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David spares Saul again then lives with the Philistines, who then attack Israel but refuse David’s help; in desperation, Saul consults a witch for help but gets no good news; and a psalm: 1 Samuel 26–27:7; 1 Chronicles 12:1–7; 1 Samuel 27:8–29:11; 1 Chronicles 12:19; Psalm 56

There were several sides to David: god-fearing, a tactical genius, and ruthless.

David was this upright man who refused to kill Saul because he was the Lord’s anointed one. The logic is obvious: if God has made someone king, then deposing him would be going against God. There was no need to rush things since God would give David the throne when He was ready:

1 Samuel 26:9-11 … Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!

This was the same man who was capable of tactical retreat: he took his 600 mighty warriors out of Israel for fear that Saul would, one day, catch up with him and kill him:

1 Samuel 26:27 Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.

But what does a leader of 600 seasoned fighting men and their families do? Sit around for a year?

The other, ruthless side of David came out:

1 Samuel 27:8-9 David and his men spent their time raiding the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—people who had lived near Shur, toward the land of Egypt, since ancient times. David did not leave one person alive in the villages he attacked. He took the sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels, and clothing before returning home to see King Achish.

And he was wily enough to keep the truth from King Achish: David told him he’d been raiding his own people in Israel, even Judah itself (David’s own tribe):

1 Samuel 27:11-12 No one was left alive to come to Gath and tell where he had really been. This happened again and again while he was living among the Philistines. Achish believed David and thought to himself, ‘By now the people of Israel must hate him bitterly. Now he will have to stay here and serve me forever!’