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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 29

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-11

First Samuel - Chapter 29

Philistine Lords Reject David, vs. 1-11

This short chapter relates the maneuvering of the armies of the Philistines and of Israel as they move toward encounter. It also illustrates the Lord’s care and protection of His wayward child, David. The army of Philistia had not yet arrived in Shunem, nor the army of Israel retreated to Mount Gilboa (see 1 Samuel 28:4), where they were when Saul sought the witch, the night before the fatal battle. Instead the Philistines were gathering in Aphek, a city of western Ephraim, to march to the war. The Israelites were gathering in the valley of Jezreel below Gilboa.

As the Philistines were mustered by their hundreds and thousands David and his six hundred men arrived in the rear guard with Achish. Immediately they became a serious concern to the other Philistine princes and lords. But Achish defended David as the man who had served Saul so well, though he was driven out of the country to take refuge with Achish by the one he had so served. Achish had found no fault with David for the months he had dwelt among the Philistines (though, of course, David had secretly raided in behalf of Judah and not Philistia).

However, the other princes and lords of the Philistines were not as trusting as Achish. They could see how David might find an excellent opportunity in the midst of battle to right things with Saul his former master. To allow this hero of Israel, about whose prowess in battle they had sung, to accompany them would be to jeopardize their heads. Therefore, they protested so strongly to Achish that he was compelled to turn David back from the battle.

Achish went to David apologetically, swearing by the Lord that David had proven to be only honorable and dependable in his sight. This again shows the absolute deception which the Lord had allowed David to work upon the Philistine king. The lords had compelled Achish to dismiss David and his men from their army, so that the Lord God had again intervened to keep David from going to war with his own countrymen. There is no way, of course, to know what David would have done had he been allowed to go into the war. There is enough ambiguity in his words, however to indicate David’s continued deception of Achish, and perhaps to actually turn on him in the ensuing battle just as the lords feared.

David played the king’s game, making protest and probing for any suspicion of his double life by the king. But there was none, Achish even acclaiming David as good in his sight "as an angel of God." Because of the strong opposition against him Achish commanded David to take his men and return early on the following morning to the land of Philistia. The Philistine army proceeded to the Jezreel valley and Shunem.

(Author’s NOTE: There is no Samuel parallel to the following information, but it is dealt with here because this is the chronological position for it.)

Joined by Deserters, 1 Chronicles 12:19-22

Somehow when David had taken his men to join the Philistines in their campaign against Saul and Israel the men of Israel were aware of his presence. Those of the tribe of Manasseh are specifically mentioned, with seven captains of thousands being named. When David was sent back, at the insistence of the Philistine lords, these men deserted from Israel, perhaps with numbers of their men, and accompanied David back to Ziklag.

The sack of Ziklag is related in chapter thirty below. The Manassites were there with David upon the discovery and accompanied him and his men on their rescue mission "against the band of the rovers." They are called mighty men of valor and were assigned positions as captains in David’s host.

The attraction of David to the men of Israel is indicated by verse 22. It is probably also a commentary on the critical times following the ignominious defeat of Saul by the Philistines, and his death in the battle. The defeated men flocked daily to David until he had acquired a great host compared to the host of God.

Lessons from chapter 29: 1) Leading a double life will finally result in distrust and discovery; 2) God is faithful to extricate His children and bring to pass His will even when they go astray; 3) God’s people will recognize His rightful leaders and rally to their aid.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 29". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-samuel-29.html. 1985.
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