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And behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.,
Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. When David undertook the dangerous enterprize of going into Saul's camp with only one companion, it is supposed he was prompted to it by the Spirit of the LORD, as in the case of his encounter with Goliath, and that he went in full confidence of Divine protection: and it appears, that Saul and his attendants were kept in profound slumber, by the immediate interposition of God, otherwise, as they were active warriors, some of them would have been on the watch.
David had now a fresh temptation to deliver himself from Saul's persecutions, but he remained firm to his principles of loyalty, and restrained the hand of Abishai, for he had more concern for his innocence than for his safety: and as he had so lately escaped the guilt he would have incurred, if he had put Nabal's family to death, he resolved in the present instance not to be his own avenger, but gladly embraced this new opportunity of evincing his integrity. It appears that Saul and his host were soon awake after David retired; and it is likely they were convinced that the Lord had closed their eyes, and favoured David in performing that action, which placed him in so honourable a light, and that it was useless to oppose him. Conviction of David's good intentions at the same instant rushed irre.
sistibly on the mind of Saul, with a consciousness of his own wickedness and folly, and subdued his rage. David had been too often deceived by Saul to trust to his fair professions, which, though they might be well meant at that time, were not likely to be lasting.
Saul's prediction of David's advancement is very remarkable, and shews that he did wilfully oppose the LORD; for he knew that David was appointed of God to succeed him, yet he resolved to cut him off. Had Saul acquiesced in the dispensation which his own impious behaviour brought upon him, and suffered David as Captain of the Lord's inheritance to have command of the armies of Israel, he might as king have passed the remainder of his days with comfort and honour.
Of all the circumstances of distress which David lamented, none was so severe to him as the being ex- . cluded from the congregation of Israel; for as he was driven amongst idolaters, he and his followers were continually exposed to the temptation of worshipping false gods; at least, they were frequently eye-witnesses of those profane rites, which were abominations to the LORD; and to behold divine honours paid to idols, must have given the utmost concern to those who were zealous for the true religion.
DAVID TAKES REFUGE WITH THE PHILISTINES,
When Saul was gone, David began to concert measures for the future security of himself and his
army; but notwithstanding the recent instances he had had of Gov's over-ruling providence, which preserved him from danger in the midst of Saul's camp, fear operated so violently on his mind, that, without enquiring the will of the LORD, he consulted with his friends, and, in
consequence of their advice, resolved to withdraw from the kingdom, and retire into the land of the Philistines; by this step David exposed himself to a variety of temptations.
It seems that some revolution had happened amongst. this people, for formerly there were five sovereign princes, and at this time Achish appears to have been king over all Philistia. This prince thought it would be greatly to his advantage to detach so valiant a general as David, and his brave troops, from the interest of their own country, especially as the Philistines were then meditating an invasion on the land of Israel, supposing that he should by this mean confirm an irreconcileable hatred between David and Saul and their adherents ; so that, in all probability, Achish did not act in this matter from motives of real kindness, but policy: however, he was, notwithstanding, intitled to David's assistance on all lawful occasions, as he treated him and his followers with great respect, and, -at David's request, gave him a city to dwell in. Whilst Da. vid abode at Zilkag, he made some attacks upon the nations that were devoted by God to be destroyed by the Israelites, particularly the Gazarites and Geshurites, whom as branches of the Amalekites it was his duty to destroy, because the Lord had said, He would have war with Amalek from generation to generation; so that David, as captain of the LORD's inheritance, was justified in putting them all to the sword. David concealed what he had done, lest Achish should suspect that he would proceed to hostilities against his people and their allies, which might occasion his being expelled from those coasts; and, with an equivocation ill becoming his character, he told the king of Gath, that he had fought against some of the inhabitants of Judah; which induced Achish to place entire confi
dence in him, from a persuasion that he was firmly attached to his interest; and knowing David's great va. lour, he rejoiced in having such an ally. Now was David called to a severe trial, for a war broke out with Israel, and Achish (depending on David's animosity to Saul, and those who had joined with him to drive David from his native country) proposed that he should take the command of those guards which attended his royal person; to this proposal * David replied, Surely thou shalt know what thý servant can do.
We must not think so hardly of David, as to suppose that he really intended to fight against his own people: it is probable that he went with Achish in hopes that some opportunity might offer of preventing an engagement: or in case it was not to be avoided, that he might at least shew his gratitude to this monarch, by giving him protection, and saving the lives of some of his people. Happily for David, the Philistines were jealous of him, and insisted that Achish should send him back to Ziklag.
All things are known beforehand to the SUPREME Being, therefore he might permit David to take this step, in order that he should learn what perplexities are the consequences of mistrusting God, and placing too great reliance on human councils. Though David consented to attend Achish, we may suppose that he gladly returned to Ziklag, for he must have been greatly distressed to know how to proceed. The king dismissed him with the highest encomiums on his merit, which proves, that David had hitherto conducted himself honourably. During his short absence, a dreadful event happened: for some of the Amalekites that remained, invaded and set fire to Ziklag, and carried all the inha
* See Chandler's Life of David.
bitants, which consisted chiefly of women and children, into captivity
This was a most afflicting stroke to David, intended perhaps to punish him for exposing himself to the necessity of appearing willing to engage in a bad cause ; for had he and his followers gone with Achish to the camp, their families and all their property would have been inevitably lost. David's soldiers were so enraged, that they were going to stone him; but he implored the assistance of the LORD, and calling to Abiathar to fetch the ephod, he had the comfort of receiving command to pursue the Amalekites, with a promise of victory. David, therefore, with his army, set out on the pursuit, and found the enemy revelling and feasting in their camp; so David smote them, and gained a complete conquest, by which he restored the captives to liberty, and recovered all their goods, with the addition of much spoil, part of which consisted of a great num. ber of flocks and herds : these the army gratefully allotted to David for his own share. Two hundred soldiers had been obliged to stop by the way, for they were so overcome with faintness and fatigue, that they had not power to proceed; those who had taken an active part in the battle, refused to grant them any share of the prey ; but David, agreeably to the rules of justice, insisted that they should have their share, as they were willing to have gone, though not able, and they had been useful in guarding the baggage.
When David came back to Ziklag, he disposed of his own portion, by sending presents to all those from whom he had formerly received favours, whilst he was driven from place to place; which proves that he had a very munificent mind,