The Philistines Reject David
29 Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel. As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, 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, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,
‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the LORD lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” And David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” And Achish answered David and said, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ Now then rise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who came with you, and start early in the morning, and depart as soon as you have light.” So David set out with his men early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
1 Samuel 29 Commentary
by Hank Workman
In a most fascinating history, according to Wikipedia, the gesture of crossing your fingers traces all the way back to the early church. Christians would cross their fingers in order to invoke the power associated with the cross. It was to implore God for protection. Strange, huh? Today, the sign is often associated with wishing someone good luck or when telling a lie, the fingers are behind the back hoping to be excused or escape punishment for lying. The crazy concept is that if the hand is out of sight, the fingers are crossed, what you said doesn’t mean anything.
David must have had his fingers crossed.
David’s misleading actions and compromise had put him in a serious dilemma. As he had sought refuge among the Philistines and lived there for 16 months, he had deceived them as to his loyalty. As would be expected with their hatred of Israel, a war would come and here he was caught in the snare of it all. Although the passage doesn’t give any firsthand feelings of David here, I’m sure there were sleepless nights as to what the answer to this would be. For the Philistines were gathering, assembling their troops and King Achish believing the deception, enlisted David and his men to fight their own people.
Can you imagine the internal wrestling he must have gone through?
But here in 1 Samuel 29, we see the miraculous provision of God. Now, I think it’s important to realize God didn’t swoop right in and save him from this. Far from it; the troops were moving forward to battle. David and his men were expected and getting ready to do so as well.
It’s worth considering: God did rescue him or provide a way out but left him in the difficulty until the last minute to chastise his actions.
Before we’re so quick to jump with thoughts against David, I think we’re in the same place more often than we would want to admit. We do what we think is best or let’s be honest, what we want to do. We take actions and then many times find us in a compromised position, unsure of where or what we will do or how to get out of it. The walls close in around us. The choices we’ve made face us straight on each day. Without an intervention from God, we’re toast. For David, he was rescued at the last minute.
I have to be honest, this chapter doesn’t settle very well with me. For up until the very end, David pretends to be loyal to King Achish and it is truly bothersome. With there being no commentary in the Word of even David’s interaction with the Lord, it’s hard to take the whole spiritual aspect in.
For me, the takeaway is there are many times God allows us to struggle through our compromise. He lets us feel the effects of our choices. In His mercy, sometimes He rescues but it’s at the last minute so we can recognize where our choices have led us. Fingers crossed or not, God does what is best for us and the situation regardless of the outcome.
1 Samuel 29 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Can you imagine David fighting against his friends and family? Can you imagine him going to war with his best friend, Jonathan?
Jesus speaks in Revelation to the church at Laodicea with strong, convicting words. This church isn’t as close as they should be, yet, they are just close enough to know right from wrong. They are lukewarm. Here in 1 Samuel 29, I think David has become lukewarm. He is close enough to the Philistines to be comfortable (and go to war on their side), but still close enough to God to know he’s in the wrong. It’s a terrible place to be.
But in His grace, God spares David the decision. The Philistines don’t trust him, and really, why should they? The truth is, David has been fighting Israel’s enemies and lying about it. Take a moment and think about the possible outcomes of this ordeal.
If David fights with the Philistines, he will be labeled a traitor for the rest of his days. His future reign as king of Israel will never happen. Not only that, but it is probable that if an encounter were to happen with Saul on the battlefield, David would have won, further extending the shame of his decisions. For all this time he had avoided taking matters with Saul into his own hands, but this kind of encounter would have forced him to either kill or be killed.
If David turns against the Philistines to fight with Israel, he will go against his word and betray the trust he has established with Achish. He would again be labeled a traitor and would forever be known by his treachery and deception. His honor would be lost.
Because David has become lukewarm, he now faces an impossible situation. But our God is the God of the impossible. Even though David doesn’t seem to cry out for help or even be remotely concerned with his circumstances, God was working. David caused this ordeal and the Lord graciously protected him.
I wonder how many of us are being unknowingly protected right now? I wonder how many times each of us has allowed a lukewarm state of mind to lure us into an impossible situation only to be rescued by the hand of God? We cannot only praise him for what we know but also what we do not know, for we can rest assured that He has delivered us from the bloodshed of our future.
When things don’t go as planned, we often blame God for His lack of involvement instead of praising Him for His hand of protection. His grace is so much deeper than we know.