I Samuel 29

 

 

DAVID’S DISMISSAL FROM THE PHILISTINE CAMP

                                       (vs. 1-11)

 

 

             MARCH OF THE PHILISTINE ARMY

                                        (vs. 1-5).

 

 

1 “Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek:

and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.”

The Philistines gathered, etc. The narrative, broken off for the

description of Saul’s abasement, is again resumed from ch. 28:1.

Aphek. As we saw on ch. 4:1, this word, signifying a fortress, is

a very common name for places. If it was the Aphek in Judah there

mentioned, David’s dismissal would have taken place near Gath, and so

soon after Achish joined the Philistine army. Mr. Conder thinks it was the

place represented by the modern village Fuku’a, near Mount Gilboa, in the

tribe of Issachar; but as this was distant from Ziklag eighty or ninety miles,

it would not have been possible for David to have reached home thence on

the third day (ch. 30:1), nor was it probable that his presence with his

little army would remain long unnoticed. A fountain which is in Jezreel.

Hebrew, “the fountain.” Conder says, “Crossing the valley we see

before us the site of Jezreel, on a knoll 500 feet high. The position is very

peculiar, for whilst on the north and northeast the slopes are steep and

rugged, on the south the ascent is very gradual, and the traveler coming

northward is astonished to look down suddenly on the valley with its two

springs: one, ‘Ain Jalud, welling out from a conglomerate cliff, and

forming a pool 100 yards long with muddy borders; the other, the

Crusaders’ fountain of Tubania” (‘Tent-Work,’ 1:124). The former is the

fountain mentioned here; and it is evident that even now Saul had chosen a

strong position for his army.

 

2 “And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by

thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rearward with

Achish.  3 Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these

Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines,

Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath

been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault

in him since he fell unto me unto this day?”  The lords of the Philistines

 passed on. Evidently they were on their march northward, with their troops

arranged in divisions, when David’s presence in the rearward with the

contingent of Achish was noticed. The princes — not the strict word for the

Philistine lords (see on ch. 5:8), but a loose, general term used again in v. 4 —

on having it reported to them in the course of a day or two that there was a

body of strange troops in the army of Gath, asked, What do these

Hebrews here? Hebrew, “What these Hebrews?” i.e. What mean these

Hebrews? using of them the ordinary Philistine term of contempt. Achish

answers that these men were the followers of David, who, having deserted

from Saul, had been with him these days or these years, i.e. an indefinitely

long time, during which he had conducted himself with the utmost fidelity

to his new master.

 

 

A False Position (v. 2)

 

What a dilemma for David! He could not refuse the confidence he had

sought from Achish. He could not renounce the allegiance he had so

recently pledged. If he should disobey the king of Gath, he could look for

nothing but indignant reproach and a traitor’s doom. If he should obey him,

he would, in course of a few days, be fighting against his own nation, and

bringing them again under the yoke of the Philistines; and this would be

worse than death. Perplexed and reluctant, he marched in the rear of the

invading army, suffering inwardly all the more that he was obliged to hide

his unwillingness, and to affect a zeal against Israel which his heart

disowned. See in this story:

 

  • THE ILLUSTRATION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. While David

wrought himself into a most critical position, and an apparently fatal

embroilment with the Philistines, the Lord wrought wonderfully through

the very errors of his servant, so as to preserve him in safety, and open his

way to a higher destiny. It was well appointed that he should be out of the

land of Israel at this time, so that he should neither hasten nor hinder the

discomfiture of Saul, and that the Philistines should give him shelter, and

yet not involve him in the crime of desolating and enslaving his native land.

How to escape from the dilemma in which he was caught baffled even

David’s ready mind; but the Lord always knows how to deliver. (“The

Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve

the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”  (II Peter 2:9)  He

does so through means and agencies that are natural; in this case through

the very natural jealousy of the Philistine lords, and their proper military

prudence, objecting to have the person of the king entrusted to the keeping

of a band of Israelites, and that band commanded by a skilful and daring

captain in the rear of their army, where their defection would be most

dangerous. “The lords favour thee not,” said Achish. And, like our kings in

old times, who durst not disregard the voice of the barons, Achish

intimated to David that it was best for him to retire from the army. David

was quite acute enough to see the advantage which the Philistine chiefs

were unwittingly conferring upon him. They, as his enemies, helped him

out of the dilemma in which he had been placed by Achish, his friend. Such

things are not infrequent in the providence of God. Often a man’s enemies

open to him the way out of great difficulty. Disfavor is shown, or a sharp

word spoken, and it turns out a great advantage. The wrath of opponents

or rivals may act as so much dynamite to explode a rock of obstruction

which friendly hands cannot remove, and so to clear the path of deliverance.

