2 Samuel 1:6
And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance on mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned on his spear; and, see, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
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(6) Upon mount Gilboa.—The battle appears to have been joined in the plain of Jezreel, but when the Israelites were routed they naturally fled up the mountain range of Gilboa, though apparently much scattered. It was in this straggling flight that the Amalekite happened upon that part of the mountain where Saul was. The true account of the death of Saul is given in 1Samuel 31:3-6. (See Note on 2Samuel 1:10.) It is uncertain whether the man saw Saul at all before his death, and it is extremely unlikely that he found him without warriors or armour-bearer, wounded and alone.

2 Samuel 1:6. Behold, Saul leaned upon his spear — Endeavouring to run it through his body. It is plain, that what this Amalekite told David was a made story; for it is expressly said, in the foregoing chapter, that Saul fell upon his sword. Who this Amalekite was does not appear; but, as Delaney observes, there are always a great number of strollers that follow camps, and this lad probably was one of them. Their business is pillage and stripping the dead. This youth, it seems, knew his business, and got the start of the Philistines in the pillage of Saul. Having met with his body, he robbed it of its royal ornaments, and made the best of his way to David with them, in order to ingratiate himself with him, as he was likely to succeed to the throne: and he made up a story of such circumstances as he imagined would appear plausible, and gain David’s favour.1:1-10 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.Now it came to pass ... - There is no break whatever between the two books of Samuel, the division being purely artificial. 2-12. a man came out of the camp from Saul—As the narrative of Saul's death, given in the last chapter, is inspired, it must be considered the true account, and the Amalekite's story a fiction of his own, invented to ingratiate himself with David, the presumptive successor to the throne. David's question, "How went the matter?" evinces the deep interest he took in the war, an interest that sprang from feelings of high and generous patriotism, not from views of ambition. The Amalekite, however, judging him to be actuated by a selfish principle, fabricated a story improbable and inconsistent, which he thought would procure him a reward. Having probably witnessed the suicidal act of Saul, he thought of turning it to his own account, and suffered the penalty of his grievously mistaken calculation (compare 2Sa 1:9 with 1Sa 31:4, 5). No text from Poole on this verse. And the young man that told him,.... So it seems he was, and therefore could not be Doeg, more likely his son of the two; but there is no reason to believe he was either of them, who cannot be thought to be well disposed to David:

said, as I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa; who was either a traveller that came that way just as the army was routed, and part had fled to Gilboa; or if a soldier, was not one of those that attended Saul, and was of his bodyguard, but happened on the flight to come to the same spot on Gilboa where Saul was:

behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; that that might pierce him through and die; but this seems not true, for he fell upon his sword for that purpose, 1 Samuel 31:4,

and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him; the charioteers and cavalry, of which part of the Philistine army consisted; though this also does not agree with the account in the above place; for according to that they were the archers that pressed him hard, and hit him.

And the young man that told him said, {b} As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.

(b) As I fled the chase.

6. As I happened by chance] He represents himself as accidentally finding Saul, while wandering over Mount Gilboa in the confusion of the rout. See note on 2 Samuel 1:2.

mount Gilboa] See note on 1 Samuel 28:4.

Saul leaned upon his spear] This is not to be understood of attempted suicide (1 Samuel 31:4), as though he was leaning upon his spear to pierce himself through. It is a tragic picture of the last scene. The wounded and weary king leans upon his spear—the emblem of his royalty—for support. His followers are scattered or dead: his pursuers are close at hand. Death, accompanied with all the insolence and mockery of a triumphant foe, stares him in the face.

