David Serves King Achish of Gath
David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines; then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”
David said, “There is nothing better for me . . .”
Once upon a time the devil decided to have a garage sale. He did it because he wanted to clear out some of his old tools to make room for new ones. After he set up his wares, a fellow dropped by to see what he had. Arrayed on a long table were all the tricks of his infernal trade. Each tool had a price tag. In one corner was a shiny implement labeled “Anger—$250.” Next to it was a curved tool labeled “Sloth—$380.” As the man searched, he found “Criticism—$500” and “Jealousy—$630.” Out of the corner of his eye, the man spotted a beaten-up tool with a price tag of $12,000. Curious, the man asked the devil why he would offer a worn-out piece of junk for such an exorbitant price. The devil said it was expensive because he used it so much. “What is it?” the man asked. The answer came back, “It is Discouragement. It always works when nothing else will.”
We all know the truth of this little story. Look at David. God had promised him that he would be the king of Israel. And David has just come off some good moments, some spiritual victories: he spared Saul’s life in the cave at En Gedi (1 Samuel 24), he spared Nabal’s life thanks to Abigail’s intervention (1 Samuel 25), and he spared Saul’s life again when he let him sleep through the night at camp (1 Samuel 26). Even so, David chose to focus on what might happen in the future, and relied on his own feelings instead of on God’s promises.
David is discouraged, and he is about to make several wrong decisions.
2So David set out and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to King Achish son of Maoch of Gath. 3David stayed with Achish at Gath, he and his troops, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.
What about LOYALTY? David and his men and their families go to live with the enemy, the Philistines!
Previously (recorded in 1 Samuel 21:10-15), David briefly went over to Achish of the Philistines, believing there might be a place of refuge for him. God allowed that experience to quickly turn sour, and David pretended to be a madman so he could escape. Achish received David this time when he would not earlier for two reasons. First, it is clear now when it wasn’t clear before that David and Achish share the same enemy, Saul. Second, David now brings with him 600 fighting men, whom Achish can use as mercenaries.
4When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought for him.
5Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your sight, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, so that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”
6So that day Achish gave him Ziklag; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7The length of time that David lived in the country of the Philistines was one year and four months.
Ziklag. Remember the name of this poor town. Having David come to live there is the kiss of death . . .
8Now David and his men went up and made raids on the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these were the landed settlements from Telam on the way to Shur and on to the land of Egypt. 9David struck the land, leaving neither man nor woman alive, but took away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing, and came back to Achish.
What about MERCY? This is unnecessary cruelty. David kills them all to protect the lie he is living.
10When Achish asked, “Against whom have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” 11David left neither man nor woman alive to be brought back to Gath, thinking, “They might tell about us, and say, ‘David has done so and so.’” Such was his practice all the time he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself utterly abhorrent to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”
What about TRUTHFULNESS? David says he has raided his own people — but really, he has not. King Achish took him at his word and believed David had really joined up with him. This is a dangerous game David is playing.
28) In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “You know, of course, that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.”
2David said to Achish, “Very well, then you shall know what your servant can do.”
Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”
David, don’t you think you’re in this a little too deep?
Take your choice! HERE is Simon and Garfunkel (from 1981, Live in Central Park) and “Slip Slidin’ Away,” as we see David on a slippery slope . . . The verse “God only knows” could have been written with David in mind!
HERE is “His eye is on the sparrow . . . and I know He watches me.” Thank God for his faithfulness, even when we are not on track! This favorite Gospel hymn was written in 1905 and has brought comfort and encouragement to thousands of listeners. Sung here by Tanya Blout and Lauryn Hill.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.