1 Samuel 29


‘The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish. The commanders of the Philistines asked, ‘What about these Hebrews?’ Achish replied, ‘Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.’ But the Philistine commanders were angry with Achish and said, ‘Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favour than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands’?’ 1 Samuel 29:1-5

Achish Sends David Back To Ziklag

David’s faith in God is very evident in this chapter as he continually refused to be tempted to join Achish and fight against the Israelites, 1 Corinthians 10:13 / Psalms 26:4-5. The use of the word ‘Hebrews’ here was used in an insulting way and although Achish was loyal to David and his men, the other Philistine leaders didn’t agree with his association with the Hebrews.

David’s reputation was so great not only among his own people but these other Philistine leaders appeared to recognise David and even quote the song which the Israelites sang concerning David killing tens of thousands.

Because David had been with Achish for over a year, 1 Samuel 27:7, he seems to think that they could become friends with the Israelites but history shows that this would never happen.

Willis in his commentary gives us four reasons as to why the leaders of the Philistines rejected the intention of Achish to take David and his men into the battle against Israel.

1. The long enmity between the Philistines and the Hebrews had resulted in deep mistrust on both sides.

2. In the battle of Geba, 1 Samuel 14:21, the Hebrews who had deserted to the Philistines defected to their fellow Israelites and aided Saul in destroying the Philistines.

3. If David and his men decided to go back to Saul, they would easily do so by slaughtering the Philistines, any great number of them, and taking their heads to Saul. An opportunity like that, the lords of the Philistines were determined not to put into the hands of David.

4. David had a reputation of having slain ‘tens of thousands’ of Philistines, and the lords of the Philistines were not about to forget it.

‘So Achish called David and said to him, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, you have been reliable, and I would be pleased to have you serve with me in the army. From the day you came to me until today, I have found no fault in you, but the rulers don’t approve of you. Now turn back and go in peace; do nothing to displease the Philistine rulers.’ ‘But what have I done?’ asked David. ‘What have you found against your servant from the day I came to you until now? Why can’t I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?’ Achish answered, ‘I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God; nevertheless, the Philistine commanders have said, ‘He must not go up with us into battle.’ Now get up early, along with your master’s servants who have come with you and leave in the morning as soon as it is light.’ So David and his men got up early in the morning to go back to the land of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.’ 1 Samuel 29:6-11

Even though Achish thought that David was reliable, he goes on to apologise to David and sends him home. Because David had dealt fairly with Achish, Achish returned the favour. And so, David accepted and followed his advice and returned home, knowing that he wouldn’t go to war against his fellow Israelites.

Achish tells David he has been as pleasing in his eyes as an angel of God, Zechariah 12:8, it must be noted that he didn’t use the name Yahweh, he uses the phrase ‘ha Elohim’, which is a general reference to ‘the gods’.

Achish then tell him, ‘get up early, along with your master’s servants’, the meaning of this is a little ambiguous, Cook in his comments suggest that the way to understand it is found in 1 Chronicles 12:19-21, where it appears that a considerable number of Manassites fell to David just at this time, and went back with him to Ziklag.

Go To 1 Samuel 30


"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."