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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 27

A.M. 2946. B.C. 1058.

David retires to Gath, 1 Samuel 27:1-4 . Achish gives him Ziklag, 1 Samuel 27:5-7 . David destroys the Canaanites, 1 Samuel 27:8 , 1 Samuel 27:9 . Persuades Achish he fought against Judah, 1 Samuel 27:10-12 .

Verse 1

1 Samuel 27:1. I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul 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 God, however, permitted him to be thus withdrawn from the Israelites, that they might fall by the hand of the Philistines, without any reproach or inconvenience to David.

Verse 2

1 Samuel 27:2. Unto Achish the son of Maoch “Most writers agree that this Achish, to whom David now fled, was not the Achish by whom he was so inhospitably received, and from whom he so narrowly escaped, when he was before at Gath. His being here called Achish the son of Maoch, sufficiently implies him to have been another person; for those words can, in the nature of the thing, have no use but to distinguish this Achish from another of the same name. And indeed this Achish seems as well distinguished from the other by the rest of his character, as by that of the son of Maoch. But this, by the way, is a fair proof that this book was written at the time that it is said to have been written; insomuch as this distinction was information enough to the people of that age, but could neither be given nor received as such either by any writer or reader of any subsequent age.” Delaney.

Verse 5

1 Samuel 27:5. Let them give me a place This was a prudent request of David, who hereby intended to preserve his people, both from the vices to which conversation with the Philistines would have exposed them, and from that envy and malice which a different religion, and his appearing like a prince with so many men under his command, might have caused. For in a private town he might more freely worship the true God, and use the rites of his own religion without offence to the Philistines, who worshipped other gods, and might, with less notice and interruption, exercise his authority over his soldiers, and also more conveniently make incursions against the enemies of Israel. Why should thy servant dwell in the royal city? Which is too great an honour for me, too burdensome to thee, and may be an occasion of offence to thy people.

Verse 6

1 Samuel 27:6. Achish gave him Ziklag Not only that he might inhabit it for the present, but possess it as his own in future. This Achish did, either out of his royal bounty, or on condition of some service which David was to perform. Or perhaps he thought hereby to lay the greater obligations on David, whom he knew to be so able to serve him. In the division of the country it was first given to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:31; and afterward to that of Simeon, who had a portion out of the land given to Judah, Joshua 19:5. But the Philistines kept possession of it, so that neither of them enjoyed it, till now, by the gift of Achish, it became the peculiar inheritance of David and his successors. Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day This and such clauses were evidently added after the substance of the books in which they are contained was written.

Verse 8

1 Samuel 27:8. David and his men invaded the Geshurites, &c. These were some remains of the Amorites, and other ancient inhabitants of the country; whom God, for their inveterate and incorrigible wickedness, had commanded to be extirpated. And they “were not confederate with Achish, but in a state of hostility with him; particularly the Amalekites, whom we find soon after making great depredations upon the Philistine territories, chap. 1 Samuel 30:16. David, therefore, did not act in the least dishonourably by him, but in reality for his service, in the attack he made on them. It is further to be remarked, that as those people were on the south of Judah, they made frequent incursions into the land, and were the avowed enemies of the Hebrews. This is certain at least of the Amalekites, the remnant of those whom Saul destroyed, (chap. 15.,) who had retired into remote and distant places. Of these frequent mention is made in the books of the Old Testament, as engaged in many expeditions to plunder the country and destroy the inhabitants. David, therefore, had a right to cut off those nations; as deserving the character of a man after God’s own heart, he was called upon to do it; and in doing it he served his country, without injuring his protector and friend.” Chandler. But it has been objected, that it was unjustifiable in David, being a private man, to act thus without a warrant from Achish or from God, which it does not appear that he had. In answer to this it must be observed, that he did not act as a private man, but as one elected and anointed to the kingdom. And “the same Spirit of God which once inspired Saul with all regal virtues, was now gone over to David, and rested on him, and it were very strange if David, as king-elect of Israel, could have any guilt in doing that which Saul, as a king in possession, was deposed for not doing.” Delaney.

Verse 9

1 Samuel 27:9. And left neither man nor woman alive In that part where he came; but there were many of the Amalekites yet left in another part of that land.

Verse 10

1 Samuel 27:10. David said, Against the south of Judah, &c. David expressed himself thus ambiguously that Achish might suppose he had assaulted the land of Judah; whereas he had only fallen upon those people who bordered on that land. His words, therefore, though not directly false, (all those people actually dwelling on the south of Judah,) yet being ambiguous, and intended to convey an erroneous idea, were very contrary to that simplicity which became David, both as a prince and as an eminent professor of the true religion. The fidelity of Achish to him, and the confidence he put in him, aggravates his sin in thus deceiving him; which David seems peculiarly to reflect on when he prays, “Remove from me the way of lying.”

Verse 11

1 Samuel 27:11. To bring tidings to Gath Our translation has here put in the word tidings, which entirely perverts the sense of this place. For in the Hebrew it is, he saved neither man nor woman alive to bring to Gath; that is, he brought no prisoners thither; and the reason was, because it would then have appeared that they were not Israelites that David had spoiled, as Achish supposed. But the words, to bring tidings to Gath, occasions the reader to make a very wrong conclusion, namely, that these people were in alliance with Achish, and that they would have sent messengers to have complained of David’s behaviour, but that he cruelly butchered them on purpose to prevent this. Whereas it is certain there is no sort of reason to believe that these people were in any kind of alliance with Achish, but quite the contrary.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". Benson's Commentary. 1857.