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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

1 Samuel 29

Verses 1-11

DAVID'S DISMISSAL FROM THE PHILISTINE CAMP (1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.11.).

EXPOSITION

MARCH OF THE PHILISTINE ARMY (1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.5).

1 Samuel 29:1

The Philistines gathered, etc. The narrative, broken off for the description of Saul's abasement, is again resumed from 1 Samuel 28:1. Aphek. As we saw on 1 Samuel 4:1, this word, signifying a fortress, is a very common name for places. If it was the Aphek in Judah there mentioned, David's dismissal would have taken place near Gath, and so soon after Achish joined the Philistine army. Mr. Conder thinks it was the place represented by the modern village Fuku'a, near Mount Gilboa, in the tribe of Issachar; but as this was distant from Ziklag eighty or ninety miles, it would not have been possible for David to have reached home thence on the third day (1 Samuel 30:1), nor was it probable that his presence with his little army would remain long unnoticed. A fountain which is in Jezreel. Hebrew, "the fountain." Conder says, "Crossing the valley we see before us the site of Jezreel, on a knoll 500 feet high. The position is very peculiar, for whilst on the north and northeast the slopes are steep and rugged, on the south the ascent is very gradual, and the traveller coming northward is astonished to look down suddenly on the valley with its two springs: one, 'Ain Jalud, welling out from a conglomerate cliff, and forming a pool 100 yards long with muddy borders; the other, the Crusaders' fountain of Tubania" ('Tent-Work,' 1:124). The former is the fountain mentioned here; and it is evident that even now Saul had chosen a strong position for his army. The reading of the Septuagint, En-dor instead of "the fountain" (Hebrew, 'En, or 'Ain), is indefensible, as the Israelites were many miles to the southward.

1 Samuel 29:2, 1 Samuel 29:3

The lords of the Philistines passed on. Evidently they were on their march northward, with their troops arranged in divisions, when David's presence in the rearward with the contingent of Achish was noticed. The princes—not the strict word for the Philistine lords (see on 1 Samuel 5:8), but a loose, general term used again in 1 Samuel 29:4—on having it reported to them in the course of a day or two that there was a body of strange troops in the army of Gath, asked, What do these Hebrews here? Hebrew, "What these Hebrews?" i.e. What mean these Hebrews? using of them the ordinary Philistine term of contempt. Achish answers that these men were the followers of David, who, having deserted from Saul, had been with him these days or these years, i.e. an indefinitely long time, during which he had conducted himself with the utmost fidelity to his new master.

1 Samuel 29:4-9.29.6

Angrily rejecting the testimony of Achish in David's favour, they say, Make this fellow (Hebrew, "the man") return, that he may go again to his place, i.e. to Ziklag. He shall not go down with us to battle. Though the Philistines marched up into the Israelite territory, yet they speak naturally of going down into battle, because while armies usually encamped on opposite ranges of hills, they descended into the plain between for the encounter. An adversary. Hebrew, "a satan," without the article, and so in 1 Chronicles 21:1. As a proper name it has the article, as in the books of Job and Zechariah. Should he reconcile himself. The verb means, "to make himself pleasing," "to commend himself." The heads of these men, pointing to the Philistine ranks. David of whom they sang, etc. The song of the Jewish maidens seems to have been as well known in Philistia as in the land of Israel On the former occasion it had made the Philistines drive him away from the court of Achish (1 Samuel 21:11-9.21.15); here, too, it made them drive him from their army, but he was thereby saved from the painful necessity of making war on his own country, and returned just in time to rescue his wives and property.

ACHISH SENDS DAVID AWAY (verses 6-11).

1 Samuel 29:6, 1 Samuel 29:7

As Jehovah liveth. These words are strange in the mouth of a Philistine, nor can we suppose that out of respect to David he would thus swear by David's God. Probably they are the equivalent of the oath which Achish really used. He sends, however, David away with the utmost courtesy, assuring him that his own wish had been that he should remain with him, because all his conduct had been upright since he had come to him at Gath.

