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Many people in the Bible seem larger than life. Moses parted the Red Sea with a rod. Elijah called fire down from heaven. He raised a boy from the dead. He changed the weather. He prayed and there was a drought for three years. He prayed again and it started raining. Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still.
When was the last time that you did that? Have you ever raised anybody from the dead? Have you ever changed the weather by your prayers? When have you changed the movement of the stars or planets by your words?
David was also larger than life. He was Israel’s greatest king. He was the only man in the Bible who was called “a man after God’s own heart.” No one besides David is called that. He had the faith to kill a huge giant. Without question, he was one of the greatest men of the Bible. He was an ancestor of the Messiah.
In these chapters, we find that David was just like us. He was human. He was imperfect. He had flaws. He had sins. Some of them were big sins, as we will see in this chapter and later in II Samuel. He made really bad decisions.
David’s Darkest Hour
In this chapter, we see a low point in David’s life. These were David’s darkest days up to this point. He was depressed. He was dark. He was gloomy. He was pessimistic. He was afraid. He is driven to despair. Has that ever happened to you? Notice the opening of the chapter.
But David thought to himself, “One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.”
2 So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maok king of Gath. 3 David and his men settled in Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives: Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail of Carmel, the widow of Nabal. 4 When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him. (I Samuel 27:1-4 NIV).
We can’t criticize him too much. We do exactly the same thing today that David did. David said, “Saul is going to kill me. It is only a matter of time. It may not happen today. It may not happen this week or this month but it will happen. It is only a matter of time before I am dead. I can’t run forever.”
God delivered David from a lion. He delivered him from a bear. He delivered him from Goliath but somehow he thought God would not deliver him from Saul, so he had to run away, leave the country and go to the land of the Philistines.
David is exhausted. He is tired of running from a madman. He was tired of being a fugitive. He was a fugitive month after month and year after year. David has been a fugitive for years. He has been on the run for over eight years. That gets old, especially when you have families to take care of. He went on the run in I Samuel and, by I Samuel 27, he is still on the run.
When you think about it, David had many things on his side. He had many reasons to believe that one day he would be king.
1) David had a prophetic word that he would be king. Most of us do not have a specific prophetic word about our lives and our future. David did.
2) David had a kingly anointing. He was anointed to be king by a prophet. He was anointed with oil.
3) David had special empowerment from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came on David powerfully.
4) David had all kinds of evidence of success in his life. He had plenty of evidence of God working in his life, providing and protecting him.
5) David had lots of encouragement from all kinds of people, including his enemies.
King Saul said, “I know that you will SURELY be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.” (I Samuel 24:20 NIV)
Abigail said, “The Lord your God will CERTAINLY make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord EVERY good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel| (I Samuel 25:28-30 NIV)
In fact, David himself said, “As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value my life and deliver me from ALL TROUBLE” (I Samuel 26:24 NIV).
David used to believe that God would deliver him. He used to believe that he would live to be king. Now, he is convinced that one day Saul will kill him.
Is David any different from us? We are not always on a spiritual high. We have our ups and down. We have fears. Sometimes, we feel great and sometimes we are driven to despair. Sometimes, our faith in God’s Word is strong. Sometimes, we have questions about our faith.
It is a common problem. In some churches, if you have any questions, they kick you out of the church. You are not allowed to question anything. Some of the greatest saints have questions. John the Baptist was one of the greatest men of the Bible. Jesus said he was (Matthew 11:11).
He was locked up in a Roman prison for months and went through a dark period in his life. He had some real questions about who Jesus really was. He asked Jesus, “Are you the one who came or should we look for another?” Jesus did not rebuke him and say, “That’s a dumb question. Why would you ask such a thing? You of all people should know better.” Instead, he answered his question.
What caused David’s depression? What caused his faith to falter? The chapter begins with these words, “But David thought to himself” (NIV). “David said to himself” (Berean Study Bible).
Instead of looking up for answers, he looks inside. Instead of having a conversation with God, he has a conversation with himself. That is one guaranteed way to be depressed. Just look within. That is Buddhism.
David decides that the ONLY way to protect himself is to run away from his problems. He moves to the land of the Philistines. He stays there for sixteen months (I Samuel 27:7). He was in this country when King Saul died. David is living in enemy territory. What do we know about the Philistines?
They were pagans. They were idol worshippers. They were not just the enemies of Israel. They were the archenemies of Israel. This was where the giant Goliath was from. In a few chapters, the Philistines not only kill Saul, they kill Jonathon, David’s best friend.
Advantages to Living in Gath
David does it for one reason, to get away from Saul and it works. “When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.” (I Samuel 27:4 NIV). There were some advantages to living in Gath. Now, he does not have to worry every day if he is going to die, so he goes to Gath and makes friends with the leader of Gath, whose name was Achish (ah-keesh).
Achish liked David a lot. He said, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God” (I Samuel 29:9 NIV). Achish thought he was an angel but it was all built on a lie. He did not know that he went around killing his own people behind his back. Achish said, “From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you” (I Samuel 27:6 NIV)
He not only liked David and respected David; he trusted David (I Samuel 27:12 NIV). He trusted him so much that he made David his bodyguard (I Samuel 28:2). Compare this reaction of David to Saul’s reaction to David. Saul didn’t like David and he didn’t trust David. He couldn’t stand him. It is strange but sometimes the world treats you better than some people in the church.
Not only was he treated better there and safer there (no assassination attempts) but there was food there. Nabal would not give him any but he found some in Gath and David was not living in a cave. David was given a town in the country to live in (I Samuel 27:5). It was the town of Ziklag.
