Some account of Rechab and Baanah, two of Ish-bosheth's captains, and of Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, 1-4. Rechab and Baanah murder Ish-bosheth, and escape; and bring his head to David, 5-8. David is greatly irritated, and commands them to be slain, 9-12.
Notes on Chapter 4
All the Israelites were troubled
Abner was their great support; and on him they depended; for it appears that Ish-bosheth was a feeble prince, and had few of those qualities requisite for a sovereign.
Captains of bands
Principes latronum, captains of banditti, says the Vulgate; the Syriac is the same. Whether Ish-bosheth kept bands of marauders, whose business it was to make sudden incursions into the country places, and carry off grain, provisions, cattle, but such persons would be well qualified for the bloody work in which these two men were afterwards employed.
The Beerothites fled to Gittaim
Probably the same as Gath; as Ramathaim is the same as Ramah.
He fell, and became lame
Dislocated his ankle, knee, or thigh; which was never after reduced; and thus he became lame. Lovely Jonathan! unfortunate in thy life, and in thy progeny.
Lay on a bed at noon.
It is a custom in all hot countries to travel or work very early and very late, and rest at noonday, in which the heat chiefly prevails.
As though they would have fetched wheat
The king's stores were probably near his own dwelling; and these men were accustomed to go thither for provisions for themselves, their cattle, and their men. This supposition which is natural, renders unnecessary all the emendations of Houbigant and others.
As these men were accustomed to bring wheat from these stores, from which it appears there was an easy passage to the king's chamber, (especially if we consider this a summer-house, as it most probably was,) no man would suspect their present errand, as they were in the habit of going frequently to that place.
They brought the head-unto David
They thought, as did the poor lying Amalekite, to ingratiate themselves with David by this abominable act.
Who hath redeemed my soul out of all adversity
This was, in David's case, a very proper view of the goodness and watchful providence of God towards him. His life was frequently in danger; murderers had often laid wait for it: but God, the living God, had always redeemed that life from all adversity; and called on him now to punish such evil-minded and blood-thirsty men.
A reward for his tidings
ωεδειμεδουναιευαγγελια, Septuagint. Here is a proof that ευαγγελιον, evangelium or gospel, signifies the reward which the bringer of good tidings is entitled to receive. See my preface to St. Matthew's Gospel. See Clarke on Matthew 1:1.
How much more
Here are several things which aggravated the guilt of those wicked men. 1. Ish-bosheth was an innocent man, and therefore none could have any ground of quarrel against him. 2. He was in his own house, which was his sanctuary, and none but the worst of men would disturb him there. 3. He was upon his bed, resting in the heat of the day, and so free from suspicion that he was not even attended by his guards, nor had he his doors secured. To take away the life of such a man, in such circumstances, whom also they professed to hold as their sovereign, was the most abandoned treachery.
And they slew them
None ever more richly deserved death; and by this act of justice, David showed to all Israel that he was a decided enemy to the destruction of Saul's family; and that none could lift up their hands against any of them without meeting with condign punishment. In all these cases I know not that it was possible for David to show more sincerity, or a stricter regard for justice.