David again stepped aside from his right position, and went over to Achish the Philistine king, who received him kindly. War soon arose against Israel, and David was expected to march against his own people. When we walk by sight and not by faith, we are sure to be placed in embarrassments ere long, and so was David! Out of this difficulty the Lord delivered him, for the Philistine lords distrusted him, and therefore Achish sent him back to Ziklag, the city which he had allotted to him as his dwelling-place; but the Lord took care to chasten him, for on his return to Ziklag a sad scene awaited him.
A sad sight to see strong men weep like women, but who would not do so in such a case.
Some time before, he had said, “There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines,” but having proved the vanity of all human helps, he turns unto the Lord his God. How different from Saul, who at this time was looking to Satan for aid, and consulting the witch of Endor.
It was well that David kept the priest and the ephod always near him, or they would have been carried off with the rest. Whatever we lose, let us hold fast to Christ and his word.
David proved that the God of truth may be trusted, and that the heart which waits upon the Lord will be comforted.
They were not all equally strong, neither are all the followers of the Lord Jesus equally full of grace. Yet our great leader is full of tenderness, and does not disdain to give the feeblest a share of the spoil.
Servants are to be cared for in their sickness. Only a heathen master would desert his servant because of illness.
Thus faith was honoured, and the clouds of trouble poured forth showers of mercy. To our faith the same blessings shall be granted.
I am afraid of Thy judgments.”
The unhappy king had forsaken the Lord, and had lost divine protection. He does not appear to have felt the slightest repentance, but to have been left to the hardness of his heart even to the end. His last thoughts had no reference to his sin and his God; his own poor honour before the world was still his dearest care, as it had been so long. O that he had minded more his reputation in the sight of God, and cared less for human esteem, then had he never been driven to such envy in life or such despair in death. With his sons dead around him, and his bravest warriors slain, the wretched king, in order to escape dishonour, earned the dishonourable name of suicide.
While we earnestly condemn the self-destruction, we cannot but admire the faithfulness of the armourbearer—faithful unto death. He would not survive his master. Shall this man live and die for Saul, and shall we betray our royal master, Jesus the Lord?
To the fallen king there happened the disgrace which he slew himself to escape. The plundering bands of the Philistines came to strip the dead bodies of their clothing, and, lo, upon the mountain side, not far from the corpses of his three sons, they discovered the remains of Saul, swimming in his own blood. Hearts of stone might have softened at the sight, but these barbarians exulted at it. They separated the king’s head from the trunk, and stripped off his armour and weapons; sending the head from city to city as a trophy of their victory, fixing up the armour in the temple of their goddess, as a token of their gratitude to her, and leaving the body as an ignominious relic nailed to a wall.
It was well and fitly done. Jabesh had been delivered by Saul from the Amorites, and it was honourable on their part to show this mark of respect to his mangled remains. They burned his bones, that by no future accident they might again be treated with indignity, and then they buried the ashes, and paid the last mournful honours to their former monarch and deliverer.
We read that no one enquired at the ark of God all the days of Saul. His evil example did mischief to the whole nation, and therefore his sin was the more grievous. He began well, but his character was based upon love of human approbation, rather than upon the fear of God, and hence it came to nought. Let this be a warning to each one of us.