OBEDIENCE IN ADVERSITY
Powerful One, you are from everlasting to everlasting: your holy character does not change. I praise your name.
Read 1 SAMUEL 27:1 - 28:2
David Among the Philistines
27 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.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be assigned to me in one of the country towns, that I may live there. Why should your servant live in the royal city with you?”
6 So on that day Achish gave him Ziklag, and it has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since. 7 David lived in Philistine territory a year and four months.
8 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. 12 Achish trusted David and said to himself, “He has become so obnoxious to his people, the Israelites, that he will be my servant for life.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it’.1
In the ancient world, those who fared badly in their own country sometimes switched sides and became mercenaries in another. David has every reason to be embittered: it was not only Saul, but cities in Judah who were willing to betray him; and people from his own tribe, like Nabal, who refused to help him. Many Christians become disillusioned with their church leaders or are hurt in a conflict and leave the church altogether. Although David seemingly offers his services to Israel’s sworn enemy, in reality he will still be fighting Israel’s adversaries, the local populations allied to the Philistines (v 8). He continues to fight the Lord’s battles from the very heart of the enemy’s kingdom. It is important that we don’t judge David’s deception and tactics in warfare by our modern standards. Outwitting an enemy like Achish would have filled ancient readers with glee, and fighting the local populations as well as bringing judgment on the Amalekites, who attacked God’s people without cause, were commands from God.2 Saul’s disobedience regarding the latter was viewed so seriously that God took the kingdom from him.3
By asking for a place away from the royal city and ending up on the border of Philistine territory at Ziklag (vs 5,6), David creates a margin of safety to cover his real activities, but he is playing a dangerous game that puts his family at risk. Nevertheless, it seems preferable to being on the run in the wilderness (v 1) and he providentially escapes detection. David makes the best of a challenging situation and continues in obedience to his calling as king while refraining from seizing the throne. In this he foreshadows Jesus, who went about working in his people’s interest even though many betrayed and rejected him.
Lord, may we be faithful to our calling, whether appreciated or opposed.
Dear God, you are with me always, through the ups and downs of life. Grant me the strength to push through the downs of my life.
1 1 Cor 4:12 2 Deut 7:1,2; 25:17–19; see also Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, Baker, 2011, p158–197 3 1 Sam 15
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