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Friday, March 24, 2017

David and The Philistines

Samuel lived his lifetime for The King.  Saul, not so much.  Now, we get to watch David taking steps on his path.  Yesterday, we see David coming close to murder until Abigail stopped him.  Eventually, when it was appropriate, Abigail became his wife.  Now, David is facing another challenge.  Saul is trying to kill him again.  David has the chance to kill Saul but spares his life…again.

But David kept thinking to himself, "Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe." So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him--Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal's widow from Carmel. Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him. (1 Samuel 27:1-4 NLT)

One problem is solved: Saul stopped hunting for him.  Another problem was created, though: David is living among the Philistines.  These are the same Philistines whom David is credited for killing his “tens of thousands.”  Goliath was a Philistine.  David is literally living among his enemies.  One of the Philistine kings, Achish, gives David the benefit of the doubt and even gives him a town: Ziklag.  Achish is going to be watching David closely, though, to decide if he can trust David or not.

David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites--people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish. "Where did you make your raid today?" Achish would ask. And David would reply, "Against the south of Judah, the Jerahmeelites, and the Kenites." No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. Achish believed David and thought to himself, "By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!" (1 Samuel 27:8-12 NLT)

David does not kill God’s chosen people.  In fact, he continues to remove the groups from the land the LORD promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  David is continuing to do the work that Joshua and the earlier Israelites started.  David is clearing the land of the enemies of God, while living among other enemies of God.  David keeps walking together with God even in horrible circumstances.

The entire Philistine army now mobilized at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers were leading out their troops in groups of hundreds and thousands, David and his men marched at the rear with King Achish. (1 Samuel 29:1-2 NLT)

Now, David is going to be tested again.  He is being asked to go to war against Israel.  This is going to be the battle where Israel’s king, Saul, and his sons will all die.  Will David be a part of that day of death and destruction for Israel?

But the Philistine commanders demanded, "What are these Hebrews doing here?" And Achish told them, "This is David, the servant of King Saul of Israel. He's been with me for years, and I've never found a single fault in him from the day he arrived until today." But the Philistine commanders were angry. "Send him back to the town you've given him!" they demanded. "He can't go into the battle with us. What if he turns against us in battle and becomes our adversary? Is there any better way for him to reconcile himself with his master than by handing our heads over to him? Isn't this the same David about whom the women of Israel sing in their dances, 'Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands'?" (1 Samuel 29:3-5 NLT)

Once again, the LORD provided.  David would not sin.  God does the same thing for us, too.  Whenever we are tempted, like David was in yesterday’s story, or seemingly trapped, like today’s story, God promises to provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).  God always promises to provide a way for us to walk together with God.

So Achish finally summoned David and said to him, "I swear by the LORD that you have been a trustworthy ally. I think you should go with me into battle, for I've never found a single flaw in you from the day you arrived until today. But the other Philistine rulers won't hear of it. Please don't upset them, but go back quietly." "What have I done to deserve this treatment?" David demanded. "What have you ever found in your servant, that I can't go and fight the enemies of my lord the king?" But Achish insisted, "As far as I'm concerned, you're as perfect as an angel of God. But the Philistine commanders are afraid to have you with them in the battle. Now get up early in the morning, and leave with your men as soon as it gets light." So David and his men headed back into the land of the Philistines, while the Philistine army went on to Jezreel. (1 Samuel 29:6-11 NLT)

David continues to live his lifetime for The King.

How about you?  When you are tempted or trapped, do you look for God’s way out?  Do you ask God to show you how to walk together with God?  Do you walk together with God, even among the “Philistines”?