1 Samuel 26:19
Now therefore, I pray you, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred you up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) Let him accept an offering.—The words here are difficult ones in a theological point of view. If, however, we are content to interpret them with Bishop Wordsworth according to the Arabic Version of the Chaldee Targum, the difficulty vanishes: “If the Lord hath stirred thee up against me for any fault of mine, let me know mine offence, and I am ready to make an offering for it to the Lord, that I may be forgiven.”—Wordsworth. But by far the greater number of scholars and expositors understand the words of David in what seems to be their plain literal sense, viz.: “If Jehovah has incited you to do this evil thing, let Him smell an offering.” The word for offering in the Hebrew is minchah, the meat offering, which signifies “sanctification of life and devotion to the Lord.” In other words, “If you think or feel that God stirs you up to take this course against me—the innocent one—pray to God that He may take the temptation—if it be a temptation—from thee.” This conception that the movement comes from God runs through the Old Testament. It is apparently expressed in such passages as “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” and in such sayings as we find here in this Book of Samuel of an evil spirit from the Lord haunting Saul. “Some have explained the conception by referring it to the intensity with which the Israelites had grasped the idea of the omnipresence of the Deity, and of His being the one power by whose energy all things exist and all acts are done; alike evil and good come from God, for He alone is the source of all . . . but it does not follow that everything to which His providence seems to lead is therefore right for man to do; on the contrary, all leadings of Providence are to be judged by God’s immutable law.”—Dean Payne Smith. These seeming leadings must be tested by prayer offered by an earnest heart: that is the meaning of the offering (minchah) here. The conception—strange as it may seem at first—is a true one, as in the case of Pharaoh, and also—though with some important modifications—of Saul. The Holy Spirit had pleaded long, and had pleaded in vain. It is possible, we know, for us to weary, or, as St. Paul puts it, quench that Spirit of God pleading within us; then at length, wearied or quenched, it wings its flight away from the wicked soul. This spreading its wings in flight may be said to be God’s work. The sad and invariable result is, the deserted heart becomes hardened, as in the case of Pharaoh; the empty shrine becomes the swept and garnished home for the evil spirit, as in the case of Saul.

But if they be the children of men.—But David goes on to say, “If the cruel, unjust thoughts are the result of the envy and hatred of men who are my enemies, may God punish them as they deserve; for see what they have done for me: they have by their calumnies—whispered in your ears—driven me into exile; they have violently bidden me to go and serve other and strange gods.” He means that, far away from the only country where Jehovah is loved and honoured, away from the influence of Jehovah’s prophets and beloved priests, he and his would be tempted to serve other gods, and to share in the foul and impious practice of the heathen nations.

1 Samuel 26:19. If the Lord hath stirred thee up against me — If he hath, by the evil spirit which he hath sent, or by his secret providence, directed thy rage against me for the punishment of thine or my sins; let him accept an offering — Let us offer up a sacrifice to him to appease his wrath against us. They have driven me — From the land which God hath given to his people for their inheritance, and where he hath established his presence and worship. Saying, Go, serve other gods — This was the language of their actions. For by driving him from God’s land, and the place of his worship, into foreign and idolatrous lands, they exposed him to the peril of being either insnared by their counsels or examples, or forced by their power to worship idols.26:13-20 David reasoned seriously and affectionately with Saul. Those who forbid our attendance on God's ordinances, do what they can to estrange us from God, and to make us heathens. We are to reckon that which exposes us to sin the greatest injury that can be done us. If the Lord stirred thee up against me, either in displeasure to me, taking this way to punish me for my sins against him, or in displeasure to thee, if it be the effect of that evil spirit from the Lord which troubles thee; let Him accept an offering from us both. Let us join in seeking peace, and to be reconciled with God by sacrifice.If the Lord have stirred thee up - The meaning is clear from the preceding history. "An evil spirit from God troubling him" was the beginning of the persecution. And this evil spirit was sent in punishment of Saul's sin 1 Samuel 16:1, 1 Samuel 16:14. If the continued persecution was merely the consequence of this evil spirit continuing to vex Saul, David advises Saul to seek God's pardon, and, as a consequence, the removal of the evil spirit, by offering a sacrifice. But if the persecution was the consequence of the false accusations of slanderers, then "cursed" be his enemies who, by their actions, drove David out from the only land where Yahweh was worshipped, and forced him to take refuge in the country of pagan and idolaters (compare Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 28:36). 19. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me—By the evil spirit He had sent, or by any spiritual offenses by which we have mutually displeased Him.

let him accept an offering—that is, let us conjointly offer a sacrifice for appeasing His wrath against us.

if they be the children of men—The prudence, meekness, and address of David in ascribing the king's enmity to the instigations of some malicious traducers, and not to the jealousy of Saul himself, is worthy of notice.

saying, Go, serve other gods—This was the drift of their conduct. By driving him from the land and ordinances of the true worship, into foreign and heathen countries, they were exposing him to all the seductions of idolatry.

If the Lord have stirred thee up against me; if the Lord have by the evil spirit which he hath sent, or by his secret providence, directed thy rage against me for the punishment of thine or my sins.