 

  • THE ILLUSTRATION OF HUMAN LIFE. See how a man may fall

through want of moral firmness into a false position utterly unworthy of his

character. It was, as respects David’s integrity, unfortunate that he found

such favor with the Philistine king. It is always a misfortune to be

successful in the beginning of wrong doing, for it soothes the conscience

and leads one on to compromise himself more deeply. And one false step

leads to another. David’s unbelief led him into a course of deceit and

dissimulation from which he saw no way of escape, and every day drew

him further into a position which was false and unworthy. It is a story full

of admonition and warning. One may easily let himself into a trap from

which he cannot let himself out. One may take a false step, which involves

another and another, till there is a course of deflection. An object is gained,

but in the success the conscience is soiled; and then the penalty is that one

is compelled to act out the part he has assumed, to go on in the way on

which he only meant to venture for a time and for a purpose. He thought to

do a questionable thing and then return to his integrity; but lo! he is in a

maze, and cannot find the way out. The gain which he sought turns out to

be a loss; the favor which he craftily won proves to be a burden and a

danger; and THERE IS NO REMEDY!   It is very unsafe to possess great

powers of deception. David had them, and they nearly ruined him. But the

experience through which he passed taught him to abhor deceit, and

to desire, what God desires, truth in the inward parts. (see Psalm 15:1-2;

34:12-13; 51:6. Mark, too, how he appeals to the God of truth, and,

ashamed of his own unveracity in certain passages of his early life, puts all

his dependence in his later years on THE VERACITY AND FAITHFULNESS

OF GOD,  who has made with him an “everlasting covenant, ordered in all

things and sure” (see II Samuel 23:5; Psalm 25:10; 31:5). The security of our

salvation rests not on our tenacity of faith, but on THE TRUTH OF GOD

OUR SAVIOUR!  He cannot lie. (Hebrews 6:18)  The Son of David, OUR

PRINCE OF LIFE, is faithful and true; and He who is our God in Christ

Jesus will never fail those who rely on His word. “Yet he abideth faithful;

He cannot deny Himself.”  (II Timothy 2:13)

 

4 “And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the

princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return,

that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him,

and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an

adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his

master? should it not be with the heads of these men?

5  Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances,

saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?”

Angrily rejecting the testimony of Achish in David’s favor,

they say, Make this fellow (Hebrew, “the man”) return, that he may go

again to his place, i.e. to Ziklag. He shall not go down with us to battle.

Though the Philistines marched up into the Israelite territory, yet they

speak naturally of going down into battle, because while armies usually

encamped on opposite ranges of hills, they descended into the plain

between for the encounter. An adversary. Hebrew, “a satan,” without the

article, and so in I Chronicles 21:1. As a proper name it has the article,

as in the books of Job and Zechariah. Should he reconcile himself. The

verb means, “to make himself pleasing,” “to commend himself.” The heads

of these men, pointing to the Philistine ranks. David of whom they sang,

etc. The song of the Jewish maidens seems to have been as well known in

Philistia as in the land of Israel On the former occasion it had made the

Philistines drive him away from the court of Achish (ch. 21:11-15);

here, too, it made them drive him from their army, but he was thereby

saved from the painful necessity of making war on his own country, and

returned just in time to rescue his wives and property.

 

 

The Counteractions of Providence (vs. 1-5)

 

The facts are:

 

1. The Philistines make preparations for battle, and David and his men form

the rear.

2. On the princes complaining of the presence of the Hebrews, Achish

pleads the faithfulness of David.

3. The princes insist on the dismissal of David and his men to a safe

quarter, being suspicious that he might in battle turn against them.

 

The conduct of David, as recorded in chapter 27., now began to be

embarrassing both to himself and his Philistine protectors; and had events

gone on as once appeared probable, David would have been put in

inextricable difficulties. It was only the quarrel between Achish and the

leaders of his forces that solved the ambiguity of his position.

