1 Samuel
1-2 David in the Army of the Philistines 3-5 The Philistine Testimony About David 6-11 Achish Lets David Go in Peace
David in the Army of the Philistines

1Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, while the Israelites were camping by the spring which is in Jezreel. 2And the lords of the Philistines were proceeding on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were proceeding on in the rear with Achish.

Aphek is located in Israel. There the Philistines gather together. These are the preparatory actions for decisive moments for both David and Saul. The result is grace for one and destruction for the other. Such a difference we see with Peter and Judas. They have both left the Lord, but Peter is restored while Judas faces his downfall. The difference is the possession of the new life.

David is with the Philistines, and with enemies he stands up against the people of God. This is the result of his life in the lie. David is not only a servant of Achish, but he seems to be his friend. That is how deep he sank.

The Philistine Testimony About David

3Then the commanders of the Philistines said, “What [are] these Hebrews [doing here]?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with me these days, or [rather] these years, and I have found no fault in him from the day he deserted [to me] to this day?” 4But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him, and the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Make the man go back, that he may return to his place where you have assigned him, and do not let him go down to battle with us, or in the battle he may become an adversary to us. For with what could this [man] make himself acceptable to his lord? [Would it] not [be] with the heads of these men? 5Is this not David, of whom they sing in the dances, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”

God in His providence will prevent the great folly of David and lead him back to Him. He makes sure that David does not have to come along in a battle of the Philistines against the people over whom He anointed David as king. That deliverance is not due to anything of David. He can only praise the LORD for His grace.

The LORD uses the memories of the other Philistines to put pressure on Achish to send David home. The LORD works in secret for David by turning the hearts of his enemies against him. Thus the Lord can also work for us in secret by working enmity against us in the hearts of men. That is a way to deliver us from a situation from which we cannot deliver ourselves and in which we may have been landed by our unfaithfulness.

Achish tries to keep David with him by giving a resounding testimony of his full dedication to the cause of the enemy. But the pressure is getting too high. It was not unusual for Israelites to serve in the armies of the Philistines (1Sam 14:2121Now the Hebrews [who] were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, even they also [turned] to be with the Israelites who [were] with Saul and Jonathan.). At the decisive moment, however, they left and joined Saul again. David could do the same. They emphasize their distrust in David by reminding Achish of the testimony of David and citing it in full (1Sam 18:77The women sang as they played, and said,
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”
). They know that well. On a previous occasion that David has been in their land, they have also referred to it (1Sam 21:1111But the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”

Achish Lets David Go in Peace

6Then Achish called David and said to him, “[As] the LORD lives, you [have been] upright, and your going out and your coming in with me in the army are pleasing in my sight; for I have not found evil in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, you are not pleasing in the sight of the lords. 7Now therefore return and go in peace, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” 8David said to Achish, “But what have I done? And what have you found in your servant from the day when I came before you to this day, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 9But Achish replied to David, “I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’ 10Now then arise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who have come with you, and as soon as you have arisen early in the morning and have light, depart.” 11So David arose early, he and his men, to depart in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

Achish got an impression of great loyalty and sincerity from David. The testimony Achish gives is an antigenic testimony to David. David’s reaction is falsehood and hypocrisy. If Achish looked closely, he could find a lot. David is pretending he would like to join in. He continues to lie, to live his life in lies. He pretends to be indignant that he cannot go along to fight against the enemies of “my lord the king”. He calls Israel the enemy and Achish his lord, while the real enemies are the Philistines and he is the servant of Saul.

Achish agrees with what David says. He even sees David as a messenger from God. As an idolater he can only mean that he sees a good spirit in David. David has so much surrendered his true identity and intentions because of his life in the lie, that he has given Achish a completely false image of what a messenger of God is. David could not in any way disturb the conscience of this Philistine ruler.

Achish gives David the freedom to go wherever he wants. The dividing line is drawn. David returns, not yet to Israel, but “to the land of the Philistines”. While Saul has disappeared forever in the night, the new morning (verse 1111So David arose early, he and his men, to depart in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.) is dawning for David.

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