Let him accept an offering; let us offer up a sacrifice to God to appease his wrath against us.

If they be the children of men; who by their crafty insinuations and calumnies have incensed thee against me. He showeth his prudence, and reverence, and meekness; that he accuseth not the king, but translateth the fault wholly upon his evil ministers; as the Israelites do in the like case, Exodus 5:16.

From abiding in the inheritance of the Lord; from the land which God hath given to his people for their inheritance, and where he hath established his presence and worship.

Saying, Go, serve other gods: this was the language of their actions; for by driving him from God’s land, and the place of his worship, into foreign and idolatrous lands, they exposed him to the peril of being either insnared by their counsels or examples, or forced by their threats and power to worship idols. Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant,.... Whether David waited for an answer to his question is not certain; probably he did, and observing none returned, desired audience of what he had further to say:

if the Lord have stirred thee up against me; if he had put it into his heart to persecute him after this manner, for some sin he had committed against him, though not against Saul: did that appear to be the case:

let him accept an offering; my offering, as the Targum; or my prayer, as Jarchi; I would offer a sin offering according to the law, to make atonement for my offence, and might hope it would be accepted; or I would make my supplication to God, and entreat him to forgive mine iniquity, and so an issue be put to these troubles; or should it be a capital crime deserving of death he was guilty of, he was content to die, and satisfy for his fault in that way; or if both of them had sinned, in any respect, he proposed to join in an acceptable sacrifice to God, and so reconciliation be made, and matters adjusted in such a religious way; if it was the evil spirit from the Lord that had entered into Saul, or God had suffered a melancholy disorder to seize him, which had put him upon those measures, let an offering agreeable to the will of God be offered, or supplication made for the removal of it:

but if they be the children of men; that incited him to such violent methods, as Abner his general, or Doeg the Edomite, and others:

cursed be they before the Lord; an imprecation of the vengeance of God upon them:

for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord; meaning not from his own house and fatally, nor from the palace of Saul, but from the land of Canaan the Lord had given to his people Israel for an inheritance, and from the worship of God in it, which made it dear and precious to him; he knew if Saul went on pursuing him in this manner, he mast be obliged to quit the land, and go into a foreign country, as he quickly did; so the Targum renders it the inheritance of the people of the Lord: by being driven out of the land which was their inheritance, he should be deprived of their company and conversation, and of all social worship; the consideration of which was cutting to him, and caused the above imprecation from him on those who were concerned in it, and who in effect by their actions were

saying, go, serve other gods; for by being forced to go into an idolatrous country, he would be in the way of temptation, and be liable to be corrupted by ill examples, and to be persuaded and enticed into idolatrous practices; and if he was kept from them it would be no thanks to them, they did all they could to lead him into them; and if he was preserved, it would be owing to the power and grace of God; the Targum is,"go David among the people that worship idols;''the Jews have a saying, that he that dwells without the land of Israel, it is as if he had no God and as if he served an idol (q).

(q) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 110. 2.

Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the LORD have stirred thee up against me, let him {h} accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve {i} other gods.

(h) Let his anger toward us be pacified by a sacrifice.

(i) As much as lay in them, they compelled him to idolatry because they forced him to flee to the idolaters.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. If the Lord &c.] Saul may be acting as the executioner of a divine punishment. In that case David desires to obtain pardon by a propitiatory offering. This seems the obvious explanation. But according to the view of many commentators, David suggests that this perverse persecution is the consequence of the evil spirit continuing to vex Saul as a punishment for his sin, and advises him to seek the removal of it by an expiatory sacrifice.

In the language of the O. T. God is sometimes said to incite or command men to do acts in themselves evil. See 2 Samuel 16:11; 2 Samuel 24:1. The Hebrew mind was profoundly impressed with the great truth of the universal sovereignty of God, and regarding Him as the Cause of all things, did not distinguish, as we do, between what is caused or commanded, and what is permitted by Him.

let him accept an offering] Lit. smell. Cp. Genesis 8:21.

if they be the children of men] See on 1 Samuel 24:9.

from abiding in, &c.] From being associated with the people of Israel who are Jehovah’s inheritance (1 Samuel 10:1). The word “to-day” is emphatic: as much as to say, ‘It has at last come to this that I must flee the country: and such a banishment is tantamount to bidding me go serve false gods, for it is only in the land of promise and at the place which He has chosen that Jehovah manifests Himself and can be worshipped.’ Cp. note on 1 Samuel 10:3."And David went over to the other side, and placed himself upon the top of the mountain afar off (the space between them was great), and cried to the people," etc. Saul had probably encamped with his fighting men on the slope of the ill Hachilah, so that a valley separated him from the opposite hill, from which David had no doubt reconnoitred the camp and then gone down to it (1 Samuel 26:6), and to which he returned after the deed was accomplished. The statement that this mountain was far off, so that there was a great space between David and Saul, not only favours the accuracy of the historical tradition, but shows that David reckoned far less now upon any change in the state of Saul's mind than he had done before, when he followed Saul without hesitation from the cave and called after him (1 Samuel 24:9), and that in fact he rather feared lest Saul should endeavour to get him into his power as soon as he woke from his sleep.
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