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1Sa 27:1 David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape into the land of the Philistines, then Saul will give up looking for me any more in Israel and I will escape from him-
I suggested on 1 Sam. 26:20 that David was mentally, spiritually and physically exhausted at this time. He has just complained that Saul's persecution was driving him out of Israel into the territories of idol worshippers. And it seems he is making this a self fulfilling prophesy, because his faith now takes a nosedive. It's a classic example of self talk affecting behaviour, in the end. For "David said in his heart" that he would perish by Saul's hand, even though we have just learnt again in 1 Sam. 26 that Saul was in fact placed by God in David's hand. David has stated clearly in the wilderness Psalms that he feels absolutely in God's presence, even as if he is on the lid of the ark, with the cherubic wings overshadowing him- despite not being near the sanctuary. But his faith in this reality has well nigh collapsed in 1 Sam. 26:20 GNB "Don't let me be killed on foreign soil, away from the LORD". He sees Yahweh as only present in Israel, and considers Him absent from Gentile lands. But David's Psalms say the opposite. It can be that we believe and think on a spiritual level one moment, and then in a quite opposite way the next hour or day. Or it can be that at the very same time, we on one level believe and yet on another level, we don't. Yet David was the man after God's own heart. This contrast between David's words in the Psalms and his historical reality isn't necessarily hypocrisy. It is what it is to be human, when man at his best still has righteousnesses which are filthy rags. It may be that David is not being presented as more hypocritical or duplicitous than any other man. It's simply that we have so much information abut him that we are enabled to get insight into how a Godly man actually is in practice. And this is a great comfort. For we all are disappointed with our failure to persistently, consistently and totally attain to total faith and spiritual mindedness. Perhaps we have these snapshots into David's psychology as comfort to us.

David has just stated that one day Saul will perish in battle (26:10), so he need not make Saul perish himself. But now his self talk has persuaded him that it is he who shall perish. Again we see how many can on one hand believe and be so spiritual, but on another, be so faithless. Or how whatever peak of faith we reach at one moment will not carry over into the future. Just as Saul's moment of repentance didn't. We live in an eternal now, with no credit, as it were, for any past strengths. Another example: "Nothing better" is literally 'there is no good for me'. But Ps. 119 has David often saying he hopes for "good" according to God's word of promise to him, e.g. "Do good to Your servant, according to Your word"

As noted on 1 Sam. 20:3 ("there is but a step between me and death"); 26:20, when David feels Saul is about to succeed in killing him, we might have wished to see at times more faith in Samuel's prophetic word that David should become king. His faith in that word went up and down, with 1 Sam. 23:17 being a high point in it, and 1 Sam. 27:1 being the low point in it. It is to this time that he alludes in Ps. 119:25: "My soul is laid low in the dust; revive me according to Your word!". David felt at times that he would surely perish ["in the dust"] at Saul's hand. But he was revived from that depression by his faith in God's prophetic word that he would indeed one day be king and Saul's persecution would pass. David felt that he would one day be slain by Saul, yet in Ps. 13:3 and often in the Psalms he persuades himself, in the course of the same prayer, that in fact God will save him and keep His promise to make him king in Saul's place. Psalm 13 is an example: "How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart every day? How long shall my enemy triumph over me? Look, and answer me, Yahweh my God. Give light to my eyes, lest I sleep in death... But I trust in Your grace. My heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to Yahweh, because He has been good to me". This leads us to think that David was not so much wavering in faith over time, but at one and the same time having both faith and unbelief. Which surely all of us can relate to. This going over to the Philistines to fight for them as a mercenary was a total lack of faith in the word of Yahweh about David which Abner recalls in 2 Sam. 3:18: "Yahweh has said concerning David: ‘I will deliver My people Israel from the hands of the Philistines and all its other enemies through My servant David'".

The Hebrew is literally 'he said to his heart'. We see here another of many suggestions that man has as it were two people within him, there's a battle going on between the voice of the flesh and the real heart of David. David's heart was after God's own heart. But at this point, that heart listened to the other voice within him. This is the voice or 'person' Paul speaks of in Romans 7, and what the Bible at times calls 'satan' or 'the devil', the adversary / false accuser. David kept telling himself that Saul would defeat him, and he acted accordingly, and his negative self-talk led him into a faithless situation. Moses likewise said within himself “I am a foreigner in this land” – and his self-talk led to the very public ‘word’ of naming his son ‘Gershom’ (Ex. 2:22). Yet it seems that David later perceived his error, and the importance of self-talk. For in the Psalms, he characterizes the wicked in Israel as being distinguished by what they say in their heart, in their self-talk. Take Psalm 10: “He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved”... he has said in his heart, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see it”... he has said in His heart “You (God) will not require it”“ (Ps. 10:6,11,13). Or we could also conclude that at one and the same time as realizing the importance of positive self talk, David also fails in this.


