We have been hanging in suspense for three weeks now – waiting to see if there is any way that David will get out of the mess that He has created for himself.
If you’re just joining us for the first time this morning, we’ve been working our way through the book of 1 Samuel – examining the lives of Samuel, King Saul, and of course, David.
And at this point in the story, David has fled from King Saul – who has been tying to kill David for the last several chapters – and David has found refuge in a most unexpected place – in the land of his enemies, the Philistines.
King Achish of the Philistines had accepted him as a defector from Israel and had even given David his own Philistine city to live in – the city of Ziklag – where David and his 600 men (along with all their families) had lived for nearly a year and a half.
Now the tricky part in all this is that David had not actually defected from Israel. He was still loyal to his home country, but had been lying to King Achish about… well, just about everything. In fact, during those 16 months that David lived in Ziklag, David had told Achish that he had been raiding the cities of Israel, but in reality, David had been attacking the enemies of Israel – and leaving no survivors to tell Achish what had really happened.
And so Achish was convinced that David had turned against his homeland and would be a loyal Philistine subject for the rest of his life. In fact, Achish trusted David so completely that he made David his own personal bodyguard and insisted that David and his men accompany him into battle against Israel. It says in 1 Samuel 28:1
About that time the Philistines mustered their armies for another war with Israel. King Achish told David, “You and your men will be expected to join me in battle.”
1 Samuel 28:1
And certainly creates quite a pickle for David. On one hand, David has been anointed as the future King of Israel – and he has no intentions of fighting against his own people. It would be unthinkable for David to fight against the armies of Israel – against King Saul and against his best friend Jonathan! But on the other hand, if he refused to join the Philistines in battle, the jig would be up!
Achish would realize that David was still loyal to Israel, and David would effectively be caught in his lies and and he, his men, and all of their families would be at the mercy of the Philistines!
So really, David has no choice but to agree to go to war alongside the Philistines to fight the armies of Israel. And so he responds to King Achish in verse 2.
2 “Very well!” David agreed. “Now you will see for yourself what we can do.”
1 Samuel 28:2
I mean, what else could he say? David was forced to continue his charade – but he was probably desperately trying to figure out, how in the world, he was going to get out of this pickle!
And what makes this all the more interesting, is that the author of 1 Samuel never tells us what David is thinking. He never reveals David’s true motivations or why he does what he does. The author simply states what David says or does, but then he leaves it to our imaginations to try to figure what what’s going on in David’s heart and mind….
So we don’t know what kind of scenarios David had been running through his mind as to how he was going to get out of this situation… But I imagine there was one option that perhaps David considered. Maybe David had planned to turn against King Achish in the heat of the battle. He could flip sides and join the Israelites and hopefully bring about a great victory for Israel.
But that was risky too – because if David turned against the Philistines and Israel still lost, you can be sure that the Philistines would seek their revenge on David by destroying David’s family and the all of the families of his 600 men who were left behind in the Philistine city of Ziklag.
So if David was going to turn on the Philistines, he’d better make sure he wins!
But of course, that’s going to be a problem too, because unbeknownst to David, God had already decreed that Israel was going to lose this battle. We saw last week, as Saul tried to talk to the dead prophet Samuel through a medium, that God’s judgement was about fall upon Saul for his disobedience. God had decreed that both Saul and his sons would be killed in battle the very next day, and the Israelite army would be defeated at the hands of the Philistines.
Now of course, David doesn’t know that – but we, the reader of this story know that – and so we’re really left scratching our heads – HOW in the world is this all going to play out? What kind of miracle is God going to have to do to rescue David from the web of deceit that David has woven for himself?
Well, this morning, we will finally find out!