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Poole on 1 Samuel 29:6-11: David's Expostulation with Achish

Verse 6:[1]  Then Achish called David, and said unto him, Surely, as the LORD liveth, thou hast been upright, and (2 Sam. 3:25; 2 Kings 19:27) thy going out and thy coming in with me in the host is good in my sight:  for (1 Sam. 29:3) I have not found evil in thee since the day of thy coming unto me unto this day:  nevertheless the lords favour thee not (Heb. thou art not good in the eyes of the lords[2]).


[The Lord liveth, חַי־יְהוָה]  Question:  How does he sware by Jehovah, since he was a stranger to His religion?  Response:  1.  Achish yielded this to the piety of David, who was worshipping Jehovah (Kimchi in Martyr).  2.  The more prudent Heathen acknowledged one God.  You will say, the question is not concerning the substance, but concerning the name Jehovah.  Response:  The Philistines were able to have that name from their ancestors (for they were the posterity of Canaan); either from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., who were sojourners there; or from Melchizedek.[3]  Abimelech also, the King of Gerar, had some knowledge of the true God.[4]  Moreover, Achish acknowledge the providence of God:  For he confesses the Angels, 1 Samuel 29:9, through whom God takes care of human affairs (Martyr).  Perhaps Achish learned these things from his conversation with David, whose proclamation was all the more effective, because with it was conjoined his innocence of life, as Achish testifies (Estius).


As the Lord liveth; he swears by Jehovah; either because he did acknowledge their Jehovah to be a God, being, it may be, convinced and instructed therein by David, though he did worship Dagon with him, and above him:  or because this was David’s God, and therefore he swore by him; partly out of complaisance with David, that he might receive his unwelcome message to him with less offence; and partly that this oath might gain more credit to his words with David.


[Because thou art upright]  Understanding, in my eyes; that is, I hold thee as an honest man (Vatablus).


[And thy going out and thy coming in]  Thy commerce, or thy conversation, and life (Vatablus, similarly Menochius, Tirinus), and so all thy works (Tirinus, Sanchez).  Thus the express signifies in 2 Samuel 3:25 (Sanchez).


Thy going out and thy coming in with me, that is, thy whole conversation with me.  See 1 Samuel 18:13, and many other places where that phrase is used.


[From the day on which thou camest]  He adds a correction.  For David, before his flight, had vexed the Philistines in many ways (Martyr).


Since the day of thy coming unto me; though before that time there was evil in thee towards me and my people.


[Thou pleases not the Satraps]  Achish, leaving unspoken what the Philistines feared in David, prudently passed on; and only in a general way says that he does not please the Satraps (Tirinus).

 

Verse 7:[5]  Wherefore now return, and go in peace, that thou displease not the lords (Heb. do not evil in the eyes of the lords[6]) of the Philistines.

 

Verse 8:[7]  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 (Heb. before thee[8]) unto this day, that I may not go fight against the enemies of my lord the king?


[For what have I done, etc.? כִּ֣י מֶ֤ה עָשִׂ֙יתִי֙]  Either the כִּי is superfluous, or this is to be understood, This is not acceptable with me:  for what have I done? (certain interpreters in Vatablus).  But what have I done? (Junius and Tremellius), or for, as in Terence:[9]  Pythias:  What, I ask, art thou going to do?  Thais, For why so? (Piscator).  David well delivers the tale that he had formed (Grotius, similarly Menochius).  The complaint was necessary, lest, if he be silent, he appear to lend support to the suspicions of the Philistines (Menochius).  David dissembled (Sanchez), and disgracefully flatters Achish, and that with a most cunning sort of adulation, under the appearance of frankness, so that he might appear not to flatter, but rather to oppose (Martyr).


But what have I done?  This was deep dissimulation and flattery; but he apprehended it necessary, lest he should tacitly confess himself guilty of that whereof they accused him, and thereby expose himself to the utmost hazards.  These perplexities he brought himself into by his irregular course, in forsaking the land of Judah, where God had placed him, 1 Samuel 22:5, and promised him protection, and putting himself into the hands of the Philistines.

 

Verse 9:[10]  And Achish answered and said to David, I know that thou art good in my sight, (2 Sam. 14:17, 20; 19:27) as an angel of God:  notwithstanding (1 Sam. 29:4) the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle.


[Thou art good, as an Angel of God]  That is, I myself consider thee as a man divinely sent to me (Martyr).  Thou appearest to me as good as an Angel of God is (Malvenda out of Vatablus):  all things flow favorably wherever thou art present (Malvenda out of Junius).  He made mention of the Angel of God, just as he had heard it used by David, or other Hebrews, in familiar conversation.  Or the Philistines had even drawn this manner of speaking from the neighboring Hebrews; for bordering regions, as experience teaches, have many words and expressions in common (Menochius).  They say that great and divine things are sent by God, or have fallen from heaven.  Hence Juvenal, A third Cato has fallen from heaven.[11]  The Gentiles also acknowledged the messengers of the gods (Sanchez).

As an angel of God, in whom nothing is blameworthy.  Or it may be used to express David’s great wisdom (as well as integrity); as 2 Samuel 14:17; 19:27.  The heathens acknowledged good spirits, which also they worshipped as an inferior sort of deities, who were messengers and ministers to the supreme God; only Achish had learned the title of angels from the Israelites his neighbours, and especially from David’s conversation.


