David lives with the Philistines
v1 Then David thought, ‘I am sure that Saul will kill me one day. But I have a good idea. I will go to the country of the *Philistines and escape from Saul. He will stop searching for me in the country of *Israel. Then I will escape from Saul’.
v2 So David and his 600 men left *Israel. They went to Achish, who was the son of Maoch. Achish was the king of the town of Gath. v3 David, his men, and their families lived in Gath with Achish. David had his two wives with him. One wife was Ahinoam. She came from the town of Jezreel. His other wife was Abigail, the widow of Nabal. She came from the town of Carmel. v4 Saul heard that David had run away to Gath. So Saul stopped looking for him.
v5 Then David said to Achish, ‘Are you happy with me? If so, please let me have a town in the country where I can live. I do not need to live in the royal town with you’.
v6 That day King Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. Ziklag has belonged to the kings of *Judah since that day. v7 David lived in the country of the *Philistines for one year and four months.
v8 During that time David and his men attacked the *tribes of the Geshurites, Girzites and *Amalekites. These people had been living in the area for a very long time. Their land went down as far as the wild area of Shur and the country of Egypt. v9 When David attacked them, he killed all the men and women. But he took all their sheep, cows, *donkeys, camels and their clothes. Then he went back to Achish.
v10 Achish asked David, ‘Which place did you go and attack today?’ Sometimes David would tell him that he had gone to the Negev of *Judah. Other times David told him that he went to the land of the *tribe of Jerahmeel or the Kenite *tribe. v11 David would kill everyone in the area. He never took anyone back to the town of Gath. Therefore no one could tell Achish what David had really been doing. v12Achish trusted David. Achish thought, ‘The *Israelites hate David very much. So David will have to serve me for ever’.
David had escaped from Saul again but he did not trust Saul. David could not continue to hide in the south part of the country of *Judah. He knew that Saul would find him one day. Then Saul would kill him. So David decided to escape to *Israel’s enemies, the *Philistines. David’s plan worked. Saul stopped chasing him. The town of Gath was about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north west of the desert of Ziph. In 21:10-15, David had gone to King Achish at Gath but the visit was not successful. David had to run away from Achish. This time, Achish was happy to have David living in his country. He was not afraid of David. He knew that David was Saul’s enemy. Achish trusted David and even gave him a town of his own.
Ziklag was near the *Philistine border with the country of *Judah. But it was far away from Saul’s town of Gibeah and the 5 main *Philistine towns. Saul fought the *Amalekites in 14:47-48. Chapter 15:6 mentions the Kenite *tribe. Jerahmeel was the son of Hezron, who came from the family of *Judah (1 Chronicles 2:1-9). Joshua 13:2 mentions the people from Geshur.
Achish expected David to fight against the *Israelites. David did not tell Achish the whole truth about his attacks. The ‘Negev of *Judah’ was the name of the southern part of the country of *Judah. Achish thought that the *Israelites hated David. He thought that David would never be able to return to his country. However, ‘Negev’ was also the *Hebrew word for south in general. Here, David attacked the people who were enemies both of the *Philistines and of the *Israelites in *Judah. Therefore the people in *Judah would have been pleased with David. He had been protecting them from these enemies that wanted their land. David attacked towns and villages. He had to kill everyone who lived in these towns and villages. He did not want any of the people to tell Achish the truth. Achish trusted David. But David cheated Achish. David took all the animals and clothes. So, his men and their families had plenty to eat and to wear.
At the beginning of this chapter, David and his men were in a desperate situation. They went to live with *Israel’s enemy so that Saul did not kill them. The Bible says that it is wrong to lie and cheat people. But David only behaved like this to his enemy. (The *Philistines were also the *Lord’s enemies.) David stayed at Ziklag until Saul was dead. Then David went to the town of Hebron and became king (2 Samuel chapters 1 and 2).