on 2-samuel 1 :21
As though he had not been - In stead of בלי beli, Not, I read כלי keley, Instruments.
Anointed with oil - See the observations at the end.
2 Samuel 1:18, etc.: He bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow, קשת kasheth.
The word kasheth is to be understood of the title of the song which immediately follows, and not of the use of the bow, as our translation intimates.
Many of David's Psalms have titles prefixed to them; some are termed Shosannim, some Maschil, Nehiloth, Neginoth, etc., and this one here, Kadesh or The Bow, because it was occasioned by the Philistine archers. 1 Samuel 31:3 : "And the archers hit him."
But especially respecting the bow of Jonathan, "which returned not back from the blood of the slain," as the song itself expresses. And David could not but remember the bow of Jonathan, out of which "the arrow was shot beyond the lad," 1 Samuel 20:36. It was the time when that covenant was made, and that affection expressed between them "which was greater than the love of women."
On these accounts the song was entitled Kasheth, or The song of the Bow, and David commanded the chief musicians, Ethan, Heman, and Jeduthun, to teach the children of Judah to sing it.
"It is written in the book of Jasher." Sept., επι βιβλιου του ευθους, "in the book of the upright."
ספרא דאוריתא siphra deoraitha, "The book of the Law." - Jonathan.
The Arabic says, "Behold it is written in the book of Ashee; this is the book of Samuel;" the interpretation of which is, "book of songs or canticles."
This lamentation is justly admired as a picture of distress the most tender and the most striking; unequally divided by grief into longer and shorter breaks, as nature could pour them forth from a mind interrupted by the alternate recurrence of the most lively images of love and greatness.
His reverence for Saul and his love for Jonathan have their strongest colourings; but their greatness and bravery come full upon him, and are expressed with peculiar energy.
Being himself a warrior, it is in that character he sees their greatest excellence; and though his imagination hurries from one point of recollection to another, yet we hear him - at first, at last, everywhere - lamenting, How are the mighty fallen!
It is almost impossible to read the noble original without finding every word swollen with a sigh or broken with a sob. A heart pregnant with distress, and striving to utter expressions descriptive of its feelings, which are repeatedly interrupted by an excess of grief, is most sensibly painted throughout the whole. Even an English reader may be convinced of this, from the following specimen in European characters: -
on 2-samuel 1 :21
Let there be no dew ... - For a similar passionate form of poetical malediction, compare Job 3:3-10; Jeremiah 20:14-18.
Nor fields of offerings - He imprecates such complete barrenness on the soil of Gilboa, that not even enough may grow for an offering of first-fruits. The latter part of the verse is better rendered thus: For there the shield of the mighty was polluted, the shield of Saul was not anointed with oil, but with blood). Shields were usually anointed with oil in preparation for the battle Isaiah 21:5.
on 2-samuel 1 :21
1:21 Let there be, and c. - This is no proper imprecation; but a passionate representation of the horror which he conceived at this publick loss; which was such, as if he thought every person or thing which contributed to it, were fit to bear the tokens of divine displeasure, such as this is, when the earth wants the necessary influences of dew and rain. Fields of offerings - That is, fruitful fields, which may produce fair and goodly fruits fit to be offered to God. Vilely - Dishonourably: for it was a great reproach to any soldier, to cast away or lose his shield. Cast away - By themselves, that they might flee more swiftly as the Israelites did, and Saul with the rest. As though, and c. - As if he had been no more, than a common soldier: he was exposed to the same kind of death and reproach as they were.