1Sa 27:2 David and the six hundred men who were with him left and went to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath-
I suggest that David was at very low ebb here spiritually. He had taken refuge with Achish in Gath before and nearly perished because of it; for this was the home town of Goliath. Afterwards, God had sent him against the Philistines in 1 Sam. 23 to help him realize that he was not to consider refuge with them again. For his defeat of them at Keilah was intended by God to make David realize he had now burnt his bridges with the Philistines. So now when he again goes there, he is really going against God's education of him and intention for him. And yet by grace he is preserved.

David had 600 soldiers and their families with him- a large entourage of probably a few thousand people. He had apparently run a protection racket involving Nabal, guarding sheep and isolated farmsteads. He was a military force to be reckoned with, as shown by his behaviour whilst with Achish. Saul had 3000 men under his command, David had 600. We pause to enquire whether David was solely a pious shepherd boy who was fleeing from Saul's obsessive persecution. He was a considerable chieftain, with a strong military reputation. And we enquire whether as time progressed, he was not in some way thinking of taking the throne from Saul by force, whilst sparing Saul's life. And Saul correctly perceived this. Again we wonder at the contrast between this historical David, and the David of Ps. 119 and elsewhere who is waiting patiently in faith for God's word of promise to him to come true. At the same time as having that faith, he was certainly giving the appearance of trying to make it come true in his own strength. This may account for his self talk at this time, that Saul would one day win, and therefore he offered himself to Achish as a mercenary. There is further evidence from 1 Chron. 12 that David was joined by some of Saul's disillusioned warriors, and that David's intention was to use this large force "to make war against Saul": "The following joined David at Ziklag while he was still in hiding from Saul son of Kish; these were the warriors who gave support in battle; they were armed with the bow and could use both right hand and left hand to sling stones or shoot arrows with the bow; they were kinsmen of Saul from Benjamin... Of Manasseh also there fell away some to David, when he came with the Philistines against Saul to battle; but they didn’t help them; for the lords of the Philistines sent him away after consultation, saying, He will fall away to his master Saul to the jeopardy of our heads" (1 Chron. 12:1,2,19). This seems to imply that David was fully intending to go with the Philistines to attack and kill Saul, and then to be made some kind of vassal king of Judah on behalf of the Philistines. This was politics at its worst, and a far cry from the David who twice refused to slay Saul and instead wanted to wait for God's word of promise to come true.

1Sa 27:3 David lived with Achish at Gath with his men, each one with his household, and David had with him his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s wife-
This was a major move by the Philistines, to allow 600 Israelite soldiers (:2) to live with them- under the leadership of David, who had slaughtered so many Philistines. And in addition, their wives and children apparently came with them. They would have formed a significant proportion of Gath's population. It was normal that there would be general opposition to these foreigners coming in to live amongst them; not to mention pressure on resources. See on :5. We get the impression that it was Achish alone who so wanted it. Quite why, we cannot immediately discern. It was clearly of God, to grant David a way of escape from Saul; although it was also not the ideal refuge which God wanted him to take (see on :2). Again we see God confirming us in the way we choose to take, even if it isn't a good path.

1Sa 27:4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath he stopped searching for him-
Saul had a network of spies watching David (1 Sam. 18:20,24; 19:11,19; 23:7,13,25; 24:1; 27:4). In the type of Christ, this looks ahead to Mk. 3:2; Lk. 6:7; 14:1; 20:20; Jn. 11:57. Saul "sought" David, implying a great level of mental effort (1 Sam. 19:10; 23:14,15,25; 24:2; 25:26,29; 26:2,20; 27:1,4; 2 Sam. 4:8). In the type of Christ, the Jews sought to kill the Lord (Mt. 21:46; Mk. 11:18; 12:12; 14:1,11,55; Lk. 19:47; 20:19; 22:2,6; Jn.5:16,18; 7:1,11,25,30; 8:37,40; 10:39; 11:8,56; 18:4,7,8). To the Hebrew thinker, there is an unmistakable similarity between the Hebrew words Shaul and Sheol (grave); it is a matter of pointing. In the same way as Judas personified the Jewish system and the flesh behind it (hence they are both called the devil), Saul too personified what was evil; he was the great enemy, the satan, of David, as the Jews and the flesh were the great satan for Christ. In this we see David as a type of Christ.

That Saul kept hunting David is proof enough that his repentance in 1 Sam. 26 and promise to cease... was but the intense spirituality of a fleeting moment. "Fled" is the same word used of how David had previously fled for fear of Saul to Gath (1 Sam. 21:10). He had been saved from that situation by grace, and would have surely sworn not to make the same mistake again. But we are so slow to learn lessons. Yet still he was a man after God's heart. After going to Achish before, God had told David to smite the Philistines in order to save Keilah. He was trying to get David to burn all bridges with Achish. But David is now trying to rebuild those bridges.

1Sa 27:5 David said to Achish, If I have found favour in your eyes, let me be given a place in one of the cities in the country to live in. Why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?-
I noted on :3 the pressure on resources created by having 600 soldiers and their families living in the same small town. "In the country" would have referred to the territory accepted as Philistine controlled, which Saul would fear to enter lest he be accused of invading the Philistines.

