For many years, the armies of Israel and Philistia had been fighting against each other. The result of this constant war was that the armies could not defend properly the southern borders of their countries. Those regions were weak because groups of robbers often attacked them.
David became aware of these problems when he lived in the deserts and forests of southern Israel. Now that he was living in the south of Philistia, he could see the same problems there. In fact, it was the same groups of robbers who were attacking both countries.
David wanted to serve well King Achish of Gath, in Philistia, because David was living there. He also wanted to remain loyal to King Saul of Israel, because God had appointed Saul. So David decided that he would lead his men in a series of attacks against those robbers. By that means, he would be helping both Israel and Philistia.
Those robbers had organised themselves into groups of several hundred men, with a chief (leader). David organised his men in the same manner; he himself acted as their chief. Then he attacked them in a similar manner to the way that they frequently attacked each other. Probably at this time he became friends with Ittai (2 Samuel 15:18-20). Ittai was the chief of several hundred men from Philistia who were probably carrying on similar work. David and Ittai would have supported each other in their attacks.
We have already studied about some of these groups of robbers in 1 Samuel chapter 15. 1 Samuel 30:1-20 gives a good description of how they behaved. They destroyed entire towns and took everything from them. They even took the inhabitants in order to sell them as slaves.
Next part: Desert robbers (1 Samuel 27:9)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.