1 Samuel 27
David was a man after God's own heart, and yet he had his faults, which
are recorded, not for our imitation, but for our admonition; witness
the story of this chapter, in which, though,
I. We find, to his praise, that he prudently took care of his own
safety and his family's
(1 Samuel 27:2-4)
and valiantly fought Israel's battles against the Canaanites
(1 Samuel 27:8-9),
II. We find, to his dishonour,
1. That he began to despair of his deliverance,
1 Samuel 27:1.
2. That he deserted his own country, and went to dwell in the land of
1 Samuel 27:1,5-7.
3. That he imposed upon Achish with an equivocation, if not a lie,
concerning his expedition,
1 Samuel 27:10-12.
|David Returns to Gath.
||B. C. 1055.|
1 And 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 speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul
shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel:
so shall I escape out of his hand.
2 And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men
that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
3 And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every
man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam
the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife.
4 And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he
sought no more again for him.
5 And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in
thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country,
that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the
royal city with thee?
6 Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag
pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day.
7 And the time that David dwelt in the country of the
Philistines was a full year and four months.
I. The prevalency of David's fear, which was the effect of the weakness
of his faith
(1 Samuel 27:1):
He said to his heart (so it may be read), in his communings with
it concerning his present condition, I shall now perish one day by
the hand of Saul. He represented to himself the restless rage and
malice of Saul (who could not be wrought into a reconciliation) and the
treachery of his own countrymen, witness that of the Ziphites, once and
again; he looked upon his own forces, and observed how few they were,
and that no recruits had come in to him for a great while, nor could he
perceive that he got any ground; and hence, in a melancholy mood, he
draws this dark conclusion: I shall one day perish by the hand of
Saul. But, O thou of little faith! wherefore dost thou
doubt? Was he not anointed to be king? Did not that imply an
assurance that he should be preserved to the kingdom? Though he had no
reason to trust Saul's promises, had he not all the reason in the world
to trust the promises of God? His experience of the particular care
Providence took of him ought to have encouraged him. He that has
delivered does and will. But unbelief is a sin that easily besets even
good men. When without are fightings, within are fears, and it
is a hard matter to get over them. Lord, increase our faith!
II. The resolution he came to hereupon. Now that Saul had, for this
time, returned to his place, he determined to take this opportunity of
retiring into the Philistines' country. Consulting his own heart only,
and not the ephod or the prophet, he concludes, There is nothing
better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the
Philistines. Long trials are in danger of tiring the faith and
patience even of very good men. Now,
1. Saul was an enemy to himself and his kingdom in driving David to
this extremity. He weakened his own interest when he expelled from his
service, and forced into the service of his enemies, so great a general
as David was, and so brave a regiment as he had the command of.
2. David was no friend to himself in taking this course. God had
appointed him to set up his standard in the land of Judah,
1 Samuel 22:5.
There God had wonderfully preserved him, and employed him sometimes for
the good of his country; why then should he think of deserting his
post? How could he expect the protection of the God of Israel if he
went out of the borders of the land of Israel? Could he expect to be
safe among the Philistines, out of whose hands he had lately escaped so
narrowly by feigning himself mad? Would he receive obligations from
those now whom he knew he must not return kindness to when he should
come to be king, but be under an obligation to make war upon? Hereby he
would gratify his enemies, who bade him go and serve other gods that
they might have wherewith to reproach him, and very much weaken the
hands of his friends, who would not have wherewith to answer that
reproach. See what need we have to pray, Lord, lead us not into
III. The kind reception he had at Gath. Achish bade him welcome, partly
out of generosity, being proud of entertaining so brave a man, partly
out of policy, hoping to engage him for ever to his service, and that
his example would invite many more to desert and come over to him. No
doubt he gave David a solemn promise of protection, which he could rely
upon when he could not trust Saul's promises. We may blush to think
that the word of a Philistine should go further than the word of an
Israelite, who, if an Israelite indeed, would be without guile, and
that the city of Gath should be a place of refuge for a good man when
the cities of Israel refuse him a safe abode. David,
1. Brought his men with him
(1 Samuel 27:2)
that they might guard him, and might themselves be safe where he was,
and to recommend himself the more to Achish, who hoped to have service
out of him.
2. He brought his family with him, his wives and his
household, so did all his men,
1 Samuel 27:2,3.
Masters of families ought to take care of those that are committed to
them, to protect and provide for those of their own house, and to
dwell with them as men of knowledge.
IV. Saul's desisting from the further prosecution of him
(1 Samuel 27:4):
He sought no more again for him; this intimates that
notwithstanding the professions of repentance he had lately made, if he
had had David in his reach, he would have aimed another blow. But,
because he dares not come where he is, he resolves to let him alone.
Thus many seem to leave their sins, but really their sins leave them;
they would persist in them if they could. Saul sought no more for him,
contenting himself with his banishment, since he could not have his
blood, and hoping, it may be (as he had done,
1 Samuel 18:25),
that he would, some time or other, fall by the hand of the
Philistines; and, though he would rather have the pleasure of
destroying him himself, yet, if they do it, he will be satisfied, so
that it be done effectually.