 

  • THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, REGARDED INISOLATED

SECTIONS,  OFTEN SEEMS TO RENDER THE REALIZATION OF

GOD’S PURPOSE UNCERTAIN, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE. The prophet

Samuel had declared it to be God’s purpose to bring David to the throne, as

a man worthy of the confidence of the nation. The arrangement that had been

made on the accession of Saul to power had been modified in harmony

with this fact. Yet in the ambiguous position in which David was now

placed by his own erring conduct it seemed as though events were tending

in a different direction. The very man on whom the hope of the pious was

set was now allied with Israel’s foe, and on the way to fight against his

own people. Already dissimulation had injured his reputation, and should

he now engage against his own countrymen, how could he ever be worthy

of confidence as a loyal Hebrew? This is not an isolated instance. The

readiness with which the descendants of Jacob seemed to settle in Egypt

after his death gave no promise of the fulfillment of God’s purpose

concerning them. The scattering of the disciples by the first persecution

appeared to run counter to Church consolidation, and therefore to power

of Christian effort. There are ebbs in the individual Christian life which

while in progress suggest the uncertainty of final salvation. Even the long

course of evils subsequent to the creation of man, considered in their

earthly development, may give rise to the doubt whether the benevolent

purpose of a good Creator can ever be attained. It should not be forgotten,

however, that we see only sections of life’s course, and we must not draw

a conclusion from partial knowledge. God allows freedom of action, and

trains His creatures by the dearly purchased lessons of a painful experience,

and, moreover, calmly awaits the issue of the whole.

 

  • THE ERRORS OF MEN OF SINCERE PIETY ARE VERY

TENDERLY TREATED BY GOD. We cannot but be struck with the

great difference between the conduct for which Saul was so heavily

punished and that of David which did not issue in his rejection. Saul’s sin

was radical — it was “rebellion” (ch. 15:23). It indicated that

self-will ruled his conduct. David’s sin in dissembling and in settling

without Divine direction as an ally of Achish was the sin of backsliding and

neglect. He was radically sincere in his piety, but in an hour of weakness

lost his full faith in God, and so yielded to the influence of fear. Hence he

was chastised by:

 

Ø      sorrow,

Ø      increasing fears,

Ø      self-humiliation,

Ø      loss of reputation, and

Ø      that secret sense of Divine displeasure which the erring

soul of the devout knows too well.

 

Though the sincere servant of God falls, he shall not be utterly cast down.

God remembers that he is dust. In David’s case the troubles created by his

actions produce regret that he ever put himself in such a false position, and

quicken the spirit of true repentance. Our Saviour’s treatment of hardened,

self-willed men and those whose spirits were struggling to do right and to be

right was very different. It is a consolation to us all to know that He is touched

with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15), and does not cast off those

who, not being able to “watch one hour,” fall into temptation.  (Matthew 26:41)

 

  • GOD NEVER FAILS TO EXERCISE CONTROL OVER THE SET

OF EVENTS WHICH SEEM TO RUN COUNTER TO HIS PURPOSES,

AND WHEN FIT TIME ARRIVES HE BRINGS NEW ELEMENTS INTO

OPERATION. David erred and sinned; but David was restrained and

inwardly humbled. This dangerous alliance, though bringing him to the

verge of a precipice, was limited, in the pressure of its obligations, by a

new set of influences being brought into operation. So far as the bond

between David and Achish was working, David’s hand must soon be raised

in battle against Israel; but the inscrutable Providence which ordained him

to be future king, and allowed him, for hidden reasons, to come into

perilous and damaging relationships, also held sway over the spirits of

Philistine princes, and just when the sin of the man of God was about to

bear its cruellest fruit, moved them to protest against his entering into the

conflict. Thus tenderly does God deal with his erring servant, and, in a

manner unknown and unexpected, counteract the course of events which

recently had tended to the frustration of His own purposes. How often

would God’s servants ruin their own reputation and the very cause dear to

their hearts did He not raise up means of checking the tendency of their

conduct. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.  (Lamentations

3:22-23)

 

  • IN THUS COUNTERACTING THE EFFECTS OF OUR MISCONDUCT

GOD CAUSES CHASTISEMENT TO COME ON THE ERRING.

