1 Samuel 26 - David weighs up the options, tests Saul and is driven into Philista ?

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
A few more weeks and my attention will switch to 1 Corinthians. In the mean time...

...as I read through Samuel I am struck by the way that David returns to Hachilah and as it were sets himself up for betrayal by the Ziphites. One commentator reflecting on this suggests that there were not that many places to hide 600 men (women and children). What if that was not David's intent? After the Nabal incident David has had an object lesson in God avenging him. There is a new confidence in David as he enters the camp of Saul and restrains Abishai from blood guilt.

Looking very closely at verse 19 we see that David has some intelligence (from Jonathan?) that there are some who stir up Saul against David. In doing so they seem to have a deliberate strategy of driving David from the land and causing him to serve other gods. Note that they use the plural and refer to "other" as in of the same nature. They have no concept of God as the Creator God who brought them out of Egypt. Their world view seems to be of local deities and this seems to be their view of the God of Israel. This is not David's theology but theirs. In leaving the land he remains firm in his devotion to the God, despite outward appearances.

If this is indeed a test of Saul's intentions, David concludes that he has failed. Rather than trust in man (Saul) David chooses to trusts in God and departs for Philista and Gath.

Now I know that this is seen as a backsliding and lack of faith but is it. David walks not into a sleeping Israelite army of 3,000 but into a nation of enemies. He does so knowing that he will be put in situations that will test him, yet he seems to have anticipated this and asks to live at some distance from the king of Gath to allow some freedom in his actions and that he not be watched too closely.

Where David's departure for Gath in chapter 21 might be called a leap of faith (which faltered in it's execution) now he not only looks before he leaps but makes preparations.

Q1. What I would be interested in is if I have convinced you of David's set purpose in removing himself for a season keeping faith with God. (Taken in isolation chapter 27 might suggest David's backsliding. The ESV heading steers us in this direction with it's heading "David Flee's to the Philistines" yet a different direction might be given by "David's sojourn amongst the Philistines")

Q2. Is there evidence to contradict this interpretation that I have overlooked?
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Q2. Is there evidence to contradict this interpretation that I have overlooked?

[BIBLE]1 Samuel 27:1[/BIBLE]

I was listening to a sermon from sermon audio "Prudence and Faith" he took the view that David was not so much showing a lack of faith but thinking out loud. If he stayed in Israel then Saul would continue to seek his life, prudence would suggest that removing himself to Philista the wiser course. To remain in Israel might be construed as testing God. This is an aspect that needs to be considered. He could have relied on God's supernatural protection or His providence in Philista.

To paraphrase what David might be thinking "If I stay there will be a confrontation, I cannot kill Saul but he has no compunction about killing me. Better to go over the border."


There is a line of reasoning between the two - Saul's murderous intentions and David's departure.

If there is some indication of David sinning by going to Philista in the text then I am obviously wrong. I just think that those who would have David remain in harms way have not thought through the implications. There is a motto current amongst evangelicals that a man is immortal until his work is done. If this is a truism do I have the liberty to take up skydiving, scuba rock climbing and switch back to the motorcycle of my youth? I think prudence would suggest that it would be presumptuous.

Sorry if this seems long-winded but looking at other Biblical truths David's actions seem prudent. I think what I am trying to say is that armchair quarterbacking would have us condemn David without considering the dangers inherent in demanding he remain in Saul's domain.
 

Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
As I ponder this bearing in mind all that David has been through I am mindful of his failed attempt to enter Gath when his faith gave way to fear. Now David enters Gath with his family and his 600, probably after some reassurances and representation to the king of Gath. Now his faith is stronger and he acts prudently. Knowing that he would be suspect David acts to put himself at some distance from Gath. Moreover he does not settle down to a life of agriculture (he was a shepherd after all) but picks up the mandate given to Joshua and attacks Israels enemies.

He demonstrates faith, prudence and even in exile seeks the good of Israel in relation to the nations God has destined for destruction.


[BIBLE]Deuteronomy 20:16–18[/BIBLE]
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
1 Samuel 26:18-20 shows that David's decision to go live with the Philistines is an indictment against Saul. David is forced into that move because Saul has proven himself to be stubbornly evil and because David, in contrast, is admirably determined not to kill the king.

I don't know why some would take David's decision as a sign of a lack of faith, as you mentioned. I certainly don't see that. I see a man who is full of faith, determined to avoid sin, unwilling to selfishly seize power or kill the king even when the king has given him every excuse to do so... and so committed to follow this godly course that he even goes to live with the Philistines. Once there, being among them poses its own challenges and temptations but again David shows remarkable faith by raiding Israel's enemies rather than Israel even though he risks being found out. David's decisions are not made in weak faith. They're evidence of strong faith: he continually chooses to avoid sin even when that path takes him into dangerous territory. That's faith!
 
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