Achish sends David home

1 Samuel 27, 29

The last time we saw David, he and his 600 men were living in the desert; he was on the run from Saul, who was hunting him down, intent on killing him.  King Saul, whom God had taken the kingdom of Israel from because of his continual rebellion and disobedience to His commands was slowly going insane.  Of course, that is an “editorial comment” on my part, but if we look at Saul’s bizarre behavior after God’s rejection of him as king in favor of David, we see that Saul was beyond fickle.  Saul was on an out of control emotional roller coaster, backsliding, repenting, then backsliding again, over and over.

By now, David had come to the realization that king Saul was a lost cause and could never be trusted so he decided it was time for a change of direction.  After some brief consideration, and apparently not a word of prayer, David came to this conclusion—

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. (1 Samuel 27:1b)

I say David couldn’t have prayed about this decision because the thought of David—God’s anointed—finding peace and safety among the Philistines is a bigger leap than finding Saul in the company of priests!  Saul no more belonged with priests than David belonged with his enemies, yet this was what he decided to do.  What a strange spectacle it must have been to see God’s anointed king depending on a heathen king for protection!

But then it must also be a strange spectacle to God, as He watches how we live our lives.  Instead of trusting Him to help us, as He promised He would in His Word, how many Christians take matters into their own hands and seek to meet whatever needs they think they have in a worldly way?

  • Feeling depressed?  Don’t waste your time praying and looking for good fellowship with other Christians, take a pill.  Go to a party and get drunk.
  • Feeling lonely?  Look for another relationship to get into.  Find a bunch of people to hang around with that make you feel good; how cares if they are Christians or not.
  • Kids out of control?  Why raise them the Biblical way when all you have to do is “get them counseling” or pump them full of drugs to calm them down or get them so involved in extra-curricular activities they won’t have time to get in trouble.

Of all the moral deserts a believer may find themselves in, none is more sickening to watch than the quagmire of selfishness.  Why else would a Christian run to the world for help, if they aren’t selfish and self centered?   If God was the primary focus of a person’s life, they would go to Him first.   We have all, at one time or another, played the part of the prodigal, taking a long journey into a far country.  And some of us have even done exactly what David did; in a fit of cowardice and fear we have sought help or peace or happiness from people who would do us harm and in places we had no business going to.

1.  David’s big mistake

The very first phrase of verse one says it all—

But David thought to himself.

Literally, David did what he did because it was in “in his heart” to do so.  By listening to his heart, David was denying His anointing.  David had the Holy Spirit dwelling within him; he knew what God’s will was, yet he listened “to his heart.”  Here is a tremendous lesson for Christians:  never listen to your heart!  You can’t trust it!

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17:9)

The Bible never encourages a person to “follow his heart.”  That’s a Hallmark moment, not a Biblical moment!  1 John 2:24 tells us what a Christian should do—

As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.

That phrase “what you have heard” means the teachings of the apostles; the Gospel!  Listen to the Word, not your heart.  You are on dangerous ground indeed if you pay more attention to your heart than to the Word of God.  It will make you do things you would have never done otherwise.

Essentially, David’s fear of Saul was greater than his faith in God and that’s why hiding out with the Philistines made sense to him.  Again, read verse one carefully—

The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines.

Oh really?  The best thing for a child of God to do in a pinch is to seek out the help of the ungodly?  What David did reminds me a lot of this verse—

The way of fools seems right to them.  (Proverbs 12:154a)

It made sense to David to hide out with Israel’s enemies; who would think of looking for him there?  But David’s way was not God’s way.

So we say with confidence,  “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can human beings do to me?”  (Hebrews 13:6)

2.  David’s plan worked. Sort of.

In running to his enemies, the Philistines, David appeared to have had some success.

