1 Samuel 26: “David Again Spares Saul’s Life Then Flees
To Live In
1.1. In our last study, we looked at chapter 25.
1.1.1. In that study, we saw that as David was hiding out from King Saul down in the south that he and his men were being a protection to a rich man’s livestock, protecting them from raiding bands of Philistines. The man was named Nabal.
1.1.2. Then, David decided to cash in on the assistance that he and his men had been giving Nabal, and he asked Nabal to feed his 600 men. However, Nabal refused and in response David organized 400 of his men to come and take revenge on this man and kill him off along with all of the men with him.
1.1.3. However, the man’s wife, Abigail, who was a godly woman, restrained David from carrying out this wicked and foolish plan that he was intent upon.
1.1.4. We then observed that the Lord judged this wicked and foolish man Nabal and He was struck down and died.
1.1.5. After Nabal passed away, we saw that David sent and obtained Abagail as his wife. However, we saw that David already had two wives at that point, Michal, King Saul’s daughter (who currently had been given to another man) and Ahinoam.
We observed that David was breaking the law from
Deut. 17 that forbid kings in
1.2. In our study today, we are going to look at chapters 26-27.
1.2.1. In chapter 26, we will see that David again spares King Saul’s life when King Saul yet again comes hunting for David to kill him.
In chapter 27, we will see that after sparing King
Saul’s life that David’s faith falters and he again goes over to the land of
the Philistines and lives in the city of
VS 26:1-4 - “1
Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding on
the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?” 2 So Saul
arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having with him three thousand
chosen men of
2.1. We have seen in a previous study that the Ziphites had betrayed David to King Saul, causing King Saul to come and hunt for David. On the occasion before us the Ziphites evidently betrayed David to King Saul because they wanted to both stay on the king’s good side and perhaps also because they were now afraid of David since they knew that David knew they had previously betrayed David to the king.
2.2. We saw at the end of the previous chapter that David had begun to compromise with sin in his life in having taken Ahinoam as his wife and then in taking Abigail to be his wife after Abigail’s husband, wicked Nabal, had died. Since David had now placed himself in God’s “permissive will” (as opposed to his “perfect will”) as a result of these decisions, we are not surprised that David now encounters more testings and trials from the hand of the Lord. We see here now that a mere word by these Ziphites concerning David’s whereabouts and all of King Saul’s previous resolutions and oaths to no longer search and hunt for David to kill him were set aside by the king. King Saul was now relentlessly hunting David as before.
2.2.1. In our lives as Christians, compromise with sin will inevitably lead us down the path of the discipline of the Lord.
2.2.2. It is a huge signal of the Lord’s love for us His children that when we go astray in our hearts that He begins to work to make our path difficult and filled with trials so that we might have more reason and opportunity to look to Him and to discover the error of our way. Living a life of compromise does not glorify the Lord but it also is a fruitless and frustrating existence for a Christian.
David we see is hiding out at the “hill of Hachilah”
which according to Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon is, “a hill in southern
2.4. David knew the terrain well in this area and he knew that there was a large company approaching so he sent out spies to determine if in fact this group was King Saul and his army.
2.5. King Saul with little knowledge of the area was coming right into David’s territory and was actually the one who was in danger. King Saul was so obsessed with killing David that yet again he wasn’t acting rationally, this time, by coming out to this region to hunt for David.
3. VS 26:5-7 - “5 David then arose and came to the place where Saul had camped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army; and Saul was lying in the circle of the camp, and the people were camped around him. 6 Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him.” - David went to the place where King Saul and his army had camped for the night and then along with Abishai walked right down into the midst of the king’s camp
3.1. David was not lacking for courage or daring for rather than flee from King Saul he went with a small party right towards the king’s army.
3.2. At this point in time, David had many men amongst his mighty fighting men who were willing to go anywhere he wanted, fight alongside of him, and even die for David and his cause. These warriors knew that David was to be the next king and they were laying their entire life on the line because of this.
