When Jonathan told David to run away from Saul, David went first to Gath in Philistia (21:10). We think that God sent him there; David inquired of God at Nob, on the way there (22:9-10). However, David was too afraid to remain in Gath on that occasion.
David had good reasons to feel afraid there. During Saul’s rule, Philistia was Israel’s most serious enemy. As an army commander, David himself had led a group of 1000 soldiers in battles against Philistia. Philistia’s champion Goliath, whom David had killed, came from Gath.
So it was extraordinary that David now considered himself safer in Philistia than in Israel. However, it seems that King Achish, of Gath in Philistia, liked to have the support of foreign soldiers (2 Samuel 21:22). Each of Philistia’s 5 principal towns had its own king; that king had absolute authority over his own region. Achish had the right to decide who would live in Gath. Because Achish allowed David and his men to live there, they were safe.
In fact, they were so safe in Achish’s territory that they even set up homes there. The men brought their wives and children there. Probably while David had been in Israel’s forests and deserts, the men had to live separately from their families (see 1 Samuel 21:4-5). They would have been very grateful to see their wives and to be at peace again.
Saul heard that David was in Philistia. David might make peace with Gath’s king, but Saul would always be a bitter enemy of Philistia. Saul knew that he could not go there, even to chase David. The king of Gath was Saul’s personal enemy; he would not hand David over to Saul. So Saul did not try to arrest or to attack David again.
Next part: David in Ziklag (1 Samuel 27:5-7)
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.