Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel.1 Samuel 29:1-2. The Philistines gathered, the Israelites pitched — Or rather, had gathered, had pitched; for we are informed in the foregoing chapter that the Philistines were come to Shunen, and it is probable David’s departure from their army was prior to Saul’s consulting the woman at Endor. The lords of the Philistines passed on by hundreds, &c. — When they took a view of their army, the great men appeared, some at the head of a hundred, some of a thousand soldiers. David and his men passed on with Achish — Who seems to have been the general of the army, and to have made David and his men his life-guard, according to his resolution, chap. 1 Samuel 28:2. From this we may learn how dangerous a thing it is to deviate from truth, and what inconveniences it often brings us into. The pretences which David made to Achish (as related chap. 28.) of his inveteracy to the Israelites, and of the damage he had done them in making incursions upon them, were the inducements that prompted Achish to make David and his men his life-guard; whereby David was brought into the grievous strait of either fighting against his own countrymen, or betraying his benefactor.
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.
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?1 Samuel 29:3. Then said the princes — The lords of the other eminent cities, who were confederate with Achish in this expedition. These days, or years — That is, did I say days? I might have said years. He hath now been with me a full year and four months, 1 Samuel 27:7. Since he fell — Revolted, or left his own king to turn to me.
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?1 Samuel 29:4. Make this fellow return to his place — To Ziklag, which they were content he should possess. For wherewith should he reconcile, &c. Should it not be with the heads of these men? — That is, of the Philistines. They reasoned wisely, according to the common maxims of prudence and true policy; for by such a course great enemies have sometimes been reconciled together. But the Divine Providence was no doubt concerned in suggesting these prudential considerations to their minds; for by this means David was delivered from that great strait and difficulty into which he had brought himself, and from which no human wisdom could have extricated him; either of being an enemy to, and fighting against his country, (as before observed,) or being false to his friend and to his trust. And, by the same providential incident, he was sent back time enough to recover his wives, and the wives and children of his men, and his all, from the Amalekites, which would have been irrecoverably lost if he had gone to this battle. And the kindness of God to David was the greater, because it would have been most just for God to have left him in those distresses into which his own sinful counsel had brought him.
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.1 Samuel 29:6. Achish said, Surely, as the Lord liveth — He swears by Jehovah, whom David worshipped, that he might be the more believed by him. Or perhaps he had learned something from David of the true God, though he worshipped other gods with him.
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?1 Samuel 29:8. David said, But what have I done? — This was deep dissimulation and flattery in David, no way to be justified. But who, that has not experienced it, can know how strong a temptation they who attend on great men are under to compliment them and dissemble. David, no doubt, heartily rejoiced at this dismission; but as he did not know how much longer he might be obliged to stay in the land of the Philistines, he seems to have yielded to a temptation that prudence required him to carry it fair toward them, and to pretend to have that concern upon this occasion which he certainly did not feel.
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.1 Samuel 29:9. Achish said, Thou art good in my sight as an angel of God — In whom nothing is blame-worthy. The heathen acknowledged good spirits, which also they worshipped as an inferior sort of deities, who were messengers and ministers to the supreme God; Achish had learned the title of angels from the Israelites his neighbours, and especially from David’s conversation.
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.1 Samuel 29:10-11. With thy master’s servants — This intimates that the lords of the Philistines would not trust them, because they looked on them still as Saul’s subjects. David and his men rose up early — David did not then know how necessary this was for the relief of his own city. But God knew it well, and sent him thither accordingly. On how many occasions may we say, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter!
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.