[But the princes…have said]  In war Kings are often compelled to adjust themselves to the desires of those whose labor they need (Grotius).

 

Verse 10:[12]  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.


[Rise up early in the morning]  Before the battle be engaged (Malvenda out of Junius).  He commands him to get ahead of the light, and to depart at the top of the morning, lest the rest of the army, being ignorant of those that that were conducted, should suspect some evil, or lose heart (Menochius).  Or lest ambushes should be placed in the way by the princes for David:  or he be crushed by them in the camp, should he remain too long (Martyr).


[And the servants of thy master]  Namely, of Saul (Vatablus, Martyr).  Or, the servants of me, who am thy Master (Piscator).


With thy master’s servants; he intimates the ground of the Philistines’ jealousy concerning David and his men, that they were all servants of Saul, and therefore had an obligation, and were suspected to have an affection, to their old lord and master, against whom even David himself could not make them fight, especially with and for the Philistines.  As soon as ye have light, depart; before the battle begin, lest, if you delay, the lords of the Philistines fall upon you, and destroy you.

 

Verse 11:[13]  So David and his men rose up early to depart in the morning, to return into the land of the Philistines.  (2 Sam. 4:4) And the Philistines went up to Jezreel.


[They went up to Jezreel]  To the camp of the Hebrews.  They were not waiting for the Hebrews to come to them.  In the departure of David, the great providence of God shines forth.  For, if he had remained in the camp, the Philistines would not have allowed him, with the death of Saul, to succeed in the kingdom.  But, since he was in Ziklag, it was not difficult for him, when he wished, to withdraw into Judah (Martyr).


[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֙א אָכִ֜ישׁ אֶל־דָּוִ֗ד וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵ֠לָיו חַי־יְהוָ֞ה כִּי־יָשָׁ֣ר אַתָּ֗ה וְט֣וֹב בְּ֠עֵינַי צֵאתְךָ֙ וּבֹאֲךָ֤ אִתִּי֙ בַּֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה כִּ֠י לֹֽא־מָצָ֤אתִֽי בְךָ֙ רָעָ֔ה מִיּ֛וֹם בֹּאֲךָ֥ אֵלַ֖י עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וּבְעֵינֵ֥י הַסְּרָנִ֖ים לֹֽא־ט֥וֹב אָֽתָּה׃

[2] Hebrew:  וּבְעֵינֵ֥י הַסְּרָנִ֖ים לֹֽא־ט֥וֹב אָֽתָּה׃.

[3] Genesis 14:18-20.

[4] Genesis 20; 26.

[5] Hebrew:  וְעַתָּ֥ה שׁ֖וּב וְלֵ֣ךְ בְּשָׁל֑וֹם וְלֹֽא־תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה רָ֔ע בְּעֵינֵ֖י סַרְנֵ֥י פְלִשְׁתִּֽים׃

[6] Hebrew:  וְלֹֽא־תַעֲשֶׂ֣ה רָ֔ע בְּעֵינֵ֖י סַרְנֵ֥י.

[7] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר דָּוִ֜ד אֶל־אָכִ֗ישׁ כִּ֣י מֶ֤ה עָשִׂ֙יתִי֙ וּמַה־מָּצָ֣אתָ בְעַבְדְּךָ֔ מִיּוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָיִ֣יתִי לְפָנֶ֔יךָ עַ֖ד הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֣י לֹ֤א אָבוֹא֙ וְנִלְחַ֔מְתִּי בְּאֹיְבֵ֖י אֲדֹנִ֥י הַמֶּֽלֶךְ׃

[8] Hebrew:  לְפָנֶיךָ.

[9] Eunuchus 896, 897.

[10] Hebrew: וַיַּ֣עַן אָכִישׁ֮ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֶל־דָּוִד֒ יָדַ֕עְתִּי כִּ֣י ט֥וֹב אַתָּ֛ה בְּעֵינַ֖י כְּמַלְאַ֣ךְ אֱלֹהִ֑ים אַ֣ךְ שָׂרֵ֤י פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ אָֽמְר֔וּ לֹֽא־יַעֲלֶ֥ה עִמָּ֖נוּ בַּמִּלְחָמָֽה׃

[11] Satires 1:2:40.

[12] Hebrew:  וְעַתָּה֙ הַשְׁכֵּ֣ם בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וְעַבְדֵ֥י אֲדֹנֶ֖יךָ אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֣אוּ אִתָּ֑ךְ וְהִשְׁכַּמְתֶּ֣ם בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וְא֥וֹר לָכֶ֖ם וָלֵֽכוּ׃

[13] Hebrew:  וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֙ם דָּוִ֜ד ה֤וּא וַֽאֲנָשָׁיו֙ לָלֶ֣כֶת בַּבֹּ֔קֶר לָשׁ֖וּב אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֑ים וּפְלִשְׁתִּ֖ים עָל֥וּ יִזְרְעֶֽאל׃

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Matthew Henry: 'If the reasons Achish had to trust David were stronger than the reasons which the princes offered why they should distrust him (as I do not see that, in policy, they were, for the princes were certainly in the right), yet Achish was but one of five, though the chief, and the only one that had the title of king; accordingly, in a council of war held on this occasion, he was overvoted, and obliged to dismiss David, though he was extremely fond of him. Kings cannot always do as they would, nor have such as they would about them.


I. The discharge Achish gives him is very honourable, and not a final discharge, but only from the…


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