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1 Samuel 21:13

13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

Read 1 Samuel 21:13 Using Other Translations

And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.
So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.
So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.

What does 1 Samuel 21:13 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
1 Samuel 21:13

And he changed his behaviour before them
Behaved like a fool, or a madman: or changed his "taste" F19; which some understand of his reason, acted as if he was deprived of it; and others of his speech, his words and the accent of them, drawled them out, as such persons do:

and feigned himself mad in their hands;
for in their hands he was, being taken by them, as the title of the fifty sixth psalm shows, ( Psalms 56:1 ) ; and this stratagem he used to get himself out of their hands, acting the part of a madman, delirious, and out of his senses:

and scrabbled on the doors of the gate;
as if he was writing something there, and making marks upon them:

and let his spittle fall down upon his beard;
slavered, as idiots and madmen do; and however mean this may seem in David to act such a part, it cannot be condemned as wicked, since it was only a stratagem to deliver himself, out of an enemy's hand, and stratagems are always allowed to be used against an enemy; and such a method as this has been taken by men of the greatest sense and wit, as by Brutus F20 and Solon {u}; and yet, according to the Vulgate Latin and Septuagint versions, this case of his was real and not feigned; that through the surprise of being known in the court of Achish, he was seized with an epilepsy; that his countenance was changed, and his mouth distorted, as persons in such fits are; that he fell among them as one convulsed, and fell at, and dashed against the doors of the gates, and foamed at the mouth, as such persons do; see ( Luke 9:39 ) ; and so in the following words the Greek version is, ye see the man is an epileptic; I do not want epileptics; but the thirty fourth and fifty sixth psalms, composed by him at this time, show that as he was of a sound mind, so in good health of body, and not subject to such fits as here represented, see ( Psalms 34:1-22 ) ( 56:1-13 ) ; which would have rendered him unfit for such composures.


FOOTNOTES:

F19 (wmej) "sensum suum", Montanus, Vatablus; "sermonem suum", Pagninus.
F20 Liv. Hist. l. 1. c. 56. Aurel. Victor. de Vir. Illustr. c. 13.
F21 Justin e Trogo, l. 2. c. 7.
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