Who Is He?
● In biblical usage the word “who” often involves far more than a question requesting a person’s name. This is well illustrated in a number of Scriptural passages.
The man Nabal, for example, angrily turned David’s messengers away with the words: “Who is David, and who is the son of Jesse? Nowadays the servants that are breaking away, each one from before his master, have become many.” (1 Sam. 25:10) Nabal was acquainted with David, so he was not asking for an identification of the man. Rather, he was saying, ‘Who does he think he is?’ or, ‘What does David amount to, so that I should grant him any favors?’
Naomi once asked Ruth, “Who are you, my daughter?” (Ruth 3:16) It may be that this was because Naomi did not recognize her in the dark. On the other hand, the question may have referred to Ruth’s possible new identity in relationship to Boaz, her repurchaser.
After David had already served as harpist in his court, King Saul asked Abner: “Whose son is the boy?” (1 Sam. 17:55) On the significance of this question, a commentary by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch states: “It was not the name of David’s father alone that he wanted to discover, but what kind of man the father of a youth who possessed the courage to accomplish so marvellous a heroic deed really was; and the question was put not merely in order that he might grant him an exemption of his house from taxes as the reward promised for the conquest of Goliath (ver. 25), but also in all probability that he might attach such a man to his court, since he inferred from the courage and bravery of the son the existence of similar qualities in the father. It is true that David merely replied, ‘The son of thy servant Jesse of Bethlehem;’ but it is very evident from the expression in ch. xviii. 1, ‘when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,’ that Saul conversed with him still further about his family affairs, since the very words imply a lengthened conversation.”
As is evident from the above examples, “who” often calls for giving a person’s identity and reputation and not just the mere name.