Reading through the Bible together
Although the Lord has protected David from every danger so far, his faith is tried once again. His prospects are dark. His own people show only censure and ingratitude. The men of Keilah try to turn him over to Saul (ch. 23:1-13), and the Ziphites twice tell Saul of his hiding places. Nabal insults him. He is being treated as an outlaw.
So, without asking guidance from the Lord, he decides to take refuge among the Philistines, sworn enemies of his people. Achish, king of Gath welcomes him. This seems to be the same king before whom David had feigned madness (1 Sam. 21:12,13). At that time David was alone, but now he brings with him his entire band of six hundred, with their wives and children. Achish apparently sees them as a help to his own military forces. When Saul hears where David has gone, he decides to stop pursuing him.
David’s failure in this case is similar to the flight of Elijah after his victory on Mt. Carmel. They both suffer an all-too-human lack of faith and courage. Fortunately God does not abandon them.
David’s next move is to ask Achish for a place to live away from his headquarters in Gath, and Achish gives him the city of Ziklag. From there David decides to continue his raids against the Amalekites and other desert tribes whom God had decreed should be dispossessed by the children of Israel. He leaves no survivors to carry reports back to Achish, and when the Philistine king asks where he has been, he says, “Against the negev (south) of Judah.” He has indeed gone raiding south of Judah, but against the desert tribes, not against his own people. But his ambiguous answer leaves Achish with the impression that he went against Judah.
David’s blunder in fleeing to the Philistines without God’s guidance, and then covering the truth with his duplicity, shows again that there is safety only in following God’s will.
Retired Professor and Missionary