3.3. David asks those in his party, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” Abishai, David’s nephew (1 Chron. 2:15-16), was willing to go.
3.4. A supernaturally induced deep sleep had fallen upon King Saul and his army on this night. Thus, David and Abishai were able to walk right into the king’s camp and right up alongside the sleeping king who lay in the center of the army.
3.5. King Saul’s spear, a symbol of his authority and might as king, was stuck in the ground right at the king’s head.
3.6. Abner, the king’s general was sleeping next to the king, as were the king’s innermost circle of warriors and counselors.
VS 25:8-11 - “8
Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your
hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with
one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” 9 But David
said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against
the Lord’s anointed and be without
guilt?” 10 David also said, “As the Lord
lives, surely the Lord will strike
him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and
perish. 11 “The Lord
forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at
his head and the jug of water, and let us go.”” - Abishai requests permission from David to
strike the king with the spear and remove the one who was hunting David and
4.1. This opportunity to kill King Saul must have been a great temptation for David. David knew that if the king were dead then so many of his difficulties would be removed. The king daily vexed the soul of David, keeping him from being able to settle peacefully in one place and enjoy the community and worship of God’s people. I’ll bet David spent many a sleepless night because of fretting and worrying about King Saul hunting for him.
4.2. David might have also been tempted to think that since the Lord had again opened a door for David to be able to kill King Saul that surely this must be God’s plan. However, the Lord had clearly revealed to David the evil of taking personal revenge, especially after our previous study in which Abigail had interceded and kept him from killing wicked Nabal who had defrauded and disrespected David. This was David’s third testing by the Lord to see if he would take his own personal revenge.
4.2.1. We Christians must realize for ourselves that just because a door is open to us does not mean that we are necessarily to walk through it. Open doors sometimes appear before God’s children as a test to determine if they have really learned the principles and lessons that the Lord has sought to teach them from His word.
4.2.2. The scripture is clear that we are to leave all vengeance to the Lord (we saw this in our previous study).
4.3. Abishai is convinced that it is the Lord’s plan for the king to be put to death. However, David restrains Abishai from committing this act in the same way that he had restrained his men from killing King Saul earlier when David and his men were hiding in the cave when King Saul entered to relieve himself.
4.4. David gives Abishai a few arguments for why it would be wrong to kill King Saul:
4.4.1. Though one may not respect Saul as a man, none-the-less Saul was “God’s anointed” and it would be wrong any day to kill God’s king.
4.4.2. The Lord Himself will strike the king, or one day the king will just die, or, perhaps one day the king will die in battle. David believed that God would take him to the throne.
4.4.3. It would be wrong for David to stretch out his hand against God’s anointed.
VS 26:12-20 -
“12 So David took the spear and the jug of
water from beside Saul’s head, and they went away, but no one saw or
knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a sound
sleep from the Lord had fallen on
them. 13 Then David crossed over to the other side and stood on top
of the mountain at a distance with a large area between them. 14 David
called to the people and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer,
Abner?” Then Abner replied, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 So
David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in
5.1. We see in these verses that David and his nephew Abishai take only the king’s spear and his water jug, just enough equipment to prove to the king that David had been in the king’s camp and that the king’s life could have been taken, and then they walk quite a distance away and up on a mountain where David could speak down to the king and his men, however David could also easily escape if the king decided to pursue him.
5.2. David calls out to King Saul’s party but since it would be disrespectful to call directly to the king, David instead calls out to Abner, the king’s general in command of his army.
5.3. David taunts Abner for falling asleep and for not providing a guard and lookout for the king’s protection. Evidently, the king felt that with an army of 3,000 that he was pretty safe from attack.
5.4. Notice Abner’s angry response to David for having the audacity to call out to the king, “Who are you who calls to the king?”
5.5. David is not daunted by Abner’s response and he proceeds to taunt and indict Abner for neglect of his duties in protection of the king. David tells Abner and the rest of Saul’s army that they are “worthy to die” (literally “sons of death”) because of abdicating their responsibility before God of protecting His king.
