The Philistines Reject David
Now the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, while the Israelites were encamped by the fountain that is in Jezreel. 2As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish,
The battle lines were drawn in the previous chapter when the Philistines made a deep incursion into Israelite territory. The Philistines intend to deliver a death-blow to Israel and the two armies have squared off in anticipation of battle.
3the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”
Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of King Saul of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years? Since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.”
4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him; and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, so that he may return to the place that you have assigned to him; he shall not go down with us to battle, or else he may become an adversary to us in the battle. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? 5Is this not David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,
‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
David has sworn his loyalty to the king of the Philistines, and is all set to go with him to war against the Israelites! It is only the good sense of the Philistine commanders which prevents David from taking part in the battle; they knew, better than he, who he really is!
6Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the Lord lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign; for I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me until today. Nevertheless the lords do not approve of you. 7So go back now; and go peaceably; do nothing to displease the lords of the Philistines.”
8David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I should not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”
Is this the same David who fought Goliath?! The same one who fought against the Philistines in the name of the God of Israel?
9Achish replied to David, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10Now then rise early in the morning, you and the servants of your lord who came with you, and go to the place that I appointed for you. As for the evil report, do not take it to heart, for you have done well before me. Start early in the morning, and leave as soon as you have light.”
11So David set out with his men early in the morning, to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
What is David thinking as he and his men march back to Ziklag? Is he wondering where he belongs?
Lord, how long will you let your servant David be so blind? Do something dramatic to get his attention and bring him back to you!
And God will do just that, as David and his men return home to Ziklag . . . (cue ominous music)
Sadly, we all know what it means to be blind to the truth of God and to the joy of following in his ways — like David, we choose our own paths. This song, by one of my most favorite groups, is a coming-home song. How wonderful to know that the Father never says, “Go away,” but is always ready to welcome us back! HERE is “All of Me” by Selah.
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.