David Seeks Refuge From Saul in Phillistia

When I was a kid, we rode our bikes down the sidewalks and in the streets. We played baseball and football in the street. Summers were especially great because we could play ball until you couldn’t see. We rode in cars with no seat belts or car seats. Riding in the back of … More


In this chapter, David is compelled to leave his homeland because of the slander of Cush and the betrayal of the people of Ziph. At Engedi there seemed to be a complete and harmonious reconciliation between David and Saul. Yet, in just a brief time, Saul was again hunting David. The reason this time was that Cush had stirred up Saul’s anger toward David (Psalm 35:15).

For the second time David seeks refuge from Saul in Philistine territory. The man who killed Goliath and conquered the Philistines now asks for permission to live under the protection of King Achish.  When Saul finds out about this, he stops pursuing David.

How David explained to Achish his recovery from his (supposed) former insanity is a mystery.  Historians tell us that David’s following at this time may have numbered 2500 people. You can imagine what kind of housing shortage and food problem this must have caused King Achish. When David gained the confidence of the king, he made a suggestion. He expressed his desire not to be a burden to his host and suggested that Achish assign him and his followers a city where they can live.  The king grants his request by assigning the city of Ziklag to them (vv.5-6).

This is interesting because, in I Chronicles 4:30, we learn that Ziklag had originally been given to the people of Judah. Now David and his followers are once again within the borders of the Promised Land. From this city David launched and won military operations against the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites, who were the enemies of the people of God.


When I think of Cush and the people of Ziph, I need to remember that the Lord hates the sowing of discord among the brethren. May the Lord set a watch before my mouth and help me not to sin with my tongue (Psalm 141:3).

I Samuel 27:1-12 (English Standard Version)

Then David said in his heart, "Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand." So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal's widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. Then David said to Achish, "If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?" So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months. Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. When Achish asked, "Where have you made a raid today?" David would say, "Against the Negeb of Judah," or, "Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites," or, "Against the Negeb of the Kenites." And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, "lest they should tell about us and say, 'So David has done.'" Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. And Achish trusted David, thinking, "He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant."

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