V. David's removal from Gath to Ziklag.
1. David's request for leave to remove was prudent and very modest,
1 Samuel 27:5.
(1.) It was really prudent. David knew what it was to be envied in the
court of Saul, and had much more reason to fear in the court of Achish,
and therefore declines preferment there, and wishes for a settlement in
the country, where he might be private, more within himself, and less
in other people's way. In a town of his own he might have the more free
exercise of his religion, and keep his men better to it, and not have
his righteous soul vexed, as it was at Gath, with the idolatries of the
(2.) As it was presented to Achish it was very modest. He does not
prescribe to him what place he should assign him, only begs it may be
in some town in the country, where he pleased (beggars must not be
choosers); but he gives this for a reason, "Why should thy servant
dwell in the royal city, to crowd thee, and disoblige those about
thee?" Note, Those that would stand fast must not covet to stand high;
and humble souls aim not to dwell in royal cities.
2. The grant which Achish made to him, upon that request, was very
generous and kind
(1 Samuel 27:6,7):
Achish gave him Ziklag. Hereby,
(1.) Israel recovered their ancient right; for Ziklag was in the lot of
the tribe of Judah
and afterwards, out of that lot, was assigned, with some other cities,
But either it was never subdued, or the Philistines had, in some
struggle with Israel, made themselves masters of it. Perhaps they had
got it unjustly, and Achish, being a man of sense and honour, took this
occasion to restore it. The righteous God judgeth righteously.
(2.) David gained a commodious settlement, not only at a distance from
Gath, but bordering upon Israel, where he might keep up a
correspondence with his own countrymen, and whither they might resort
to him at the revolution that was now approaching. Though we do not
find that he augmented his forces at all while Saul lived (for,
1 Samuel 30:10,
he had but his six hundred men), yet, immediately after Saul's
death, that was the rendezvous of his friends. Nay, it should seem,
while he kept himself close because of Saul, multitudes resorted to
him, at least to assure him of their sincere intentions,
1 Chronicles 12:1-22.
And this further advantage David gained, that Ziklag was annexed to the
crown, at least the royalty of it pertained to the kings of Judah, ever
1 Samuel 27:6.
Note, There is nothing lost by humility and modesty, and a willingness
to retire. Real advantages follow those that flee from imaginary
honours. Here David continued for some days, even four months,
as it may very well be read
(1 Samuel 27:7),
or some days above four months: the LXX. reads it, some months;
so long he waited for the set time of his accession to the throne; for
he that believeth shall not make haste.
|David Smites the Amalekites.
||B. C. 1055.|
8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites,
and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of
old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto
the land of Egypt.
9 And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman
alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and
the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish.
10 And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And
David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of
the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites.
11 And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring
tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying,
So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he
dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.
12 And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people
Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for
Here is an account of David's actions while he was in the land of the
Philistines, a fierce attack he made upon some remains of the devoted
nations, his success in it, and the representation he gave of it to
1. We may acquit him of injustice and cruelty in this action because
those people whom he cut off were such as heaven had long since doomed
to destruction, and he that did it was one whom heaven had ordained to
dominion; so that the thing was very fit to be done, and he was very
fit to do it. It was not for him that was anointed to fight the Lord's
battles to sit still in sloth, however he might think fit, in modesty,
to retire. He desired to be safe from Saul only that he might expose
himself for Israel. He avenged an old quarrel that God had with these
nations, and at the same time fetched in provisions for himself and his
army, for by their swords they must live. The Amalekites were to be all
cut off. Probably the Geshurites and Gezrites were branches of Amalek.
Saul was rejected for sparing them, David makes up the deficiency of
his obedience before he succeeds him. He smote them, and left none
1 Samuel 27:8,9.
The service paid itself, for they carried off abundance of spoil, which
served for the subsistence of David's forces.
2. Yet we cannot acquit him of dissimulation with Achish in the
account he gave him of this expedition.
(1.) David, it seems, was not willing that he should know the truth,
and therefore spared none to carry tidings to Gath
(1 Samuel 27:11),
not because he was ashamed of what he had done as a bad thing, but
because he was afraid, if the Philistines knew it, they would be
apprehensive of danger to themselves or their allies by harbouring him
among them and would expel him from their coasts. It would be easy to
conclude, If so he did, so will be his manner, and therefore he
industriously conceals it from them, which, it seems, he could do by
putting them all to the sword, for none of their neighbours would
inform against him, nor perhaps would soon come to the knowledge of
what was done, intelligence not being so readily communicated then as
(2.) He hid it from Achish with an equivocation not at all becoming his
character. Being asked which way he had made his sally, he answered,
Against the south of Judah,
1 Samuel 27:13.
It was true he had invaded those countries that lay south of Judah, but
he made Achish believe he had invaded those that lay south in Judah,
the Ziphites for example, that had once and again betrayed him; so
Achish understood him, and thence inferred that he had made his
people Israel to abhor him, and so riveted himself in the interest
of Achish. The fidelity of Achish to him, his good opinion of him, and
the confidence he put in him, aggravate his sin in deceiving him thus,
which, with some other such instances, David seems penitently to
reflect upon when he prays, Remove from me the way of lying.