5.18 1 Samuel -- David and the Enemies of Israel
We are not going to recount the numerous expeditions that Saul undertook to catch David, hunting him throughout southern Israel. Most remarkable, however, was that David sought and found refuge among the enemies of Israel (and of God). Here was the champion of Israel, the killer of Goliath, taking refuge in Goliath's hometown of Gath (1 Sam 27)!
We must, however, consider David's relationships with the surrounding nations.
a. An Edomite betrayed Ahimelech the high priest to Saul, after he gave bread and the sword of Goliath to David (1 Sam 21:7). Saul slaughtered the priests of Nob, and the whole town.
b. David sought sanctuary with Achish king of Gath. Yet he feared Achish and played the madman, so that Achish sent him away (1 Sam 21:15).
c. He gathered followers in the cave of Adullam (1 Sam 22:1-2)
d. He headed southeast to Moab, and there committed his parents to the care of the king of Moab (1 Sam 22:3-4). This is amazing -- that the parents of the anointed king were not safe in Israel itself, but found sanctuary in the land of a national enemy. We must recall, however, that Ruth, David's great grandmother, was a Moabitess, so David did have a prior connection to this country.
e. David defeated the Philistines who attacked the town of Keilah (1 Sam 23:5).
f. After some close calls avoiding Saul in the southern desert, he and his men fled back to the Philistine king Achish of Gath (1 Sam 27:2-3). David became a vassal under Achish, and was given the town of Ziklag to live in. David stayed there 16 months (1 Sam 27:7). This has outstanding significance if we consider that the "gestation" of David's monarchy took place partly under Philistine protection. Was this a foreign stake in the future kingdom of Israel?
g. David attacked remnant Canaanite tribes, including the Amalekites (1 Sam 27:8). This was a followup of Saul's earlier battle against Agag (1 Sam 15). Note that David killed all the people, but kept the plunder -- the very same policy that caused Saul's rejection by God. But God did not give David the same command He gave Saul: a decree of complete destruction of property and animals, as well as people.
h. David deceived his own protector by lying about the locations of the raids his men went on. Achish trusted him fully (1 Sam 28:2) . Yet, apparently, David felt no reciprocal loyalty to Achish.
i. Achish took David with him to fight Saul's army at Jezreel. But the other Philistine commanders rejected David because they didn't trust him (1 Sam 29). If David was so reluctant about taking Saul's life, there is little chance he would ever have taken up arms against "the armies of Israel," which he believed to be the sword of the Lord on earth. The Philistine commanders were wise to be suspicious of him: David was playing a very dangerous game of double-dealing.
j. While David and his friends were conferring with the Philistines, the Amalekites raided his home fort at Ziglag. They burned the city and carried off all the women. "Turn about is fair play," as they say. David had raided and pillaged the Canaanites, so he could hardly cry foul. Indeed, the Amalekites behaved with far more restraint than he himself had, since "they killed none of them" (1 Sam 30:2). But David's own men threatened to turn on him and stone him! Here, though, at this low point in his fortunes, David showed a different nature than Saul:
"But David found strength in the Lord his God" (1 Sam 30:6).
He pursued the Amalekites, caught and killed most of them, and recovered all the people and possessions that had been stolen.
k. Interestingly, David shared the plunder not only with his own fighting men, but also those who were too exhausted to fight, and with a large number of towns that had helped him in his flight from Saul. Even the Kenites, non-Israelites, were included (1 Sam 30:26-31).