Read – 1 Samuel 29
Focus on verse 4-5
The world of intrigue and deception that spies and double agents frequent, trust is the one key factor that will determine life or death, success or failure. While this type of scenario makes a great suspense movie, I am grateful that I have not had to experience it first hand. In today’s reading David volunteers to join the Philistines in their battle against Saul and his army of Israelites.
But the Philistine commanders were angry with him and said, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place you assigned him. He must not go with us into battle, or he will turn against us during the fighting. How better could he regain his master’s favor than by taking the heads of our own men? Isn’t this the David they sang about in their dances:
“ ‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?” (v. 4-5)
David and his fighting men go up with Achish to join the Philistines in the battle against Saul and the army of Israel, but the other Philistine commanders do not trust him. They understandably suspect that David may just turn on them in the battle in an effort to regain the favor of Saul. While this is an understandable suspicion, it is doubtful David’s motivation would be to regain Saul’s favor. Either way, as we will discover in tomorrow’s reading, God uses this decision of the Philistines to turn David back to rescue his family and all the families of his men from the hands of the Amalekites who had taken advantage of David’s absence and attacked the city of Ziklag. Perhaps this is also the way in which the Lord spares David witnessing the defeat and demise of Saul and Jonathan. Whether David’s intention was to turn on the Philistines or not does not seem to be clear one way or the other. What does begin to be clear is that the Lord’s intention was to use the Philistines to bring Saul’s reign to and end in order to clear the way for David to ascend to the throne of Israel.
If David had joined the Philistines and been part of the forces that destroyed Saul and Jonathan, the people of Israel would possibly have seen him as the enemy rather than a potential king. If he had chosen to turn against the Philistines in the battle in order to save the life of Jonathan, he may have been killed by the Philistines or at very least found himself fighting against the will of the Lord in this battle. As it is the Lord provides a distraction for David to pursue while He uses the Philistines to defeat Saul. While this may have felt like a rejection at the moment, I suspect David eventually realized the wisdom of the hand of God in this as he reflected on it historically. I do wonder, however, if the plan in the back of David’s mind was not to be there to attempt to protect or at least connect with his friend Jonathan one more time.