1 Samuel 27


Saul’s Life and Reign End in Disaster (27:1-31:13)

David Flees to the Philistines

      • 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 escape from his hands.”

          • David, says Delaney, ‘weary of wandering, weary of struggling with Saul’s implacable spirit, weary of the unequal conflict between too dangerous generosity and too relentless malice, weary of subsisting by the spoils of his enemies, or bounty of his friends, resolves at last to quit his country, and throw himself once more under the protection of its enemies. This resolution is, I think, universally censured by commentators, on account of his neglecting to consult God, either by his priest or by his prophet, before he fixed upon it. God had commanded him to go into the land of Judah, 1 Samuel 22:5. And surely he should not have left that to go into a heathen country, without a like divine command, or at least permission. Therefore most writers ascribe this resolution to want of grace, and a proper confidence in the protection of that God who had so often and so signally delivered him in the greatest exigencies.’ Add to this, that David not only showed, by forming and executing this resolution, great distrust of God’s promise and providence, and that after repeated demonstrations of God’s peculiar care over him; but he voluntarily run upon that rock, which he censured his enemies for throwing him upon, 1 Samuel 26:19, and upon many other snares and dangers, as the following history will show. And he also deprived the people of God of those succours which he might have given them in case of a battle. God, however, permitted him to be thus withdrawn from the Israelites, that they might fall by the hand of the Philistines, without any reproach or inconvenience to David.”

      • So David and the 600 men with him left and went over to the king of Gath- Achish, the son of Maoch. David, along with his men and their families settled in Gath with Achish. David’s two wives were with him- Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel who was Nabal’s widow. When it was reported to Saul that David had fled to Gath, he didn’t search for him any longer.

        • Guzik discusses David’s reception by Achish on this occasion compared to their first interaction, “Previously (recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15), David briefly went over to Achish of the Philistines, believing there might be a place of refuge for him. God allowed that experience to quickly turn sour, and David pretended to be a madman, so he could escape. In his discouragement and despair David will go down a road of sin he has been down before…Achish received David this time when he would not in 1 Samuel 21:10-15 for two reasons. First, it is clear now when it wasn’t clear before that David and Achish share the same enemy, Saul. Second, David now brings with him 600 fighting men, whom Achish can use as mercenaries.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds, “As a fugitive seeking refuge in a foreign territory, and perhaps employment as a mercenary, David was following a widely attested practice in the ancient Near East. The landless or disenfranchised- e.g., the Habiru/Apiru…with whom David and his men have been compared- sometimes hired themselves out as fighters in exchange for favors such as land…Later, after David became king, he too employed mercenaries, the Kerethites and Pelethites (i.e., Cretans and Philistines), who served as his personal bodyguard (2 Sa 8:18; cf 2 Sa 23:22-23)…”

      • David said to Achish, “If I have found favor with you, let me be given a place to live in one of the country towns. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” So that day Achish gave him Ziklag and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. David lived in Philistine territory for a year and four months.

        • ESV Study Bible explains, “…Asking a lord for land was not an unusual practice. The feudal practice of giving land to the servants of the king was widespread in Israel (22:7) as well as among the Philistines…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “Ziklag was about twenty-two miles southwest of Gath.” On the statement that Ziklag “has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since,” the same sources continues, “This note was written between Solomon’s death (931 BC) and the start of the Babylonian exile (586 BC).”

        • HCSB mentions a discrepancy in the texts regarding how long David stayed with the Philistines, “Ancient manuscripts disagree as to how long David was in Philistine territory. The MT states that David was among the Philistines a year and four months, while the Septuagint indicates that the time was only four months. Especially in light of Achish’s statement in 1 Sm 29:3, the Hebrew reading should be accepted.”

          • NET Bible’s text critical notes indicate that the Hebrew word used here for “day” is plural, which may shed light on the reason for the discrepancy that has arisen in the LXX, “The plural of the word ‘day’ is sometimes used idiomatically to refer specifically to a year. In addition to this occurrence in v. 7 see also 1 Sam 1:3, 21; 2:19; 20:6; Lev 25:29; Judg 17:10.”

      • David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. They had inhabited the region approaching Shur, all the way to the land of Egypt, since ancient times.

        • ESV Archaeology Study Bible says, “These Geshurites are those living near the Philistines (Josh 13:2), not those near Bashan (Josh 13:11). The Girzites are not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. The Amalekites of 1 Samuel 15 and 30 were located to the south, toward the Egyptian border.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “These groups, who lived on the edges of the southern desert, had been troublesome to both Philistines and Israelites. (On the Amalekites, see 14:48; ch 15; on the Geshurites, see Josh 13:2, 13; 2 Sam 3:3). Shur was somewhere east of Egypt (1 Sam 15:7; Gen 16:7; 20:1; 25:18).”

      • Whenever David would attack an area, he left no man or woman alive, but would take the sheep, oxen, donkeys, camels, and clothing and return to Achish. When Achish asked, “Where did you go raid today?” David would say, “The Negev of Judah,” or “The Negev of Jerahmeel,” or “The Negev of the Kenites.” David didn’t leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath because, he thought to himself, “This way they can’t tell on us saying, ‘This is what David did.’” This was David’s custom the entire time he lived in Philistine territory. So Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself such an utter stench to his people Israel that he will always be my servant.”

      • On the people that David killed, NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “At least some of these people were among those whom God had commanded Israel to destroy (see 15:3; 28:18; Deut 25:17-19; Josh 13:13).”

        • The same source continues, “David misled Achish by claiming his attacks were against his own people of Judah and two other related groups…The Jerahmeelites were a Semitic tribe in southern Judah (1 Chr 2:9, 25-27, 33, 42)…Moses’ father-in-law was a Kenite (Judg 1:16; 4:11…)”

        • Guzik adds, “David didn’t lie to Achish because he was ashamed of what he did. He lied to gain favor with Achish. He knew the Philistine leader would be pleased to hear that David raided his own people of Israel. In his raids, David killed all the men and the women so his lie to Achish would not be exposed. Much later in his life, David will have a far more notorious season of sin with Bathsheba and end up killing her husband Uriah to cover his sin. Though that later event is far more famous, the root of sin that nourished it began way back in 1 Samuel 27. Here, many years before David killed Uriah to cover his sin, David killed these men and women in his raids to cover his sin. The roots of sin must be dealt with or they come back with greater strength.”

        • Guzik continues, “Achish felt he was in a good place. David was trapped in a web and Achish was the spider. Achish believed that David burned all his bridges with the people of God. It all looks pretty dark; but David had not – and could not – burn his bridge with God.”

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