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The Objections of the Philistine Princes
v. 1. Now, the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek, not far from Shunem, in the Plain of Jezreel; and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel, on the northwest slope of Gilboa.
v. 2. And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds and by thousands, crossing the valley in full battle array, with their officers and princes at their head; but David and his men passed on in the rearward with Achish, the Philistines of Gath forming the rear-guard.
v. 3. Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? They may have remembered, from an earlier campaign, that the Israelites in their own army had turned against them and helped to destroy them, 1 Samuel 14:21, or they may have been particularly suspicious of David. And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul, the king of Israel, thereby alluding to Saul's enmity toward him, which hath been with me these days, or these years, our expression being "a year and a day," and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day? He had found nothing which would cause him to suspect his loyalty to the Philistine cause.
v. 4. And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him, that is, the rulers of the four other city-states; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, to Ziklag, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us; for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? Should it not be with the heads of these men? They felt that it would be the best opportunity for David and his men to reinstate themselves in the favor of Saul by defeating apart of the Philistine army.
v. 5. Is not this David of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands? Cf 1 Samuel 18:7; 1 Samuel 21:11. The defeat which they had suffered at the time when Goliath had been slain still rankled in their memory, and their recollection of this achievement proved the means of rescuing David from the unpleasant necessity of going into battle on their side, although their fears would probably have been realized in that event. It was an act of grace and mercy on God's part which took him out of the battle.
David's Return to the Land of the Philistines
v. 6. Then Achish called David and said unto him, Surely, as the Lord liveth, for he swore by the Lord of Israel, in order to emphasize the sincerity of his statement, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight, his entire behavior at all times had met with the approval of the Philistine king; for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day; nevertheless, the lords favor thee not, they refused to drop their suspicions against him.
v. 7. Wherefore, now, return and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.
v. 8. And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? And what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee, literally, "before thee," in thy presence, unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king? This was again ambiguous, and purposely so, for David would most assuredly not have fought against his own countrymen.
v. 9. And Achish, accepting David's words as referring to himself, answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God, that was his impression and conviction, that David's behavior would have done credit to an angel; notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.
v. 10. Wherefore, now, rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants, the subjects of Saul, that are come with thee, and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.
v. 11. So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, as soon as it was light enough to see, to return into the land of the Philistines, to Ziklag. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel, advancing to attack the army of Israel. God's faithfulness in turning aside the evil results of David's foolish move is a source of comfort also to us. He does not let us be tempted above that we are able; He spares us tests and temptations which would be too severe for us, which would endanger our faith. Moreover, the very children of the world who hate us are often instrumental, by God's providence, in having God's good and gracious will fulfilled in us.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 29". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany