The Signs of the Times


November 16, 1888

David's Experience in Philistia


David was cordially received at Gath by the king of the Philistines. The warmth of his reception was partly due to the fact that the king admired him, and partly to the fact that it was flattering to his vanity to have a Hebrew leave his own nation to seek his protection. Achish hoped to be successful not only in gaining David as an ally, but in gaining others also, for he felt assured that many would be influenced through David's example to rally under his standard. David felt secure from betrayal in the dominions of Achish. He brought his family, his household, and his possessions, as did also his men, and to all appearances he had come to locate permanently in the land of Philistia. All this was very gratifying to Achish, who solemnly promised to protect the fugitive Israelites. ST November 16, 1888, par. 1

At David's request for a residence in the country removed from the royal city, the king graciously granted Ziklag as a possession, and it was afterward annexed to Israel's dominions. For a year and six months, David made his home in the country of the Philistines. He had tasted the bitterness of envy at Saul's court, and he feared that he might have a similar experience in the court at Gath. But it was for far weightier reasons that he desired to leave the royal city. He realized that it would be dangerous for himself and [his] men to be under the influence of those who were connected with idolatry and transgression. In a town wholly separated for their use, they might worship God with more freedom than they could if they remained in Gath, where the senseless, heathen rites could but prove a source of evil and annoyance. ST November 16, 1888, par. 2

While dwelling in this isolated town, David made war upon the Geshurites, the Gezrites, and the Amalekites, and he left neither man nor woman alive to bring tidings to Gath. When he returned from battle, Achish inquired as to where he had been, and David gave him to understand that he had been warring against those of his own nation, the men of Judah. But by this very dissembling, he was the means of strengthening the hand of the Philistines, for the king said, “He hath made his people Israel utterly to abhor him; therefore he shall be my servant forever.” By placing himself under the protection of the Philistines, he had discovered to them the weakness of his people; for the Philistines had feared David more than they had feared Saul and his armies. Although David knew that it was the will of God that the Philistines should be destroyed, and although he knew that he was appointed to do this work, yet he was not walking in the counsel of God when he practiced deception. Moreover, he had been anointed to stand in defense of the people of God; and the Lord would not have his servants give encouragement to the wicked by disclosing the weakness of his people, or by an appearance of indifference to their welfare. ST November 16, 1888, par. 3

David's faith in God had been strong, but it had failed him when he placed himself under the protection of the Philistines. He had taken this step without seeking the counsel of the Lord; but when he had sought and obtained the favor of the Philistines, it was poor policy to repay their kindness by deception. In the favor they had shown him they had been actuated by selfishness. They had reason to remember the son of Jesse, for his valor had cost them their champion, Goliath, and had turned the tide of the battle against them. The Philistines were glad of an opportunity to separate David's forces from the army under Saul. They hoped that David would avenge his wrongs by joining them in battle against Saul and Israel. ST November 16, 1888, par. 4

“And it came to pass in those days, that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare, to fight with Israel. And Achish said unto David, Know thou assuredly, that thou shalt go out with me to battle, thou and thy men.” David had no intention of lifting his hand against his people, but he was not certain as to what course he would pursue until circumstances should indicate the direction of his duty. He answered the king evasively, and said, “Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do.” Achish understood these words as a promise to assist him in the approaching war, and the king pledged his word that if he would do this, he would bestow upon him great honor, and give him a high position among his officials. ST November 16, 1888, par. 5

But although David's faith had staggered somewhat at the promises of God, he still remembered that Samuel had anointed him king of Israel. He recalled the victories that God had given him over his enemies in the past. He reviewed the great mercies of God in preserving him from the hand of Saul, and he determined that he would not betray any sacred trust, or imperil his soul's salvation. He would not join his forces with the enemy against Saul, even though the king had sought his life. ST November 16, 1888, par. 6

How many would have yielded to the temptation that Achish presented to David! How many have fallen, and how many will fall, into the snare of Satan for temporary advantages! Ambitious for exaltation, they will unite their influence with the avowed enemies of God's truth if they can only be honored among those who are honored of men. For present advantages, they will sacrifice the eternal good that God has in store for them. They will not endure the proving of God, and show themselves true in every place, and under all circumstances. God has promised that his faithful, obedient servants shall be exalted to be priests and kings. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” ST November 16, 1888, par. 7

Satan succeeds in making many grow restless, even after they have wrestled against difficulty, and have run well for a season. He presents temptation in a new way, and under a different aspect, and places before men human honors and advantages, and they fall, as did Adam and Eve when the serpent said, “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Stretching beyond their capacity, they seek a more exalted position; desiring the highest seat they will finally, with shame, have to take the lowest seat. They sell their souls to the enemy, that they may be lifted up, and they will find, at last, that they are slaves to the one who degrades and ruins mankind. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” ST November 16, 1888, par. 8