David’s Sojourn with the Philistines

Text: I Samuel 27:1-28:2; 29:1-11
Speaker: Jim Newheiser
Outline: PDF
Date: January 18, 2009

This week we begin the final major section in I Samuel. David is so tired of being chased by Saul that he decides to become a refugee in exile in the land of the Philistines. At the same time the Philistines are getting ready for a decisive battle against Saul and his armies which will result in the death of Saul and Jonathan, paving the way for David to be king.

There are many interpretive challenges in this part of I Samuel. Events are reported without much evaluation or explanation. Was David right to go to the Philistines? Was his deceit of the Philistine ruler, Achish justified? What about David’s slaughter of the tribal peoples? What is God doing in these chapters? (We are skipping, for this week, chapter 28 in which Saul uses a medium (witch) to bring back Samuel from the dead).

What are we to gain from such texts? My interpretation is that David in his weariness of the fugitive lifestyle looks to his own fleshly understanding rather than trusting the LORD (Prov. 3:5-6) which results in various dilemmas and trials. In spite of David’s weakness of faith the LORD is still with him and delivers him so that he can reign over the people of God.

We who feel weary of the trials of our lives face the same temptation David faced – to lean on our own understanding rather than trusting the LORD. We must turn to him. Some of us may have already gone over to the Philistines. We can take comfort that even then the LORD will deliver us by His great mercy.


Posted on January 18th, 2009 | Permalink