But the children of Belial said
Wicked, dissolute, lawless persons; men without a yoke, as the word signifies, who did not care to be under the yoke of government, at least not under the yoke of Saul; and these might be men of wealth, and of larger tribes, and better families than Saul was of, and therefore envied him, and thought themselves better for government than he was; and in a jeering scornful manner said,
how shall this man save us?
whose family is so mean, and whose tribe is so small, that they can give but little assistance to deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, the Philistines and Ammonites; intimating, that a king ought to have been of a rich family, and a large tribe, and a prince in it, whose interest and influence were great, not only in his own tribe, but in others, which would enable him to engage in war with an enemy, and protect the people; but what, as if they should say, can be expected from "this man?", this mean contemptible man, of no birth nor fortune, brought up in an obscure manner, and altogether inexpert in things civil and military?
and they despised him;
on account of the above things, not only in their hearts, but spared not to speak out, and use opprobrious language, and with which their actions and conduct agreed:
and brought him no presents;
as others did, and as it was usual when a king came to the throne; nor were any visits made unto him, in token of their subjection to him, and complacency in him, and by way of congratulation of him, see ( 1 Kings 4:21 ) ( 2 Chronicles 17:5 ) the Targum is, they did not salute him, or ask of his welfare:
but he held his peace,
or "was as one that is deaf and dumb" F15; took no notice of what they said, as if he was deaf and heard it not, and was as silent as if he had been a dumb man, which showed his wisdom and prudence; for had he taken notice of them, he must have punished them, and he judged it more advisable to use lenity and mildness, and not begin his reign with contention and bloodshed.
F15 (vyrxmk yhyw) "et fuit veluti surdus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "fuit quasi obmutescens", Drusius; "veluti tacens [aut] silens", so some in Vatablus; so the Targum.