Read 1 Samuel 27
David Among the Philistines
1 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”
6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.
8 Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”
When this chapter picks up, David is on the run from King Saul, who is eager to have him killed. Because of this very real danger, David thinks to himself, “The best thing I can do is to _________” (v. 1). What do you think David, often called a man after God’s own heart, would think in this situation? Likely, he would think to himself, “The best thing I can do is to trust in God.” Or perhaps, he might say, “The best thing I can do is to pray for Saul’s heart to change.” Instead, he thinks, “The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines.” What?! This is such a scandalous move from David. The Philistines were the Israelites’ fiercest enemies. By doing this, David was forsaking the people of God to find safety and comfort in the enemy. A younger David, the one who killed Goliath the Philistine, would no doubt have been ashamed of this move.
It wasn’t Saul that drove David to seek refuge with the enemies of Israel – he doesn’t have that kind of power. But David’s own discouragement and despair led him to make some out of character decisions to flee to the land of the Philistines. Fear is a powerful enemy.
In the same way, whenever we are consumed with discouragement and despair, we can fall into decisions that would normally bring us shame. We can find comfort in laziness, alcohol, sex, bad relationships, etc. There is no shortage of sins that can lure us in under a façade of safety. Rather than following David’s lead in this moment of discouragement, we can learn from him through his better moments. Elsewhere in his life, he would write in Psalm 56:2-3, “My adversaries pursue me all day long; in their pride many are attacking me. When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” In our hardest times, we must work to place our trust in God. While others may seem to provide the comfort that we need, only He will provide a peace that surpasses understanding. Today, don’t give in to the enemy in times of despair, but rather continue to plant yourself in the shelter of the Almighty.
- What stands out to you about David in this chapter?
- Did you notice David’s deceit in this chapter? What danger is there in getting comfortable with lying?
- Where do you find shelter in things that aren’t honoring God?
Did You Know?
Much later in his life, David enters a far more notorious season of sin with Bathsheba and ends up killing her husband Uriah to cover his own sin. Though that later event is far more famous, the root of sin that nourished it began in this chapter. Here, many years before David killed Uriah in an attempt to cover his sin, David killed these men and women in his raids to try to cover his sin. The roots of sin must be dealt with or they will only come back with greater strength.
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