Recent Discovery of Ziklag
For the longest time, no one knew exactly where the city of Ziklag was located. Just a few years ago some archeologists discovered this town. In 2019, a team of Israeli and Australian archaeologists excavated it. They even found some items going back to the time of David there.
Did David Do the Right Thing?
Did David do the right thing? If something works, does that make it right? No. Just because something works does not make it right. That is “the ends justifies the means” philosophy.
You can commit murder and get away with it but does that make it right? You can rob a store because you don’t have money to pay your rent and never get caught. Just because something works, doesn’t make it right.
David went to the land of the Philistines before and didn’t work. In fact, the prophet Gad told him to go back to the land of Israel. He had a word from God to go home (I Samuel 22:5). Now, he decides to go back. Believers make the same mistake more than once. You would think that we would learn the first time. Sometimes, we have to make the mistake several times, before we get the point.
The Results of Compromise
David solved one problem when he moved to the land of the Philistines but he created many more problems. Compromise is always dangerous. It always has some unintended consequences. What were some of the results of compromise?
1) It puts people at risk
When you compromise, sometimes other people get hurt. He put people at risk in Gath. The last time David went to Gath, he went by himself. This time he brought his two wives with him. He also brought six hundred men and their families. If you count the women and children, he went there with well over a thousand people. David brought godly Abigail into this pagan, idolatrous country and put her in danger. She would later be kidnapped (I Samuel 30:2).
2) It results in sin
David sins in this chapter. He commits three main sins in the chapter and these sins are repeated. They are not done one time. David steals. David lies. David commits murder.
He commits mass murder. He went on raids and just wiped out entire towns. We would call these war crimes today. Is David just doing what Joshua did? Was David just an instrument of judgment? There are some important differences between David and Joshua.
God never told David to do this. He just did it. The reason he killed people was not to do what God told him to do but to prevent any witnesses from reporting on his crimes (I Samuel 27:11). That is the wrong reason to kill people, so there are no eyewitnesses.
When David wanted to build God a Temple, God said, “No. You have shed too much blood on the earth but your son Solomon can build me one” (cf. I Chronicles 22:8).
In addition, David killed all the people but brought all of the spoils back to the Philistine Achish. That was not part of the directions God gave to Joshua
David is not only extremely violent in Gath, committing mass murder, but he is dishonest. He has to constantly lie about who he is killing and what he is doing. He lied all of the time. David told bold face lies in Gath. His whole life in Gath is one big lie. He leads a double life.
Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.) 9 Whenever David attacked an area, he did not leave a man or woman alive, but took sheep and cattle, donkeys and camels, and clothes. Then he returned to Achish.
10 When Achish asked, “Where did you go raiding today?” David would say, “Against the Negev of Judah” or “Against the Negev of Jerahmeel” or “Against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11 He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, “They might inform on us and say, ‘This is what David did.’” And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory (I Samuel 27:8-11 NIV)
That is the exact opposite of how we are to live today. We are to be open. We are to be honest. We are to be transparent. We are to be truthful and not lie to one another.
3) It leads to two masters
It is hard to live a double life. James 1:8 says, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (NIV). David had to be a faithful Jews and a faithful Philistine all of the time. Eventually, he had to choose between the two. He could not be both at the same time. You can’t live for God and for the world at the same time. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24 NIV).
It came to the point where he was asked to go to war against his own people and asked him what he would do (I Samuel 28:1). That is the kind of thing that happens once you compromise. David was asked if he would fight. He gave the political answer. It was vague.
He said, “you will see for yourself what your servant can do” (I Samuel 28:2 NIV). That is like what Joe Biden when he was asked if he would pack the Supreme Court. He said, “Elect me and find out what I will do. I am not going to tell you but you will see what I will do shortly.”
David almost went to war against his own people. He almost did it but once again God kept him from sinning. Some of the other Philistine leaders did not trust David like Achish did. They sent him home (I Samuel 29:1-11). That solved the whole problem but they only sent him home after he came out on the battlefield ready to fight.
We have seen David at his lowest point. We see him sin and compromise but he does not stay there. In these chapters, we also see him completely restored. How does that happen? What did it take to restore David. What did God use to restore him? God used circumstances in his life to restore him.
David had to repent and ask God for help but he did not do that until he was completely broken. That did not happen overnight. It did not happen for sixteen months. Some of us need to be completely broken before we can be restored. How was David broken?
Achish asked David to go into battle against his own people. When David and his six hundred soldiers get there, the Philistine commanders say, “What is he doing here?” They did not trust him and they sent him back home (I Samuel 29), so they walked seventy-five miles home.
When they got home, they are tired from walking at least seventy-five miles and then they saw Ziklag on fire. Their city was on fire. Their homes were destroyed. All of the women and children were gone. They were kidnapped. The men were exhausted and now they were completely devastated. Their family was gone.
David did some raiding on the Amalakites and now the Amalites raided him and kidnapped all of the women and children. One of the things that God told King Saul to do was to wipe out all of the Amalakites but he did not do it and now they kidnapped all of these families and the men were talking about killing David.
David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.
Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, 8 and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”
“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.” (I Samuel 30:6-7 NIV)
Chuck Swindoll called this “a turning point in David’s life.” When David was completely discouraged, when there was absolutely no hope, when his own soldiers wanted to kill him, in David’s darkest hour, he didn’t find strength in himself or in anyone else. He found strength in God.
David was in an impossible situation. All of the wives were gone. The kids were gone. God was the only one who could help him. He is the only one who can help us. We need to completely depend on God and rely on Him to solve our problems.
 The Swindoll Study Bible NLT . Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.