David was mercifully saved from the peril of smiting his own

people, and the pressure of any obligation which human friendships and

customs may have laid upon him was removed, and the prospects of his

being welcomed as king in Israel were brightened; yet in his own heart he

was made to feel all the pain and shame of being regarded as a man of

treacherous character. He could not but smart under the contempt of

heathen princes if, as is likely, he knew of their language concerning

himself. “Make this fellow return,” and for the reason “lest in the battle he

be an adversary to us.” To profess to be true and faithful, and yet to be

scorned and treated as one whose word and profession are worthless, this

was one means by which Providence caused the erring one to suffer from

the fruit of his own deeds.  It is of great importance so to act as never to

merit the scorn and distrust of irreligious men, for we thereby dishonor

the name of God and destroy our proper influence in the world.

 

 

  ACHISH SENDS DAVID AWAY

(vs. 6-11).

 

6 “Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD

liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in

with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in

thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day:  nevertheless

the lords favor thee not.  7 “Wherefore now return, and go in peace,

that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.  As Jehovah liveth.

These words are strange in the mouth of a Philistine, nor can we suppose

that out of respect to David he would thus swear by David’s God. Probably

they are the equivalent of the oath which Achish really used. He sends,

however, David away with the utmost courtesy, assuring him that his own

wish had been that he should remain with him, because all his conduct had

been upright since he had come to him at Gath.

 

8 “And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast

thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this

day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my Lord the king?”

David’s answer is subtle and prevaricating; he pretends that his

honor has been attacked, when really he had tricked the unsuspecting

Achish. But truth is a modern virtue, and though David extols it in the

Psalms (Psalm 15:2; 51:6), we too often find him practicing falsehood.

 

9 “And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good

in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the

Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.”

I know that, etc. Rather, “I know it, for thou art good in my

sight,” i.e. I know all that thou wouldst say as to thy trustworthiness, and

assent to it. As an angel of God. I.e. as a messenger of God, as one sent to

me by God.

 

10 “Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master’s

servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in

the morning, and have light, depart.  11 So David and his men rose

up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the

Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.”

With thy master’s servants. It has been well remarked

that while this would be a strange description of David’s own men, it

would exactly describe that band of deserters belonging to the tribe of

Manasseh who, instead of obeying Saul’s summons to the war with the

Philistines, joined David about this time (see I Chronicles 12:19-21).

As soon as ye be up early in the morning, etc. If it was on the second

day s march that the Philistine lords objected to David’s continuance with

them, he would be back at Gath in two days, and on the third day reach

Ziklag, as is said in ch. 30:1. However difficult David’s position

may have been, still every one must condemn his conduct towards Achish

as dishonorable; but God, who often deals with men more mercifully than

they deserve, nevertheless rescued him from his state of perplexity, and

saved him from the necessity of either fighting against his own countrymen

or of still more dishonourably breaking his word to Achish by deserting in

the battle. He also sent him home just in time to rescue from a miserable

fate those whom he loved.

 

 

 

Escape from Danger (vs. 6-11)

 

The facts are:

 

1. Achish informs David of the remonstrance of the princes, and at the

same time expresses confidence in his integrity.

2. On Achish urging his return from the scene of conflict, David professes

to be surprised that he should be distrusted, and appeals to his past fidelity.

3. Being reassured of the confidence of Achish, and of the determination of

the princes, David returns with his men.

 

The relations of Achish and David appear to have been most honorable to both,

and there is something beautiful in the respect and consideration with which this

heathen ruler treats the refugee. He does his best to lessen the pain which he

presumes the communication of the resolve of the princes will cause him, and

sends\ him away with the strongest assurances of interest and confidence. On the

other hand, while keenly feeling the implication of the princes, David

displays in his self-vindication the art of a skilled diplomat. He does not

say that he wishes to go against Israel, or that he regrets not being

permitted to go, but shrewdly asks whether, so far as concerns his past

conduct while with Achish, he might not be trusted in conflict with a foe.

There are several topics suggested by this discussion between the heathen

king and the Hebrew refugee.

