1 Samuel 29
1 Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel.
2 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,
3 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.”
4 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?
5 Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances, ‘Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”
6 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.
7 So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.”
8 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?”
9 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.’
10 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.”
11 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.
One of the most interesting and faith building activities in which we can participate is to look back over our lives and see where God has worked. I think it is one of the reasons we are not actually able to “forgive and forget.” Yes, we need to forgive and God empowers that in us through the death of Jesus on the Cross and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. But the forgetting part – I don’t think we actually want to be able to forget; for in remembering we find God active in our lives and we have personal proof that He cares and is working things out for us in the smallest details. (We would also be in sad shape if we were able to forget our sins because it is in those experiences that we learn. Wouldn’t it be sad if we had to learn the same things over and over and over again?
Today’s portion of 1 Samuel is only 11 verses long, but in this story we are seeing how God is taking care of His people in ways that at the time must seem confusing or pointless at the time. David is “excused” from the Philistine army. The generals don’t trust him while the king (Achish) does. Although if you will remember, David wasn’t really dealing in a very honest way with Achish. He told Achish he was raiding Hebrew settlements when in reality he was raiding tribes in the Negev. Since he left no survivors there was no one to make Achish any the wiser. I guess that David figured what Achish didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him! David even takes the time to play the injured party in order to keep up the ruse. (verse 8) Apparently Achish was willing to be kept in the dark, as David probably brought back some of the spoils of his raids to the king. Now, why is all of this important, you might wonder? In the immediacy of the story, it appears that David has simply been dismissed. But we will read in the coming chapter that David’s immediate return to Ziklag, the city given him by Achish, is of utmost importance. God’s hand is all over David’s life and the lives of his people. (If you want to read ahead, into chapter 30, you can get an advanced look at what happens.)
Surely, as David looked back over the events of these years on the run and with the Philistines, he sees how God took good care of him and his people. Here is the Psalm David wrote during his first run-in with Achish when he feigned insanity cause his enemy to discount him. Psalm 34.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
These are the words of a man who knows that God is sovereign over his life. As you read through Psalm 34, look back over your life and make note of where God has moved in such a way as to care for you and let that knowledge grow your faith. Remember and praise!