1 Samuel 29:8

David's answer is subtle and prevaricating; he pretends that his honour has been attacked, when really he had tricked the unsuspecting Achish. But truth is a modern virtue, and though David extols it in the Psalms (Psalms 15:2; Psalms 51:6), we too often find him practising falsehood.

1 Samuel 29:9

1 know that, etc. Rather, "I know it, for thou art good in my sight," i.e. 1 know all that thou wouldst say as to thy trustworthiness, and assent to it. As an angel of God. I.e. as a messenger of God, as one set to me by God.

1 Samuel 29:10, 1 Samuel 29:11

With thy master's servants. It has been well remarked that while this would be a strange description of David's own men, it would exactly describe that band of deserters belonging to the tribe of Manasseh who, instead of obeying Saul's summons to the war with the Philistines, joined David about this time (see 1 Chronicles 12:19-13.12.21). As soon as ye be up early in the morning, etc. If it was on the second day s march that the Philistine lords objected to David's continuance with them, he would be back at Gath in two days, and on the third day reach Ziklag, as is said in 1 Samuel 30:1. However difficult David's position may have been, still every one must condemn his conduct towards Achish as dishonourable; but God, who often deals with men more mercifully than they deserve, nevertheless rescued him from his state of perplexity, and saved him from the necessity of either fighting against his own countrymen or of still more dishonourably breaking his word to Achish by deserting in the battle. He also sent him home just in time to rescue from a miserable fate those whom he loved.

HOMILETICS.

1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.5

The counteractions of Providence.

The facts are—

1. The Philistines make preparations for battle, and David and his men form the rear.

2. On the princes complaining of the presence of the Hebrews, Achish pleads the faithfulness of David.

3. The princes insist on the dismissal of David and his men to a safe quarter, being suspicious that he might in battle turn against them. The conduct of David, as recorded in 1 Samuel 27:1-9.27.12; now began to be embarrassing both to himself and his Philistine protectors; and had events gone on as once appeared probable, David would have been put in inextricable difficulties. It was only the quarrel between Achish and the leaders of his forces that solved the ambiguity of his position.

I. THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS, regarded in isolated sections, OFTEN SEEMS TO RENDER THE REALISATION OF GOD'S PURPOSE UNCERTAIN, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE. The prophet Samuel had declared it to be God's purpose to bring David to the throne, as a man worthy of the confidence Of the nation. The arrangement that had been made on the accession of Saul to power had been modified in harmony with this fact. Yet in the ambiguous position in which David was now placed by his own erring conduct it seemed as though events were tending in a different direction. The very man on whom the hope of the pious was set was now allied with Israel's foe, and on the way to fight against his own people. Already dissimulation had injured his reputation, and should he now engage against his own countrymen, how could he ever be worthy of confidence as a loyal Hebrew? This is not an isolated instance. The readiness with which the descendants of Jacob seemed to settle in Egypt after his death gave no promise of the fulfilment of God's purpose concerning them. The scattering of the disciples by the first persecution appeared to run counter to Church consolidation, and therefore to power of Christian effort. There are ebbs in the individual Christian life which while in progress suggest the uncertainty of final salvation. Even the long course of evils subsequent to the creation of man, considered in their earthly development, may give rise to the doubt whether the benevolent purpose of a good Creator can ever be attained. It should not be forgotten, however, that we see only sections of life's course, and we must not draw a conclusion from partial knowledge. God allows freedom of action, and trains his creatures by the dearly purchased lessons of a painful experience, and, moreover, calmly awaits the issue of the whole.

II. THE ERRORS OF MEN OF SINCERE PIETY ARE VERY TENDERLY TREATED BY GOD. We cannot but be struck with the great difference between the conduct for which Saul was so heavily punished and that of David which did not issue in his rejection. Saul's sin was radical—it was "rebellion" (1 Samuel 15:23). It indicated that self-will ruled his conduct. David's sin in dissembling and in settling without Divine direction as an ally of Achish was the sin of backsliding and neglect. He was radically sincere in his piety, but in an hour of weakness lost his full faith in God, and so yielded to the influence of fear. Hence he was chastised by sorrow, by increasing fears, by self-humiliation, loss of reputation, and that secret sense of Divine displeasure which the erring soul of the devout knows too well. Though the sincere servant of God falls, he shall not be utterly cast down. God remembers that he is dust. In David's case the troubles created by his actions produce regret that he ever put himself in such a false position, and quicken the spirit of true repentance. Our Saviour's treatment of hardened, self-willed men and those whose spirits were struggling to do right and to be right was very different. It is a consolation to us all to know that he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and does not cast off those who, not being able to "watch one hour," fall into temptation.

