Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Then they told David--rather, "now they had told"; for this
information had reached him previous to his hearing
of the Nob tragedy.
Keilah--a city in the west of Judah
not far from the forest of Hareth.
and they rob the threshing-floors--These were commonly situated on
the fields and were open to the wind
2-5. David inquired of the Lord--most probably through Gad
who was present in David's camp
probably by the recommendation of Samuel. To repel unprovoked assaults
on unoffending people who were engaged in their harvest operations, was
a humane and benevolent service. But it was doubtful how far it was
David's duty to go against a public enemy without the royal commission;
and on that account he asked, and obtained, the divine counsel. A demur
on the part of his men led David to renew the consultation for their
satisfaction; after which, being fully assured of his duty, he
encountered the aggressors and, by a signal victory, delivered the
people of Keilah from further molestation.
6. an ephod--in which was the Urim and Thummim
It had, probably, been committed to his care, while Ahimelech and the
other priests repaired to Gibeah, in obedience to the summons of
TREACHERY OF THE
7. it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah--Saul imagined
himself now certain of his victim, who would be hemmed within a
fortified town. The wish was father to the thought. How wonderfully
slow and unwilling to be convinced by all his experience, that the
special protection of Providence shielded David from all his snares!
8. Saul called all the people together to war--not the united tribes
of Israel, but the inhabitants of the adjoining districts. This force
was raised, probably, on the ostensible pretext of opposing the
Philistines, while, in reality, it was secretly to arouse mischief
9. he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod--The
consultation was made, and the prayer uttered, by means of the priest.
The alternative conditions here described have often been referred to
as illustrating the doctrine of God's foreknowledge and preordination
14, 15. David abode in the wilderness . . . of Ziph--A mountainous and
sequestered region was generally called a wilderness, and took its name
from some large town in the district. Two miles southeast of Hebron,
and in the midst of a level plain, is Tell-ziph, an isolated and
conical hillock, about a hundred feet high, probably the acropolis
VELDE], or the ruins
[ROBINSON] of the ancient city of Ziph,
from which the surrounding wilderness was called. It seems, anciently,
to have been covered by an extensive woods. The country has for
centuries lost its woods and forests, owing to the devastations caused
16, 17. Jonathan went to David into the wood, and strengthened his
hand in God--by the recollection of their mutual covenant. What a
victory over natural feelings and lower considerations must the faith
of Jonathan have won, before he could seek such an interview and give
utterance to such sentiments! To talk with calm and assured confidence
of himself and family being superseded by the man who was his friend by
the bonds of a holy and solemn covenant, could only have been done by
one who, superior to all views of worldly policy, looked at the course
of things in the spirit and through the principles of that theocracy
which acknowledged God as the only and supreme Sovereign of Israel.
Neither history nor fiction depicts the movements of a friendship
purer, nobler, and more self-denying than Jonathan's!
19-23. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not
David hide himself with us?--From the tell of Ziph a panorama of the
whole surrounding district is to be seen. No wonder, then, that the
Ziphites saw David and his men passing to and fro in the mountains of
the wilderness. Spying him at a distance when he ventured to show
himself on the hill of Hachilah, "on the right hand of the wilderness,"
that is, the south side of Ziph, they sent in haste to Saul, to tell
him of the lurking place of his enemy
25. David . . . came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of
Maon--Tell Main, the hillock on which was situated the ancient Maon
and from which the adjoining wilderness took its name, is one mile
north, ten east from Carmel. The mountain plateau seems here to end. It
is true the summit ridge of the southern hills runs out a long way
further towards the southwest; but towards the southeast the ground
sinks more and more down to a tableland of a lower level, which is
called "the plain to the right hand [that is, to the south] of the
wilderness" [VAN DE VELDE].
29. David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at
En-gedi--that is, "the spring of the wild goats or gazelles"--a name
given to it from the vast number of ibexes or Syrian chamois which
inhabit these cliffs on the western shore of the Dead Sea
It is now called Ain Jiddy. On all sides the country is full of
caverns, which might then serve as lurking places for David and his
men, as they do for outlaws at the present day [ROBINSON].