Call to Worship October 31 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 27

Life is often more complex and confusing, than calm and comforting. People are much the same, especially since they make up so much of daily life. David is no different. His thoughts and actions were sometimes encouraging and even heralding, but other times perplexing and disconcerting. The LORD protected him from the moody wiles of Saul. David, by God’s grace, withstood several tempting situations to permanently end Saul’s reign. Saul even recognized at the end of the last chapter God’s blessing upon David. However, David took off to the Philistines (27:1). The land and people whom he previously referenced to make his case against Saul’s manhunt for him. The same place he reckoned that offered him no hope of the proper public worship of God (26:19).[1]

David, in fleeing to the land of the Giant he once defeated, wandered in a mindset of unbelief instead of walking in faithfulness.[2] This is not to say that he lost his salvation, but to point out the source of his reasoning for escaping to Gath. True, there was no evidence Saul could be trusted. So do not walk the spear and jug back into the camp, but remember God’s overall covenant faithfulness. His God and Lord anointed David. He protected his life in the region of Judah, the place and land of his people Israel-no reason to flee to a land of outright revilers of the God of Israel.

How could this have happened? The scripture teaches, “Then David said to himself…(27:1)” “Firstly,” according to Gordon Keddie, “David was a man. He was subject to human frailty, physical and spiritual. Sin is always at the door.”[3] In earlier difficulty, David often consulted the LORD. He called upon Him for advice regarding attacking the Philistines at Keilah (23:1-4). He called for the Ephod and asked God what to do while in Keilah (23:9-12). This time he did not heed God’s previous word or call upon Him for present direction. He must have been tired of the cat and mouse game. So he leaned on his own understanding.[4] 

David’s speculative thinking led to worry about tomorrow in spite of all God’s victories over evil in the past (27:2-4). He forgot his Godward focus and strength. He began to take matters into his own hands (5-12). His move to Gath was a plan to deceive Achish and ingratiate himself to Israel.[5] His lying to Achish included raids and murder without God’s command. These were not “wars of the Lord,” but the feigned, faulty campaigns of man.[6] This does not mean there is not a time and place for “just war” or civil disobedience, but David’s actions in this case do not meet the criteria for either activity.[7] David had been sent on conquest by God before, but this time he was driven more by the worry of his predicament than by the petitioning of God for His instructions.[8] 

We are no different than David. We are sinners by nature and easily carried away by the enticements of sin. Remaining flesh causes weakness in temptation, failure in following God’s clear commands, and dismay in life. Worry often clouds man’s perspective, including the people of God’s chosen race. May God give us the grace to grow in the truth and knowledge of His written word. May we trust God’s promises and previous provision as a marker of trusting Him for future grace. Give thanks that the Lord Jesus came and only did the will of the Father and He perfectly accomplished it. Soli Deo Gloria! 

[1] Gordon Keddie, Dawn of a Kingdom: The Message of I Samuel, Welwyn Commentary Series, (England, Evangelical Press, 1988.), 249.

[2] John Gill, The Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, vol. 2, The Baptist Commentary Series (The Baptist Standard Bearer, Paris, AR., 2006), 548.

[3] Keddie, pg. 250.

[4] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), pg. 282-286.

[5] Ibid., pg. 280.

[6] Peter C. Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament, (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI., 1983.), 49-50. Also, consider the difference in the explicit command given to Saul (1 Sam. 15) versus these acts of David.  

[7] Gordon Keddie (pg. 249-252) and D.R. Davis (pg. 281-282), in their respective commentary chapters on this section of scripture, express their concern and disagreement with David’s actions. Both men, in multiple places remind readers that God is not condoning every act of man recorded in the scriptures. Both testaments include narrative that establishes a true picture of the sinful frailty of mankind, even those who God chose to lead His people. By this recording of history, we are kept from “hero worship.” Often this is what makes the picture of Christ’s leadership and kingship so stark and clear. Some writers, such as Matthew Poole and William Tyndale, place these raids in the context of judgment brought upon people’s that God had already condemned in their rebellion, or the lying and raids are justified in the context of the greater covenant good. William Tyndale, The Works of William Tyndale, vol. 2, (Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA., 2010.), 57. Matthew Poole, Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. 1, (Hendrickson.), 579.  

[8] Keddie, pg. 250.