|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
29:1-5 David waited with a secret hope that the Lord would help him out of his difficulty. But he seems to have been influenced too much by the fear of man, in consenting to attend Achish. It is hard to come near to the brink of sin, and not to fall in. God inclined the princes of the Philistines to oppose David's being employed in the battle. Thus their dislike befriended him, when no friend could do him such a kindness.
Verse 1. - The Philistines gathered, etc. The narrative, broken off for the description of Saul's abasement, is again resumed from 1 Samuel 28:1. Aphek. As we saw on 1 Samuel 4:1, this word, signifying a fortress, is a very common name for places. If it was the Aphek in Judah there mentioned, David's dismissal would have taken place near Gath, and so soon after Achish joined the Philistine army. Mr. Conder thinks it was the place represented by the modern village Fuku'a, near Mount Gilboa, in the tribe of Issachar; but as this was distant from Ziklag eighty or ninety miles, it would not have been possible for David to have reached home thence on the third day (1 Samuel 30:1), nor was it probable that his presence with his little army would remain long unnoticed. A fountain which is in Jezreel. Hebrew, "the fountain." Conder says, "Crossing the valley we see before us the site of Jezreel, on a knoll 500 feet high. The position is very peculiar, for whilst on the north and northeast the slopes are steep and rugged, on the south the ascent is very gradual, and the traveller coming northward is astonished to look down suddenly on the valley with its two springs: one, 'Ain Jalud, welling out from a conglomerate cliff, and forming a pool 100 yards long with muddy borders; the other, the Crusaders' fountain of Tubania" ('Tent-Work,' 1:124). The former is the fountain mentioned here; and it is evident that even now Saul had chosen a strong position for his army. The reading of the Septuagint, En-dor instead of "the fountain" (Hebrew, En, or Ain), is indefensible, as the Israelites were many miles to the southward.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek,.... Not the city in the tribe of Judah of that name, Joshua 15:53; where the Philistines had a camp in the time of Samuel, 1 Samuel 4:1; but rather that in the tribe of Asher, Joshua 19:30; unless there was one of this name in the tribe of Issachar, not mentioned, since it seems to have been near Jezreel and Shunem, which were both in that tribe, Joshua 19:18,
and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel; in the valley of Jezreel; of which See Gill on Joshua 19:18 and See Gill on Hosea 1:5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Sa 29:1-5. David Marching with the Philistines to Fight with Israel.
1. Aphek—(Jos 12:8), in the tribe of Issachar, and in the plain of Esdraelon. A person who compares the Bible account of Saul's last battle with the Philistines, with the region around Gilboa, has the same sort of evidence that the account relates what is true, that a person would have that such a battle as Waterloo really took place. Gilboa, Jezreel, Shunem, En-dor, are all found, still bearing the same names. They lie within sight of each other. Aphek is the only one of the cluster not yet identified. Jezreel on the northern slope of Gilboa, and at the distance of twenty minutes to the east, is a large fountain, and a smaller one still nearer; just the position which a chieftain would select, both on account of its elevation and the supply of water needed for his troops [Hackett, Scripture Illustrated].
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