Within Enemy Borders
1 Samuel 27:1-12
1Then 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.” 2So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3And 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. 4And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. 5Then 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?” 6So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. 8Now 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. 9And 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. 10When 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.” 11And 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. 12And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”
David has permanently parted company from Saul. Because of Saul’s relentless chase, David goes back to Gath in Philistia, where he has been before while running from Saul. The first time he was in Gath, he was alone and feigned insanity to keep Achish from pursuing him. This time, he is accompanied by 600 men and their families. Suddenly, Gath is filled with over 1,000 new inhabitants. The current ruler of Gath is also called Achish, but is probably not the same guy as David met the first time he was there. This man is called Achish, son of Maoch. This indicates he is a different person. In David’s favor is the fact that both David and Achish have the same enemy in King Saul.
The sudden influx of over a thousand Hebrews was probably quite a strain on Gath, for numerous reasons. As David assesses the situation, he decides to go to Achish and request a city for his people to inhabit away from Gath. Achish agrees with this idea and gives David Ziklag, south of Gath by over 20 miles. From that new location, David and his men stage raids on the Geshurites, Girzites, and Amalekites. But he tells Achish he is raiding the cities of Judah. Since he leaves no one alive to report back to Achish, his lies stand. Achish is none the wiser and David begins acting like the king he is anointed to be.
In raiding Geshur, David was continuing to fight “Yahweh’s wars”, since Joshua had left the Geshurites for Israel to conquer as part of receiving the promised land. In conquering the Amalekites, David was finishing what Saul had left undone.
Steinmann, A. E. (2016). 1 Samuel. (p. 512). Saint Louis, MO: CPH.
David’s time on the run is drawing to a close. Saul is unraveling as a sane person and as the king. David is emerging as a capable and clever leader. God’s plan has taken time, but is being realized as only He can accomplish. In the last three chapters of 1Samuel, we will find Saul’s disgraceful end and David strength of mind and heart take control of the nation. Looking at the mega-narrative of this story, we find God’s hand all over His people, providing for them exactly what is needed. In reality, this story extends far past David and into our lives today through David’s progeny, Jesus Christ.