Today, Saul took three thousand troops to hunt down David. However, David gets another chance to take Saul’s life while Saul and his men are sleeping at their camp. But once again, David doesn’t touch the Lord’s anointed one. Instead David takes Saul’s spear and jug of water and yells down to Abner and Saul from a hill opposite the camp, letting him know that he spared him again. Saul responds, “I have sinned. Return, my son David. For I will harm you no more, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Indeed I have played the fool and erred exceedingly.” David replies, “And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes, so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the Lord, and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.” David trusts the Lord with his life, but he knows in his heart that Saul is not genuine. So David and all who are with him do not return home but go to live with the Philistines. “And it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath; so he sought him no more.”
David, about six hundred men and their households, and David’s two wives dwell with Achish, the king of Gath, for over a year. Remember that originally Achish did not welcome David when he first came to Gath, so David pretended to be a madman to escape (1 Samuel 21:10-15). However, now David is received by Achish. Per commentaries, this change of heart is due to the fact that Achish now believes that he and David have a similar enemy in common, Saul, and that David and his men can help Achish fight against his enemies. But instead of fighting against Israel, David and his men begin secretly attacking the enemies of Israel, raiding them, and killing everyone so no one could get word back to Achish. Then David lies to Achish, telling him that they are raiding the people of Israel and Israel’s allies, in order to gain his favor. So when the Philistines gather to go to war against Israel, Achish, thinking that David is loyal to him, asks David and his men to join the Philistines in fighting against Israel.
Meanwhile, Saul, out of fear of the Philistines, inquires of the Lord, but the Lord doesn’t answer him. The Lord knows that Saul doesn’t have a heart for Him, and He has rejected Saul as king. Now Saul, totally desperate, consults a medium in order to speak to Samuel. This is a practice that was forbidden by the Lord. (There is a lot of discussion around whether this was really the spirit of Samuel or a demonic spirit. What we have learned so far about the Lord is that He is in control of all, and evil can only do what the Lord allows to accomplish His purposes. I believe that is what is going on here.) So the medium brings Samuel up from the dead. Samuel informs Saul that the Lord has torn the kingdom from him and given it to David – “Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek.” Then Samuel says that Saul and his sons will be killed in battle tomorrow and Israel will be delivered to the Philistines.
When the princes of the Philistines see David and his men joining them in battle, they do not trust them to fight alongside them against Israel. Therefore, David and his men return to “the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.” Tomorrow David will discover that while they were gone, the Amalekites attacked their town Ziklag and took their women and children as captives. This would not have happened if Saul obeyed the Lord and destroyed the Amalekites as the Lord commanded. Disobedience always has consequences.
We end the reading with David’s Psalm 56. David wrote this psalm when the Philistines captured him at Gath and he was alone and afraid. It is good for David to remind himself of these truths about the Lord, especially since David will go to war again tomorrow – “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? … You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Keep reading to discover the outcome of David’s attack against the Amalekites and whether or not Samuel’s prediction comes true regarding Saul and his sons. (1 Samuel 26:1-27:7, 1 Chronicles 12:1-7, 1 Samuel 27:8-29:11, 1 Chronicles 12:19, Psalm 56)