1 Samuel 20:10
Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if your father answer you roughly?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?—The language in the original is here very abrupt and involved. Evidently the very words uttered in the memorable scene by the excited and sorrowful friends are remembered and reported.

The “if” supplied in the English Version probably is nearest the meaning intended to be conveyed by the broken, agitated words. Another rendering is, “If thy father shall answer thee harshly, who will declare it to me?”

“These questions of David were suggested by a correct estimate of the circumstances—namely, that Saul’s suspicions would lead him to the conclusion that there was some understanding between Jonathan and David, and that he would take steps, in consequence, to prevent Jonathan from making David acquainted with the result of his conversation with Saul.”—Keil.

In the next verse Jonathan leads David into a solitary spot—“the field”—where, before saying their last words together, they might agree upon some secret sign by means of which Saul’s real mind towards David might be communicated, if necessary, by Jonathan to his friend.

20:1-10 The trials David met with, prepared him for future advancement. Thus the Lord deals with those whom he prepares unto glory. He does not put them into immediate possession of the kingdom, but leads them to it through much tribulation, which he makes the means of fitting them for it. Let them not murmur at his gracious appointment, nor distrust his care; but let them look forward with joyful expectation to the crown which is laid up for them. Sometimes it appears to us that there is but a step between us and death; at all times it may be so, and we should prepare for the event. But though dangers appear most threatening, we cannot die till the purpose of God concerning us is accomplished; nor till we have served our generation according to his will, if we are believers. Jonathan generously offers David his services. This is true friendship. Thus Christ testifies his love to us, Ask, and it shall be done for you; and we must testify our love to him, by keeping his commandments.The new moon, or beginning of each month, was celebrated with especial sacrifices and blowing of trumpets (marginal references.) The feast was kept with great solemnity as "a day of gladness," and we may presume that the "peace offerings" offered on the occasion furnished the tables of those that offered. 5. David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to-morrow the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat—The beginning of a new month or moon was always celebrated by special sacrifices, followed by feasting, at which the head of a family expected all its members to be present. David, both as the king's son-in-law and a distinguished courtier, dined on such occasions at the royal table, and from its being generally known that David had returned to Gibeah, his presence in the palace would be naturally expected. This occasion was chosen by the two friends for testing the king's state of feeling. As a suitable pretext for David's absence, it was arranged that he should visit his family at Beth-lehem, and thus create an opportunity of ascertaining how his non-appearance would be viewed. The time and place were fixed for Jonathan reporting to David; but as circumstances might render another interview unsafe, it was deemed expedient to communicate by a concerted signal. By what means or messenger shall I understand this? for peradventure thou wilt not be able to come to me thyself. Then said David to Jonathan, who shall tell me?.... The disposition of Saul's mind towards him, whether he gave a kind answer to the report of Jonathan concerning him:

or what if thy father answer thee roughly? or hard words, as the Targum, whether he answers in a kind, loving, and smooth manner, or whether in a rough and angry one: the question is here, how he should be informed of this, since especially, if in the latter, it would not be safe for Jonathan to come himself to him, nor could he well trust the message with any other. Abarbinel thinks, that the first of these expressions is by way of question, who should declare to him his father's will and intention, whether good or bad: and the latter by way of outcry, woe unto me, if thy father should answer thee roughly; I greatly fear he will chide thee for my sake; my heart will be filled with sorrow if thou shouldest suffer reproach and rebuke on my account.

Then said David to Jonathan, Who {f} shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?

(f) If your father favours me.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. Who shall tell me, &c.] The double question answers to Jonathan’s double promise in 1 Samuel 20:12-13, that he will let David know the result in either event. But perhaps the words should be rendered simply, who shall tell me if haply thy father answer thee roughly?Verse 10. - Who shall tell me? or what if, etc. The if is an insertion of the A.V. Really David's question is very involved and ungrammatical, as was natural in his excited state. It may be translated, "Who will tell me (or, how shall I know) what rough answer thy father will give thee?" But some Jewish authorities render, "Who will tell me if so be that thy father give thee a rough answer?" When Jonathan answered, "What thy soul saith, will I do to thee," i.e., fulfil every wish, David made this request, "Behold, to-morrow is new moon, and I ought to sit and eat with the king: let me go, that I may conceal myself in the field (i.e., in the open air) till the third evening." This request implies that Saul gave a feast at the new moon, and therefore that the new moon was not merely a religious festival, according to the law in Numbers 10:10; Numbers 28:11-15, but that it was kept as a civil festival also, and in the latter character for two days; as we may infer both from the fact that David reckoned to the third evening, i.e., the evening of the third day from the day then present, and therefore proposed to hide himself on the new moon's day and the day following, and also still more clearly from 1 Samuel 20:12, 1 Samuel 20:27, and 1 Samuel 20:34, where Saul is said to have expected David at table on the day after the new moon. We cannot, indeed, conclude from this that there was a religious festival of two days' duration; nor does it follow, that because Saul supposed that David might have absented himself on the first day on account of Levitical uncleanness (1 Samuel 20:26), therefore the royal feast was a sacrificial meal. It was evidently contrary to social propriety to take part in a public feast in a state of Levitical uncleanness, even though it is not expressly forbidden in the law.
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