I Samuel 26-27

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Text: I Samuel 26-27



In I Samuel 24 , God miraculously delivered Saul into David's hands in the cave at Engedi. David could have murdered him. Saul was so close that David was able to cut off a piece of the King's robe as evidence. Even this act of putting forth his hand against Saul brought conviction to David who had determined not to harm Saul. In David's mind, Saul was God's problem; Saul was not David's problem. David regarded Saul as the Lord's anointed. Saul had no just cause for hunting him. In repentance, Saul acknowledged David's righteousness and the fact that David would some day be king; and Saul went back home and stopped pursuing David.

Something happened, however, between the close of I Samuel 24 and the beginning of I Samuel 26. Saul forgets about his promise to stop pursuing David. He again learns of David's whereabouts and comes after him again, seeking to kill him.

Once again the Lord delivers Saul into David's hands and provides David with another excellent opportunity to kill Saul. It is an obvious test from the Lord; and one more time, David refuses to put forth his hand against Saul. Saul is the Lord's problem to deal with. He is not David's problem to deal with. Let's look and see how the situation unfolds.


I Samuel 26:1 - And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon?

Jeshimon means desert or waste and refers to the wilderness southeast of Hebron (Ryrie Study Bible).

This sounds familiar. We've seen this same thing before. I Samuel 26:1 is similar to I Samuel 23:19 -

I Samuel 23:19 - Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?


I Samuel 26:2-4 - (2) Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. (3) And Saul pitched [i.e. Saul encamped] in the hill of Hachilah, which is before Jeshimon, by the way [i.e. beside the road]. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. (4) David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come in very deed [i.e. that Saul had indeed come.].

We are not told what stirred up Saul again. Things seem to have been settled at the end of chapter 24.

Perhaps, David merely needed the same lesson repeated more than once just as we often do. It would surely help if both we and our children would never have to be taught the same thing more than once, but this is not how things usually work. We have often needed second installments or reinforcement.


I Samuel 26:5-12 - (5) And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched [i.e. where Saul had encamped]: and David beheld [i.e. David saw] the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay in the trench [i.e. in the circle of the camp], and the people pitched [i.e. encamped] round about him. (6) Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee. (7) So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the trench [i.e. inside the circle of the camp], and his spear stuck in the ground at his bolster [i.e. at his head - The Hebrew word translated bolster is the word meaning head.]: but Abner and the people lay round about [i.e. all around] him. (8) Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him [i.e. strike him or pin him], I pray thee, with the spear even to the earth at once, and I will not smite [i.e. strike him] him the second time. (9) And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless? (10) David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle, and perish. (11) The Lord forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed: but, I pray thee, take thou now the spear that is at his bolster [i.e. at his head], and the cruse [i.e. the jug] of water, and let us go. (12) So David took the spear and the cruse [i.e. the jug] of water from Saul's bolster [i.e. near Saul's head]; and they gat them away [i.e. got away], and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither awaked: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the Lord was fallen upon them.

David had ample opportunity to kill Saul; and he also had one of his trusted men ready, willing, able, and eager to do it for him.


I Samuel 26:13-20 - (13) Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of an hill afar off; a great space being between them: (14) And David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, Answerest thou not, Abner? [Abner was the captain of Saul's army.] Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king? (15) And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like to thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord. (16) This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the Lord liveth, ye [i.e. Ye is plural and includes Abner all the rest who were supposedly protecting Saul] are worthy to die, because ye [i.e. Abner and the rest] have not kept your master, the Lord's anointed. And now see where the king's spear is, and the cruse [i.e. the jug] of water that was at his bolster [i.e. by his head]. (17) And Saul knew David's voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king. (18) And he said, Wherefore doth my lord thus pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand? (19) Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If the Lord have stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if they be the children of men, cursed be they before the Lord; for they have driven me out this day from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go, serve other gods. [David believed that his exile from the land (i.e. from the inheritance of God) was equivalent to forcing him to abandon the worship of the Lord, for there were no sanctuaries of the Lord outside Israelite territory. - Ryrie Study Bible] (20) Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth before the face of the Lord: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains [Partridges are medium sized birds from the pheasant family.].

Just as a piece of Saul's skirt told of Saul's first deliverance from death at the hand of David, Saul's spear and jug of water told of Saul's second deliverance from death.

David could not help but taunt Abner and the others for their carelessness in guarding the king. What still amazed David was why King Saul continued to pursue him so untiringly when he had proven that he meant him no harm.

If the Lord had stirred up Saul against David, then David could satisfy the Lord by presenting a sacrificial offering.

If it were men who had incited Saul against David, then they should be cursed because they were driving David away from his inheritance (i.e. from his home) and from the only sanctuary where he could publicly worship God. Go, worship other gods was what these evil men were saying by their actions, if not by their words. David asked that he might not die away from the presence of the Lord, i.e. that he might not die in a foreign land.

Saul was hunting a flea as one hunts a partridge in the mountains. A flea would be very tiny and hard to find. It would also be very insignificant.


I Samuel 26:21-25 - (21) Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. (22) And David answered and said, Behold the king's spear! and let one of the young men come over and fetch it. (23) The Lord render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the Lord's anointed. (24) And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes [i.e. as your life was highly valued this day in my eyes], so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the Lord [i.e. let my life be highly valued in the eyes of the Lord], and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. (25) Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Saul apparently repented when he realized that David had spared his life again. He acknowledged that David was more righteous than he, for he sought David's life without cause, whereas David spared his life, though he could have killed the king in self defense.

David made a final appeal to the Lord to take note of his righteousness. Then Saul responded with a blessing and a prophecy of future greatness for David.

David went on his way, and Saul returned to his city. As far as we are able to learn from the Scriptures, Saul became resigned to his fate and never again tried to interfere with the will of God for the kingdom and its next anointed leader. He apparently never pursued after David again. What a relief this must have been for David.

However, between the conclusion of I Samuel 26 and before the beginning of I Samuel 27 , something happened; but we really don't know what it was that happened. In I Samuel 27:1, we see a different David from the one we had seen in I Samuel 26 .

According to verse 1 -


I Samuel 27:1 - (1) And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.

We remind ourselves of Romans 15:4

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

We see -


We really do not know what happened, but we can point to some possibilities in the Scripture and in our own experiences.

It may have been a problem with spiritual pride - Defeat often comes right after a triumph of faith. David had a spiritual triumph in chapter 26.

Was David proud of himself for not killing Saul? We really don't know, but we do know that pride goes before a fall.

Remember Elijah's defeat of the prophets of Baal and his despair at the hands of Jezebel in I Kings 18 and 19

Remember David's victory in the cave in I Samuel 24 followed by the experience with Nabal in I Samuel 25 .

It may instead have been a problem with a wrong attitude.

David apparently felt sorry for himself when he said, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.

There may be many reasons people feel sorry for themselves.

Sometimes they want others to take notice of them to see how rough they have it. It might be financial burdens, family trouble, severe testing, etc.

They take their eyes off the Lord and want relief from testing.

They have the attitude, If only I get this done, then I'll be able to live for the Lord or, If only I can get over this hump, I'll be all right. Instead, their attitude should be, The Lord will teach me a great lesson from this situation and will deliver me.

James 1:2-4 - (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Psalms 34:7 - The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

It may have been a problem with neglected prayer and/or Bible study. There is no Biblical record of praying about going to the Philistines for safety from Saul.

James 1:5 - If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Ephesians 6:10-18 - (10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; (16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

We see -


1. Self pity is contrary to God's promise. God had promised that David would be the next king of Israel.

We remember God's promise -

I Samuel 16:1 - And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

I Samuel 16:12-13 - (12) And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. (13) Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

We remember that God always keeps His promises.

Titus 1:1-2 - (1) Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; (2) In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.

2. Self pity was contrary to the evidence

God had delivered David from a bear and a lion

God had delivered David from Goliath

God had delivered David from King Saul many times

We see -


1. David fell into the same sin again - I Samuel 27:1

According to chapter 21, David had previously fled to Achish the king of Gath -

I Samuel 21:10-15 - (10) And David arose and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. (11) And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? (12) And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. (13) And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard. (14) Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? (15) Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?

Back to I Samuel 27:1

I Samuel 27:1 - And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.

2. David took others with him - 27:2

I Samuel 27:2 - (2) And David arose, and he passed over with the six hundred men that were with him unto Achish, the son of Maoch, king of Gath.

Your actions could cause others to sin as well as yourself. Consider the effects of whatever you do on your wife or husband, your children, your brothers or sisters, your friends, your neighbors, your fellow workers, etc.

3. David went to the Lord's enemies - 27:3

I Samuel 27:3 - (3) And David dwelt with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal' s wife.

David had no business going to Achish -

II Corinthians 6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

4. David gained relief from a trial but also got out of the place of God's blessing - 27:4-11

I Samuel 27:4-11 - (4) And it was told Saul that David was fled to Gath: and he sought no more again for him. (5) And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee? (6) Then Achish gave him Ziklag that day: wherefore Ziklag pertaineth unto the kings of Judah unto this day. (7) And the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a full year and four months. (8) And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt. (9) And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive, and took away the sheep, and the oxen, and the asses, and the camels, and the apparel, and returned, and came to Achish. (10) And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. (11) And David saved neither man nor woman alive, to bring tidings [i.e. news] to Gath, saying, Lest they should tell on us, saying, So did David, and so will be his manner all the while he dwelleth in the country of the Philistines.

Psalms 1:1-3 - (1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (2) But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

5. David lost his testimony - 27:12

I Samuel 27:12 - And Achish believed David, saying, He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant for ever.

We don't have time to deal with it in this message, but at the beginning of chapter 28 we will see that David was on the verge of warring against God's people. He had opened himself up to a situation where he would be tempted.

Romans 13:14 - But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Galatians 5:16 - This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Finally, we see that -


Psalms 37:7 - Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Psalms 37:23 - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - (5) Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


When we neglect our Bible study and prayer and expose ourselves to temptation, we, too, will fall.