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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Samuel 27

Verse 1

1 Samuel 27:1. And David said in his heart, I shall now perish David, tired of wandering, weary of struggling with Saul's implacable spirit, sensible of the unequal conflict between too dangerous generosity, and too relentless malice, and unwilling longer to subsist by the spoils of his enemies or the bounty of his friends, resolves at last to quit his country, and throw himself once more under the protection of its enemies. This resolution has been generally censured, on account of his neglecting to consult God, either by his priest, or by his prophet, before he fixed upon it. God had before commanded him to go into the land of Judah, 1Sa 22:5 and surely he should not have left that place to go into a heathen country, without a like divine command, or at least permission. Wherefore most writers ascribe this resolution to a deficiency in grace, and a want of proper confidence in the protection of that God who had so often and so signally delivered him in the greatest exigencies.

Verse 2

1 Samuel 27:2. Achish, the son of Maoch Most writers agree, that this Achish, to whom David now fled, was notthe Achish by whom he was so inhospitably received, and from whom he so narrowly escaped, when he was before at Gath. His being called here Achish, the son of Maoch, sufficiently indicates that he was another person; for those words can, in the nature of the thing, have no other use, than 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 being called the son of Maoch. But here, by the way, is a fair proof that this book was written at the time when it is said to have been written; inasmuch 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 a subsequent period.

Verse 6

1 Samuel 27:6. Ziklag Ziklag was situated on the southern frontiers of Judah, not far from Hormah. See Joshua 15:30-31. Le Clerc conjectures from this verse, that the present book was written after the separation of the ten tribes; but it is easy to suppose, that this passage was added to the sacred text by some later hand, Jeremiah, or Esdras, or some other inspired writer. For the rest, it is certain, that before the separation of the ten tribes, Judah and Israel were distinguished from each other. Psalms 76:1.

REFLECTIONS.—Though there was now an apparent reconciliation wrought between them, David knew Saul's temper too well, to believe that it would be of long continuance. We have here,

1. His fearfulness and unbelief. God's promises, and his own past experience, cannot prevent melancholy apprehensions of his danger; he is, therefore, ready to despair after all his deliverances, and fears that he shall yet fall by the hand of Saul. Note; Many a poor trembling heart is exercised like David, and, from the sense of its numerous corruptions, is ready to give up all hope, and dishonour God's faithfulness.

2. His resolution, hereupon, to fly into the land of the Philistines, hoping that Saul would then desist from any further pursuit. He accordingly fled to Achish, from whom he met with a kind reception. Probably, David had first acquainted him with his distress, and obtained his protection; and he can sooner rely on the word of a Philistine, than on the oath of Saul. His six hundred men accompanied him, with their households, and dwelt at first with Achish at Gath; but, finding many inconveniences there, he desires, and Achish consents to give him Ziklag for his abode. His abode in the royal city exposed him to envy, and the courtiers of Achish probably disliked the friendship that their king shewed him. Besides, there the public exercise of his religion was more offensive, and his men in greater danger of being corrupted. On every account, therefore, the motion was prudent, and the issue proved it so; for hither his friends could more easily resort to him; and by the present grant, the city became ever after annexed to the crown of Judah, as it had been in their lot before, though not occupied by that tribe. Here he abode, not a year and four months, but days, even four months, Saul being within that time slain, and David succeeding to the throne. Note; (1.) It is our duty to withdraw from temptation. (2.) We shall never lose by what we give up for the sake of God and our souls.

3. Saul now desisted from any further pursuit, which, it seems, he again intended, if David had not been gone out of his reach. Note; It is not by the want of will, but power, that the evil of many a wicked man is kept within bounds.

Verse 8

1 Samuel 27:8. David—invaded the Geshurites, &c.— This action has been condemned by minute critics, as a piece of ingratitude, and a breach of the principles of hospitality: but as the charge is founded upon a supposition that the nations invaded were Philistines, and the confederates of Achish, it will be found to be groundless if we attend to what follows: "It may be observed, that these clans were not confederates with Achish, but in a state of hostility against him; particularly the Amalekites, whom we find soon after making great depredations upon the Philistine territories, chap. 1Sa 30:16 and, therefore, David did not act in the least dishonourably by him, but in reality for his service, in the attack he made on them. Besides that the Amalekites were many ages before doomed to destruction; and the Geshurites and Gezrites, the old inhabitants of the land, and the Canaanites, as appears from Joshua 13:0 were by God himself commanded to be extirpated, for such reasons as render such a command worthy of his character. 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, of whom frequent mention is made in the books of the Old Testament, as being 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." See Chandler.

Verse 10

1 Samuel 27:10. Against the south, &c.— The answer was true, but ambiguous; for all those people actually dwelt on the south of Judah. But Achish understood the answer as meaning that the incursion was made on Judah, on the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites themselves, though David asserted no such thing. David, therefore, did not utter a falsity, as some writers suppose, and labour to palliate or to condemn. If he was to blame, it was for giving an ambiguous answer to a question which he was not obliged to give a direct reply to. Achish well knew that David had made an incursion upon some of the neighbouring tribes, and in this David did not deceive him; but he thought he was no ways obliged to tell him who they were; and therefore said only, in general, that they were such as dwelt on the south of Judah. Dr. Delaney observes upon this deception which David appears to have passed upon Achish, "I will not stand up in a strict defence of this conduct. It was indeed a deception; but if it injured nobody, as I apprehend it did not, I must own that I am utterly at a loss what degree of guilt to charge upon it. This must be allowed, that all habits of deception have a natural tendency to bias the mind, and warp it from truth, and therefore ought carefully to be avoided, even where the deception is innocent," or (I should rather have said,) harmless.

Note; Let the sins of great and good men be looked upon, not as an exculpation for our imitation of them, but as an admonition to avoid them.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.