THE BOOK OF 1 SAMUEL
Living on the edge may be necessary to accomplish the will of God
1 Samuel 27 SCC 4/26/15
Conventional teaching is that David made a huge mistake here acting from discouragement and unbelief. Clues in the text however, indicate David acts based on courage and faith in the will of God.
UNAVOIDABLE (UNEXPLAINABLE; UNANTICIPATED) CIRCUMSTANCES MAY FORCE US INTO AN INGENIOUS COURSE OF ACTION
David hatches a plan to fix his circumstances 1
Verse 1: Was it Godís will for David to leave Israel and move to Philistia? The text does not say, but
there is the statement that David consulted with himself when he had previously on various occasions asked God for guidance in prayer. However, there were many occasions when David did not pray and so with us. David thought he would die if he remained in Israel. Yet Samuel had anointed him as Israelís next king. Jonathan had said twice that David would be king, as had Saul, and so had Abigail. So Davidís kingship had been authenticated. Yet, like Abraham waiting for the promised child, David is waiting for his Kingship. Itís a long wait! It seems David is on his own to act out a plan in response to Saulís continuous attempts to assassinate him. David says Ďescapeí twice and this is obviously on his mind.
Davidís plan is a desperate attempt to survive 2-3
Verse 2-3: David, who in the previous chapter said it was Saul who would perish now says it is he who will perish. And David, who pleads with Saul that he not be forced to leave the land, now feels compelled to leave even though Saul has given him some assurance of safety cp. 24:16-22; 26:21. It has not been that long ago since David sought sanctuary in Gath the first time 21:10. That was a miserable disaster for David. He did survive, but he was driven out as a scribbling, slobbering lunatic. This time, David has his 600 followers, plus all their wives and families.
Davidís plan accomplishes his immediate goal 4
Verse 4: David is right about one thing. When Saul hears that David has fled to Gath, he no longer searches for him. Does this mean Saul would have tried to hunt David down had he remained in Israelite territory? It isnít really surprising that Saul would not seek to capture David in Philistine territory. After all, he was never really aggressive in fighting Philistines anyway.
NB: We often must act on our own with action and a plan to secure a future that is consistent with the revealed will of God in spite of threats to the contrary. Everything though has to be weighed as we do. Working for an unjust boss; living in a bad marriage; handling sexual orientation; living within our financial means. We do not want to secure the revealed will of God on our own. God has a plan. So surveying the situation and determining an ingenious plan of action is a godly thing to do.
AN INGENIOUS COURSE OF ACTION CAN CUNNINGLY BE USED TO OUR ADVANTAGE
David requests a place of his own 5-7
Verse 5: David calculates that escaping to enemy territory is a way to turn events into his favor. David approaches Achish with a request. He asks if he can be given a city in the countryside where he and his followers and families can live that is not under foot. The request is in the form of David willing to serve as a vassal under the tutelage of the Philistine, Achish.
Verse 6: It seems a reasonable request, and so Achish gives David the city of Ziklag. This city is 25 miles or so to the south and east of Gath. It is somewhat out of the way, from a Philistine perspective, and not all that distant from Israelite cities in the south (Bethel, Ramoth, Jattir, Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, Racal etc.,). It gives David and his followers a ďplace of their own,Ē in an area where Davidís activities will not be monitored by Achish. This location takes advantage of Davidís strengths and covertly provides a base of operation for him and his band.
Verse 7: David dwelt in Philistia a year and four months, but the town of Ziklag becomes a permanent possession of the Israelite kings. David continues to wait for the moment when he will take the throne of Israel. God has his timetable and David was responding to his circumstances in the meantime with ingenious strategies that keep him waiting without waffling.
David covertly uses his location to ingratiate himself to the people of Judah 8-9
Verse 8: Davidís solution to this problem is ingenious. David uses Ziklag as his headquarters to fan out across the desert south and raid enemies of Israel that have been a constant bother to the southern frontier. From here, David and his men go about the area raiding the cities and camps of Israelís enemies. We know some of these people, such as the Amalekites. But of others, like the Girzites, we know nothing. We do know in a generic sort of way that these are the peoples who inhabited the land from ancient times. It may be safe, therefore, to conclude that all of these peoples are ďCanaanites,Ē who are under the ban.
Verse 9: David used the opportunity that his location afforded to defeat and to annihilate the common enemies of Israel and the Philistines that lived to Israelís southwest. David did not leave any survivors. He took away the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. It is a bloody business he has gotten into but his entire career is bloody. He was clearing the Promised Land of foreign foes (Canaanite and otherwise) so the Israelites could occupy it ingratiating himself to the southerners of Judahís tribe (30:26-31).
PT: Israel is a tribal nation. The tribes have individual and regional interests that may conflict with the other tribes. We do know that it took years for David to consolidate his power base as king because of tribal rivalry in Israel between those devoted to the house of Saul and others of David. David does this instead of taking matters into his own hands to become king. He had already refused to kill Saul to do so on two occasions. †
David utilizes the enemy to buy time for himself 10-12
Verse 10: 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 Israelís surrounding enemies, but he gave Achish the impression that his raids were against the southern portions in Judah and they were but just not against the Israelites. David continued to subdue Israelís enemy neighbors later when he became king.
Verse 11: Although David kills all of the people whose villages he raids he does not kill all of the cattle. It is possible that David also attacks these peoples for pragmatic reasons, such as providing food for their families. He kills all the people, leaving no survivors either because it is the only way he can continue his deception or it is an ingenious plan to wipe out the Canaanites and use this as an opportunity to curry the Judean cities favor. Davidís plan may not be wise to some in fleeing to the Philistines for safety, but he is certainly cunning and clever and utilizes his decision making to stay focused on surviving.
Verse 12: Davidís presence among the Philistines looks like a real asset to Achish. After all, from all appearances David is fighting for the Philistines against the Israelites. This must mean the Israelites would never take David back, and certainly not as their king. Rather than consuming the resources of Achish, David is a contributor. After every raid, David seems to come to Achish to report and give a portion of the spoils. Achish believed that David had alienated himself from the Israelites and would therefore be loyal to him from then on. The truth is he is killing the enemies of the Israelites, and then sharing the spoils with them, making frequent visits to their cities (30:31). David is ingratiating himself with the Israelites, while living under the protection of the Philistines.
1. When unexplainable circumstances seem to conflict with the revealed will of God, instead of waiting for some sign from God to act we should take initiative to formulate a response on our own without violating that will of God.
2. Do not leave the clear revealed will of God behind when strategizing your decision making in unexplainable or unavoidable circumstances. David is the benefactor of ministry to him by others. There was Samuel, who not only anointed him as Israelís next king, but to whom David could flee when Saul was pursuing him. There was also Abiathar, the only surviving heir of Ahimelech, who joined David, along with the ephod. Then there was Jonathan, who constantly stood beside him, assuring David he would be the next king. And there was also Abigail, who encouraged David to do right as Israelís next king. God invests a lot of Ďflesh and bloodí capitol on Davidís career and development. Davidís plan was ingenious and cunningóhe still acted in anticipation of the will of God not against it. He did not kill Saul for instance.
3. You can calculate how you will manage your unusual situation so the will of God is not violated but you cannot control events that may result from that decision. David had to act Ďon the flyí while his plan was in motion. He did so with cunning all the while calculating the outcome for the best possible advantage while waiting on God for his will to be accomplished. He had no idea how God would do this or when but he was responsible to manage his situation with the will of God in mind. He did so by utilizing his strengths and maneuvering himself to be prepared for his role as king of Israel.