When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he no longer searched for him.  (1 Samuel 27:4)

The godless plan David hatched in his heart to save his own hide actually worked.  And why wouldn’t it?  It made complete sense.  The only problem, it was David’s plan, not God’s plan.  1 Peter 4:13 is a marvelous verse that not only states the value of difficult and dangerous times, but also the reward for remaining faithful—

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Peter did not suggest that the believer should “avoid suffering at all cost.”  Peter did not intimate that suffering was somehow a sign of weak faith.  Indeed, what Peter said was the exact opposite to conventional wisdom:  the sufferings we may endure make Christ’s glory all the more sweet.   Maybe one of the reasons so many Christians have such a low opinion of God that they continually try to manage their own lives is because they have never actually suffered for Christ; through clever manipulation they have avoided it.  By backsliding into the world and compromising your faith you can almost always find relief; the world loves its own!   However, while that kind of believer may find relief, they will never see the glory of God manifested.

So, David’s plan worked and he found peace and safety for himself and his men hiding out with the enemy.  However, that peace and safety came with a heavy price.  Verse 5 seems to suggest that in some way David went further than just hiding out with the Philistines—

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.  (1 Samuel 27:5)

What did David do that made Achish, king of the Philistines, look favorably upon him?  David was the sworn enemy of the Philistines; had he not slaughtered their champion, Goliath?   Not only did David and Achish appear to be on very favorable terms, we read in 28:2 that David refers to himself as Achish’s servant!  David was King of Israel; he was nobody’s servant!

As Christians, we are called to high standard of living; much higher than that of the world.  For a believer to be found acceptable to the world that believer must lower their standards.  Consider what Paul wrote in light of what David did—

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?  (2 Corinthians 6:14—15)

The believer ought not to have anything in common with the unbeliever!  The only way a believer can be accepted by an unbeliever is to literally deny their true character as a child of God as David denied his before Achish.   There is no other way to explain why David and Achish got along so well; David had to submit himself to a master who was not God.  The prodigal son did a similar thing; when he had journeyed to that “far away country,” running from his father, he got into trouble and the first thing he did was not to run back home where he belonged!  Luke 15:15 tells us exactly what he did—

So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.

Like David, this desperate man joined himself to a stranger when he was in need.  David did the unthinkable:  he joined himself to Achish his enemy, and he did this because he did what “was in his heart.”  Backsliding in the heart always ends in backsliding conduct.

Remember what David “said to himself” back in 27:1—

The best thing I can do…

The KJV translates this phrase a little differently—

There is nothing better for me…

One commentator has remarked:

It is an infallible evidence that we are “living after the flesh” when we are more ready to consider what would be “better for me” than what would be better for Christ and His kingdom.

3.  David’ compromise

There is an interesting exchange that took place between David and Achish that is so brief we might be tempted to read over quickly and miss its significance.

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.   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.  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.”  (1 Samuel 27:8—9)

That is an outright lie!   David was in Egypt fighting, he was nowhere near those other places!   David would lie again when he deceived Achish into thinking he wanted to go and fight with the Philistines against the Israelites—

Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?  (1 Samuel 29:8b)

Of course, Achish providentially let David off the hook, and David was, in all likelihood, very glad.

This is the kind sinful, double dealing  life a Christian has to live when they make friends with the world.  They have to lie; they have to lie to both God and to the world.   When a Christian seeks aid and comfort from anything or anybody in the world, they have to lie and they have to play the hypocrite in order to be accepted.  No body, not David and not you if you are born again, is the same after they have encountered Jesus Christ and received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Even salt without its taste is still tasteless salt.

Have you ever been tempted to do what David did?  Has life ever gotten so hard for you that you felt like your only way out was to compromise your faith?   Maybe you are living a lie right now; maybe you are someplace you know you shouldn’t be or in a relationship you know is wrong for you.  Maybe you have been living a life of compromise for so long that you feel as though God would never want you back.  Let me assure you that is never the case!  God wants you because He loves you more than you can ever know.  I promise you, if you are willing to come back to God, He will make a way for you.

And if you are in the habit of listening to your heart, let me urge you:  STOP!   Or you may find yourself someplace you don’t you don’t belong.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd


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