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1 Samuel 29:1-11 -


David had, in the course of his life, friendly relations with several heathen princes. One of these was Achish (elsewhere called Abimelech, Psalms 34:1-22 ; inscription), son of Maoch, and king of Gath, one of the five royal cities, the seats of the princes of the Philistine confederacy. What is recorded of him shows that he was a remarkable man. Whilst Saul persecuted David, Achish protected him; and whilst the former, in the midst of Israel, "with the law" of Moses, committed atrocious crime, and sank into heathen superstition, the latter, in the midst of heathenism, "without the law" ( Romans 2:11-16 ), exhibited much moral excellence, and approached the faith of Israel ( 1 Samuel 29:6 ). He may have profited in religious knowledge by his intercourse with David; on the other hand, his example was in some respects worthy of imitation by him. We must not attribute to him virtues which he did not possess; but we see in him a man much better than we might have expected to find from the disadvantages under which he lived. He was distinguished by—

1 . Self-interested policy. Although he may have felt some sympathy with David in his persecution by Saul, yet he appears to have received him under his protection chiefly because of the aid he hoped to obtain from him for himself and his people ( 1 Samuel 27:12 ).

2 . Unsuspecting confidence. He had much reason to be suspicious of David from his knowledge of his victory over the champion of Gath, and his recollection of his former visit; but he put an unreserved trust in his representations ( 1 Samuel 28:2 ), and even when others suspected him did not withdraw it. A trustful disposition is liable to be imposed upon, but it is always worthy of admiration.

3 . Royal generosity, in permitting David to dwell in Gath, making him a present of Ziklag, and appointing him to an honourable post in his army. He was without envy or jealousy, and acted toward him in a manner worthy of a king.

4 . Discriminating appreciation ; admiring the military bravery of David and the still higher qualities which he possessed. "I have found no fault in him," etc. ( 1 Samuel 29:3 , 1 Samuel 29:6 , 1 Samuel 29:9 ). There must have been much in common between these two men to have enabled them to live on such friendly terms with each other for so long a period. Excellence perceives and appreciates excellence.

5 . Honourable fidelity, both in testifying to the worth of David and in submitting to "the lords of the Philistines," with whom lie was associated ( 1 Samuel 29:7 ).

6 . Courteous consideration. "And now return, and go in peace," etc. ( 1 Samuel 29:7 ). "Rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants," etc. ( 1 Samuel 29:10 ; 1 Chronicles 12:19-22 ). He was frank and commendatory even to flattery, and desirous not to hurt his feelings by the manner of his dismissal.

7 . Devout sentiment. "As Jehovah liveth," etc. ( 1 Samuel 29:6 ). How much he meant by this expression we know not. But we may believe that, notwithstanding he was united with others in conflict with Israel, there was in him (as the effect of that Divine mercy and grace which wrought in all nations) "some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel." And "in every nation he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" ( Acts 10:35 ).—D.


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