April 1

Reading: 1 Samuel 27

     1 Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”

     2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. 4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.

     5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?”

     6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

     8 Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. 9 And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish.

     10 When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?”

     David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.”

     11 And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.'”

     Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines.

     12 And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

 

1 Samuel 27 tells of a strange time in the adventures of David, the future king of Israel.  David has learned not to trust King Saul.  To escape Saul and his hunters and spies, David goes to live among the enemies of Israel, the Philistines.  The plan works.  Saul gives up looking for him.

King Achish ran the Philistine kingdom as a lord of city-states as dependencies.  As such he had the feudal right to bestow land.  That he gave David the city of Ziklag was a blessing.  David was far from both King Saul and the Philistine king, and David had his own center of operations.  For King Achish, having David there helped shore up his southern border and protect his territory.

The key to David’s survival among the Philistines lay in convincing them that he had actually become an enemy of Israel without really warring against the people of Israel.  This is what David is doing in verses 8-12.  David takes advantage of his strategic situation to punish those who had attacked Judean cities in the past and his policy of extermination kept what he was doing a secret.  He convinces King Achish that he is attacking Judean cities when he is not.  David is honing his political skills as well as his military leadership.

You might think that David, by lying, is breaking a commandment of God.  He is not.  The commandment of God is that we not bear false witness against another.  It is lying that gets someone else in trouble that is offensive to the Lord.  Lying is sinful when it hurts another person, and most lying is hurtful.  But here David is lying so that he can protect the people of God and carry out the will of the Lord.

David is becoming the king that Israel needs while the rule of Saul is collapsing, as we will see in breathtaking horror in the next chapter.  The Lord is blessing David and cursing Saul.  This is because David has given his heart to God while Saul sees the Lord as a tool to get what he thinks he wants.