David rose and fled that day from Saul; he went to King Achish of Gath. The servants of Achish said to him, ‘Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands”?’ David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of King Achish of Gath. So he changed his behaviour before them; he pretended to be mad when in their presence. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard. Achish said to his servants, ‘Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?’
David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred. David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, ‘Please let my father and mother come[a] to you, until I know what God will do for me.’ He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.’ So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth.
Gath is really David’s second stop whilst fleeing Saul, after fleeing first to Nob yesterday (in Daily Devotion timescale). But reaching Gath we see David really trying to hide who he really is. Scared of what might happen to him if the King didn’t think he was mad. A very clever technique. Quite the fall from grace from a man who’s lining up to be a king. Those in Gath knew that David had killed thousands, ten-fold more than Saul, so before he had even arrived in Gath, he was being judged.
How many times do we, as Christians, hide our God-given, Jesus-inspired lives simply because we want to avoid confrontation? We stand idle in the face of injustice, we stay silent in the face of inequality.
Despite this façade being put on, Achish showed hostility towards David when he became mad. (I’m surprised he didn’t see right through it!). Although perhaps that’s what David was after, an easy way out! It wasn’t abnormal in those times to show hostility to difference.
And then, towards the end of this passage, despite his moving and escaping and fleeing. We hear of David retaining his trust in God, trust that he will be led to wherever he needs to be, whenever he needs to be.
Loving Lord, help us to use our God-given gifts, showing them off to the world and not hiding our lights under a bushel. Help us to trust in you, that your guiding hand may deliver us to the right place at the right time so that Your kingdom may come and your will may be done. Amen
Dan Morrell is the Immediate-Past Youth Assembly Moderator, member at St Andrew’s, Roundhay