1 Samuel 27 & 29-30 – Sleeping with the enemy!



1 Samuel 27 & 29 – 30.




ILLUS.: Harry is a Christian – he had had his own business BUT because of external pressures and unfair competition from  the opposition, things had become extremely bad – He believed God had seen him through a few scraps. However, the ongoing struggle to keep his head above water wore him down.

It seemed that the only way out – the only way to survive was to join a bigger outfit – one of the opposition. As first it had gone well – he prospered – his employees were happy.

The business ethics of the new company were very suspect – Harry compromised – he tried to operate with double standards – eventually the cracks showed – the new company decided they no longer wanted him – his own employees were very unhappy — it seemed as if he had lost everything for good. He was at the end of himself.

If Harry – via a time machine – met David in the Pub on a Friday night they would have had a lot in common —

For years now David had been hard pressed … the decade of his 20’s was spent in the wilderness with a price on his head. At a young age he was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the future king of Israel. He had served in the court of King Saul as a friend and musician. He became a national hero by killing Goliath and then many other victories against the Philistines. BUT then he was driven from these accomplishments and admirations to survive as best he could in the deserts around Palestine. We don’t know the exact time but it was about 10 years that David was a fugitive in the wilderness.

During his time in the wilderness many came to be his followers – this group grew to about 600 men – along with their wives and children  – it is a sizeable group that David is leading.

Those who came are described as follows … 1 Samuel 22:2 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered round him, and he became their leader.

This is the profile of David’s ‘congregation’  – people whose lives are characterized by debt, distress and discontent. They are not exactly the cream of Israelite society!! They are more like the dregs, the rejects, the misfits, the dropouts!! This was David’s company for 10 years – they lived together, worked together, worshipped together under David’s leadership. This ragtag, motley crew were the embryonic Holy Nation of God that would emerge under the Kingship of David.

Does this not sometimes remind us of what the church is like – are we not sometimes // often disappointed with the community of God’s people. We come to church looking for God and we find a motley crew of imperfect debtors, distressed and discontents.

So many people end up saying “I love God but I hate the church”.

BUT we need to remember that Jesus ate with crooks and prostitutes! “It is the sick not the healthy that need a Doctor” Jesus said.

Paul … 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no-one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (NIV)

You see the company of God’s people is made up of those we would not ordinarily choose to be with (and who would not ordinarily choose to be with us) BUT we had better get used to it! David did! Jesus did! Paul did!

You see, we don’t first become good and nice and then get God!! First we get God – ( or rather he gets us) – and then over a life time God trains us in his ways!


Towards the end of his outlaw days David having twice spared King Saul’s life, having been prevented from killing Nabal and seeing how God had provided and protected and lead him … NOW becomes despondent … despair sets in.

1.1. Despair.

This wilderness experience has dragged on for a long time and David is in despair … listen … 1 Samuel 27:1

1 But David thought to himself, “One of these days I shall be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand.” (NIV)

Thus began 16 months of what the movie title calls “Sleeping with the enemy!”

What led to this …

He takes his eyes off God and looks to himself … But David thought to himself…

He had been assured by God that he would be the next King of Israel – through Samuel, Abigail, Jonathan and even Saul himself. BUT he has become irrational and pessimistic. He ends up in the depth of despondency – he begins to function as if he is not chosen by God – as if he is not one of God’s children.

It is possible to be a Christian BUT to be disobedient and to behave as if one is not a Christian … at this point in David’s life he is operating on carnal rather than godly standards.

David goes to live amongst the Philistines, with King Achish of Gath … Isn’t that where Goliath came from? YES! Are these people not Israel’s enemy? YES! Didn’t David go here before and nearly get himself killed? YES!   SO what on earth is he thinking about going back??

Last time he was alone — this time he has his two wives and children and his 600 men and their followers with him. What he does affects his whole company!!

None of us lives to ourselves! We often hear in our society the cry! “What I do with my life is my business — I am not hurting anyone!!” BUT we do! No one lives independently from everyone else. What I do or do not do has an effect on those around me — when I make a decision that is contrary to God’s order of things it effects those who trust me, depend on me,  look up to me  — my children, my friends ….

