Achish's Confidence in David.
1. The Philistines gathered their armies together
for warfare, to fight with Israel—The death of Samuel, the
general dissatisfaction with Saul, and the absence of David, instigated
the cupidity of those restless enemies of Israel.
Achish said to David, Know thou assuredly, that
thou shalt go out with me to battle—This was evidently to try
him. Achish, however, seems to have thought he had gained the
confidence of David and had a claim on his services.
2. Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can
do—This answer, while it seemed to express an apparent
cheerfulness in agreeing to the proposal, contained a studied
ambiguity—a wary and politic generality.
Therefore will I make thee keeper of mine head
for ever—or, "my life"; that is, "captain of my bodyguard,"
an office of great trust and high honor.
3. Now Samuel is dead, &c.—This
event is here alluded to as affording an explanation of the secret and
improper methods by which Saul sought information and direction in the
present crisis of his affairs. Overwhelmed in perplexity and fear, he
yet found the common and legitimate channels of communication with
Heaven shut against him. And so, under the impulse of that dark,
distempered, superstitious spirit which had overmastered him, he
resolved, in desperation, to seek the aid of one of those fortune
telling impostors whom, in accordance with the divine command (Le 19:31; 20:6, 27; De 18:11), he had set himself formerly to
exterminate from his kingdom.
4. the Philistines … pitched in
Shunem—Having collected their forces for a last grand effort,
they marched up from the seacoast and encamped in the "valley of
Jezreel." The spot on which their encampment was fixed was Shunem
19:18), now Sulem, a village
which still exists on the slope of a range called "Little Hermon." On
the opposite side, on the rise of Mount Gilboa, hard by "the spring of
Jezreel," was Saul's army—the Israelites, according to their
wont, keeping to the heights, while their enemies clung to the
1Sa 28:7-25. Saul Seeks a
Witch, Who, Being Encouraged by Him, Raises Up Samuel.
7, 8. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a
woman that hath a familiar spirit—From the energetic measures
which he himself had taken for extirpating the dealers in magical arts
(the profession having been declared a capital offense), his most
attached courtiers might have had reason to doubt the possibility of
gratifying their master's wish. Anxious inquiries, however, led to the
discovery of a woman living very secluded in the neighborhood, who had
the credit of possessing the forbidden powers. To her house he repaired
by night in disguise, accompanied by two faithful servants.
En-dor—"the fountain of the circle"
(that figure being constantly affected by magicians) was situated
directly on the other side of the Gilboa range, opposite Tabor; so
that, in this midnight adventure, Saul had to pass over the shoulder of
the ridge on which the Philistines were encamped.
8-14. bring me him up, whom I shall name unto
thee—This pythoness united to the arts of divination a claim
to be a necromancer (De 18:11);
and it was her supposed power in calling back the dead of which Saul
was desirous to avail himself. Though she at first refused to listen to
his request, she accepted his pledge that no risk would be incurred by
her compliance. It is probable that his extraordinary stature, the
deference paid him by his attendants, the easy distance of his camp
from En-dor, and the proposal to call up the great prophet and first
magistrate in Israel (a proposal which no private individual would
venture to make), had awakened her suspicions as to the true character
and rank of her visitor. The story has led to much discussion whether
there was a real appearance of Samuel or not. On the one hand, the
woman's profession, which was forbidden by the divine law, the refusal
of God to answer Saul by any divinely constituted means, the well-known
age, figure, and dress of Samuel, which she could easily represent
herself, or by an accomplice—his apparition being evidently at
some distance, being muffled, and not actually seen by Saul, whose
attitude of prostrate homage, moreover, must have prevented him
distinguishing the person though he had been near, and the voice
seemingly issuing out of the ground, and coming along to Saul—and
the vagueness of the information, imparted much which might have been
reached by natural conjecture as to the probable result of the
approaching conflict—the woman's representation—all of this
has led many to think that this was a mere deception. On the other
hand, many eminent writers (considering that the apparition came before
her arts were put in practice; that she herself was surprised and
alarmed; that the prediction of Saul's own death and the defeat of his
forces was confidently made), are of opinion that Samuel really
24. the woman had a fat calf … and she
hasted, and killed it, &c.—(See on Ge
25. Then they rose up, and went away that
night—Exhausted by long abstinence, overwhelmed with mental
distress, and now driven to despair, the cold sweat broke on his
anxious brow, and he sank helpless on the ground. But the kind
attentions of the woman and his servants having revived him, he
returned to the camp to await his doom.