David Flees to the Philistines
1 Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.”
1. How did David decide he should run for his life?
First, there is the statement that David consulted with himself, but he had previously asked God for guidance in prayer. Second, David said he believed he would die if he remained in Israel. Yet Samuel had anointed him as Israel’s next king, Jonathan had said twice that David would be king, as had Saul, and so had Abigail. Saul’s most recent statement about this occurs in the verse immediately preceding. Third, the name of God does not appear in this chapter suggesting that David did not get his guidance from the Lord. David’s faith in God’s ability to keep him safe seems to have weakened temporarily. The stress and strain of his hide-and-seek existence with no end in view seem to have worn on David.
In direct contrast to Saul’s word that David would prevail, David thought that Saul would ultimately kill him. This anxious thinking and the fear that fell upon him explain David’s actions in this chapter. God had told him to stay in Judah but he was afraid and sought protection again among the Philistine enemies of Israel. MSBN
This is obviously a departure from the high plain of faith that characterizes the life of David. It is a period of just letting down. We find that the same thing happened to Abraham. It happened to Isaac, and it happened to Jacob. In fact, it seems that most of God’s men have had this low period in their lives. JVM
2 So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3 And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow.
2. Why would David go back to Achish in Philistine Gath?
Here, as in 21:10, David goes to Gath as a mercenary. Whereas before he went anonymously and alone, here he goes in his own name, accompanied by his 600 men and their families, presumably having first negotiated their status with Achish. As he said in 26:19, he has finally concluded that he can no longer stay in Israel. The difficulties experienced by the families of the men (27:3) are also probably an important reason for his move.
It has not been that long ago since David sought sanctuary in Gath the first time. That was a miserable disaster for David. He did survive, but he was driven out as a scribbling, slobbering lunatic. One would have thought that as David left the gates of Gath, he would have muttered to himself, “I’ll never do that again!” And yet, here he is, but this time he is not alone. This time, David has his 600 followers, plus all their wives and families. David’s two wives are with him as well. RD
3. How is David allowed to have 2 wives and the NT seems to indicate one wife?
“He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. Lev.17:17
1) Why did God allow polygamy in the Old Testament? The Bible does not specifically say why God allowed polygamy. As we speculate about God’s silence, there are a few key factors to consider. First, while there are slightly more male babies than female babies, due to women having longer lifespans, there have always been more women in the world than men. Current statistics show that approximately 50.5 percent of the world population are women. Assuming the same percentages in ancient times, and multiplied by millions of people, there would be tens of thousands more women than men. Second, warfare in ancient times was especially brutal, with an incredibly high rate of fatality. This would have resulted in an even greater percentage of women to men. Third, due to patriarchal societies, it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Women were often uneducated and untrained. Women relied on their fathers, brothers, and husbands for provision and protection. Unmarried women were often subjected to prostitution and slavery. The significant difference between the number of women and men would have left many, many women in an undesirable situation.
So, it seems that God may have allowed polygamy to protect and provide for the women who could not find a husband otherwise. A man would take multiple wives and serve as the provider and protector of all of them. While definitely not ideal, living in a polygamist household was far better than the alternatives: prostitution, slavery, or starvation. In addition to the protection/provision factor, polygamy enabled a much faster expansion of humanity, fulfilling God’s command to “be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth” (Genesis 9:7). Men are capable of impregnating multiple women in the same time period, causing humanity to grow much faster than if each man was only producing one child each year.
2) How does God view polygamy today? Even while allowing polygamy, the Bible presents monogamy as the plan which conforms most closely to God’s ideal for marriage. The Bible says that God’s original intention was for one man to be married to only one woman: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [not wives], and they will become one flesh [not fleshes]” (Genesis 2:24). While Genesis 2:24 is describing what marriage is, rather than how many people are involved, the consistent use of the singular should be noted. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God says that the kings were not supposed to multiply wives (or horses or gold). While this cannot be interpreted as a command that the kings must be monogamous, it can be understood as declaring that having multiple wives causes problems. This can be clearly seen in the life of Solomon (1 Kings 11:3-4).
In the New Testament, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 give “the husband of one wife” in a list of qualifications for spiritual leadership. There is some debate as to what specifically this qualification means. The phrase could literally be translated “a one-woman man.” Whether or not this phrase is referring exclusively to polygamy, in no sense can a polygamist be considered a “one-woman man.”While these qualifications are specifically for positions of spiritual leadership, they should apply equally to all Christians. Should not all Christians be “above reproach…temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money” (1 Timothy 3:2-4)? If we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16), and if these standards are holy for elders and deacons, then they are holy for all.
Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives. When referring to a husband (singular), it always also refers to a wife (singular). “For the husband is the head of the wife [singular] … He who loves his wife [singular] loves himself. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife [singular], and the two will become one flesh….Each one of you also must love his wife [singular] as he loves himself, and the wife [singular] must respect her husband [singular].” While a somewhat parallel passage, Colossians 3:18-19, refers to husbands and wives in the plural, it is clear that Paul is addressing all the husbands and wives among the Colossian believers, not stating that a husband might have multiple wives. In contrast, Ephesians 5:22-33 is specifically describing the marital relationship. If polygamy were allowable, the entire illustration of Christ’s relationship with His body (the church) and the husband-wife relationship falls apart.
