Saul was in a frenzy. David, perceiving the symptoms, hastened, by the soothing strains of his harp, to allay the stormy agitation of the royal mind. But before its mollifying influence could be felt, Saul hurled a javelin at the head of the young musician.
there was a javelin in Saul's hand—Had it been followed by a fatal result, the deed would have been considered the act of an irresponsible maniac. It was repeated more than once ineffectually, and Saul became impressed with a dread of David as under the special protection of Providence.
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.
And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.
Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
1Sa 18:13-16. Fears Him for His Good Success.
13. Therefore Saul removed him from him—sent him away from the court, where the principal persons, including his own son, were spellbound with admiration of the young and pious warrior.
made him captain over a thousand—gave him a military commission, which was intended to be an honorable exile. But this post of duty served only to draw out before the public the extraordinary and varied qualities of his character, and to give him a stronger hold of the people's affections.
And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.
Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
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.
1Sa 18:17-21. He Offers Him His Daughter for a Snare.
17. Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife—Though bound to this already [1Sa 17:25], he had found it convenient to forget his former promise. He now holds it out as a new offer, which would tempt David to give additional proofs of his valor. But the fickle and perfidious monarch broke his pledge at the time when the marriage was on the eve of being celebrated, and bestowed Merab on another man (see on 2Sa 21:8); an indignity as well as a wrong, which was calculated deeply to wound the feelings and provoke the resentment of David. Perhaps it was intended to do so, that advantage might be taken of his indiscretion. But David was preserved from this snare.
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?
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.
And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.
20. Michal Saul's daughter loved David—This must have happened some time after.
they told Saul, and the thing pleased him—Not from any favor to David, but he saw that it would be turned to the advancement of his malicious purposes, and the more so when, by the artful intrigues and flattery of his spies, the loyal sentiments of David were discovered.
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.
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.
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?
And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David.
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.
25. The king desireth not any dowry—In Eastern countries the husband purchases his wife either by gifts or services. As neither David nor his family were in circumstances to give a suitable dowry for a princess, the king intimated that he would be graciously pleased to accept some gallant deed in the public service.
a hundred foreskins of the Philistines—Such mutilations on the bodies of their slain enemies were commonly practised in ancient war, and the number told indicated the glory of the victory. Saul's willingness to accept a public service had an air of liberality, while his choice of so difficult and hazardous a service seemed only putting a proper value on gaining the hand of a king's daughter. But he covered unprincipled malice against David under this proposal, which exhibited a zeal for God and the covenant of circumcision.
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.
26. the days were not expired—The period within which this exploit was to be achieved was not exhausted.
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.
27. David … slew of the Philistines two hundred men—The number was doubled, partly to show his respect and attachment to the princess, and partly to oblige Saul to the fulfilment of his pledge.
And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him.
And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually.
29. Saul was yet the more afraid of David—because Providence had visibly favored him, by not only defeating the conspiracy against his life, but through his royal alliance paving his way to the throne.
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.