III. GOD NEVER FAILS TO EXERCISE CONTROL OVER THE SET OF EVENTS WHICH SEEM TO RUN COUNTER TO HIS PURPOSES, and when the fit time arrives HE BRINGS NEW ELEMENTS INTO OPERATION. David erred and sinned; but David was restrained and inwardly humbled. This dangerous alliance, though bringing him to the verge of a precipice, was limited, in the pressure of its obligations, by a new set of influences being brought into operation. So far as the bond between David and Achish was working, David's hand must soon be raised in battle against Israel; but the inscrutable Providence which ordained him to be future king, and allowed him, for hidden reasons, to come into perilous and damaging relationships, also held sway over the spirits of Philistine princes, and just when the sin of the man of God was about to bear its cruellest fruit, moved them to protest against his entering into the conflict. Thus tenderly does God deal with his erring servant, and, in a manner unknown and unexpected, counteract the course of events which recently had tended to the frustration of his own purposes. How often would God's servants ruin their own reputation and the very cause dear to their hearts did he not raise up means of checking the tendency of their conduct. It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.

IV. IN THUS COUNTERACTING THE EFFECTS OF OUR MISCONDUCT GOD CAUSES CHASTISEMENT TO COME ON THE ERRING. David was mercifully saved from the peril of smiting his own people, and the pressure of any obligation which human friendships and customs may have laid upon him was removed, and the prospects of his being welcomed as king in Israel were brightened; yet in his own heart he was made to feel all the pain and shame of being regarded as a man of treacherous character. He could not but smart under the contempt of heathen princes if, as is likely, he knew of their language concerning himself. "Make this fellow return," and for the reason "lest in the battle he be an adversary to us." To profess to be true and faithful, and yet to be scorned and treated as one whose word and profession are worthless, this was one means by which Providence caused the erring one to suffer from the fruit of his own deeds.

General lessons:

1. Let us not be allured into questionable courses by a prospect of present ease, seeing that a perilous crisis may arise out of the very means we take for securing ease.

2. Whatever troubles beset the Church by reason of the imperfect conduct of God's servants, let us still cherish faith in his wisdom and power to counteract the natural effects of their conduct.

3. It is of great importance so to act as never to merit the scorn and distrust of irreligious men, for we thereby dishonour the name of God and destroy our proper influence in the world.

1 Samuel 29:6-9.29.11

Escape from danger.

The facts are—

1. Achish informs David of the remonstrance of the princes, and at the same time expresses confidence in his integrity.

2. On Achish urging his return from the scene of conflict, David professes to be surprised that he should be distrusted, and appeals to his past fidelity.

3. Being reassured of the confidence of Achish, and of the determination of the princes, David returns with his men. The relations of Achish and David appear to have been most honourable to both, and there is something beautiful in the respect and consideration with which this heathen ruler treats the refugee. He does his best to lessen the pain which he presumes the communication of the resolve of the princes will cause him, and sends him away with the strongest assurances of interest and confidence. On the other hand, while keenly feeling the implication of the princes, David displays in his self-vindication the art of a skilled diplomatist. He does not say that he wishes to go against Israel, or that he regrets not being permitted to go, but shrewdly asks whether, so far as concerns his past conduct while with Achish, he might not be trusted in conflict with a foe. There are several topics suggested by this discussion between the heathen king and the Hebrew refugee.

I. The STING OF SUSPICION. David was hurt by the imputation of possible treachery. His sojourn among the Philistines had been marked by carefulness not to abuse their hospitality, and to fulfil the obligations incident to his position as a protected refugee. Also, as a pious Hebrew, he claimed to be far above the. uncircumcised in all that makes character noble and trustworthy. Moreover, the probability is he did not entertain thoughts of treachery, but rather in his conscious embarrassment was secretly praying to God for some escape from the dilemma of his position. Although, as a man of the world, he must have seen the legitimacy of their conclusion from their premises, yet this did not remove or lessen the sting of the suspicion of the princes. He was reaping the bitter fruit of his former act; and we have noticed under 1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.6 the element of chastisement in this pain. To every upright mind it is most distressing to be an object of suspicion, and especially among persons with whom friendship has been maintained. It eats away the joy and strength of the heart, and destroys much of our power with men. Happy is it for us if a good conscience is a private solace; but we should see to it that the suspicion is not warranted by any puzzling ambiguities in our words or deeds.

II. FIDELITY IN ENGAGEMENTS. Achish, in strong language, testifies to the fidelity with which David had kept every engagement involved in his position in the country, and David himself appears to have been honestly conscious that in this matter he was upright. He had done his duty, and that is much to say in a world where so many temptations arise to induce selfish action, regardless of relative claims. It is of great importance in the social order that men understand their position to rulers, to neighbours, and to home, and with careful exactitude discharge the varied obligations resting on them with religious scrupulosity. It is hard to say what material loss, moral injury, and social and commercial disorganisation arise from laxity in keeping engagements. The ease with which some, even professing Christians, can disregard the obligations of their position in society and the Church, and also fail to meet undertakings deliberately made, is very painful to contemplate. We honour God when we "fulfil all righteousness." Our supposed fidelity in great things is deprived of much of its honour and glory by neglect of what are deemed the "minor moralities." Our Lord has taught us the connection between the two. "He that is faithful in the least is faithful also in much."

III. THE INFLUENCE OF SUPERIOR CHARACTER. There is evident sincerity in the words of Achish when he says of David, "Thou hast been upright... I know that thou art good in my sight as an angel of God." The fact is, the force of David's superior character as an enlightened Hebrew and a God fearing man was duly recognised by this heathen king. The disparity between the two men in point of spiritual enlightenment and holy aspiration was enormous. The peaceful, kindly disposition of Achish enabled him to live on such terms of intimacy with David as to feel the full force of his superiority. The highest form of character on earth is realised when great natural powers are fully permeated with the light and love of the Christian spirit; and in any case of moderate powers, elevation is attained in so far as the pure, loving mind of Christ rules the life. Such character is a silent formative power in society. Men who speak not of it consciously recognise its beauty and force. They feel its charm, its restraining power, its elevating tendency, its quickening and soothing effects. How blessed the influence of a missionary among degraded heathen! What power for good is exercised by many a devout pastor in village and city! Who can estimate the value of holy character in the master of workmen, the teacher of the young, the mother of a family, the statesman at the head of affairs?

IV. CONCEALMENT OF THOUGHT. David complained to Achish of the suspicions of his lords, and was prepared to prove that nothing in his conduct since he had been amongst them gave the slightest ground for their imputation; but his defence was so carefully worded as to conceal from Achish the real thought of his heart. He simply reasoned from his known conduct to a general conclusion of fidelity to his protector; he said nothing of the private wish that he may not have to fight Israel, or of any hope that he shall escape the test of fidelity, or of his secret pleasure that a door of escape was opening. The form of the language, to one not keen in detecting shades of thought under general terms, might lead to the belief that he was referring to the impending battle, and so far perhaps David's words may be challenged. Yet he only said what was generally true. He concealed the sentiments pertinent to the coming contest. This practice of concealing thought requires much watchfulness. We are not bound to let out all we think, nor are we to give faculties to men to understand what others would see at once, but we are bound not to design to give a wrong impression. Truthfulness lies in intent as also does falsehood.

V. DOORS OF ESCAPE. After the fearful strain that must have been put on David's feelings by the ambiguous position in which he had placed himself, it must have been an immense relief to see the door open for an honourable retreat. The Bible does not tell us all that God's servants thought and felt and did; but judging from David's usual conduct when in great straits, and from the references in the Psalms to times of trial, we may infer that during this painful and self-caused season of peril he cried from the depths of his heart for deliverance. It came, and the "salvation" was of the Lord. How this suggests to us the many escapes which God secures for us during our earthly course! What instances there are of the same Providence in the records of the Bible and the history of the Christian Church! And above all, there is now "an open door" set before us by which, if we will, we may escape from the degradation and woe of sin, and walk in the liberty of the children of God. "Escape for thy life," was once said to Lot. He gave heed, and was saved. He that hath an ear to heart let him now hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.

HOMILIES BY B. DALE

1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.11.

A good man in bad company.

"What do these Hebrews here? (verse 3). The results of the wrong step which David had taken in going into the country of the Philistines now became manifest. In the war against Israel Achish naturally looked to him and his men to go out with him to battle. What was he to do? He might refuse to go. This would have been his straightforward course. But he would thereby forfeit the friendship of Achish, and expose himself to imminent danger. He might go and fight against Israel. This would be to incur the greatest guilt, and imperil his accession to the throne. He might go and turn traitor on the battle field. This was what the Philistines expected (verse 4), but it would have covered his name with infamy. He determined for the present to continue his prevarication with Achish, who said he should be captain of his bodyguard for the future (1 Samuel 28:1, 1 Samuel 28:2), and went, probably with a troubled conscience, and hoping that he might in some way be relieved from his inconsistent and perplexing position. He was clearly out of his proper place in the Philistine army. His condition represents that of a good man—

I. IMPROPERLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE UNGODLY. It is by no means uncommon for a good man to yield to the temptation to join the wicked in their pursuits, unnecessarily, and from an unjustifiable motive; such as the desire of personal safety, convenience, information, pleasure, or profit—like Lot in Sodom, Jonah going to Tarshish, Peter in the palace of the high priest (see 1 Samuel 15:6). The relation into which he thus enters is inconsistent with—

1. Truth; inasmuch as it usually requires him to deceive others concerning his real character and purposes, by pretending to be what he is not, and concealing what he is.

2. Piety; inasmuch as he is thereby hindered in his devotions (ch. 26:19), exposes himself to fresh temptations, sanctions sinful or doubtful conduct, strengthens the ranks of the enemy, violates his duty to God and "his own company "and people. "Those that would be kept from sin must not go on the devil's ground" (M. Henry). "What doest thou here, Elijah?" David—Hebrew—Christian?

3. His own real welfare; inasmuch as he involves himself in unforeseen but certain trouble, places himself beyond the promised protection of God, and exposes himself to the threatened fate of his enemies.

II. SHREWDLY SUSPECTED BY HIS ASSOCIATES. He may endeavour to escape their suspicion, and for a time succeed, but it is sooner or later excited by—

1. Something, in himself—his name, appearance, relation to past events ("Is not this David?" etc; verses 3, 5), peculiar behaviour, faltering and ambiguous explanations. "Thy speech bewrayeth thee." "Did I not see thee in the garden with him?"

2. The occurrence of new circumstances, which quicken perception, call for decision, test and manifest the character, and its congruity or otherwise with present associations.

3. The general instinct of the ungodly. Although some of their number may be deceived, and exhibit unbounded confidence in him (verse 3), let no one think to escape. "There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed."

III. DEEPLY HUMILIATED BY HIS TREATMENT.

1. Outwardly. In the eyes of others. "Make this fellow return," etc. (verse 4). He is compelled to leave the society which he has chosen; expelled from it publicly and ignominiously, as one unworthy to be trusted.

2. Inwardly. In his own eyes. The heathen king of Gath appears to have been a faithful and honourable man; and his expression of confidence in David (verses 3, 6), in contrast to the dishonourable prevarication of the latter (verse 8), must have put him to shame. "The flattering commendations of worldly people are almost always purchased by improper compliances, or some measure of deception, and commonly may cover us with confusion" (Scott).

IV. PROVIDENTIALLY EXTRICATED FROM HIS EMBARRASSMENT. He may not be able to extricate himself from the net in which he has become entangled. But God does not readily abandon him to all the natural consequences of his conduct. He has many ways of working out his deliverance, and effects it—

1. From regard to the good that is in him, and in pity toward him in his perplexity and distress.

2. For the honour of his name, that his merciful care over his servants may be seen, and his glory promoted by them.

3. Not without testifying his disapproval of his sin. "David returned the next morning to Ziklag no doubt very light of heart, and praising God for having so graciously rescued him out of the disastrous situation into which he had been brought" (Keil). "The snare is broken, and we are escaped" (Psalms 124:7). But on the third day he found Ziklag in ashes, was overwhelmed with grief, and more deeply humbled than ever before. The folly and guilt of the course which he had pursued were at length brought home to him with irresistible force.

Remarks:

1. There are associations with t. he ungodly which are not sinful, but right and beneficial to a good man himself, as well as to them.

2. No one should place himself in the way of temptation, and then expect that God will preserve him from falling or extricate him from the consequences of his presumption.

3. If any one finds that he has improperly associated himself with the wicked, he ought to adopt all proper methods to effect his speedy separation from them.

4. When he has found deliverance from his perplexity and peril he should give the glory of it to God alone.—D.

1 Samuel 29:1-9.29.11

Achish.

David had, in the course of his life, friendly relations with several heathen princes. One of these was Achish (elsewhere called Abimelech, Psalms 34:1-19.34.22; inscription), son of Maoch, and king of Gath, one of the five royal cities, the seats of the princes of the Philistine confederacy. What is recorded of him shows that he was a remarkable man. Whilst Saul persecuted David, Achish protected him; and whilst the former, in the midst of Israel, "with the law" of Moses, committed atrocious crime, and sank into heathen superstition, the latter, in the midst of heathenism, "without the law" (Romans 2:11-45.2.16), exhibited much moral excellence, and approached the faith of Israel (1 Samuel 29:6). He may have profited in religious knowledge by his intercourse with David; on the other hand, his example was in some respects worthy of imitation by him. We must not attribute to him virtues which he did not possess; but we see in him a man much better than we might have expected to find from the disadvantages under which he lived. He was distinguished by—

1. Self-interested policy. Although he may have felt some sympathy with David in his persecution by Saul, yet he appears to have received him under his protection chiefly because of the aid he hoped to obtain from him for himself and his people (1 Samuel 27:12).

2. Unsuspecting confidence. He had much reason to be suspicious of David from his knowledge of his victory over the champion of Gath, and his recollection of his former visit; but he put an unreserved trust in his representations (1 Samuel 28:2), and even when others suspected him did not withdraw it. A trustful disposition is liable to be imposed upon, but it is always worthy of admiration.

3. Royal generosity, in permitting David to dwell in Gath, making him a present of Ziklag, and appointing him to an honourable post in his army. He was without envy or jealousy, and acted toward him in a manner worthy of a king.

4. Discriminating appreciation; admiring the military bravery of David and the still higher qualities which he possessed. "I have found no fault in him," etc. (1 Samuel 29:3, 1 Samuel 29:6, 1 Samuel 29:9). There must have been much in common between these two men to have enabled them to live on such friendly terms with each other for so long a period. Excellence perceives and appreciates excellence.

5. Honourable fidelity, both in testifying to the worth of David and in submitting to "the lords of the Philistines," with whom lie was associated (1 Samuel 29:7).

6. Courteous consideration. "And now return, and go in peace," etc. (1 Samuel 29:7). "Rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants," etc. (1 Samuel 29:10; 1 Chronicles 12:19-13.12.22). He was frank and commendatory even to flattery, and desirous not to hurt his feelings by the manner of his dismissal.

7. Devout sentiment. "As Jehovah liveth," etc. (1 Samuel 29:6). How much he meant by this expression we know not. But we may believe that, notwithstanding he was united with others in conflict with Israel, there was in him (as the effect of that Divine mercy and grace which wrought in all nations) "some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel." And "in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:35).—D.

HOMILIES BY D. FRASER

1 Samuel 29:2

A false position.

What a dilemma for David! He could not refuse the confidence he had sought from Achish. He could not renounce the allegiance he had so recently pledged. If he should disobey the king of Gath, he could look for nothing but indignant reproach and a traitor's doom. If he should obey him, he would, in course of a few days, be fighting against his own nation, and bringing them again under the yoke of the Philistines; and this would be worse than death. Perplexed and reluctant, he marched in the rear of the invading army, suffering inwardly all the more that he was obliged to hide his unwillingness, and to affect a zeal against Israel which his heart disowned. See in this story—

I. THE ILLUSTRATION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. While David wrought himself into a most critical position, and an apparently fatal embroilment with the Philistines, the Lord wrought wonderfully through the very errors of his servant, so as to preserve him in safety, and open his way to a higher destiny. It was well appointed that he should be out of the land of Israel at this time, so that he should neither hasten nor hinder the discomfiture of Saul, and that the Philistines should give him shelter, and yet not involve him in the crime of desolating and enslaving his native land. How to escape from the dilemma in which he was caught baffled even David's ready mind; but the Lord always knows how to deliver. He does so through means and agencies that are natural; in this case through the very natural jealousy of the Philistine lords, and their proper military prudence, objecting to have the person of the king intrusted to the keeping of a band of Israelites, and that band commanded by a skilful and daring captain in the rear of their army, where their defection would be most dangerous. "The lords favour thee not," said Achish. And, like our kings in old times, who durst not disregard the voice of the barons, Achish intimated to David that it was best for him to retire from the army. David was quite acute enough to see the advantage which the Philistine chiefs were unwittingly conferring upon him. They, as his enemies, helped him out of the dilemma in which he had been placed by Achish, his friend. Such things are not infrequent in the providence of God. Often a man's enemies open to him the way out of great difficulty. Disfavour is shown, or a sharp word spoken, and it turns out a great advantage. The wrath of opponents or rivals may act as so much dynamite to explode a rock of obstruction which friendly hands cannot remove, and so to clear the path of deliverance.

II. THE ILLUSTRATION OF HUMAN LIFE. See how a man may fall through want of moral firmness into a false position utterly unworthy of his character. It was, as respects David's integrity, unfortunate that he found such favour with the Philistine king. It is always a misfortune to be successful in the beginning of wrong doing, for it soothes the conscience and leads one on to compromise himself more deeply. And one false step leads to another. David's unbelief led him into a course of deceit and dissimulation from which he saw no way of escape, and every day drew him further into a position which was false and unworthy. It is a story full of admonition and warning. One may easily let himself into a trap from which he cannot let himself out. One may take a false step, which involves another and another, till there is a course of deflection. An object is gained, but in the success the conscience is soiled; and then the penalty is that one is compelled to act out the part he has assumed, to go on in the way on which he only meant to venture for a time and for a purpose. He thought to do a questionable thing and then return to his integrity; but lo! he is in a maze, and cannot find the way out. The gain which he sought turns out to be a loss; the favour which he craftily won proves to be a burden and a danger; and there is no remedy. It is very unsafe to possess great powers of deception. David had them, and they nearly ruined him. But the experience through which he passed taught him to abhor deceit, and to desire, what God desires, truth in the inward parts. For proof of this see Psalms 15:1, Psalms 15:2; Psalms 34:12, Psalms 34:13; Psalms 51:6. Mark, too, how he appeals to the God of truth, and, ashamed of his own unveracity in certain passages of his early life, puts all his dependence in his later years on the veracity and faithfulness of God, who has made with him an "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure" (see 2 Samuel 23:5; Psalms 25:10; Psalms 31:5). The security of our salvation rests not on our tenacity of faith, but on the truth of God our Saviour. He cannot lie. The Son of David, our Prince of life, is faithful and true; and he who is our God in Christ Jesus will never fail those who rely on his word. "Yet he abideth faithful;. he cannot deny himself."—F.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 29". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/1-samuel-29.html. 1897.