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PDF Matthew Henrys Commentary on the Whole Bible-Book of 2nd Samuel

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Tidings brought to David of the death of Saul. Read 2 Samuel 1: The blow which opened David's way to the throne was given about the time he had been sorely distressed. Those who commit their concerns to the Lord, will quietly abide his will. It shows that he desired not Saul's death, and he was not impatient to come to the throne. David was sincere in his mourning for Saul; and all with him humbled themselves under the hand of God, laid so heavily upon Israel by this defeat.

The man who brought the tidings, David put to death, as a murderer of his prince. David herein did not do unjustly; the Amalekite confessed the crime. If he did as he said, he deserved to die for treason; and his lying to David, if indeed it were a lie, proved, as sooner or later that sin will prove, lying against himself. Understanding that he was an Amalekite neither one of his subjects nor one of his enemies , he begs this favour from him v. Stand upon me, and slay me. He is now sick of his dignity and willing to be trampled upon, sick of his life and willing to be slain.

2 Samuel - Matthew Henry's Commentary - Bible Gateway

Who then would be inordinately fond of life or honour? The case may be such, even with those that have no hope in their death, that yet they may desire to die, and death flee from them, Rev. Anguish has come upon me; so we read it, as a complaint of the pain and terror his spirit was seized with. If his conscience now brought to mind the javelin he had cast at David, his pride, malice, and perfidiousness, and especially the murder of the priests, no marvel that anguish came upon him: Sense of unpardoned guilt will make death indeed the king of terrors.

Those that have baffled their convictions will perhaps, in their dying moments, be overpowered by them. The margin reads it as a complaint of the inconvenience of his clothes; that his coat of mail which he had for defence, or his embroidered coat which he had for ornament, hindered him, that he could not get the spear far enough into his body, or so straitened him, now that his body swelled with anguish, that he could not expire. It is doubtful whether this story be true.

But most interpreters think that it was false, and that, though he might happen to be present, yet he was not assisting in the death of Saul, but told David so in expectation that he would reward him for it, as having done him a piece of good service. Those who would rejoice at the fall of an enemy are apt to measure others by themselves, and to think that they will do so too. What is there called a sword may here be called a spear, or when he fell upon his sword he leaned on his spear.

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However he produced that which was proof sufficient of the death of Saul, the crown that was upon his head and the bracelet that was on his arm. It should seem Saul was so foolishly fond of these as to wear them in the field of battle, which made him a fair mark for the archers, by distinguishing him from those about him; but as pride we say feels no cold, so it fears no danger, from that which gratifies it. These fell into the hands of this Amalekite.

Saul spared the best of their spoil, and now the best of his came to one of that devoted nation.


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He brought them to David, as the rightful owner of them now that Saul was dead, not doubting but by his officiousness herein to recommend himself to the best preferments in his court or camp. But this is a groundless conceit. David had been long waiting for the crown, and now it was brought to him by an Amalekite. See how God can serve his own purposes of kindness to his people, even by designing ill-designing men, who aim at nothing but to set up themselves.

So far was he from falling into a transport of joy, as the Amalekite expected, that he fell into a passion of weeping, rent his clothes v. This he did, not only as a man of honour, in observance of that decorum which forbids us to insult over those that are fallen, and requires us to attend our relations to the grave with respect, whatever we lost by their life or got by their death, but as a good man and a man of conscience, that had forgiven the injuries Saul had done him and bore him no malice. He knew it, before his son wrote it Prov.

He was very sincere, no question, in his mourning for Saul, and it was not pretended, or a copy of his countenance only.


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  6. His passion was so strong, on this occasion, that it moved those about him; all that were with him, at least in complaisance to him, rent their clothes, and they fasted till even, in token of their sorrow; and probably it was a religious fast: The reward he gave to him that brought him the tidings.