 

  • THE STING OF SUSPICION. David was hurt by the imputation of

possible treachery. His sojourn among the Philistines had been marked by

carefulness not to abuse their hospitality, and to fulfill the obligations

incident to his position as a protected refugee. Also, as a pious Hebrew, he

claimed to be far above the. uncircumcized in all that makes character

noble and trustworthy. Moreover, the probability is he did not entertain

thoughts of treachery, but rather in his conscious embarrassment was

secretly praying to God for some escape from the dilemma of his position.

Although, as a man of the world, he must have seen the legitimacy of their

conclusion from their premises, yet this did not remove or lessen the sting

of the suspicion of the princes. He was reaping the bitter fruit of his former

act; and we have noticed under vs. 1-6 the element of chastisement in

this pain. To every upright mind it is most distressing to be an object of

suspicion, and especially among persons with whom friendship has been

maintained. It eats away the joy and strength of the heart, and destroys

much of our power with men. Happy is it for us if a good conscience is a

private solace; but we should see to it that the suspicion is not warranted

by any puzzling ambiguities in our words or deeds.

 

  • FIDELITY IN ENGAGEMENTS. Achish, in strong language, testifies

to the fidelity with which David had kept every engagement involved in his

position in the country, and David himself appears to have been honestly

conscious that in this matter he was upright. He had done his duty, and that

is much to say in a world where so many temptations arise to induce selfish

action, regardless of relative claims. It is of great importance in the social

order that men understand their position to rulers, to neighbors, and to

home, and with careful exactitude discharge the varied obligations resting

on them with religious scrupulosity. It is hard to say what material loss,

moral injury, and social and commercial disorganization arise from laxity in

keeping engagements. The ease with which some, even professing

Christians, can disregard the obligations of their position in society and the

Church, and also fail to meet undertakings deliberately made, is very

painful to contemplate. We honor God when we “fulfill all righteousness.”

(Matthew 3:15)  Our supposed fidelity in great things is deprived of much

of its honor and glory by neglect of what are deemed the “minor moralities.”

Our Lord has taught us the connection between the two. “He that is faithful

in the least is faithful also in much.”  (Luke 16:10)

 

  • THE INFLUENCE OF SUPERIOR CHARACTER. There is evident

sincerity in the words of Achish when he says of David, “Thou hast been

upright... I know that thou art good in my sight as an angel of God.” The

fact is, the force of David’s superior character as an enlightened Hebrew

and a God fearing man was duly recognized by this heathen king. The

disparity between the two men in point of spiritual enlightenment and holy

aspiration was enormous. The peaceful, kindly disposition of Achish

enabled him to live on such terms of intimacy with David as to feel the full

force of his superiority. The highest form of character on earth is realized

when great natural powers are fully permeated with the light and love of

the Christian spirit; and in any case of moderate powers, elevation is

attained in so far as the pure, loving mind of Christ rules the life. Such

character is a silent formative power in society. Men who speak not of it

consciously recognize its beauty and force. They feel its charm, its

restraining power, its elevating tendency, its quickening and soothing

effects. How blessed the influence of a missionary among degraded

heathen! What power for good is exercised by many a devout pastor in

village and city! Who can estimate the value of holy character in the

master of workmen, the teacher of the young, the mother of a family, the

statesman at the head of affairs?

 

  • CONCEALMENT OF THOUGHT. David complained to Achish of

the suspicions of his lords, and was prepared to prove that nothing in his

conduct since he had been amongst them gave the slightest ground for their

imputation; but his defense was so carefully worded as to conceal from

Achish the real thought of his heart. He simply reasoned from his known

conduct to a general conclusion of fidelity to his protector; he said nothing

of the private wish that he may not have to fight Israel, or of any hope that

he shall escape the test of fidelity, or of his secret pleasure that a door of

escape was opening. The form of the language, to one not keen in

detecting shades of thought under general terms, might lead to the belief

that he was referring to the impending battle, and so far perhaps David’s

words may be challenged. Yet he only said what was generally true. He

concealed the sentiments pertinent to the coming contest. This practice of

concealing thought requires much watchfulness. We are not bound to let

out all we think, nor are we to give faculties to men to understand what

others would see at once, but we are bound not to design to give a wrong

impression. Truthfulness lies in intent as also does falsehood.

