2 Samuel 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 2 Samuel 1)

Verse 1

[1] Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;

Ziklag — Which though burnt, yet was not so consumed by the fire, that David and his men could not lodge in it.

Verse 2

[2] It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.

Third day — From David's return to Ziklag.

With his clothes rent, … — As a mourner.

Verse 18

[18] (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher. #1#

Judah — These he more particularly teacheth, because they were the chief, and now the royal tribe, and likely to be the great bulwark to all Israel against the Philistines, upon whose land they bordered; and withal, to be the most true to him, and to his interest.

The bow — That is, of their arms, expressed, under the name of the bow, which then was one of the chief weapons; and for the dextrous use whereof Jonathan is commended in the following song: which may be one reason, why he now gives forth this order, that so they might strive to imitate Jonathan in military skill, and to excel in it, as he did.

Jasher — It is more largely and particularly described in the book of Jasher.

Verse 19

[19] The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!

Beauty — Their flower and glory. Saul and Jonathan, and their army.

High places — Heb. upon thy high places; that is, those which belong to thee, O land of Israel.

How — How strangely! How suddenly! How universally!

Verse 20

[20] Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

Tell it not — This is not a precept, but a poetical wish; whereby he doth not so much desire, that this might not be done, which he knew to be impossible; as, express his great sorrow, because it would be done, to the dishonour of God, and of his people.

The daughters — He mentions these, because it was the custom of women in those times and places to celebrate those victories which their men obtained, with triumphant songs and dances.

Verse 21

[21] Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

Let there be, … — This is no proper imprecation; but a passionate representation of the horror which he conceived at this publick loss; which was such, as if he thought every person or thing which contributed to it, were fit to bear the tokens of divine displeasure, such as this is, when the earth wants the necessary influences of dew and rain.

Fields of offerings — That is, fruitful fields, which may produce fair and goodly fruits fit to be offered to God.

Vilely — Dishonourably: for it was a great reproach to any soldier, to cast away or lose his shield.

Cast away — By themselves, that they might flee more swiftly as the Israelites did, and Saul with the rest.

As though, … — As if he had been no more, than a common soldier: he was exposed to the same kind of death and reproach as they were.

Verse 22

[22] From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.

Not back — Without effect: their arrows shot from their bow, and their swords did seldom miss, and commonly pierced fat, and flesh, and blood, and reached even to the heart and bowels.

Returned not, … — But filled and glutted with blood: for the sword is metaphorically said to have a mouth, which we translate an edge; and to devour. And this their former successfulness is mentioned as an aggravation of their last infelicity.

Verse 23

[23] Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant #1# in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

Lovely — Amiable, and obliging in their carriage and conversation, both towards one another, and towards their people: for, as for Saul's fierce behaviour towards Jonathan, it was only a sudden passion, by which his ordinary temper was not to be measured; and for his carriage towards David, that was from that jealousy and reason of state which usually engageth even well-natured princes, to the same hostilities. But it is observable, that David speaks not a word here of his piety; but only commends him for those things which were truly in him. A fit pattern for all preachers in their funeral commendations.

Swifter, … — Expeditious in pursuing their enemies, and executing their designs; which is a great commendation in a prince, and in a soldier.

Stronger, … — In regard of their bodily strength, and the courage of their mind.

Verse 24

[24] Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

Daughters — These he mentions; because the women then used to make songs both of triumph, and of lamentation, and, because they usually are most delighted with the ornaments of the body here following.

Clothed you — This he did, because he procured them so much peace as gave them opportunity of enriching themselves: and, because he took these things as spoils from the enemies, and clothed his own people with them.

Verse 25

[25] How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.

Thine — Which were in thy country, and (had not thy father disinherited thee by his sins) in thy dominions.

Verse 26

[26] I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

Distressed — That is, for the loss of thee. For, besides the loss of a true friend, which is inestimable; he lost him who both could, and undoubtedly would have given him a speedy, and quiet, and sure possession of the kingdom, whereas now, he met with long and troublesome interruptions.

Of women — That is, that love wherewith they love their husbands, or children for their affections are usually more ardent than mens.