chariots] It is not necessary to regard this as a lie of the Amalekite. Parts of the elevated tract may have been accessible to the Philistine chariots. Stanley speaks of “the green strip of table-land, where probably the last struggle was fought” (Sinai and Pal. p. 345).Verse 6. - As I happened by chance upon Mount Gilboa. The story of the Amalekite is at variance with the account of Saul's death given in the last chapter of the preceding book. There, sore pressed and wounded by archers, hopeless of escape, and unable to make any further resistance, in sore distress at the death of his sons and the loss of the battle, Saul and his armour bearer fall upon their own swords. Here, closely pursued by chariots and horsemen, the king is so utterly deserted by all his body guard that he cells to a vagabond prowling about for booty to slay him. Naturally, Ewald and his followers, who regard the books of the Bible as mere patchwork, find here the marks of different narrators, whose stories the compiler of the Book of Samuel pieced together without having the shrewdness to observe that they were utterly irreconcilable. Some modern commentators have, however, attempted to harmonize them with little success. Really, the story of the Amalekite is a most improbable fiction, and utterly untrue. He knew nothing as to the manner of Saul's death, but found the body, probably some time after the king had fallen; and he was able to strip it because the pursuing Philistines were hurrying forward to make their victory complete, without being aware of what was the crowning glory of their success. As the pursuit advanced it would soon become safe for the Amalekite and others like him to try and secure some of the booty before the Philistines returned. Archers shooting from a distance might easily so distress Saul as to make him despair of escape - and it appears from the first narrative that they had not recognized him; for Saul is afraid lest they should do so, and, having taken him alive, should "abuse," or make a mock of him. Here chariots and horsemen are in close pursuit, and the king faces them grimly; nevertheless, they allow a stranger, who would not have dared to mix himself up with the battle, to rob them of their prize. We may feel sure that it was not until the tide of battle had moved onward in pursuit that the Amalekite ventured upon the field to rob the dead. When so occupied he came upon a corpse, now for some brief space dead, and at once recognized the tall form of the king, whose identity was made more plain by the golden circlet upon his helmet. At Once he saw the chance of larger gains, and hastily tearing off the royal crown and the bracelet from the fallen monarch, without a thought of rescuing the remains from the indignities which the Philistines were sure to inflict upon them, he hurried away with his tidings. Of course, he knew nothing of David's recent conduct, nor that for some time he had accompanied the invading army, nor that Ziklag had just experienced rough treatment from his own countrymen. Still, if he had told the truth, he would have fared well; for he brought news of great importance. But truth was not a virtue much practised in those days, and, fancying that the treatment he had met with from Saul would fill David's heart with bitter rancour against him, the Amalekite invented this story of his having slain the king with his own hands, in the expectation that it would win for him a double reward. When the inhabitants of Jabesh in Gilead heard this, all the brave men of the town set out to Beth-shean, took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall, brought them to Jabesh, and burned them there. "But their bones they buried under the tamarisk at Jabesh, and fasted seven days," to mourn for the king their former deliverer (see 1 Samuel 11:1-15). These statements are given in a very condensed form in the Chronicles (1 Samuel 31:11, 1 Samuel 31:12). Not only is the fact that "they went the whole night" omitted, as being of no essential importance to the general history; but the removal of the bodies from the town-wall is also passed over, because their being fastened there had not been mentioned, and also the burning of the bodies. The reason for the last omission is not to be sought for in the fact that the author of the Chronicles regarded burning as ignominious, according to Leviticus 20:14; Leviticus 21:9, but because he did not see how to reconcile the burning of the bodies with the burial of the bones. It was not the custom in Israel to burn the corpse, but to bury it in the ground. The former was restricted to the worst criminals (see at Leviticus 20:14). Consequently the Chaldee interpreted the word "burnt" as relating to the burning of spices, a custom which we meet with afterwards as a special honour shown to certain of the kings of Judah on the occasion of their burial (2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Chronicles 21:19; Jeremiah 34:5). But this is expressed by שׂרפה לו שׂרף, "to make a burning for him," whereas here it is stated distinctly that "they burnt them." The reason for the burning of the bodies in the case of Saul and his sons is to be sought for in the peculiarity of the circumstances; viz., partly in the fact that the bodies were mutilated by the removal of the heads, and therefore a regular burial of the dead was impossible, and partly in their anxiety lest, if the Philistines followed up their victory and came to Jabesh, they should desecrate the bodies still further. But even this was not a complete burning to ashes, but merely a burning of the skin and flesh; so that the bones still remained, and they were buried in the ground under a shady tree. Instead of "under the (well-known) tamarisk" (eshel), we have האלה תּחת (under the strong tree) in 1 Chronicles 10:11. David afterwards had them fetched away and buried in Saul's family grave at Zela, in the land of Benjamin (2 Samuel 21:11.). The seven days' fast kept by the Jabeshites was a sign of public and general mourning on the part of the inhabitants of that town at the death of the king, who had once rescued them from the most abominable slavery.

In this ignominious fate of Saul there was manifested the righteous judgment of God in consequence of the hardening of his heart. But the love which the citizens of Jabesh displayed in their treatment of the corpses of Saul and his sons, had reference not to the king as rejected by God, but to the king as anointed with the Spirit of Jehovah, and was a practical condemnation, not of the divine judgment which had fallen upon Saul, but of the cruelty of the enemies of Israel and its anointed. For although Saul had waged war almost incessantly against the Philistines, it is not known that in any one of his victories he had ever been guilty of such cruelties towards the conquered and slaughtered foe as could justify this barbarous revenge on the part of the uncircumcised upon his lifeless corpse.

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