1 Samuel 27:1-28:2
27 David thought, “Some day Saul will destroy me. So the best thing I can do is escape. I’ll go to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will stop looking for me everywhere in Israel. His hand won’t be able to reach me.” 2 So David and his 600 men left Israel. They went to Achish, the king of Gath. He was the son of Maok. 3 David and his men made their homes in Gath near Achish. Each of David’s men had his family with him. David had his two wives with him. They were Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail from Carmel. Abigail was Nabal’s widow. 4 Saul was told that David had run away to Gath. So he didn’t look for David anymore. 5 David said to Achish, “If you are pleased with me, give me a place in one of your country towns. I can live there. I don’t really need to live near you in the royal city.” 6 So on that day Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. It has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since that time. 7 David lived in Philistine territory for a year and four months. 8 Sometimes David and his men would go up and attack the Geshurites. At other times they would attack the Girzites or the Amalekites. All those people had lived in the land that reached all the way to Shur and Egypt. They had been there for a long time. 9 When David would attack an area, he wouldn’t leave a man or woman alive. But he would take their sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels and clothes. Then he would return to Achish. 10 Achish would ask, “Who did you attack today?” David would answer, “The people who live in the Negev Desert of Judah.” Or he would answer, “The people in the Negev Desert of Jerahmeel.” Or he would answer, “The people in the Negev Desert of the Kenites.” 11 David wouldn’t leave a man or woman alive to be brought back to Gath. He thought, “They might tell on us. They might tell Achish who we really attacked.” That’s what David did as long as he lived in Philistine territory. 12 Achish trusted David. He thought, “David’s own people, the Israelites, can’t stand him anymore. So he’ll be my servant for life.” 28 While David was living in Ziklag, the Philistines gathered their army together. They planned to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “Here is what you must understand. You and your men must march out with me and my army.” 2 David said, “I understand. You will see for yourself what I can do.” Achish replied, “All right. I’ll make you my own personal guard for life.”
This passage shows that David was a very real, multifaceted, and often flawed human being. The David represented in 1 Samuel 27 is not the David that usually first comes to our minds; a man after God’s own heart, flinging stones at Goliath, defeating the Philistines.
In this scripture, we see David as a man whose thoughts and actions show that he has doubts in who God is and what God can and will do. This David moves himself, his family, and his 600 men plus their families into idol-worshipping Philistine territory, seeking peace. This David becomes a man who makes alliances with his enemies, who kills and plunders, and then proceeds to lie about his actions. How has this happened?
I think the very first line of this passage shows David’s undoing. Verse one says “David thought…” David did not seek wise counsel, he did not consult a godly prophet, he did not pray and approach The Lord. Instead he relied on his own thoughts, already permeated with fear and exhaustion, to be his guide. Unfortunately with his thoughts leading the way, David’s actions did not reflect God’s heart.
I am grateful that passages such as this have been included in scripture. It is heartening to see that even great people of God, like David, also struggled in areas that I struggle with. I am encouraged to learn from the actions and example of David, that I may make decisions based not on fear or my own thoughts. Rather may I remember and be motivated to seek wise counsel and to present my burdens, feelings and thoughts to God, that I may rely on Him to lead and guide me.
Lord, thank you that your ways are always the best ways, and that we can rely on you to faithfully guide us. Help us to remember this each and every day as we seek to make decisions in our lives that honour you and reflect who you are. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarsenko