Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Twenty-Nine]: The Serpent Wisdom of David. In this chapter we see David “wise as a serpent yet harmless as a dove”. In Saul’s camp he “went in and out wisely” among the people and gained much favor in the royal court. In this chapter he has gone over to the Philistines and King Achish sees David as “an angel of God” and can find no fault in him. There will be times that you will find yourself under scrutiny both by your friends and your enemies. David as a type of Christ Himself is our example to follow as we read of his behavior in this chapter.
[1Sa 29:1-11 KJV] 1 Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which [is] in Jezreel. 2 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. 3 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?
For a year and four months David has lived among the Philistines and served as a mercenary and personal guard to Achish king of the Philistines. Achish is one of the five lords of the Philistines, there being four others who do not know that David is with Achish. The Philistines gather together to war against Saul and the other four lords see David pitched as the rear guard of Achish.
The other lords of the Philistines do not find it acceptable that David is in Achish’s camp and demand that David be sent away. Achish resists this stating that for the whole time David has been with him that he has found no fault in David.
4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with Achish; 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? 5 [Is] not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands? 6 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. 7 Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords of the Philistines. 8 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? 9 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. 10 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. 11 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.
Achish has great respect for David. He sees something in David that compels him as though David is “an angel of God…” In his superstition he sees more in David than many of David’s enemies do in Saul’s camp.
David is a type of Christ. The primary title of Jesus as Messiah is as the “son of David”. These are the exact words of Pilate when he prevailed on the leaders of the Jews to give clemency at Jesus’ trial.
[Luk 23:4 KJV] 4 Then said Pilate to the chief priests and [to] the people, I find no fault in this man.
There will be times that you will find yourself having more favor with the world than you do with your brothers and sisters in the things of God. Solomon saw this in his father David’s personal history and made the following observation:
[Pro 16:7 KJV] 7 When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
In all of this David didn’t go out of his way to curry favor with Achish. He feigned madness. He pretended to go up against Judah when in fact he was warring against the Amelekites and other enemies of Israel. He lived in a city apart of the royal city so he wouldn’t have to be under the scrutiny of Achish and the Philistines.
In the parable of the unjust steward Jesus made the following statement that alludes to how you should behave toward those that are considered enemies but may become unlikely allies when you are being pressured by your peers:
[Luk 16:9 KJV] 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.
Just as David “behaved himself wisely” in Saul’s court so he is behaving himself wisely in the employ of Achish king of the Philistines. You never take for granted that you are so accepted and secure that you do not need to walk circumspectly even in your closest associations. Paul said this:
[Eph 5:15 KJV] 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
The word circumspectly there means to “walk barefoot” in other words watch your step and don’t take anything for granted. Jesus elsewhere in the gospel said this:
[Mat 10:16 KJV] 16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
That doesn’t mean to be tricky or deceptive. It means to be watchful and maintain the integrity of your walk with God in the midst of an environment of risk among both your friends and your enemies. This is the serpent wisdom of David when he went among the Philistines. He was harmless to the Israelites but discrete among the Philistines. This is an example for us to follow in our dealings with those within and without.
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