1. WITH ACHISH AT GATH
a. Why was the way David chose to free himself from the pressure of Saul contrary to the will of God? 1 Samuel 27:1–4.
“David’s conclusion that Saul would certainly accomplish his murderous purpose was formed without the counsel of God. Even while Saul was plotting and seeking to accomplish his destruction, the Lord was working to secure David the kingdom. God works out His plans, though to human eyes they are veiled in mystery. Men cannot understand the ways of God; and, looking at appearances, they interpret the trials and tests and provings that God permits to come upon them as things that are against them, and that will only work their ruin. Thus David looked on appearances, and not at the promises of God. He doubted that he would ever come to the throne. Long trials had wearied his faith and exhausted his patience.
“The Lord did not send David for protection to the Philistines, the most bitter foes of Israel. This very nation would be among his worst enemies to the last, and yet he had fled to them for help in his time of need. . . . God had appointed him to set up his standard in the land of Judah, and it was want of faith that led him to forsake his post of duty without a command from the Lord.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 672.
2. WRONG PLACE/WRONG SPEECH
a. How was David received by Achish, and in what ways might we also be in danger of making the same mistake as David? 1 Samuel 27:5–7.
“God was dishonored by David’s unbelief. The Philistines had feared David more than they had feared Saul and his armies; and by placing himself under the protection of the Philistines, David discovered to them the weakness of his own people. Thus he encouraged these relentless foes to oppress Israel. David 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. Furthermore, the impression was received by his brethren that he had gone to the heathen to serve their gods. By this act he gave occasion for misconstruing his motives, and many were led to hold prejudice against him. The very thing that Satan desired to have him do he was led to do; for, in seeking refuge among the Philistines, David caused great exultation to the enemies of God and His people. David did not renounce his worship of God nor cease his devotion to His cause; but he sacrificed his trust in Him to his personal safety, and thus tarnished the upright and faithful character that God requires His servants to possess.
“David was cordially received by the king of the Philistines. The warmth of this 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 seek his protection.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 672, 673.
b. What evil resulted from David’s misleading words? 1 Samuel 27:8–12.
“While dwelling in this isolated town [Ziklag] David made war upon the Geshurites, the Gezrites, and the Amalekites, and he left none alive to bring tidings to Gath. When he returned from battle he gave Achish to understand that he had been warring against those of his own nation, the men of Judah. By this dissembling he was the means of strengthening the hand of the Philistines. . . . David knew that it was the will of God that those heathen tribes should be destroyed, and he knew that he was appointed to do this work; but he was not walking in the counsel of God when he practiced deception.”—Ibid., p. 673.
3. NEED FOR GOD’S DELIVERANCE
a. How did David slip into deeper trouble? 1 Samuel 28:1, 2. What prayer of his reveals that he eventually learned from such mistakes? Psalm 141:3.
“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 his duty. He answered the king evasively, and said, ‘Surely thou shalt know what thy servant can do’ [1 Samuel 28:2]. Achish understood these words as a promise of assistance in the approaching war, and pledged his word to bestow upon David great honor, and give him a high position at the Philistine court.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 674.
b. Despite David’s error, how did the Lord mercifully deliver him out of his predicament with Achish? 1 Samuel 29:1–5.
“Far better would it have been for [David] to find refuge in God’s strong fortresses of the mountains than with the avowed enemies of Jehovah and His people. But the Lord in His great mercy did not punish this error of His servant by leaving him to himself in his distress and perplexity; for though David, losing his grasp on divine power, had faltered and turned aside from the path of strict integrity, it was still the purpose of his heart to be true to God. While Satan and his host were busy helping the adversaries of God and of Israel to plan against a king who had forsaken God, the angels of the Lord were working to deliver David from the peril into which he had fallen. Heavenly messengers moved upon the Philistine princes to protest against the presence of David and his force with the army in the approaching conflict.”—Ibid., p. 690.
c. Describe the attitude of Achish when sending David home. 1 Samuel 29:6–11. What feelings must this have aroused in David?
“The reply of Achish must have sent a thrill of shame and remorse through David’s heart, as he thought how unworthy of a servant of Jehovah were the deceptions to which he had stooped.”—Ibid., p. 691.
4. THE ONLY HOPE
a. How important is it that our speech be pure, especially in these last days—and how only is this possible? Revelation 14:1, 5; James 4:8.
“Let your life be free from deceitful practices.”—Child Guidance, p. 150.
b. Describe what David faced back at Ziklag. 1 Samuel 30:1–6 (first part).
“Here again David was chastened for the lack of faith that had led him to place himself among the Philistines. He had opportunity to see how much safety could be found among the foes of God and His people.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 692.
c. What did David determine in this hour of crisis? 1 Samuel 30:6 (last part); Psalm 56:1–3, 10–12.
“How could [David] expect that the God of Israel would give him protection, when he had placed himself with the bitterest foes of his people? . . . Could he reasonably hope to save himself by seeking an asylum with a people whom God had appointed to extinction?”—The Signs of the Times, November 9, 1888.
“David seemed to be cut off from every human support. All that he held dear on earth had been swept from him. Saul had driven him from his country; the Philistines had driven him from the camp; the Amalekites had plundered his city; his wives and children had been made prisoners; and his own familiar friends had banded against him, and threatened him even with death. In this hour of utmost extremity David, instead of permitting his mind to dwell upon these painful circumstances, looked earnestly to God for help. He ‘encouraged himself in the Lord’ [1 Samuel 30:6]. He reviewed his past eventful life. Wherein had the Lord ever forsaken him? His soul was refreshed in recalling the many evidences of God’s favor. The followers of David, by their discontent and impatience, made their affliction doubly grievous; but the man of God, having even greater cause for grief, bore himself with fortitude. ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee’ (Psalm 56:3), was the language of his heart. Though he himself could not discern a way out of the difficulty, God could see it, and would teach him what to do.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 692, 693.
5. OUR BOUNTIFUL PROVIDER
a. How did the Lord honor David’s prayer? 1 Samuel 30:7–9, 16–19.
“[The Amalekites had] decided to spare the captives, desiring to heighten the honor of the triumph by leading home a large number of prisoners, and intending afterward to sell them as slaves. Thus, unwittingly, they fulfilled God’s purpose, keeping the prisoners unharmed, to be restored to their husbands and fathers.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 694.
b. What spiritual lesson is contained in David’s decision regarding the bounties reaped? 1 Samuel 30:20–26; John 4:36–38.
“The more selfish and unruly of the four hundred urged that those who had had no part in the battle should not share the spoils; that it was enough for them to recover each his wife and children. But David would permit no such arrangement. [1 Samuel 30:23, 24 quoted.] Thus the matter was settled, and it afterward became a statute in Israel that all who were honorably connected with a military campaign should share the spoils equally with those engaged in actual combat.”—Ibid., p. 694.
“Today in His great harvest field God has need of sowers and of reapers. Let those who go forth into the work, some to sow and some to reap, remember that they are never to take to themselves the glory for the success of their work. . . .
“ ‘He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.’ [John 4:36.] Read these words carefully. Study their meaning; for they outline God’s plan.”—Gospel Workers, p. 409.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can we avoid adopting David’s logic in going to Gath?
2. Explain the dangers inherent in the worldly style of diplomacy.
3. Consider ways by which God delivers sincere souls in trouble.
4. Describe the background of Psalm 56.
5. What are the rewards of spiritual sowing and reaping?