David moves in with the Philistines
David moves in with the Philistines
King Saul finally stops hunting himDavid and his followers eventually find relief from King Saul's relentless pursuit by turning to the enemies Saul has been unable to defeat, the Philistines. Israelites had infantry, but Philistines had countless infantry and a chariot corps of 3,000 chariots and 6,000 horses. Saul decided not to follow David into the coastal plains of Philistine territory, and certainly not into the Philistine town of Gath, where David went. It seems odd David would go there for safety, to the hometown of the Philistine hero David killed in mortal combat, Goliath. But the city king, Achish, welcomed him as a powerful ally and a fellow enemy of Saul. That's what the king thought. He was mistaken.
David the raiderDavid and his men made a living as raiders. They raided enemies of Israel and friends of the Philistines. They raided enemies of Israel: people from Geshur, Gezer, and Amalek who had settled in the southern territory between Telam and Shur, near Egypt. When David and his men attacked a community, they killed all the people. But they kept the livestock and gave it to King Achish: sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels. They gave him stolen clothing as well. King Achish would respond to the gifts by asking, “Who’d you raid today?” David would lie and say he raided Israel or their allies: “We raided the Negev land in Judah.” “We raided the Jerahmeel families in the Negev.” “We raided Kenites in the Negev.” No victims could dispute David. He killed them all. David kept pitching his lies to the king, one raid after another. He did this for as long as he lived among the Philistines. Achish thought he had a solid ally in David—someone who would never move away. The king figured that after all those raids David made on his own people in Israel, they must hate his guts. The story is in 1 Samuel 27. To compare The Casual English Bible version with other translations, see Bible Gateway.
Map of David hiding in Maon Desert
Map of David hiding in the Maon Desert
Badlands of IsraelOn the run from King Saul in Gibeah, David moves his men south to the Maon wasteland. It's not wasted time. He meets and marries a widow, whose husband he almost murdered over an insult. David's men had been voluntarily looking after a team of shepherds caring for a huge flock owned by a rich man named Nabal. That's Hebrew for "fool," and he qualified.
Payday for the shepherdAt a shepherd's payday, which is the sheep-shearing season, David sent messengers to Nabal to ask for some food for the service they provided. Nabal, drunk from celebrating his good luck, essentially called David a runaway slave. When David's messengers returned with the insult, David told his men to arm themselves. They were going to kill Nabal's entire family. Nabal's wife, Abigail, intercepted David. She brought an apology and supplies:
- 200 loaves of bread,
- 2 large animal skins full of wine,
- 5 butchered sheep ready to cook,
- 1 50-pound (23-kg) sack of roasted grain 
- 100 clusters of raisins,
- 200 pressed cakes of dried figs.
I almost killed your familyDavid told Abigail, “Thank God, the LORD of Israel, for sending you to me today. Thanks for coming here and for bringing some common sense with you. You kept me from killing people so I could take revenge and save face. I’ll tell you something. As sure as the LORD lives, if you hadn’t come to meet me like this today, I would have killed every male in Nabal’s family by morning.” When Abigail returned home and told her husband he nearly died, he died. It sounds like he may have had a stroke, because he seemed to become paralyzed, dying so after. David married the widow, "beautiful and intelligent woman" (1 Samuel 25:3). For other Bible versions, see Bible Gateway.
David hides in Maon Desert
David hiding from King Saul
David hiding from King SaulAfter David killed the Philistine champion warrior, Goliath, Israel fell in love with its new hero. King Saul did not. Not in the long haul. He eventually grew so jealous that he wanted to kill David. But Saul's oldest son, Jonathan, was David's best friend. And he warned David when it was time to run. Here's the first part of the story, as it begins in 1 Samuel 19.
SAUL PLANS TO KILL DAVID1Saul wanted to kill David. So he discussed it with his officials and with his son Jonathan, who was David’s good friend. 2Jonathan told David. “My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you. Hide somewhere until tomorrow morning and stay alert. 3I’ll take a walk with my father in the field and will try to talk him out of doing this to you. I’ll let you know what he says.” 4Jonathan bragged up David to his father, King Saul. He said, “The king shouldn’t do anything wrong to David. He hasn’t done anything wrong to you. Everything he has done was to help you, not hurt you. 5He risked his life when he fought the Philistine champion. The LORD gave Israel a huge victory that day. You saw it. You cheered it. So, why would you murder this innocent man?” 6Saul took his son’s advice. And he promised, “As sure as the LORD lives, I’ll not kill David.” 7Jonathan told David about it and then brought him to Saul. David resumed his duties for the king.
SAUL THROWS A SPEAR AT DAVID AGAIN8War broke out again between Israel and the Philistines. David launched a crushing attack, and the Philistines ran away like before. 9Then a dark and depressing spirit got the best of Saul. David played music to calm the king, who sat with a spear in his hand. 10Saul threw the spear at David, who managed to dodge it. The spear lodged in the wall, and David left, escaping into the night.
MICHAL HELPS DAVID ESCAPE11Saul sent guards to watch David’s house that night. Saul wanted to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told her husband, “If you don’t get away from here tonight, you’ll be killed in the morning.” 12Michal helped David escape down a high window. That’s how he got away. 13Michal took the statue of an idol and put it in their bed. She covered it with David’s clothes and some blankets. And she topped the idol’s head with goat hair... The story continues until Philistines kill Saul and most of his sons in a battle. Jonathan dies there, too (1 Samuel 31).
David hides from King Saul