3) Why did it change? It is not so much God’s disallowing something He previously allowed as it is God’s restoring marriage to His original plan. Even going back to Adam and Eve, polygamy was not God’s original intent. God seems to have allowed polygamy to solve a problem, but it is not the ideal. In most modern societies, there is absolutely no need for polygamy. In most cultures today, women are able to provide for and protect themselves—removing the only“positive” aspect of polygamy. Further, most modern nations outlaw polygamy. According to Romans 13:1-7, we are to obey the laws the government establishes. The only instance in which disobeying the law is permitted by Scripture is if the law contradicts God’s commands (Acts 5:29). Since God only allows for polygamy, and does not command it, a law prohibiting polygamy should be upheld.
Are there some instances in which the allowance for polygamy would still apply today? Perhaps, but it is unfathomable that there would be no other possible solution. Due to the “one flesh” aspect of marriage, the need for oneness and harmony in marriage, and the lack of any real need for polygamy, it is our firm belief that polygamy does not honor God and is not His design for marriage. http://www.gotquestions.org/polygamy.html
4. Is this the same Achish from chapter 21?
Whether this Achish is the Achish of 21:10 is not certain;“Achish” may have been a title. But if it is the same person, he is probably more impressed by David’s resourcefulness than angry at the previous deception. While David stayed with the technically advanced Philistines, he may have learned some useful things (such as the military system). Though he is the rightful king, he must remain a while longer in exile from Israel.
The popular description of this king’s family creates a presumption that he was a different king from the reigning sovereign on David’s first visit to Gath. Whether David had received a special invitation from him or a mere permission to enter his territories, cannot be determined. It is probable that the former was the case. From the universal notoriety given to the feud between Saul and David, which had now become irreconcilable, it might appear to Achish good policy to harbor him as a guest, and so the better pave the way for the hostile measures against Israel which the Philistines were at this time meditating.
4 And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. 5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” 6 So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7 And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.
5. Why would Achish allow David and 600 of his warriors to live in his territory?
So David once more seeks asylum with Achish, king of the Philistine city of Gath, in the area just west of the Judean hill country. The first time David had sought refuge in Gath, he came alone and fled when he realized how vulnerable he was (21:10-15). This time he comes to Achish as a vassal, a warlord with 600 warriors. As a vassal of King Achish, he will be protected by Achish, but he will owe tribute to Achish and be required to defend Gath and fight with the Philistines when they go to war.
Achish welcomes him on the simple basis that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” And it has the desired effect: “When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him” (27:4).Life of David Discipleship Lessons
Achish was willing for David and his men to live in Philistia, apparently as mercenaries. Gath stood about 27 miles west-northwest of Ziph. Achish appears to have treated David as a vassal ruler and given him the town of Ziklag as a fiefdomDavid’s move was a fairly major relocation of his forces and his family. He evidently planned to stay in Philistia until God disposed of Saul. Since David now enjoyed Philistine protection, Saul no longer searched for him. Saul would have had to take on the Philistines to get to David, and Saul would not have wanted to do that. David must have looked like the frustrated leader of an ineffectivecoup d’état to Achish. Anyone who was the enemy of Saul was the friend of Achish. But David pretended to be more of a servant to Achish than he really was.
6. What do we know about Ziklag?
Ziklag was at first given to the tribe of Judah, but afterwards it was ceded to that of Simeon. The Philistines had, however, made themselves masters of it, and held it to the time here mentioned; it then fell into the tribe of Judah again, and continued to be the property of the kings of Judah. Ziklag evidently stood on the southwestern edge of Philistia about 27 miles south-southwest of Gerar, but its exact site is not certain. It continued under Israelite control from the time David moved there until David incorporated it into his kingdom. This town became David’s headquarters until he moved to Hebron 16 months later. In Ziklag David could come and go without constant observation by the Philistines who lived mainly to the north of Ziklag.
8 Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. 9 And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,”or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.”11 And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. 12 And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”
7. Are these the actions of a man of God?
David pleased Achish and enriched his people by carrying out successful raids that Achish thought were against the Israelites or peoples friendly to the Israelites. But David lied to Achish, for the raids were against other peoples, usually those hostile to the Israelites. To his shame David directed his men to slaughter all the inhabitants of the towns he raided. In this way he made sure that no one was left to tell Achish the true story about which people David had plundered (8-12).
8. Is it possible that God used David’s sin of lying to Achish and genocide against these pagan people to advance His own agenda.
David used the opportunity that his location afforded to defeat and to annihilate the common enemies of Israel and the Philistines that lived to Israel’s southwest. David did not leave any survivors, as the Lord had commanded (Deut. 3:18-20; Josh. 1:13). He was clearing the Promised Land of foreign foes so the Israelites could occupy it. David walked a thin line of deception but was able to convince Achish that his victories were for the welfare of the Philistines. Really he was conquering Israel’s surrounding enemies, but he gave Achish the impression that his raids were against the southern portions in Judah. David continued to subdue Israel’s enemy neighbors later when he became king (2 Sam. 8). Achish believed that David had alienated himself from the Israelites and would therefore be loyal to him from then on.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Gen 50:20 (ESV)
It seems, therefore, that David attacks these peoples for more pragmatic reasons, such as providing food for their families. He kills all the people, leaving no survivors, not because this is God’s command, but because it is the only way he can continue his deception.
David may be doing the right thing (i.e., annihilating those God put under the ban), but for all the wrong reasons. God often accomplishes His will by means of self-serving men who only unwittingly do what God has purposed. This was true of Joseph’s brothers, and it seems so with David in Philistine territory.
· ACC …. Adam Clarke’s Commentary
· CN …… Constables Notes
· ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes
· Gill………..John Gill Exposition of the Bible
· JFB…………..Jamieson Fausset Brown Commentary
· JVM ….J Vernon McGee,
· MH………..Matthew Henry Commentary
· MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes
· NET………Net Bible Study Notes.
· RD………….Robert Deffinbaugh bible.org