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Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at

1 Kings (1 Samuel) Chapter 20

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:2

sa1 20:2

Is it not so - For Jonathan gave credit to his father's oath, Sa1 19:6.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:3

sa1 20:3

David sware - The matter being of great moment, and Jonathan doubting the truth of it, he confirms his word with an oath, which follows in the end of the verse. Only he interposeth a reason why Saul concealed it from Jonathan.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:5

sa1 20:5

To the third day - That is, unto the next day, but one after the new moon. His meaning is not, that he would hide himself in any certain place all the three days, but that he would secure himself either at Bethlehem with his friends, or in any other place 'till the third day.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:6

sa1 20:6

Asked me - Who being the king's son and deputy, used to give license to military men to depart for a season upon just occasions.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:8

sa1 20:8

Deal kindly - In giving me timely notice, and a true account of Saul's disposition and intention towards me. A covenant of the Lord - That is, a solemn covenant, not lightly undertaken, but seriously entered into, in the name and fear of God, and in his presence, calling him to be the witness of our sincerity therein, and the avenger of perfidiousness in him that breaks it. Slay me - I am contented thou shouldst kill me. For why - Why shouldst thou betray me to thy father, by concealing his evil intentions from me?

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:12

sa1 20:12

O Lord God - Do thou hear and judge between us. It is an abrupt speech which is usual in great passions.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:14

sa1 20:14

Kindness as the Lord - That kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself, in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God's presence. I die not - That thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line use to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:16

sa1 20:16

A covenant - The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David's side, which doubtless he obtained. Enemies - If either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:17

sa1 20:17

Swear again - Heb. and Jonathan added or proceeded to make David swear; that is, having himself sworn to David or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David's oath to him, by way of restipulation or confirmation. Loved him - Because he had a true friendship for David, he desired that the covenant might be inviolably observed through all their generations.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:19

sa1 20:19

Was in hand - When this same business which now they were treating about, was in agitation formerly; namely, to discover Saul's mind and purpose towards him, Sa1 19:2-3. Ezel - By that stone which directs travellers in the way; namely, in some cave, or convenient place, which was near it.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:21

sa1 20:21

I will send - I will send him out before I shoot, to find out, and take up the arrows which I shall shoot. And I shall shoot them either short of him, or beyond him, as I shall see occasion.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:23

sa1 20:23

Between - As a witness and a judge between us and our families for ever, if on either side this league of friendship be violated.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:24

sa1 20:24

Hid himself - Namely, at the time appointed: for it seems probable, that he went first to Bethlehem, and thence returned to the field, when the occasion required.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:25

sa1 20:25

Arose - He rose from his seat where he was sat next the king, and stood at Abner's coming, to do honour to him, who was his father's cousin, and the general of the army.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:26

sa1 20:26

Something - Some accident which has rendered him unclean, and so unfit to partake of this feast, which consisted in part of the remainders of the peace - offerings, according to the law, Lev 7:20. Unfit also to come into any company, much more, into the king's company, lest he should pollute them also.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:27

sa1 20:27

Son of Jesse - So he calls him in scorn, to note the meanness of his original; and as not deigning to call him by his proper name. To day - For the uncleanness which came by some chance, usually lasted but for one day.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:30

sa1 20:30

Thy confusion - Men will conclude that thou hast no royal blood in thy veins, that canst so tamely give up thy crown to so contemptible a person.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:33

sa1 20:33

To smite him - Saul seemed to be in great care, that Jonathan should be established in his kingdom: and now he himself aims at his life! What fools, what worse than savage beasts does anger make.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:37

sa1 20:37

To - That is, near the place. For the words following shew, that he was not yet come thither.

1 Kings (1 Samuel) 20:40

sa1 20:40

Artillery - His bow, and arrows, and quiver.

Next: 1 Kings (1 Samuel) Chapter 21