1 Samuel 29


The Philistines gather their armies together against Israel,

and encamp at Aphek; while the Israelites encamp at Jezreel, 1.

The lords of the Philistines refuse to let David go to battle

with them, lest he should betray them, 2-5.

Achish expresses his confidence in David; but begs him to

return, 6-10.

David and his men return, 11.


Verse 1. To Aphek] This was a place in the valley of Jezreel,

between Mounts Tabor and Gilboa.

Pitched by a fountain] To be near a fountain, or copious spring

of water, was a point of great importance to an army in countries

such as these, where water was so very scarce. It is supposed, as

William of Tyre says, that it was at this same fountain that

Saladin pitched his camp, while Baldwin, king of Jerusalem,

pitched his by another fountain between Nazareth and Sephoris;

each being anxious to secure that without which it was impossible

for their armies to subsist.

Verse 2. By hundreds, and by thousands] They were probably

divided, as the Jewish armies, by fifties, hundreds, and

thousands; each having its proper officer or captain.

Verse 3. These days, or these years] I suppose these words to

mark no definite time, and may be understood thus: "Is not this

David, who has been with me for a considerable time?"

Verse 4. The princes of the Philistines were wroth] It is

strange that they had not yet heard of David's destruction of a

village of the Geshurites, Gezrites, and Amalekites, 1Sa 27:8, 9.

Had they heard of this, they would have seen much more cause for


Verse 6. Thou hast been upright] So he thought, for as yet he

had not heard of the above transaction; David having given him to

understand that he had been fighting against Israel.

Verse 8. David said-what have I done?] Dr. Chandler and others

may say what they will to make David act a consistent part in this

business; but it is most evident, whatever his intentions might be

as to the part he was to take in the approaching battle, he did

intend to persuade Achish that he would fight against Israel; and

affects to feel his reputation injured by not being permitted on

this occasion to show his fidelity to the king of Gath.

It was in the order of God's gracious providence that the

Philistine lords refused to let David go with them to this battle.

Had he gone, he had his choice of two sins-First, If he had fought

for the Philistines, he would have fought against God and his

country. Secondly If he had in the battle gone over to the

Israelites, he would have deceived and become a traitor to the

hospitable Achish. God, therefore, so ordered it in his mercy that

he was not permitted to go to a battle in which he was sure to be

disgraced, whatever side he took, or with what success soever he

might be crowned.

Verse 9. As an angel of God] There is some reason to think that

Achish had actually embraced or was favourably disposed towards

the Jewish religion. He speaks here of the angels of God, as a Jew

might be expected to speak; and in 1Sa 29:6 he appeals to, and

swears by Jehovah; which, perhaps, no Philistine ever did. It is

possible that he might have learned many important truths from

David, during the time he sojourned with him.

Verse 10. With thy master's servants] Who were these? has been

very properly asked; and to this question there can be but two


1. The six hundred Israelites which were with him; and who might

still be considered the subjects of SAUL, though now residing in a

foreign land.

2. The servants of ACHISH; i.e., David's men thus considered;

because on his coming to Gath, he had in effect given up himself

and his men to Achish. But Saul may be the master to whom Achish

refers, and the words convey a delicate information to David that

he is no vassal, but still at liberty.

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