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 favor 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’?” 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 29:1-11
OK I admit I am little confused by what is happening here. David has decided to hide from Saul among the Philistines. Why would David feel safer among the people whose giant he has killed in battle? Perhaps I am not understanding a cultural context here, but is this not like a criminal hiding in a police station? Why would the Philistines tolerate David living among them any more than Saul does? Perhaps word did not spread so easily back then.
The Israelite forces are camped at a spring which is where the water reference comes into this passage. David is marching with the opposing force of Philistines. The commanders, with good reason, question why David is allowed to march with them. They seem to either have a very short memory or the incident with Goliath was a much bigger deal to the Israelites than it was for the Philistines.
David’s posture seems to have changed somewhat from the time of the Goliath incident. Back then he trusted God with His life and the life of Israel, now he is relying on his former enemies for safety. David’s posture and perspective toward God seem to have changed. I suspect it is because David moved not God. I guess David is joining the ranks of the flawed followers of which I know I am a member along with most of the early leaders of Israel. Do we as Christians do something similar to what David was doing? Do we ever Choose safety over a sovereign God?
I think that we often choose safety over God when we avoid taking on hard issues within our Christian communities. I know I am guilty of this. I am reminded of a couple we knew some years ago. We knew the couple pretty well, but our friendship did not delve into deeper relationship or spiritual issues….perhaps it should have. This couple’s marriage ended in divorce and a broken home for their two children. Even after the divorce we did not discuss the reasons for their break up…perhaps we should have. The end result was awkward small talk which never got at the core issue, which was why they both chose to break up their family and where was God in the mix.
I get the sense that David is avoiding hard truths and discussions that he should be having with Saul, his followers, and the other Israelites. He was chosen by God and Samuel to be the King over Israel, but he seems content to hide from Saul among the Philistines rather than assert the position God has called him to take. What happened to that bold young man who picked up 5 smooth stones and went up against a giant? It seems the relational messiness with Saul and the Israelites is bigger than a Philistine giant with a spear…or at least that is how it looks from David’s current perspective. Maybe we are hiding from messy or confusing topics and relational issues in our Christian communities….perhaps we shouldn’t.
Prayer: God help us to look for ways to build healthy relationships with other, even when doing so requires us to discuss hard things.