1 Samuel 29


David is Dismissed from the Philistine Army

      • The Philistines gathered all of their forces at Aphek and the Israelites were camped by the spring in Jezreel. When the Philistine lords were passing in review of their units of hundreds and thousands, and David and his men were passing in review in the rear with Achish, the Philistine commanders asked, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” Achish replied to the Philistine commanders, “Isn’t this David, the servant of King Saul of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years? From the day he defected from Saul to me until today I have found no fault with him.”

            • ESV Study Bible explains, “The story backtracks right after 28:2, partially repeating 28:1. Here the Philistines are still at their gathering point in Aphek, while in 28:4 they had already advanced to Shunem. Aphek was also where the Philistines had camped in 4:1…Because it was at the northernmost point in the Philistine coastal plain, it was a strategic place to gather for a general attack on the Jezreel Valley. The spring is probably the spring of Harod, southeast of the city of Jezreel at the foot of Mount Gilboa; here Gideon camped against the Midianites (Judg 7:1).”

            • The same source continues, “The lords [leaders/commanders] of the Philistines are the rulers of the five Philistine cities (see 6:4, 16-18). These seranim (Hb.) in 29:2, 6, and 7 seem to be the same as the commaders, or ‘rulers’ (Hb sarim; plural of sar), in vv. 3, 4, and 9. An inscription from Ekron gives evidence that sar was the title of a ruler of a Philistine city.”

      • But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said to him, “Send the man back. Let him go back to the place which you assigned to him. Don’t let him go down into battle with us; he might turn against us during the battle. What better way for him to regain his lord’s favor than with the heads of our men? Isn’t this the David they sing about in their dances: Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands?”

        • ESV Study Bible notes, “Unlike Achish, the other Philistine commanders mistrusted David, fearing that he would seek to regain the favor of Saul (his lord) by presenting to him the heads of the men here (probably meaning ‘our heads’). One can see the hand of the Lord working even through the Philistine commanders to keep David from fighting the Lord’s people, which he had managed to avoid doing so far. That would probably have shut him off from being accepted by Israel as king (27:8-12) and would have been a terrible evil…”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible points out, “This was the first of three times that Achish defended David…Yet David had been deceiving Achish the whole time (27:1-12).”

      • So Achich called David and told him, “As surely as Yahweh lives you have been honest, and it seems good to me that you should march out with me in the campaign. I have found no fault with you from the day you first came to me until now. However, the lords do not approve of you. So go back now, and go peaceably. Don’t do anything to displease the Philistine lords.”

        • Referencing Achish’s odd swearing by Yahweh, ESV Study Bible writes, “It seems strange that Achish the Philistine ruler would say ‘as the Lord lives.’ Yet to polytheistic people, to make an oath in the name of gods other than the gods they normally serve is not unthinkable. So this Philistine king may well have sworn to David by the God David worshiped.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Achish used the unique name of Israel’s God to prove his own sincerity.”

      • David said to Achish, “But what have I done? From the day I entered your service up until now, what have you found in your servant that would keep me from going to fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” Achish answered David saying, “I am convinced that you are as reliable as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go into battle with us.’ So, you and your lords servants who came with you, get up early in the morning and leave as soon as it is light.”

        • Guzik points out, “David seems genuinely disappointed that he will not be able to fight for the Philistines against Israel.”

        • However, ESV Study Bible notes, “One can suspect ambiguity here as to the identity of ‘my lord the king.’ On the surface the phrase refers to Achish, but it is possible David was actually referring to Saul, whose enemies were the Philistines. Readers are not told what David was thinking, but the commanders may have been wise.”

          • I would add that additional support for the other Philistine lords’ fears being well founded is the fact that David had, indeed, been lying to Achish about attacking Iraelites, when in reality he had not (27:8-12).”

        • NET Bible’s text critical notes mention some additional text in other textual traditions, “The LXX and a couple of Old Latin mss include here the following words: ‘and you shall go to the place that I have appointed you. Don’t place an evil thing in your heart, for you are good before me.’”

        • Also, Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges adds that the the text “as an angel of God” is missing in a respected manuscript, “The Sept. (B) omits the words.” While Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers understands this statement as, “Again a simile, which Achish most likely borrowed from Hebrew thought, and made use of in his graceful courtesy as likely to be acceptable to David.”

      • So David and his men set out early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines, but the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

        • ESV Study Bible explains, “From here, the action splits. Chapter 30 follows David’s actions, while ch. 31 is a continuation of Saul’s actions in 28:5-25 and the Philistines’ actions in ch. 29. The Philistines went up to Jezreel by way o Shunem (cf 28:4, then ch. 31). Saul’s visit to the medium (28:5-25) occurred within this location. Jezreel is at the northwest foot of Mount Gilboa and guards the eastern entrance to the Jezreel Valley.”

Click here to go to chapter 30