There Is Nothing Better: David Flees to the Philistines

1 Samuel 27:1  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 6
This was the language of David immediately after God had delivered him in a most remarkable manner from the hand of Saul. For a long while Saul had been hunting David from place to place, with the full intention of putting him to death; and now, for the second time, God had put Saul into David's power, so that, had David wished it, he could have taken Saul's life and put an end to his own dangers. But, as on the previous occasion, David refused to hurt the anointed king; and Saul was so touched by his magnanimity that he was constrained to say, "I have sinned: return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day" (1 Sam. 26:2121Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. (1 Samuel 26:21)). And in fulfillment of this promise, Saul abandoned his pursuit of David, and "returned to his place" (v. 25).
One would have thought that all this would have been the means of encouraging David's heart, and inspiring him with fresh confidence in God's watchful care of him. But strange to say, it was just the other way, for the next chapter opens thus: "And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines." Think of it! The man who years before had gone out in the name of the Lord of Hosts to meet Goliath the giant champion of the Philistines, and had slain him, now says that there is nothing better for him than to seek a refuge among those enemies of the Lord and of Israel. Nothing better for him?—oh, what a little step there seems to be between faith's triumphs and a complete downfall! When the danger was pressing and imminent, David was cast upon God. and God delivered him; but as soon as the danger was withdrawn for a time, David began to look at circumstances and probabilities. "It is not to be expected," he seems to say to himself, "that I shall always escape so fortunately. I shall be sure to fall into Saul's hands some day." Why so? Would the Lord change, or cease to be able to protect His servant? Oh, no! but David was forgetting God now; and the next moment he was turning in heart to the Lord's enemies for help.
Has it never been so with us? In time of pressing need, we have cast ourselves upon God, and He did not fail us; but when the pressure was past, we got our eyes off God and upon the difficulties. It seemed as though we could not always expect help and deliverance; and then we began to parley with sin, and to try to justify ourselves for yielding. "There is nothing better," we thought, than a compromise; and we settled down to a position that was wholly dishonoring to God. While the Lord lives, and reigns, it is downright unbelief on our part that would lead us to be satisfied with anything short of a real and complete obedience. "There is nothing better" means, in effect, the Lord is no longer able to hold me up.
May the Lord help us to ever be conscious of the fact that we always have in Himself a sure resource. In this connection it is nice to see what David himself brings before us in the 27th Psalm. "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" v. 1. "Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear" (1st half of v. 3). "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock." v. 5. "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." V. 14.