Journey Through The Scriptures

David, Part I

Lesson 6: Life Among the Philistines

(Scripture to Read: 1 Samuel 27:1–29:11)

Even though Saul had quit pursuing him, David still did not believe it was safe for him to return home. After years on the run, David, his family, and his 600 men and their families spent their final sixteen months as fugitives. David was welcomed by Achish, the king of Gath, who believed David would be a valuable ally against Saul. Achish gave David and his men the city of Ziklag to settle in, and David’s army carried out raids against Israel’s enemies. David led the king to believe he was attacking Israeli towns, a deception that endeared him to Achish.

However, David was faced with the prospect of having to fight against his own people as the Philistines massed for an all-out attack on Israel. In the meantime, Saul became so desperate he consulted a medium — someone who consults the dead to determine the future. This was forbidden by the Law (Leviticus 19:31), but God intervened to deliver the message of Saul’s doom through Samuel. Saul’s spiritual decline was now complete, and his defeat was imminent. But David was delivered from his dilemma by the mistrust of Achish’s military commanders — so the Philistine king had to reluctantly “fire” David from his service.

Study Questions

  1. What practical advantage did David hope to gain by leaving Israel for Philistine territory?
  2. What evidence do we find in chapter 28 that the appearance of Samuel to Saul was the work of God and not the result of witchcraft?
  3. Explain why Saul collapsed in fear and complete despair when he heard Samuel’s message.
  4. Why were the Philistine army commanders so distrustful of David’s loyalty to their king?

Something to Think About

Saul is a tragic example of the danger of being halfhearted in our devotion and service to God.

Saul did not deliberately set out to displease God and ruin his life; he was just neglectful and careless in carrying out what he knew to be God’s will. Let us take this lesson to heart, that we may be wholehearted in our devotion.