1 Samuel 27:1  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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1st Samuel, chap. 27 verse 1, " And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul"; and this after the marvelous escapes narrated in the 22nd, 23rd and 24th chapters. So is it oftentimes with us. Circumstances occupy us instead of God, who delivered us heretofore:-" Thou hast been my help, leave me not, neither forsake me" (Psa. 27 verse 9), is used as a plea for continued favor. Again, in Psa. verse 7, " Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings I will rejoice." None had more experience of delivering grace than David; nevertheless all is forgotten now: "I shall perish one day," takes the place of God's promise (1 Sam. 16:1212And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. (1 Samuel 16:12)), " Arise, anoint Him, for this is He." Present dangers obliterate the remembrance of past escapes. He sees only the hand against him and not the hand for him. His eye is averted from God, unbelief deprives him of communion, and forgetful of divine strength, he puts forth his own. And what a scene is now before us! He who was an example for us becomes a warning. He who, in former difficulties cried unto God most High, now turns for help to the Philistines. " He arose and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish the Son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men," etc. How are the mighty fallen! How marked the departure from the steps of Abraham, in Gen. 14:22, 2322And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: (Genesis 14:22‑23). But so it is ever. Unbelief plunges us into sin,-is that sin which in itself includes all others. His back is turned upon God as was the prodigal's upon his father's house; and the journey into the far country, the riotous living, and the unhallowed associations, were but the consequences of the first false step. David in communion would have scorned a refuge in Gath, or shelter from a Philistine. Now he stoops still lower: in verse 5, David said unto Achish, " If now I have found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country that I may dwell there, for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee." Out of communion, David was wearied of the pilgrim's life. Time was, when the mountain sides, the cleft of the rock, or some lone desert place and fellowship with God had more charms for him than the king's palace. Time was, when his soul rejoiced in danger, for the joy of deliverance at the hand of his God. " hen he was brought low He helped him." Now, he longs for a place, some settled abode, where he might rest, such a rest as unbelief longs for. God permitted his request to be granted, and " Achish gave him Ziklag; and the time that he dwelt there was a full year and four months." In verses 8 and 12, we glance at his service from this place. Zeal against old enemies is manifested-conquests are achieved-yet there is no communion. And what after all is service worth without the of God in it? The Lord, in His sovereignty, may use his children out of communion, to avenge Himself upon his enemies, even as he could use Cyrus who knew him not, to show favor to His people. He can guide with His eye, and sweetly lead in the path we should walk: or He may restrain by the bit or bridle (Psa. 32). And oftentimes the child of God, in a false position, may be very zealous in the Lord's service, go beyond even those who are in the narrow path: still it is unsanctified service, cruel in its character, and selfish in its ends-dishonest in the manner of it, and needing falsehood to conceal its aim-as in David. He dissimulates to Achish his career, and by bold untruth retains his favor.
But to pass on to the history in chapter 29.-How sad the story!-the Philistines gather all their armies to Aphek. The enemies of God prepare to fight against the people called by His name; and amongst these foes of His people, are assembled David and the Hebrews with him. Who would have looked for David, the conqueror of Goliath, numbered with the enemies of Israel, seeking alliance with them against his own nation? " Is thy servant a dog that he should do this?" Alas when dependence upon God, the living God ceases-when unbelief is fully at work, there are no bounds to declension, save in the sovereign grace of God.
He had marked the ways of David, and now uses his enemies to forbid the alliance David, out of communion, was degraded enough to solicit. " The lords of the Philistines said unto" Achish, " Make this fellow return," etc. (verse 4); and (verse 11) " David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines."
Thus far we have followed David in his downward career. We have traced his actions to the state of his heart. " He said in his heart, he should one day perish by the hand of 'Saul." He had used his intelligence in the circumstances. His path is before us. The consequences of his unbelief become more glaring in every after-step. But he is a child of God, and a chosen one too. He should learn himself and his own heart in the light of the sanctuary. His weakness, and the cause of it, should be left upon record for us, and is recorded for our admonition (Rom. 15:33For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:3)). " And it came to pass when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had taken the women captives that were therein; they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away and went on their ways. So David and his men came to the city, and, behold it was burned with fire; and their wives and their sons and their daughters were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, and Abigail, the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and David was greatly distressed." " Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." " He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption." And surely David had experience of his folly now. In his self-will he had carved out his path and pursued it. He thought there was nothing better for him to do, than to speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and he did so. Then he desired a place to dwell in. In this, also, his wishes are accomplished. But the end of his contrivances is before him. " There is a way which seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:1212There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12)).
