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The Holy Ghost in holding forth to the church the history of David, hath in this Chapter given us a view of this great man in the infirmities of his character. Here are his fears respecting Said, and his want of faith in God recorded: his flight to Gath in consequence thereof: Achish the king of Gath, his kind reception of David: gives him Ziklag for a dwelling place. During his residence in the country of the Philistines, David maketh excursions upon the neighbouring states and conquers them, but deceives Achish in the account. These are the principal contents of this Chapter.
1 Samuel 27:1
(1) ¶ And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me anymore in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
Surely the Holy Ghost had a most gracious design in giving the church the true portrait of David in this verse. Was it possible for David after two such remarkable interpositions, as 1 Samuel 24:0 relates at the cave of Engedi, and as 1 Samuel 26:0 relates of the event in the wilderness of Zeph: was it possible for David ever to question the Lord's care of him, even if he had not also been anointed for the succession to the kingdom? But Reader! in David we behold what all human nature affords evidence of, to demonstrate what a man's faith is when supported by God, and what the same man is when left to himself. Put it down, my brother, as a maxim of everlasting truth and, certainty, if the Lord leaves our faith alone to act of itself, that act will be weak indeed. It is but for the great author and finisher of faith to withdraw the arm of his power, and then the poor believer falls into fears and doubts, as David did. Reader! if you know anything of precious faith, I would charge it upon yon as one of the grand lessons of the soul: learn to make Jesus the finisher as well as the author of your faith and salvation. There are many souls who know Christ as the author, but very few are so highly taught as to make him the finisher.
(2) And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.
Besides David's want of faith, here was a breach of obedience. The prophet Gad had been commissioned to tell David to abide in Judah, how then could he think himself either justified, or in safety, in fleeing to Gath? See 1 Samuel 22:5 .
(3) And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal's wife. (4) And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him.
Saul's giving over the pursuit of David seems to be so related, not as he did it from choice, but from necessity. There was no opportunity of going after David into an enemy's country. It is not unfrequently so by men in various transgressions. When men have no longer power to prosecute their lusts, they relinquish what they can no longer enjoy. The heart remains the same, but the ability is no more. An awful picture this of a state of unregeneracy.
(5) And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? (6) Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day. (7) And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months.
The removal of David to Ziklag, seems to have been from an higher direction than either David or Achish. From its being nearer to the borders of Judah, the return thither would he more easily effected. And as Ziklag originally belonged to Judah, it was literally no other than giving back again what belonged to Judah. See Joshua 15:31 .
(8) ¶ And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt. (9) And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish. (10) And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. (11) And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines. (12) And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant forever.
No doubt a zeal for the honor of God, with an eye to what the Lord had determined concerning the utter destruction of the Amalekites, was the leading object David had in view in this excursion. See Exodus 17:14 . It is astonishing to see, in the dissimulation of David with Achish in this business, what littleness, mixed with much greatness, the mind of man is made up of. Alas! what is any man, the best of men, but a mass of sin and unworthiness in himself. Oh! how precious is the Lord Jesus endeared to the heart, in every review of what he is to us, and what we are without him. 1 Corinthians 1:30 .
Do not, my soul, pass over the review which the Holy Ghost gives thee of David's want of faith, in the opening of this chapter, without taking home with thee the important instruction it affords, to teach thee where thy strength is, and where is all thy stay. Oh, blessed Spirit! I thank thee for the view. Yes, gracious God, I see the need of it. If David failed after such distinguishing evidences of favor; if he, the man after God's own heart, was led away from his stedfastness; Oh! how shall I be supported in a trying hour? There is a way indeed by which I shall be more than conqueror; and that is in thee, O blessed Jesus. Thy servant hath from his own experience assured the church, that they which are kept, are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Lord, I take occasion from the weakness of David's faith, the Holy Ghost hath here shown me, I take occasion to bespeak thy grace for every trying hour, and that thy strength may be made perfect in my weakness. To thy precious bloodshedding power would I look; in its divine efficacy would I trust to resist all temptations; and under its sprinkling would my soul come; this, this dearest Jesus, will secure me, and like the holy army in heaven, who overcame by the blood of the Lamb, I shall then be enabled to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany