Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Samuel 27

Verse 1

1.I shall now perish — This was taking too dark a view of the case. Dangers, indeed, encompassed him; but he had received too many tokens of the Divine favour to allow himself to yield to such unworthy fears.

Verses 1-4

DAVID AT GATH THE SECOND TIME, 1 Samuel 27:1-4.

David had now good reason to believe that his life would be in continual jeopardy as long as he remained in the land of Saul; and seeing in that monarch’s conduct so striking a display of human treachery and deceitfulness, he may have even felt that some of his own men might find occasion at some time to betray him into the hands of his enemy. But the method by which he sought to escape from danger was a very questionable one. Far better for him to have gone away into the wilds of Horeb, as did Elijah in the time of his persecution, and to have there awaited the death of his royal foe. Dr. A. Clarke’s comments on this wrong step in David’s life are not too strong. “There is not one circumstance in this transaction that is not blamable. David joins the enemies of his God and of his country; acts a most inhuman part against the Geshurites and Amalekites, without even the pretence of Divine authority; tells a most deliberate falsehood to Achish, his protector, relative to the people against whom he had perpetrated this cruel act, giving him to understand that he had been destroying the Israelites, his enemies. I undertake no defence of this conduct of David; it is all bad, all defenceless; God vindicates him not.” “This measure was calculated to alienate the affections of the Israelites, and to give credit to the slanders of his accusers; he thus ran himself and his men into the temptations to idolatry; and he laid himself under obligations to those whom he could never favour without betraying the cause of God.” — Scott.

Verse 2

2.Achish, the son of Maoch — Probably the same person mentioned

1 Samuel 21:11. But David’s reception in Gath was very different from that of the former occasion. “The inveterate hatred of Saul, now so well known, was his recommendation, and no distrust could be entertained of a man who fled for his life to the enemies of his country — exasperated by wrongs, and willing, it might be supposed, to avenge them.” — Kitto.

Verse 3

3.Every man with his household — From which it appears that many of David’s men, like their leader, had their families with them.

Verses 5-12

DAVID IN POSSESSION OF ZIKLAG, 1 Samuel 27:5-12.

David was known at Gath as the conqueror of Goliath, and at one time at least, if not now, was looked upon as an aspirant to the throne of Israel. 1 Samuel 21:11. To many persons in Gath he must therefore have been an object of suspicion. Also, as Kitto well observes, “it must have been obviously difficult for him and his men to be living there among idolaters without giving or taking offence; and there was constant danger lest, with so many strong and reckless men moving about among their old enemies, some affray might arise on religions or national grounds, which might have a fatal and ruinous termination. He, therefore, at length ventured to ask the king to assign him some town in the land where he might live apart with his men; and where, as seems to be adroitly implied, they might provide for themselves, and be no longer burdensome as guests in the royal city.”

Verse 6

6.Gave him Ziklag — This town was situated in the extreme south of Palestine, (Joshua 15:31; Joshua 19:5.) but its exact location is unknown. A trace of the name may linger in the Wady Asluj, a day’s journey southwest of Beersheba. Near here are found the extensive ruins of Khalasah, identified by Robinson and Palmer with the Elusa of the Peutinger tables and of Jerome; but the ruins, says Palmer, are “so utterly destroyed that it is impossible to make out what the original ground plan might have been, though the course of one broad street can still be traced. The inhabitants of Gaza are in the habit of removing the stones for building purposes, and have thus nearly cleared the site, in many cases actually digging out the foundations of the houses.” May not this be the site of the ancient Ziklag?

Ziklag’ unto this day — A remark inserted, probably, by a transcriber after the Book of Samuel was otherwise complete. See Introduction.

Verse 7

7.A full year and four months — This doubtless gives the true sense of the Hebrew, which is, literally, days and four months. The Septuagint and Vulgate render: The number of days which David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was four months. Josephus has four months and twenty days. The confusion seems to have come from misapprehension of the idiomatic use of ימים in the sense of a year. While David abode at Ziklag he was reinforced by multitudes from the land of Israel. See at 1 Chronicles 12:1-22.

Verse 8

8.The Geshurites — A nomadic people occupying the desert south of the Philistines. See at Joshua 13:2; Joshua 13:13.

The Gezrites — Rather, The Gerzites, as in the margin. Of these we have no certain trace elsewhere, but from this verse we readily infer that their territory was contiguous to that of the Geshurites and Amalekites.

The Amalekites — See Exodus 17:8.

Shur — The name given to the wilderness extending from the Isthmus of Suez eastward to an indefinite extent, and comprising a considerable portion of Northern Arabia. Genesis 16:7; Exodus 15:22.

Verse 9

9.David smote the land — What was the occasion or reason of this terrible slaughter we are not informed, but probably roving bands from these tribes had made incursions into the land adjoining Ziklag. Compare 1 Chronicles 12:21. The question of Achish, in 1 Samuel 27:10, seems to imply that David was wont to make such predatory excursions; and some have sought to justify him in this slaughter on the ground that these nations were under the curse of God, and the Israelites were divinely authorized to exterminate them. But this was no sufficient warrant for David, while a fugitive from his native land, and without special instruction from God, to undertake the work on his own responsibility. If any apology is to be offered, it is the supposition that these tribes were disturbing the country by their lawless raids for plunder.

Verse 10

10.Jerahmeelites — The family of Jerahmeel, the son of Hezron, and descendant of Judah. 1 Chronicles 2:9; 1 Chronicles 2:25.

Kenites — See note on 1 Samuel 15:6. In making this reply to Achish, David uttered a deliberate lie, for which no apology can be offered.

Verse 11

11.Lest they should tell — This craftiness shows that David’s extermination of these tribes was not with the intention of executing the curse of God upon them, but to save himself from suspicion. By such foul means did he establish himself in the confidence of Achish, who now began to regard David as a powerful ally.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 27". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-samuel-27.html. 1874-1909.