Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
Whilst Saul derived no comfort from his visit to the witch at Endor, but simply heard from the mouth of Samuel the confirmation of his rejection on the part of God, and an announcement of his approaching fate, David was delivered, through the interposition of God, from the danger of having to fight against his own people.
Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.The account of this is introduced by a fuller description of the position of the hostile army. "The Philistines gathered all their armies together towards Aphek, but Israel encamped at the fountain in (at) Jezreel." This fountain is the present Ain Jald (or Ain Jalt, i.e., Goliath's fountain, probably so called because it was regarded as the scene of the defeat of Goliath), a very large fountain, which issues from a cleft in the rock at the foot of the mountain on the north-eastern border of Gilboa, forming a beautifully limpid pool of about forty or fifty feet in diameter, and then flowing in a brook through the valley (Rob. Pal. iii. p. 168). Consequently Aphek, which must be carefully distinguished from the towns of the same name in Asher (Joshua 19:30; Judges 1:31) and upon the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:53) and also at Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4:1), is to be sought for not very far from Shunem, in the plain of Jezreel; according to Van de Velde's Mem., by the side of the present el Afleh, though the situation has not been exactly determined. The statement in the Onom., "near Endor of Jezreel where Saul fought," is merely founded upon the Septuagint, in which בּעין is erroneously rendered ἐν Ἐνδώρ.
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.When the princes of the Philistines (sarne, as in Joshua 13:3) advanced by hundreds and thousands (i.e., arranged in companies of hundreds and thousands), and David and his men came behind with Achish (i.e., forming the rear-guard), the (other) princes pronounced against their allowing David and his men to go with them. The did not occur at the time of their setting out, but on the road, when they had already gone some distance (compare 1 Samuel 29:11 with 1 Samuel 30:1), probably when the five princes (Joshua 13:3) of the Philistines had effected a junction. To the inquiry, "What are these Hebrews doing?" Achish replied, "Is not this David, the servant of Saul the king of Israel, who has been with me days already, or years already? and I have found nothing in him since his coming over unto this day." מאוּמה, anything at all that could render his suspicious, or his fidelity doubtful. נפל, to fall away and go over to a person; generally construed with אל (Jeremiah 37:13; Jeremiah 38:19, etc.) or על (Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 37:14; 1 Chronicles 12:19-20), but here absolutely, as the more precise meaning can be gathered from the context.
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?
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?But the princes, i.e., the four other princes of the Philistines, not the courtiers of Achish himself, were angry with Achish, and demanded, "Send the man back, that he may return to his place, which thou hast assigned him; that he may not go down with us into the war, and may not become an adversary (satan) to us in the war; for wherewith could he show himself acceptable to his lord (viz., Saul), if not with the heads of these men?" הלוא, nonne, strictly speaking, introduces a new question to confirm the previous question. "Go down to the battle:" this expression is used as in 1 Samuel 26:10; 1 Samuel 30:24, because battles were generally fought in the plains, into which the Hebrews were obliged to come down from their mountainous land. "These men," i.e., the soldiers of the Philistines, to whom the princes were pointing.
Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands?To justify their suspicion, the princes reminded him of their song with which the women in Israel had celebrated David's victory over Goliath (1 Samuel 18:7).
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.After this declaration on the part of the princes, Achish was obliged to send David back.
With a solemn assertion, - swearing by Jehovah to convince David all the more thoroughly of the sincerity of his declaration, - Achish said to him, "Thou art honourable, and good in my eyes (i.e., quite right in my estimation) are thy going out and coming in (i.e., all thy conduct) with me in the camp, for I have not found anything bad in thee; but in the eyes of the princes thou art not good (i.e., the princes do not think thee honourable, do not trust thee). Turn now, and go in peace, that thou mayest do nothing displeasing to the princes of the Philistines."
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?Partly for the sake of vindicating himself against this suspicion, and partly to put the sincerity of Achish's words to the test, David replied, "What have I done, and what hast thou found in thy servant, since I was with thee till this day, that I am not to come and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?" These last words are also ambiguous, since the king whom David calls his lord might be understood as meaning either Achish or Saul. Achish, in his goodness of heart, applies them without suspicion to himself; for he assures David still more earnestly (1 Samuel 29:9), that he is firmly convinced of his uprightness. "I know that thou art good in my eyes as an angel of God," i.e., I have the strongest conviction that thou hast behaved as well towards me as an angel could; but the princes have desired thy removal.
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.
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."And now get up early in the morning with the servants of thy lord (i.e., Saul, whose subjects David's men all were), who have come with thee; get ye up in the morning when it gets light for you (so that ye can see), and go."
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.In accordance with this admonition, David returned the next morning into the land of the Philistines, i.e., to Ziklag; no doubt very light of heart, and praising God for having so graciously rescued him out of the disastrous situation into which he had been brought and not altogether without some fault of his own, rejoicing that "he had not committed either sin, i.e., had neither violated the fidelity which he owed to Achish, nor had to fight against the Israelites" (Seb. Schmidt).