5.6. After David taunts and indicts Abner, King Saul perks up and responds to David similarly as he did after the incident previously when David spared the king’s life when David could have killed the king in the cave. King Saul once again shows just how fickle and irresponsible he is as he calls out to David with tenderness calling him, “my son David.”
5.6.1. Notice the hypocrisy in King Saul calling David his “son.” King Saul had already given his daughter Michal, whom he previously had given to David for a wife, to another man. David was no longer the king’s son-in-law.
5.7. David asks the king why he is pursuing him and what evil David has done?
5.8. Then, David suggests that the king is pursing David for one of two reasons:
5.8.1. David has committed some sin or offense and the Lord is stirring up the king against David.
18.104.22.168. David suggests that if this is the case then let David make an offering for his sin so that he can be forgiven and his transgression covered.
5.8.2. King Saul’s counselors have instigated false rumors about David to the king saying that David is out to get the king or take over the kingdom.
22.214.171.124. David suggests that if this is the case then let those men be cursed because they have driven David out from fellowship with the community of God’s people and worship of the Lord, and now David is left to have to worship ‘other gods.’
What bothered David the most about his exile and
wanderings was that he was not able to serve the Lord with the community of
God’s people, he wasn’t even able to make a sacrifice for his sins. We see this reflected in David’s writings in
the Psalms, for instance, Psalm 42:1-7, “1 As the deer pants for the
water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for
God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My
tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day
long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember and I pour out
my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them
in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a
multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And
why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again
praise Him For the help of His presence. 6 O my God, my soul
is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the
5.9. Then, David requests that his blood not fall apart from the presence of the Lord. This is as if to say that if King Saul is to kill him then he will kill him just as if David is hanging onto the very altar of God in the temple.
5.10. David tells the king finally that the king is coming out to search for a flea, in other words an insignificant creature, and a partridge (a bird that is easily fatigued and chooses to run for its life rather than to fly).
6. VS 26:21-25 - “21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and have committed a serious error.” 22 David replied, “Behold the spear of the king! Now let one of the young men come over and take it. 23 “The Lord will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered you into my hand today, but I refused to stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24 “Now behold, as your life was highly valued in my sight this day, so may my life be highly valued in the sight of the Lord, and may He deliver me from all distress.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed are you, my son David; you will both accomplish much and surely prevail.” So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.” - King Saul admits that he is wrong and has sinned against David and then asks David to return, however David leaves the king
6.1. The fickle king, realizing that once again David has spared the king’s life considering it precious in his sight, again admits that he has sinned against David. He even asks David to return back with the king, promising not to harm David.
6.2. David knows however that King Saul’s moods change quickly, that the evil spirit always returns to torment, and thus the king’s oaths and commitments can’t be trusted. David simply tells the king that the king’s spear is there and to send one of the young men over to retrieve it.
6.3. David tells the king that the Lord will judge, He will take His vengeance out. He will repay each man for his righteousness and faithfulness.
6.4. Finally, King Saul tells David that David is blessed and will ‘accomplish much and surely prevail.’
6.5. David went on his way, and King Saul returned to his home.
6.6. This was the last time that David and King Saul would see each other alive on this earth.
VS 27:1-4 - “1
Then David said to himself, “Now I will perish one day by the hand of
Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines.
Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of
Israel, and I will escape from his hand.” 2 So David arose and
crossed over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son
of Maoch, king of
7.1. After David’s great victory over temptation in refusing yet again to take the life of King Saul when he had been given the opportunity, David should have been very guarded about temptation, for temptations often come after great victories in our faith. However, David did not understand this and so now we see that David succumbs to temptation and makes a grave error here, one for which he pays dearly.
7.2. David’s faith now begins to fail as he doubts God’s promises to him and begins to think that one day King Saul would kill him. Remember, the Lord had told David that he would be the next king.
7.3. What happened to inquiring of the Lord? Remember, for awhile David always inquired of the Lord before he acted. However, now he is cycling into unbelief and he does not inquire of the Lord but rather chooses to take matters into his own hands.
One person has defined living by faith as “living
without scheming,” however we see in this chapter that David has again resorted
to scheming to get himself out of trouble and difficulties. He determines to remove himself from
7.5. We can understand David’s dilemma at this juncture. He was under ever increasing anxiety over his circumstances.
7.5.1. The trial he faced as a result of King Saul hunting him like an animal to kill him was continuous.
7.5.2. It has been estimated that with women, children, and wives that David and his band of men now could easily have been 2,500 in number. It must have seemed like there was no way that David could continue to hide from the king with this large of an entourage.
7.5.3. It must have seemed to be an impossible task to also provide food, water, and shelter for such a large group, and perhaps David heard some of the grumblings that Moses heard as he led the children of Israel during the 40 years of their wilderness wanderings after leaving Egypt.
7.5.4. David had his two wives and perhaps also some children with him so concern for them wore heavily upon him.
7.5.5. David most likely began to think that due to the length of time of his trial with King Saul chasing him that there was no light at the end of the tunnel for himself, that he would never get out of this trial.
126.96.36.199. One of the things that we as Christians need to realize is that all trials in our lives only last for awhile and that as far as our relationship with Christ is concerned that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The scripture gives us promises concerning this truth:
188.8.131.52.1. 1 Peter 5:10: “10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”
184.108.40.206.2. 1 Peter 1:5-7, “5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
220.127.116.11. Little did David know that his period of “wanderings” would end soon when King Saul and his son Jonathan, David’s best friend, are both killed in battle. David should have just hung in there in his faith in the Lord and His protection of him.
7.6. We Christians sometimes face the temptation to take a short cut to end our trials or to accomplish the goals and calling that the Lord has for our lives. Remember back when David was waiting for Jonathan to come to shoot the arrows, and how that where the arrows went would tell him whether or not he could come back to the palace and serve the king or whether he would have to now begin to run and live his life in hiding. When the arrows went beyond the lad, David knew the verdict. He would have to be on the run now. David and Jonathan at that time hugged and kissed each other, however David held onto Jonathan a lot longer than Jonathan held onto him. David you see wanted with every fiber of his being to take a short cut to becoming the king. He didn’t want to have to go and now live by faith, and he didn’t want to have to go through the trials and chastenings of the Lord to build character into his life. He wanted to just step right up and sit on the throne. Who wouldn’t want to do that? However, this was not God’s plan for him. God wanted a king that was after his own heart and one who would wait upon the Lord’s leading and seek to glorify the Lord in all that he did. He did not want a selfish and self-centered king such as Saul had become. In the same way, we as Christians need to face the fact that the path that the Lord has for our lives and calling is going to be a path that is difficult and filled with trials because He is interested in also building that same character into our lives, just as He did with David prior to his reigning as king.
7.6.1. We Christians can sometimes be tempted to also begin to serve our enemy, the Devil, or just to begin to compromise certain areas of our life to the Devil in order to end the trails we are in. We sometimes think that acting like the people of this world and allowing certain sin in our lives will make life easier on us, and it will for awhile, however the end will be frustration and walking into God’s “permissive will” for our lives.
7.7. However, this story tells us that rather than continue to trust his life to the Lord to be his protection that David moves his group to Gath of the Philistines in order to end the trials in his life. However, in doing this David has now placed his life into the “permissive will” of God rather than the “perfect will” of God, and as a result he will again begin to experience the chastening hand of the Lord in his life.
7.7.1. In Psalm 106:13-15, there is a commentary upon an incident recorded in Numbers chapter 11 during the wilderness wanderings under Moses where the children of Israel had complained to the Lord over and over again about the fact that they never got to eat meat or any of the good foods of Egypt but only the manna that fell each day by the hand of the Lord, and then the Lord caused a bunch of quail to be driven into their camp and the people were so craven that they began to eat the quail without draining the blood from them as the Law of Moses required. It says, “13 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. 15 And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” The people got their desire but they were also in God’s “permissive will,” and, for a brief time enjoyed themselves. However, they eventually suffered for the Lord ‘sent leanness into their soul.’
18.104.22.168. This is what happened to David there in the land of the Philistines and it is also what happens to each of God’s children whenever we choose to go and to live in God’s “permissive will.” We have the Lord send leanness into our soul!
7.8. I am stunned to think of David, the man after God’s own heart, the one who has been anointed by the Lord to be the next king of Israel, now serving and protecting the enemy of the Lord and Israel. My how this decision of David’s taking matters in his own hands to end his trials has become complicated!
7.8.1. The life of a backslider always becomes very complicated, does it not?
7.9. David proves here that he hadn’t learned the lesson that the Lord had tried to teach him the first time he decided to go and to live in the land of the enemy, the Philistines. At that time, after David’s identity was discovered he began to feign insanity and scribbled on the walls of the city and let his drool run down into his beard (1 Sam. 21:13).
7.9.1. If we Christians don’t learn a lesson that the Lord is trying to teach us, He always gives us the course to take over until we do learn it.
Achish welcomes David. When David before had gone over to Achish
We see here that when King Saul heard that David had
moved over and was living in
VS 27:5-7 - “5
Then David said to Achish, “If now I have found favor in your sight, let
them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may live
there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” 6 So
Achish gave him Ziklag that day; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of
Ziklag was a city in both the territories of Simeon
and Judah. Remember, Simeon’s territory
8.2. David deceived Achish here about why he wanted to have a city for himself. He makes the king think that he requested this out of humility because he wasn’t worthy to live in the ‘royal’ city with the king. In reality, David didn’t want his’ and his men’s activities to be spied upon. David will begin using the opportunities afforded him while living in the Philistine territory to learn the lay of the land and scheme about how he would one day conquer all of the rest of the nations surrounding the land of Canaan, a task which he eventually completed after he became king ( 2 Sam. 8 ).
VS 27:8-12 - “8
Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites and the Girzites
and the Amalekites; for they were the inhabitants of the land from ancient
times, as you come to Shur even as far as the land of Egypt. 9 David
attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive, and he took away
the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. Then he
returned and came to Achish. 10 Now Achish said, “Where have you
made a raid today?” And David said, “Against the Negev of
David was now living in compromise though he was
seeking to act in
David was now involved in conquering the nations
David was also again committing the sin of
lying. He tells Achish that the peoples
he and his men had attacked were people from
9.4. Achish would have been very unhappy had he realized that David was actually killing off fellow Canaanites in the land of Canaan, for these cities and peoples were allies of Achish.
9.5. David made sure that every man, woman, and child were killed in his raids so that no one would be alive to be able to tell the king who David had really attacked. These were just more complications for David.
Later on after David had begun to reign upon the
9.6. Achish bought David’s story about David’s battles involving the conquering of the people of Judah and taking their livestock, and this was pleasing in Achish’s sight for this would mean that David would be more and more odious in Israel’s and King Saul’s sight.
10.1. As we see David in our story here move with his men to Gath in order to remove himself from the process that the Lord had created for him to mold his character to Christ-likeness, plus the fruit that this act of David’s produced, I just want to encourage you today not to be afraid of nor despise your trials and tribulations. Further, don’t even think for a moment of taking a short-cut to end these trials or take a short cut to the plans and calling that the Lord has for your life.
10.1.1. We as God’s children are promised tribulation ( John 16:33 ) and that the Lord will chasten every child whom He brings into the world, however he will bring these things into our lives because He loves us, Hebrews 12:6, “6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
10.1.2. In Hebrews 12:7-11 we promised that every single trial that we go through is designed only for our good and that the end result of our trials is that something that is precious will be produced in us, ‘the peaceful fruit of righteousness’ , “7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”