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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 2 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Men and brethren. This passage of the Psalms Peter now proves could not relate to David, but must have reference to the Messiah. He begins his argument in a respectful manner, addressing them as his brethren, though they had just charged him and the others with intoxication. Christians should use the usual respectful forms of salutation, whatever contempt and reproaches they may meet with from opposers.

Let me freely speak. That is, "It is lawful or proper to speak with boldness, or openly, respecting David." Though he was eminently a pious man; though venerated by us all as a king; yet it is proper to say of him, that he is dead, and has returned to corruption. This was a delicate way of expressing high respect for the monarch whom they all honoured; and yet evincing boldness in examining a passage of Scripture which probably many supposed to have reference solely to him.

Of the patriarch David. The word patriarch properly means the head or ruler of a family; and then the founder of a family, or an illustrious ancestor. It was commonly applied to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, etc., by way of eminence; the illustrious founders of the Jewish nation, Heb 7:4; Ac 7:8,9.

It was also applied to the heads of the families, or the chief men of the tribes of Israel, 1 Ch 24:31; 2 Ch 19:8, etc. It was thus a title of honour, denoting high respect. Applied to David, it means that he was the illustrious head or founder of the royal family, and implies Peter's intention not to say anything disrespectful of such a king; at the same time, that he freely canvassed a passage of Scripture which had been supposed to refer to him.

Dead and buried. The record of that fact they had in the Old Testament. There had been no pretence that he had risen, and therefore the Psalm could not apply to him.

His sepulchre is with us. Is in the city of Jerusalem. Sepulchres were commonly situated without the walls of cities and the limits of villages. The custom of burying in towns was not commonly practised. This was true of other ancient nations as well as the Hebrews, and is still in eastern countries, except in the case of kings and very distinguished men, whose ashes are permitted to repose within the walls of a city. 1 Sa 28:3, "Samuel was dead—and Israel buried him in Ramah, even in his own city." 2 Ki 21:18, "Manasseh was buried in the garden of his own house." 2 Ch 16:14. Asa was buried in the city of David. 2 Ki 14:20. The sepulchres of the Hebrew kings were on Mount Zion, 2 Ch 21:20; 24:25; 28:27; 32:33; 24:16; 2 Ki 14:20.

David was buried in the city of David, (1 Ki 2:10,) with his fathers, that is, on mount Zion, where he built a city called after his name, 2 Sa 5:7. Of what form the tombs of the kings were made is not certainly known. It is almost certain, however, that they would be constructed in a magnificent manner. The tombs were commonly excavations from rocks, or natural caves; and sepulchres cut out of the solid rock, of vast extent, are known to have existed. The following account of the tomb called "the sepulchre of the kings" is abridged from Maundrell: "The approach is through an entrance cut out of a solid rock, which admits you into an open court about forty paces square, cut down into the rock. On the south side is a portico nine paces long and four broad, hewn likewise out of the solid rock. At the end of the portico is the descent to the sepulchres. The descent is into a room about seven or eight yards square, cut out of the natural rock. From this room there are passages into six more, all of the same fabric with the first. In every one of these rooms, except the first, were coffins placed in niches in the sides of the chamber," etc. (Maundrell's Travels, p. 76.) If the tombs of the kings were of this form, it is clear that they were works of great labour and expense. Probably also there were, as there are now, costly and splendid monuments erected to the memory of the mighty dead.

Unto this day. That the sepulchre of David was well known and honoured, is clear from Josephus. Antiq., b. vii., c. xv., 3. "He (David) was buried by his son Solomon in Jerusalem with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomps with which kings used to be buried. Moreover, he had immense wealth buried with him: for a thousand and three hundred years afterwards, Hyrcanus, the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, and was desirous of giving him money to raise the siege, opened one room of David's sepulchre, and took out three thousand talents. Herod, many years afterward, opened another room, and took away a great deal of money," etc. See also Antiq., b. xiii., c. viii., § 4. The tomb of a monarch like David would be well known and had in reverence. Peter might, then, confidently appeal to their own belief and knowledge, that David had not been raised from the dead. No Jew believed or supposed it. All, by their care of his sepulchre, and by the honour with which they regarded his grave, believed that he had returned to corruption. The Psalm, therefore, could not apply to him.

{1} "let me speak freely" or, "I may"

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