1 Samuel 29:2
And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands…
What a dilemma for David! He could not refuse the confidence he had sought from Achish. He could not renounce the allegiance he had so recently pledged. If he should disobey the king of Gath, he could look for nothing but indignant reproach and a traitor's doom. If he should obey him, he would, in course of a few days, be fighting against his own nation, and bringing them again under the yoke of the Philistines; and this would be worse than death. Perplexed and reluctant, he marched in the rear of the invading army, suffering inwardly all the more that he was obliged to hide his unwillingness, and to affect a zeal against Israel which his heart disowned. See in this story -
I. THE ILLUSTRATION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE. While David wrought himself into a most critical position, and an apparently fatal embroilment with the Philistines, the Lord wrought wonderfully through the very errors of his servant, so as to preserve him in safety, and open his way to a higher destiny. It was well appointed that he should be out of the land of Israel at this time, so that he should neither hasten nor hinder the discomfiture of Saul, and that the Philistines should give him shelter, and yet not involve him in the crime of desolating and enslaving his native land. How to escape from the dilemma in which he was caught baffled even David's ready mind; but the Lord always knows how to deliver. He does so through means and agencies that are natural; in this case through the very natural jealousy of the Philistine lords, and their proper military prudence, objecting to have the person of the king intrusted to the keeping of a band of Israelites, and that band commanded by a skilful and daring captain in the rear of their army, where their defection would be most dangerous. "The lords favour thee not," said Achish. And, like our kings in old times, who durst not disregard the voice of the barons, Achish intimated to David that it was best for him to retire from the army. David was quite acute enough to see the advantage which the Philistine chiefs were unwittingly conferring upon him. They, as his enemies, helped him out of the dilemma in which he had been placed by Achish, his friend. Such things are not infrequent in the providence of God. Often a man's enemies open to him the way out of great difficulty. Disfavour is shown, or a sharp word spoken, and it turns out a great advantage. The wrath of opponents or rivals may act as so much dynamite to explode a rock of obstruction which friendly hands cannot remove, and so to clear the path of deliverance.
II. THE ILLUSTRATION OF HUMAN LIFE. See how a man may fall through want of moral firmness into a false position utterly unworthy of his character. It was, as respects David's integrity, unfortunate that he found such favour with the Philistine king. It is always a misfortune to be successful in the beginning of wrong doing, for it soothes the conscience and leads one on to compromise himself more deeply. And one false step leads to another. David's unbelief led him into a course of deceit and dissimulation from which he saw no way of escape, and every day drew him further into a position which was false and unworthy. It is a story full of admonition and warning. One may easily let himself into a trap from which he cannot let himself out. One may take a false step, which involves another and another, till there is a course of deflection. An object is gained, but in the success the conscience is soiled; and then the penalty is that one is compelled to act out the part he has assumed, to go on in the way on which he only meant to venture for a time and for a purpose. He thought to do a questionable thing and then return to his integrity; but lo! he is in a maze, and cannot find the way out. The gain which he sought turns out to be a loss; the favour which he craftily won proves to be a burden and a danger; and there is no remedy. It is very unsafe to possess great powers of deception. David had them, and they nearly ruined him. But the experience through which he passed taught him to abhor deceit, and to desire, what God desires, truth in the inward parts. For proof of this see Psalm 15:1, 2; Psalm 34:12, 13; Psalm 51:6. Mark, too, how he appeals to the God of truth, and, ashamed of his own unveracity in certain passages of his early life, puts all his dependence in his later years on the veracity and faithfulness of God, who has made with him an "everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure" (see 2 Samuel 23:5; Psalm 25:10; Psalm 31:5). The security of our salvation rests not on our tenacity of faith, but on the truth of God our Saviour. He cannot lie. The Son of David, our Prince of life, is faithful and true; and he who is our God in Christ Jesus will never fail those who rely on his word. "Yet he abideth faithful;. he cannot deny himself." - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.