    Instead of preferring him, he put him to death, judged him out of his own mouth, as a murderer of his prince, and ordered him to be forthwith executed for the same. What a surprise was this to the messenger, who thought he should have favour shown him for his pains. David herein did not do unjustly. The man was an Amalekite. This, lest he should have mistaken it in his narrative, he made him own a second time, v. That nation, and all that belonged to it, were doomed to destruction, so that, in slaying him, David did what his predecessor should have done and was rejected for not doing.

    He did himself confess the crime, so that the evidence was, by the consent of all laws, sufficient to convict him; for every man is presumed to make the best of himself. If he did as he said, he deserved to die for treason v. And his lying to David, if indeed it was a lie, was highly criminal, and proved, as sooner or later that sin will prove, lying against his own head. He did honourably and well. Hereby he demonstrated the sincerity of his grief, discouraged all others from thinking by doing the like to ingratiate themselves with him, and did that which might probably oblige the house of Saul and win upon them, and recommend him to the people as one that was zealous for public justice, without regard to his own private interest.

    We may learn from it that to give assistance to any in murdering themselves, directly or indirectly, if done wittingly, incurs the guilt of blood, and that the lives of princes ought to be, in a special manner, precious to us.

    Frequently bought together

    Verses When David had rent his clothes, mourned, and wept, and fasted, for the death of Saul, and done justice upon him who made himself guilty of it, one would think he had made full payment of the debt of honour he owed to his memory; yet this is not all: By this elegy he designed both to express his own sorrow for this great calamity and to impress the like on the minds of others, who ought to lay it to heart.

    The putting of lamentations into poems made them, 1. The more moving and affecting. The passion of the poet, or singer, is, by this way, wonderfully communicated to the readers and hearers. Thus they were made, not only to spread far, but to continue long, from generation to generation.

    2 Samuel 2

    Those might gain information by poems that would not read history. The orders David gave with this elegy v. He bade them teach the children of Judah his own tribe, whatever others did the use of the bow, either. The bow used in war. Not but that the children of Judah knew how to use the bow it was so commonly used in war, long before this, that the sword and bow were put for all weapons of war, Gen. It was a pity but those that had such good heads and hearts as the children of Judah should be well armed.

    David hereby showed his authority over and concern for the armies of Israel, and set himself to rectify the errors of the former reign. But we find that the companies which had now come to David to Ziklag were armed with bows 1 Chr. Some understand it either of some musical instrument called a bow to which he would have the mournful ditties sung or of the elegy itself: Moses commanded Israel to learn his song Deu. Probably he bade the Levites teach them.

    It is written in the book of Jasher, there it was kept upon record, and thence transcribed into this history. That book was probably a collection of state-poems; what is said to be written in that book Jos.

    2 Samuel 2

    Even songs would be forgotten and lost if they were not committed to writing, that best conservatory of knowledge. It is not a divine hymn, nor given by inspiration of God to be used in divine service, nor is there any mention of God in it; but it is a human composition, and therefore was inserted, not in the book of Psalms which, being of divine original, is preserved , but in the book of Jasher, which, being only a collection of common poems, is long since lost.

    This elegy proves David to have been,1. A man of an excellent spirit, in four things: He was very generous to Saul, his sworn enemy. Saul was his father-in-law, his sovereign, and the anointed of the Lord; and therefore, though he had done him a great deal of wrong, David does not wreak his revenge upon his memory when he is in his grave; but like a good man, and a man of honour, [1.

    Charity teaches us to make the best we can of every body and to say nothing of those of whom we can say no good, especially when they are gone. We ought to deny ourselves the satisfaction of making personal reflections upon those who have been injurious to us, much more drawing their character thence, as if every man must of necessity be a bad man that has done ill by us. He does not commend him for that which he was not, says nothing of his piety or fidelity. Those funeral commendations which are gathered out of the spoils of truth are not at all to the praise of those on whom they are bestowed, but very much the dispraise of those who unjustly misplace them.

    2nd Samuel chapters 1, 2 & 3 Bible Study

    But he has this to say in honour of Saul himself, First, That he was anointed with oil v. Whatever he was otherwise, the crown of the anointing oil of his God was upon him, as is said of the high priest Lev.