1 Samuel 27
David Moves In with the Philistines
David Runs for Gath (1-5)
Tired and weary of eluding Saul, David decided at long last to leave Israel and go live among the Philistines. Four years a fugitive, at the age of 28, full of discouragement, realizing there were Ziphite-like spies everywhere, he concluded that he would one day perish at Saul's hand and decided to escape and become a mercenary to the Philistines. He hoped Saul would grow discouraged in searching for him in Israel and thus give up altogether (1).
David's departure to the land of the Philistines was wrong for several reasons.
a) He was leaving the place where the prophet Gad had told him to go hide, Judah (1 Samuel 22:5).
b) He was risking exposing his men to the foreign gods of other nations and not keeping himself grafted to God's promised land.
c) David did not seek or inquire of Yahweh before making the decision. His choice was based on discouragement. David had moved from depending on Yahweh's delivering him from all tribulation to hiding in Philistine territory and depending on the Philistines’ delivering him from tribulation.
David and his 600 men made a run for Achish, king of Gath, the same place and king to whom he had gone earlier to flee from Saul (2).
David had long been on the run from Saul, and King Achish received him and gave him and his men quarters, hoping their mercenary skills would give aid to his causes.
David lived in Gath with his two wives, along with his men and their households (3).
When Saul learned that David had gone to Gath, he no longer pursued David—his four-year chase was over (4).
David Given Ziglag (5-6)
David began one of the darkest times of his life. David's deception and his brutal killings and genocide were without defense.
David asked the king of Gath for a country town for him and his men to live in and make their home.
David was wanting a place to organize and lead his troops, also thinking it inappropriate for mercenaries to live in the royal city. So David asked Achish for the favor of giving him an insignificant country town (5).
Achish gave David Ziglag, a city about twenty-five miles south of Gath. Ziglag was far enough away from the five main cities of the Philistines for David to be secretive, but was also open and easy access to outside invaders due to its remote location. David would learn of the city's vulnerabilities the hard way.
A final note in the text: the city remained for many years a city of the kings of Judah (6).
David's Time at Ziglag (7-12)
David remained with the Philistines one year and four months (7). From Ziglag, David made raids on the ancient enemies of Israel: the Geshurites, Girzites, and the Amalekites. All of these nations were seeking to rise out of the regions of the desert and press into Canaan to grab more fertile land belonging to the tribe of Judah (8).
Whenever any of these people would seek to take land from Judah, David and his men would counterattack and exterminate every soul and plunder their goods and livestock for spoil.
All the while, David was finding a means of support for his army but also strengthening the southern border of Judah. This was not to mention David’s bringing some of the goods to Achish to keep him in good favor with the king of Gath (9).
When Achish would ask where David had made his raid, David would deceive and make the king believe that he had attacked Israelite cities. All the sites that David named to King Achish were Israeli, so the king was becoming not only more wealthy but more certain of David's loyalty (10).
David left no survivors of any of his raids. No one was left to say David had done such and such. All the time he lived with the Philistines, he made a habit of genocide, an indefensible activity and the ugliest part of David's life (11).
Achish, on the other hand, trusted David more and more, assuming Israel was hating him for what Achish was being deceived into believing he was doing. While David deceived Achish about who he was, Achish was becoming more certain David would become his raider and servant for the rest of his life (12).