Read 1 Samuel 29
Achish Sends David Back to Ziklag
1 The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. 2 As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. 3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”
Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”
4 But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? 5 Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:
“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”
6 So Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as the Lord lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. 7 Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.”
8 “But what have I done?” asked David. “What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?”
9 Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ 10 Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you, and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.”
11 So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
To refresh our memory, for the past year David has been living in Gath, a Philistine city, seeking refuge from Saul who is still out to kill him. While there, David has quickly earned the trust and favor of Achish, the leader of Gath.
This brings us to chapter 29. The Philistines gather to attack Israel, and David is ready to come alongside them in this fight. Achish vouches for him, but the leaders of the other Philistine cities are hesitant and reject David’s help, fearing he will turn on them to remain loyal to his people. The text is unclear as to why David offers to partner with the Philistines in their attack against Israel. We know that David had deceived Achish already, and it’s possible he would have used this opportunity to attack the Philistines rather than the Israelites. Or, perhaps he truly had forgotten his way and was ready to fight with the Philistines. Regardless, what is clear is that God uses the enemies of Israel to protect the future King of Israel from himself. Had David fought against the Israelites in battle, it surely would have disqualified him from being their eventual king. This rejection was God’s protection of David.
David and his men are sent back to Ziklag to news it had been attacked. We’ll see in the following chapters how God works through David in that situation. What we learn from this chapter is that God, in His sovereignty, can use even our enemies to bring about His will for our lives. He uses this harsh rejection here for David’s ultimate protection and He can do the same through the pain, hurt, disappointment, and even rejection in our own lives. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
- What do we learn about God’s character from this story?
- Have you seen God’s protection in your life in ways you wouldn’t have initially expected?
- Where do you need to believe that God is working all things for good?
Did you Know?
There were five major Philistine cities located near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea that made up what was called the Pentapolis–Ashkelon, Ekron, Ashdod, Gaza, and Gath. The cities were allies and frequently fought together, as they do in this chapter.
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