 

  • DOORS OF ESCAPE. After the fearful strain that must have been put

on David’s feelings by the ambiguous position in which he had placed

himself, it must have been an immense relief to see the door open for an

honorable retreat. The Bible does not tell us all that God’s servants

thought and felt and did; but judging from David’s usual conduct when in

great straits, and from the references in the Psalms to times of trial, we may

infer that during this painful and self-caused season of peril he cried from

the depths of his heart for deliverance. It came, and the “salvation” was of

the Lord. How this suggests to us the many escapes which God secures for

us during our earthly course! What instances there are of THE SAME

PROVIDENCE in the records of the Bible and the history of the Christian

Church! And above all, there is now “an open door” set before us by

which, if we will, we may escape from the degradation and woe of sin, and

walk in the liberty of the children of God. “Escape for thy life” (Genesis

19:17), was once said to Lot. He gave heed, and was saved. He that hath

an ear to heart let him now hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.

            (Revelation chapters 1-3)

 

 

Achish (vs. 1-11)

 

David had, in the course of his life, friendly relations with several heathen

princes. One of these was Achish (elsewhere called Abimelech, Psalm 34.,

inscription), son of Maoch, and king of Gath, one of the five royal cities,

the seats of the princes of the Philistine confederacy. What is recorded of

him shows that he was a remarkable man. Whilst Saul persecuted David,

Achish protected him; and whilst the former, in the midst of Israel, “with

the law” of Moses, committed atrocious crime, and sank into heathen

superstition, the latter, in the midst of heathenism, “without the law”

(Romans 2:11-16), exhibited much moral excellence, and approached

the faith of Israel (v. 6). He may have profited in religious knowledge by

his relationship with David; on the other hand, his example was in some

respects worthy of imitation by him. We must not attribute to him virtues

which he did not possess; but we see in him a man much better than we

might have expected to find from the disadvantages under which he lived.

He was distinguished by:

 

1. Self-interested policy. Although he may have felt some sympathy with

David in his persecution by Saul, yet he appears to have received him

under his protection chiefly because of the aid he hoped to obtain from him

for himself and his people (ch. 27:12).

 

2. Unsuspecting confidence. He had much reason to be suspicious of

David from his knowledge of his victory over the champion of Gath, and

his recollection of his former visit; but he put an unreserved trust in his

representations ch. 28:2), and even when others suspected him

did not withdraw it. A trustful disposition is liable to be imposed upon, but

it is always worthy of admiration.

 

3. Royal generosity, in permitting David to dwell in Gath, making him a

present of Ziklag, and appointing him to an honorable post in his army.

He was without envy or jealousy, and acted toward him in a manner

worthy of a king.

 

4. Discriminating appreciation; admiring the military bravery of David and

the still higher qualities which he possessed. “I have found no fault in him,”

etc. (vs. 3, 6, 9). There must have been much in common between these

two men to have enabled them to live on such friendly terms with each

other for so long a period. Excellence perceives and appreciates excellence.

 

5. Honorable fidelity, both in testifying to the worth of David and in

submitting to “the lords of the Philistines,” with whom he was associated

(v. 7).

 

6. Courteous consideration. “And now return, and go in peace,” etc. (v. 7).

“Rise up early in the morning with thy master’s servants,” etc. (v. 10;

I Chronicles 12:19-22). He was frank and commendatory even to flattery,

and desirous not to hurt his feelings by the manner of his dismissal.

 

7. Devout sentiment. “As Jehovah liveth,” etc. (v. 6). How much he

meant by this expression we know not. But we may believe that,

notwithstanding he was united with others in conflict with Israel, there was

in him (as the effect of that Divine mercy and grace which wrought in all

nations) “some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel.” And “in every

nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with

Him” (Acts 10:35).

 

 

A Good Man in Bad Company (vs. 1-11)

 

“What do these Hebrews here? (v. 3). The results of the wrong step

which David had taken in going into the country of the Philistines now

became manifest. In the war against Israel Achish naturally looked to him

and his men to go out with him to battle. What was he to do? He might

refuse to go. This would have been his straightforward course. But he

would thereby forfeit the friendship of Achish, and expose himself to

imminent danger. He might go and fight against Israel. This would be to

incur the greatest guilt, and imperil his accession to the throne. He might

go and turn traitor on the battle field. This was what the Philistines

expected (v. 4), but it would have covered his name with infamy. He

determined for the present to continue his prevarication with Achish, who

said he should be captain of his bodyguard for the future (ch. 28:1-2), and

went, probably with a troubled conscience, and hoping that he might in some

way be relieved from his inconsistent and perplexing position. He was clearly

out of his proper place in the Philistine army. His condition represents that of a

good man:

