In Enemy Territory

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 25:1-28:2; 29-30; 1 Chronicles 12:1-7,19-22

“So David and the six hundred men with him left and went over to Achish son of Maoch king of Gath” (1 Sam. 27:2). Was this a good decision or a bad decision? You make the call (the author of Samuel neither condones or condemns his actions). Many commentators see this 16 month sojourn in enemy territory negatively (Namely because of David’s apparent lack of divine leading, deceptive behaviour, and genocidal activities).

However, in light of Deuteronomy 28, I would say that David was not disobeying the Lord (Disobedience = defeat/fear/punishment; Obedience = blessing/abundance/peace). So, what positive results came out of this time in David’s life? Well, 1) David and his men dwelt in safety away from potential attacks of Saul; 2) David acquired much wealth which, as we’ll see, he uses to gift Israel’s tribal leaders; 3) more and more Israelite warriors were able to join him at his temporarily “permanent” base; 4) he was able to essentially spy out the Philistine cities (we’ll soon see what happens to Gath!); 5) as the CIA did with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the 1980s, David and his men were very likely trained in Philistine military tactics and weaponry use; 6) before this time, the Israelites were unable to forge iron (see “Philistine Weapons Strategy” in 1 Sam. 13:16-22 on page 400). During this period, it is highly possible that David and his men learned the techniques of advanced metallurgy necessary to make better weapons; and 7) David expanded Israelite territory while living in Philistia, which would characterize the rest of his reign. As Saul’s kingdom dwindled to an end, David was able prepare to rule his future kingdom by sharpening his leadership abilities, gathering and arming a stronger military force, and stabilizing himself while dwelling among the Philistines.

If you see this era of David’s life as negative, the passage emphasizes the Lord’s grace and faithfulness to his unfaithful servant (which He continues to pour out on us even today!). If you feel it was a positive time, it shows that every life experience can and will be used by God to further His divine purposes and glorify Himself, regardless of whether or not He is silent at the time. Then again, perhaps it is both positive and negative. 🙂

(My sincere apologies for the length and “Bible College” tone of this email today! I did write a paper on this period of David’s life while at Emmaus, which, upon reading the story today, I reread and thought I would summarize and share with you. Hope it encourages you!)

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