The Philistines gather their armies together against Israel, and encamp at Aphek; while the Israelites encamp at Jezreel, 1 Samuel 29:1. The lords of the Philistines refuse to let David go to battle with them, lest he should betray them, 1 Samuel 29:2-5. Achish expresses his confidence in David; but begs him to return, 1 Samuel 29:6-10. David and his men return, 1 Samuel 29:11.
Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.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.
And the lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, and by thousands: but David and his men passed on in the rereward with Achish.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.
Then said the princes of the Philistines, What do these Hebrews here? And Achish said unto the princes of the Philistines, Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, which hath been with me these days, or these years, and I have found no fault in him since he fell unto me unto this day?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?"
And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men?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, 1 Samuel 27:8, 1 Samuel 27:9. Had they heard of this, they would have seen much more cause for suspicion.
Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight: for I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day: nevertheless the lords favour thee not.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.
Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines.
And David said unto Achish, But what have I done? and what hast thou found in thy servant so long as I have been with thee unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?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.
And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, as an angel of God: notwithstanding the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.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 1 Samuel 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.
Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.With thy master's servants - Who were these? has been very properly asked; and to this question there can be but two answers: -
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.
So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines. And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.