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Deeper Commentary

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-

As noted on 1 Sam. 20:3; 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.

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). 


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.

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).

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.

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".

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 specifially 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.