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So soon after David's admirable moral victory in Chapter 26, it is sad to see his faith wavering in his decision "to escape to the land of the Philistines." Did he not remember his experience with Achish, king of Gath, some time before (ch.21:10-15)? He was quite sure that Saul would hunt him again and thinks he might be likely killed by Saul. But he had appealed to God. Could he not therefore depend on God to preserve him? He makes his decision to go to Gath because it seemed to him there was nothing better for him (v.1). How much better it would have been if he had enquired of God what to do, depending fully upon God's leading! But he goes to Achish, whose name means "only a man!"
He had before overcome the power of Goliath of Gath. Now he becomes friendly with Goliath's city. We too may at one time have gained a clear victory over the world, then later become friendly with it because of weakening faith. He takes his 600 men with him: others are thus wrongly influenced by his lack of faith, including families of all these. We may wonder why Achish and his people were not alarmed by an army of 600 Israelites coming to stay in their city. The servants of Achish before protested to him because David had come alone (ch.21:11). Likely some at least had misgivings, but Achish appears to be rather naive.
When Saul heard that David had gone to Gath, he no longer sought him (v.4). Having gone that far, David did not pose such a threat to Saul's comfort. What a lesson there is for us here, that while leaving the ground of testimony for God may avoid Satan's direct persecution, yet the deceit involved in this lack of faith will reap a painful harvest, as David eventually learns.
We have before seen that David's character was commendable, and he was soon able to gain the favor of Achish. Therefore he asks Achish to allow him to reside in a smaller town that was apparently under the jurisdiction of Gath, but a distance away. In suggesting this he inferred that his presence in Gath might tend to detract from the honor of the king in the royal city (v.5).
Achish willingly complied, and gave David the town of Ziklag. David's proportion of the population of the town. Here at least David was not threatened by Saul, and he remained there for a year and four months (v.7), until Saul was killed in battle.
However, David was far from idle during his time there. He maintained a warfare that he was able to keep secret from Achish for all that time. He was apparently satisfied with the fact of his outwardly fighting the battles of the Lord, for the invasions he made were against the enemies of Israel who had remained in the land after Israel ought to have destroyed them, -- the Geshurites, Gezrites and Amalekites (v.8). This will often be true of God's people when they are not in genuine communion with the Lord. They try to make up for it by outward zeal in fighting the Lord's battles.
David and his men totally destroyed these people at least in the areas that they attacked, and took great spoil in the way of domestic animals and clothing (v.9). Returning to Achish, who asked him where he had gone, David lied to him, telling him that they had attacked the south of Judah, of the Jerahmeelites and of the Kenites. These latter two were friendly to Judah and Israel, so that Achish thought David had turned fully against his own nation.
Verse 11 tells us that David did not take any captives or allow any of these enemies to live, not because it was God's command, but because he did not want anyone to bring a true report to Achish of what had actually happened. It seems strange that he could keep up such deception for so long a time.
Achish was completely deceived. He believed that David had so antagonized his own people Israel that he would be the servant of Achish forever. How sad that we should ever leave the impression with anyone that we are on the world's side rather that linked with the people of God! But if instead of being led by the Lord in obedience to His word, we leave the place of obedience, we shall soon find that being in the wrong place leads to further disobedience, just as Abram, in going down to Egypt, thought it necessary to practice deception (Genesis 12:11-13).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany