David has been on the run from King Saul for a lengthy period of time. He’s worn out and his faith is faltering – which is what can happen when we endure an exceptionally extended time of trial and attack. And there is nothing more brutal than having to suffer that attack at the hands of our family – whether it be church family or biological family. This particular type of trial that David has suffered for years now is finally getting the best of him. Follow close as we continue the narration, David says to Saul:
20 Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have been terribly wrong.” 1st Samuel 26:20-21 niv 2011
Saul can’t handle it when he comes face-to-face with what’s he’s done. He full-out repents. He makes no excuses for himself, but promises not to do it again – and we won’t have the opportunity to see if he makes good on his promise because David’s getting ready to throw a 180 into the mix of the whole adventure.
We’re going to read through 1st Samuel 26:22 – 1st Samuel 27:1-4, because there shouldn’t be a chapter-break in there. The whole narrative belongs together.
22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for their righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, David my son; you will do great things and surely triumph.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.
1But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. 1st Samuel 26:22 – 1st Samuel 27:1-4 niv 2011
David has spoken of his deep faith out loud, evoked the Name of God in battle, and has even written an instructive poem on the matter – yet, David’s first thought after leaving Saul is a doubt: One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.
David caved to the pressure – and during an intense trial such as the one David suffered is when we are most at risk to caving in on our beliefs, all that we have gained in the Lord, and falling back on our “old man.” The next thing you know, we’re allied with a Philistine.
George Williams made this observation about the Philistines, and I thought it was really interesting:
The Philistine was a domestic, not a foreign enemy. He illustrates the power of the enemy inside the professing Christian church, and is more to be dreaded than any enemy who stands outside.
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
The Ziphites (See Parts 1a and 1b) represent the disobedient believers within the Church. The Philistine represents the unbelievers within the Church. And when we have a good row with a believer, it’s easy to sidle up to the relaxed, un-condemning, nonjudgmental Philistine. They will always give you an ear, and they will always encourage you. Perhaps we even leave the Church. We flat out throw in with a sinful world and its ways…and what happened to David will happen to us: When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. Nobody’s gonna come after us, especially if there’s a Saul at the helm.
So, David’s thrown in with the Philistines, and they’re all getting along pretty well. Continuing in the narrative:
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” 1st Samuel 27:5 niv 2011
There are a couple of things in play in verse 5. First of all, this Achish may or may not be the same Achish David went to when he pretended to be crazy the first time he fled from Saul into Philistine territory. I tend to be in the theological camp that says this is the same Achish. As such, he’s more than willing to receive David this time, probably because David now has the reputation for being Saul’s enemy and Achish wants to invade Israel.
Secondly, David sort of uses some flattery on Achish: Why should your servant live in the royal city with you? As if to say, “I’m just not worthy to live in the same city as you.” But I think David does this in order to remove himself from any controversy within royal circles. After all, David’s gained the reputation of a usurper and he doesn’t want anybody near Achish to get the wrong idea. He already has one king hot on his tail. Why tempt another? As well, if we look at an enlarged portion of the area map regarding this situation we find that Ziklag is reasonably close to Carmel and Maon – David’s favorite hangout.
6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. Ziklag was originally allotted to Judah, but then allotted to Simeon, which has a smaller allotment within Judah.
7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.
8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.” 1st Samuel 27:6-12 niv 2011
While David is living with the Philistines, he becomes deceptive and destructive – and he’s operating under the guise of “God’s work.” These people that he’s raiding and killing are enemies of Israel, but David has to lie in order pull off this façade. And the Philistine leader says he will be my servant for life.
We have to be careful. When we flee unholy circumstances, such that have caused us inordinate amounts of pain, we run the risk of jumping right out of the frying pan and into the fire. Pretty soon we’re holed up with Achish and he’s fantasizing that we’ll be his servant for life. And we might get a few things done for the Lord, but note what George Williams writes on this account:
David could congratulate himself on the success of his plan, for he baffled Saul, he won Ziklag, he conquered Amalek, and he deceived Achish – but what would have been his experience had he sought to know and to follow God’s plan?
—George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17 niv 2011
His good, pleasing and perfect will…and it can only be discerned from Him, and for His glory. If you have to break a command or precept, or act counter to a Biblical principal in order to serve God, then you’re not serving God.
Join us next week as we continue with Part 2A, Between Two Kings.
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© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom