I Samuel 29

The Word Made Fresh

1The Philistines amassed their armies at Aphek, and the Israelites gathered at the spring in Jezreel. 2As the Philistine leaders marched with their platoons and battalions, David and his men were following Achish. 3The other leaders demanded to know why the Israelites were there, and Achish explained, “This is David, the servant of king Saul of Israel. He has been with me for more than a year, and since he joined me I have had no cause to distrust him.”

4But the others were not satisfied with that explanation, and told Achish, “Send him back to wherever you settled him. He cannot go and fight with us. He might turn against us in the battle. How could he ever be restored to his own king unless it’s with the lives of our soldiers? 5Isn’t this that same David they dance about and sing, “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands?”

6Achish summoned David and told him, “As surely as the LORD lives, you have been faithful to me, and it seems right to me that you should join with us in the battle. I haven’t found any fault with you since the day you arrived. But the other leaders don’t trust you. 7Go home, now, and go in peace. Don’t do anything that would give them cause to be wary.”

8“But what have I done?” David demanded. “From the day I came to you until now, what have I done to make you think I should not join you in your fight against your enemies?”

9“I know,” said Achish. “As far as I am concerned you are as blameless as an angel of God. But the other leaders have told me you cannot go into battle with us. 10Tomorrow morning leave early as soon as it is light.”

11The next morning David took his men back to Philistine territory and the Philistines marched on Jezreel.


1-5: Achish has accepted David and his men as Hebrew mercenaries (see 14:21), but the other Philistine leaders aren’t buying it. They remember the prowess of David in the past against them and demand that he be sent back to Ziklag.

6-11: Achish dismisses David and his men. David at least pretends to be upset (we have to wonder about his real motives for being there in the first place) but really has no choice but to do as the king says and return to Ziklag.


Achish is not the brightest candle in the chandelier. When he took David in and gave him the town of Ziklag he had apparently forgotten that David had come to him pretending to be a lunatic not that long before (see 21:10-15). He is oblivious to the raids David and his men have made on Philistine settlements. But interestingly, he refers to David’s God as “the LORD” (in verse 6) as if he is acknowledging the Israelites’ God. Is this a hint that the LORD is involved in the upcoming battle which will result in Saul’s death and David’s elevation to the throne of Israel?