1Sa 27:6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day, therefore Ziklag belongs to the kings of Judah to this day-
Ziklag was presumably near Beersheba (Neh. 11:28). "To this day" shows this section was written or edited before the captivity but after the division of Judah and Israel. Parts of the histories were clearly rewritten for the encouragement of the exiles, but from this and other such verses, we can conclude that not every section was. Ziklag had been passed from Judah to Simeon (Josh. 15:31; 19:5) and then passed to the Philistines (1 Sam. 27:6)- because if we don't want the kingdom, it will be lost to us.

1Sa 27:7 David lived in the country of the Philistines for a full year and four months-
LXX "four months", although 1 Sam. 29:3 implies a period longer than that. It was whilst in Ziklag that a significant part of Saul's army defected to David (1 Chron. 12:1-7,20-22), along with some of Saul's own brothers (1 Chron. 12:2). They defected "because of Saul" (1 Chron. 12:1). He was himself personally responsible for these defections. His mental illness and obsession had likely led him to accuse his own army and brothers of being on David's side.

1Sa 27:8 David and his men went and made a raid on the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites; those were the inhabitants of the land from ancient times as far as Shur and Egypt-
"Shur" is literally "the wall", referring to the wall which ran from Pelusium past Migdol to Hero, or perhaps to the line of fortified towns along it, resulting in the name "Mizraim" for Egypt, meaning 'the enclosed / fortified'. Hence LXX "behold, the land was inhabited, (even the land from Gelampsur) by those who come from the fortified cities even to the land of Egypt".

The note that these peoples were the original inhabitants of the land is an allusion to the fact they should have been driven out by Israel earlier. And so David's wrong behaviour was used by God to further His original purpose, reflective of the mixture of motive we find in David.

1Sa 27:9 David attacked the land and saved neither man nor woman alive; he took away the sheep, cattle, donkeys and camels and the clothing, then he returned to Achish-
See on :11. It’s recorded that in the ethnic cleansing which David performed, he took the spoil of those settlements for himself (1 Sam. 27:9 AV). Indeed when he destroyed Ziklag, he took away their herds “and said, This is David’s spoil” (1 Sam. 30:20). We get the impression this was another example of his wrong attitude to the shedding of blood and lack of integrity in hot blood (1 Chron. 22:8).

However it could be argued that he was fulfilling the command given to Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites and leave none remaining. Saul was empowered to smite the Amalakites (1 Sam. 15:3,7), but he didn't completely do this. As often happens, God then passed on the job to another, in this case David. We can see His hand working in similar ways today. This seems to be the idea of Esther 4:14. If she had not saved her people, then God would have pursued another plan to the same end. What David did here was surely wrong, but we suspect he justified it by arguing that he was fulfilling the command to totally destroy the Amalekites, which Saul had failed to obey and had therefore been rejected from kingship. It's a classic example of mixed motives- doing what was politically expedient and faithless, under the guise of careful obedience to Divine commandment.

1Sa 27:10 When Achish said, Against whom have you made a raid today? David would say, Against the South of Judah, or against the South of the Jerahmeelites, or against the South of the Kenites-
There are Biblical examples of believers telling lies as acts of faith; Rahab and the Hebrew midwives in Egypt are examples. But David's dishonesty here, which required him to slay every living being in the towns he attacked (:11), seems inexcusable. These areas are specifically listed in 1 Sam. 30:29 as being David's friends and supporters.

1Sa 27:11 David saved neither man nor woman alive to bring them to Gath, thinking, They might inform about us, saying, ‘David has done this. This was what he did all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines’-
Innocent people were slain by David’s sword for the ‘political’ reason that he had to keep Achish ‘in the dark’ about what he was really up to. And so in case a 5 year old say something incriminating later, David simply killed the little boy. So often, unthinkably evil things are done from fear, the fear which is not of faith nor love. For love casts out fear. We get the impression this was another example of his wrong attitude to the shedding of blood (1 Chron. 22:8).

1Sa 27:12 Achish believed David, saying, He has made his people Israel abhor him so much that he will be my servant forever
This was also surely David's intention. But he could have avoided this by simply trusting that God's prophetic word for him would come true. The way Achish presents as naive is probably how he really was; his military leaders were far more realistic about David. But God used this to enable David to have his intended, faithless way of taking refuge in Gath. And yet God by grace saved David from where it all led, by blocking him from fighting Saul at the time of the battle of Gilboa. For surely there was part of David that wanted to do this, and yet part of him didn't want to- reflected in his ambiguous answers when quizzed on the matter. Those ambiguous answers weren't merely reflective of his desire not to fight Yahweh's anointed, but reflected his own mixed feelings- for part of him now wanted to slay Saul and get the Kingdom for himself by violence rather than faithfully waiting for Yahweh's word to fulfil.