He was greatly distressed.-He had said in his heart he should one day perish by the hand of Saul. He distrusted God, and now where is he? His companions " spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every. man for his sons and for his daughters." Alas, the miseries which unbelief entails upon us. Not only was David distressed, but his fellow-brethren in exile are hurried into affliction and trial. It is not his grief or his loss alone, his example draws others along with him. The bitterness of death in his own soul was hard to be borne; but he was surrounded by others, the victims of his folly and unbelief. " And they spake of stoning him." Surely he had kindled a fire and compassed himself about with sparks; and his lot was to lie down in sorrow (Isa. 1:1111To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. (Isaiah 1:11)). What instruction for the children of God is here afforded! How simple the narrative How full of warning! He had distrusted God in his heart. Had " forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewn out to himself broken cisterns which could hold no water."
And such must be the consequence of unbelief-present discomfort, unsanctified service, and the end bitter disappointment. Whatever is relied upon apart from God, must and will fail us. And in the days in which we live, when the world itself is wearied with its contrivances, and the Church of God torn asunder by divisions, there is but one remedy, and that returning to God. " Wherever two or three are gathered together in the name of the Lord, his presence is assured. "His Spirit remaineth with us always." The presence of the Holy Ghost secures his children from error, for the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Truth, and the truth secures holy discipline, for the Spirit of Truth is a Spirit of Holiness.
The Lord in his mercy did awaken a portion of his people to the ruined condition of the visible Church around, and led hearts which were broken in sorrow before him, to cease from man whose breath is in his nostrils. He revealed in His Grace the position of His saints as risen with Christ, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places; and with this their position also, as being indwelt by the Spirit, and having His presence to rule and guide in their midst. They saw in the word that believers were builded together a habitation for God through the Spirit, and His presence amongst them secured their harmony and love. We read of the early Christians, " Great grace was upon them all" (Acts 2), not because they were preceptively taught their duties, but the presence of God the Holy Ghost insured it, even as Paul writing to the Thessalonians (iv. 9), says, " Ye need not that I write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." And this simple truth became the rallying-point of many. The word of God was accredited, His presence was realized, and much blessing the consequence. But, alas, notwithstanding this revival as heretofore in the history of God's people, so now unbelief enters, and the presence of the Holy Ghost is practically denied. The doctrines and traditions of men are admitted. Unhallowed questions about the person of the Son of God have arisen; and this would alone convict us of our failure, for the work of the Holy Ghost is to glorify Jesus. Added to this, our present contentions, the jarring and strife, the restlessness manifested by some, the openly avowed hostility of others, all prove our grievous declension. And surely many are saying as David did-" There is nothing better for me to do than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines." But let us ponder the path of our feet (Prov. 4:2626Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. (Proverbs 4:26)). Whither shall we go for rest? What hope have we from the efforts of men in the past, that we should rely upon them as guides in the exigencies of the present? Alas, is this a time for going into ceiled houses and the habitation of God lying waste? " Seek first the kingdom of God, and all things else shall be added unto it." So, seek first the presence of God, and the chaos will be reduced to order, and contention to harmony. Yet, whilst we have warning in the history of David in Ziklag, so, also, we have wonderful encouragement. For, when all was lost that he had relied upon, the Philistines reject him, Ziklag is destroyed, their wives and little ones taken captive, and the people spake of stoning him; then, even then, "David encouraged himself in the Lord his God." And the Lord was gracious unto him, and heard him, and counseled him, and he recovered all! Surely this is written for us. What though we have so grievously fallen as to say in our hearts, " We shall one day perish;" what though some have sought refuge in worldliness, excusing their own sin by dwelling on the failings of others, and many are crying out for a place to dwell in, forgetful in present trial of the past gracious dealings of our God; what though many are " so troubled that they cannot speak;" yet here, also, David gives us instructions, for when thus brought low, in Psalm 77. His soul was restored by "considering the days of old." "His spirit made diligent search." "Will the Lord cast off forever, and will he be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail for evermore? hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said this is my infirmity.' And it is our infirmity. Let us remember the works of the Lord, let us talk of His doings, and though " the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Let us take with us words, and turn to the Lord; say unto Him, " Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously" (Hos. 14:22Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (Hosea 14:2)). Let us comfort ourselves with the words in 1st John 1:99That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9), "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ' But let us not add to all our other sins, continuance in unbelief. " As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." W.
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