ILLUS.: Modern example is parents in the last generation — many sent their Children to church/SS but could not be bothered to get involved themselves — is it any wonder that the present generation is ignorant and uninterested in the things of God??

Their actions have had a profound affect on their children // and the nation!

David’s action was born out of despair — this led eventually to duplicity

1.2. Duplicity.

David had moved away from God and at first things seemed to be OK. The pressure was gone  – he felt safe from Saul, he wasn’t been hunted down. He had been right that Saul would not follow him into enemy territory. What relief he must have felt. He had a false scene of security.

Sins and disobedience often has temporary pleasure — it can be exhilarating. We are fools if we portray sin as unpleasant. It is pleasurable and exhilarating … FOR A TIME!! Sin’s pleasures are always passing … ultimately they never satisfy! NEVER!

It is not always that we deliberately set out to sin. “I have had enough of God it is time for a bit of sin!!” NO! Sometimes the responsibility of following God feels too much and we simply drift … we want to release the pressure .. BUT little do we realise that the short-term benefits are soon overtaken by long-term disaster.

David started to lead a double life – he and his men had been used to a free and adventurous life in the wilderness now they chaffed under the constant scrutiny of King Achish. SO David persuade Achish to give him the town of Ziklag.

From there David raided the tribes of the Negev – [the South] the Geshurites, Girzites and Amalekites were Israel’s enemies not the Philistines – Achish thought David was raiding the South of Judah – that is what David told him- so David lied ….in order to conceal his deceit he always killed every person in the tribes he raided to stop Achish discovering the truth.

When you operate under a cloak of secrecy you don’t want anyone asking so you are vague, you cover up and you lie!

David professed allegiance to Achish but he was lying to him. Achish trusted David and when the Philistine commanders challenged him he defended David …

1 Samuel 29:3-9 3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”

Achish replied, “Is this not David, who was an officer of Saul king of Israel? He has already been with me for over a year, and from the day he left Saul until now, I have found no fault in him.”


9 Achish answered, “I know that you have been as pleasing in my eyes as an angel of God;

All through this period of David’s life we have no record of him writing any psalms; he seems to have hung up his harp and lost his song and the only mention of God comes from the heathen King Achish.

All through this time instead of fighting the Philistines who are the enemies of Israel, God’s people – David is cozying up to them!!

This kind of duplicity eventually cracks and ends in disillusionment.

1.3. Disillusionment.

The time eventually comes when the Philistines are again at war with Israel and David has the dilemma of fighting with the Philistines against his own people. His life is completely back to front. He had fled from fighting Saul NOW he is faced with exactly that. BUT the Philistine Commanders don’t want him and he and his men are sent packing back to Ziklag.

Trying to live a double life always ends in disillusionment – I can’t claim to belong to God while at the same time trying to live without reference to God and his principles. When one first walks away from God because the responsibility of spiritual discipline seems too heavy, at first it feels pleasureable and freeing, maybe even delightful. But after a while the bills fall due and you have to pay the piper.

David and his men are disillusioned. It is never nice to be told you are not wanted.  So they head back to Ziklag … 1 Samuel 30:1-4

1 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, 2 and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.

3 When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. 4 So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. (NIV)

Put yourself in David’s place – he is disowned by both sides – Philistine and Israel — spiritually he is far from God — he comes back to his home tired and disillusioned  and everything that he and his men own have been captured or burned to the ground — all he has is an ash heap!! And then to crown it all even his men turn against him. 1 Samuel 30:6 6 David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters……

At this point there seems little to choose between David and King Saul.

2. THE ROAD TO RECOVERY.  (Chapter 30)

2.1. Repentance.

David had reach the lowest rung on the ladder – it is here that you either jump into oblivion or cry out to God for forgiveness and rescue — and this is where we see the difference between David and Saul — David does cry out to God!!! …. . But David found strength in the LORD his God.  [30:6] (NIV)

For the first time in 16 months David looks up and says “Oh God Help me!”