 

  • IMPROPERLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE UNGODLY. It is by no

means uncommon for a good man to yield to the temptation to join the

wicked in their pursuits, unnecessarily, and from an unjustifiable motive;

such as the desire of personal safety, convenience, information, pleasure, or

profit — like Lot in Sodom, Jonah going to Tarshish, Peter in the palace of

the high priest. The relation into which he thus enters is inconsistent with:

 

Ø      Truth; inasmuch as it usually requires him to deceive others concerning

his real character and purposes, by pretending to be what he is not, and

concealing what he is.

 

Ø      Piety; inasmuch as he is thereby hindered in his devotions (ch. 26:19),

exposes himself to fresh temptations, sanctions sinful or doubtful conduct,

strengthens the ranks of the enemy, violates his duty to God and “his own

company” and people. “Those that would be kept from sin must not go on

the devil’s ground” (Matthew Henry). “What doest thou here, Elijah?”

(I Kings 19:9)

 

Ø      His own real welfare; inasmuch as he involves himself in unforeseen but

certain trouble, places himself beyond the promised protection of God, and

exposes himself to the threatened fate of his enemies.

 

  • SHREWDLY SUSPECTED BY HIS ASSOCIATES. He may

endeavor to escape their suspicion, and for a time succeed, but it is

sooner or later excited by:

 

Ø      Something, in himself — his name, appearance, relation to past events

(“Is not this David?” etc., vs. 3, 5), peculiar behavior, faltering and

ambiguous explanations. “Thy speech bewrayeth thee.” (Matthew 26:73)

“Did I not see thee in the garden with Him?” (John 18:26)

 

Ø      The occurrence of new circumstances, which quicken perception, call

for decision, test and manifest the character, and its congruity or otherwise

with present associations.

 

Ø      The general instinct of the ungodly. Although some of their number may

be deceived, and exhibit unbounded confidence in him (v. 3), let no one

think to escape. “There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed.”

(Luke 12:2)

 

  • DEEPLY HUMILIATED BY HIS TREATMENT.

 

Ø      Outwardly. In the eyes of others. “Make this fellow return,” etc. (v. 4).

He is compelled to leave the society which he has chosen; expelled from

it publicly and ignominiously, as one unworthy to be trusted.

 

Ø      Inwardly. In his own eyes. The heathen king of Gath appears to have

been a faithful and honorable man; and his expression of confidence in

David (vs. 3, 6), in contrast to the dishonorable prevarication of the

latter (v. 8), must have put him to shame. “The flattering commendations

of worldly people are almost always purchased by improper compliances,

or some measure of deception, and commonly may cover us with

confusion” (Scott).

 

  • PROVIDENTIALLY EXTRICATED FROM HIS EMBARRASSMENT.

He may not be able to extricate himself from the net in which he has become

entangled. But God does not readily abandon him to all the natural

consequences of his conduct. He has many ways of working out His

deliverance, and effects it:

 

Ø      From regard to the good that is in him, and in pity toward him in his

perplexity and distress.

 

Ø      For the honor of His name, that His merciful care over His servants may

be seen, and His glory promoted by them.

 

Ø      Not without testifying his disapproval of his sin. “David returned the

next morning to Ziklag no doubt very light of heart, and praising God for

having so graciously rescued him out of the disastrous situation into which

he had been brought” (Keil). “The snare is broken, and we are escaped”

(Psalm 124:7). But on the third day he found Ziklag in ashes, was

overwhelmed with grief, and more deeply humbled than ever before. The

folly and guilt of the course which he had pursued were at length brought

home to him with irresistible force.

 

  • REMARKS:

 

Ø      No one should place himself in the way of temptation, and then expect

that God will preserve him from falling or extricate him from the

consequences of his presumption.

 

Ø      If any one finds that he has improperly associated himself with the

wicked, he ought to adopt all proper methods to effect his speedy

separation from them.

 

Ø      When he has found deliverance from his perplexity and peril he should

give the glory of it to GOD ALONE!

 

 

 

 

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