1 Samuel 27

1 Samuel 27

David Flees to the Philistines

27 Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should 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.” So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.

Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. When Achish asked, “Where 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.” And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”


1 Samuel 27 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

The life of David is not all sunshine and rainbows. Though he was a man after God’s own heart, he was still human. Here in 1 Samuel 27, he makes a controversial decision. The relentless pursuit by Saul has worn him down. The promise of his kingship which had been reiterated again and again has delayed.

He actually decides in his heart to go live with the Philistines. Yes, the dreaded Philistines. The stranger part of this story to me is that he goes on a violent military conquest. It seemed, in his heart, that the decision to take human lives was the only way in which he could avoid being captured by Saul. But, was it right?

Some scholars have speculated that David may have justified his actions because the complete destruction of Israel’s enemies had been left undone during the time of Joshua. There may have been a practical side to this decision as well. Verse 3 tells us that each man had his family with him. It was simply not possible for David to stay on the run with his men and their families. Furthermore, it is possible this was a time of learning for David because the Philistine military was so much more advanced than Israel. But again, does this make it right?

The difficult part of this story is figuring out if David is making a mistake or simply doing what is necessary for survival. By raiding Israel’s enemies and taking every life, the Philistine leader, Achish, never knows exactly what David is doing or who he is conquering. In fact, in his conversations with David, Achish believes that he has burned every bridge in Israel and is committed to serving the Philistines forever. This sets up quite a predicament.

David is trapped serving the Philistines who think he is on their side. The truth is, David has positioned himself as a mercenary working to eliminate Israel’s enemies while using the Philistines territory as protection from Saul. What will happen when the Philistines actually go to battle against Israel? Who will David side with?

We will have to wait a few more chapters for those answers.

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