And he does — he always does. David makes no demands — sets no conditions — David finds that God has allowed this not to destroy him but rather to bring him to his knees and force him to look up!

Maybe you have know the joys and delights of walking with Christ. The excitement of being a Christian BUT like David you have drifted — you are a Christian but you are not living like one. NOW the disillusionment and depression of being away from God is killing you. Reach up! Come home! God is waiting, willing to forgive and ready to restore. It is time to return …. to find strength again in the Lord your God.

2.2. Reassurance.

David was repentant that day at Ziklag – he doesn’t rush off after the raiders he is prepared to wait for God.

The temptation so often is to ask for God’s help and then rush on ahead with our own solutions — David waited for God to show him what to do through Abiathar the priest.

2.3. Restoration.

With God’s reassurance David sets out to undo, as far as he could , the damage  his own conduct had caused. A third of his men [200] can’t continue BUT the rest press on and all is recovered.

This is due not to David’s prowess but to God’s mercy. The evidence that David has learned a lesson is that he is so generous to the 200 who could not make it …. 1 Samuel 30:23-25

23 David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. 24 Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All shall share alike.” 25 David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. (NIV)

The restoration was not just of David’s family and goods but a restoration of the relationship between David and his God!!


This Ziklag period in David’s life is a good example of how when we move away from God he doesn’t abandon us. David is living in enemy territory – the Biblical narrator doesn’t pass judgement on David but simply tells us what David does.

Even in the place – Ziklag where David has gone – God is working out his purposes for David. God protects David from violating his covenant – he works out David’s salvation. Spiritual life is not so much what we do for God but what God does for us!

We live in a world system and a society that is basically contrary to God’s way. The Bible tells us that the world is under the power of the Evil One. Sometimes as Christians was drift or are sucked into that rather than towards God. BUT God is behind the scenes doing for us what we aren’t doing for ourselves.

3.1. Reality.

There are many people who are “living under the Patronage of Achish of Gath” – [Peterson]

Many of these are distressed about this – they feel guilty but honestly don’t know what to do. — jobs with companies that do business in ways that  show no regard for God’s principles. — married to spouses who despise the name of Jesus — tangled up in a system that exploits the poor and ignores the oppressed. There are few Christians who have not  experienced such thing for a time. This is the reality of life.

Peterson – “God is perfectly capable of working out his purposes in our lives even when we can’t lift a finger to help. Better yet, God is faithfully working out our salvation even when every time we lift a finger it seems to contribute to the other side, the Philistine side.”

3.2. Company.

In the midst of David’s Ziklag experience he had a community of his people around him … but these were the discontented, the debtor and the distressed.

This is not just David’s story, it is also the story of the 600 and their families, we know few names but this is a story about community.

“The Christian life is never just my story; it is a community of stories” – [Peterson] … each of our stories affects the other and is affected by it!! As we come into the Christian community and into the Church we discover that there are people in that community that we do not like / who irritate us // who cause us to be angry // hurt …. but God has called them to repentance too. We are a company of people – God’s people. God doesn’t call perfect people — he calls sinners .. you and me.

3.3. Sovereignty.

Having saved individuals God brings them together and sets about the life-time task of  changing them to be what HE wants. As we rub against each other and bump into each other … we see inconsistencies, failure, faithlessness, we moralise and doubt and ridicule, we whinge and complain  etc. ..etc….

BUT then we begin to see other things …. sacrifice, humility, honesty, courage in difficulty, joy in worship, faithfulness through suffering, obedience against the odds, constancy in prayer,…. in short we begin to see Christ lived out before us in the lives of our fellow Christians – NOT perfect but trophies to the sovereign work of God who is working out his purposes in our lives  – And in Ziklag of all places!!



1 Samuel 27 & 29-30.




      Ø Despair

      Ø Duplicity

      Ø Disillusionment




      Ø Repentance

      Ø Reassurance

      Ø Restoration




      Ø Reality

      Ø Company

      Ø Sovereignty


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