If the reasons Achish had to trust David were stronger than the reasons which the princes offered why they should distrust him (as I do not see that, in policy, they were, for the princes were certainly in the right), yet Achish was but one of five, though the chief, and the only one that had the title of king; accordingly, in a council of war held on this occasion, he was over-voted, and obliged to dismiss David, though he was extremely fond of him. Kings cannot always do as they would, nor have such as they would about them.
I. The discharge Achish gives him is very honourable, and not a final discharge, but only from the present service. 1. He signifies the great pleasure and satisfaction he had taken in him and in his conversation: Thou art good in my sight as an angel of God, 1 Sam. 29:9. Wise and good men will gain respect, wherever they go, from all that know how to make a right estimate of persons and things, though of different professions in religion. What Achish says of David, God, by the prophet, says of the house of David (Zech. 12:8), that it shall be as the angel of the Lord. But the former is a court-compliment; the latter is a divine promise. 2. He gives him a testimonial of his good behaviour, 1 Sam. 29:6. It is very full and in obliging terms: “Thou hast been upright, and thy whole conduct has been good in my sight, and I have not found evil in thee.” Saul would not have given him such a testimonial, though he had done far more service to him than Achish. God’s people should behave themselves always so inoffensively as if possible to get the good word of all they have dealings with; and it is a debt we owe to those who have acquitted themselves well to give them the praise of it. 3. He lays all the blame of his dismission upon the princes, who would by no means suffer him to continue in the camp. “The king loves thee entirely, and would venture his life in thy hand; but the lords favour thee not, and we must not disoblige them, nor can we oppose them; therefore return and go in peace.” He had better part with his favourite than occasion a disgust among his generals and a mutiny in his army. Achish intimates a reason why they were uneasy. It was not so much for David’s own sake as for the sake of his soldiers that attended him, whom he calls his master’s servants (namely, Saul’s), 1 Sam. 29:10. They could trust him, but not them. (4.) He orders him to be gone early, as soon as it was light (1 Sam. 29:10), to prevent their further resentments, and the jealousies they would have been apt to conceive if he had lingered.
II. His reception of this discourse is very complimental; but, I fear, not without some degree of dissimulation. “What?” says David, “must I leave my lord the king, whom I am bound by office to protect, just now when he is going to expose himself in the field? Why may not I go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” 1 Sam. 29:8. He seemed anxious to serve him when he was at this juncture really anxious to leave him, but he was not willing that Achish should know that he was. No one knows how strong the temptation is to compliment and dissemble which those are in that attend great men, and how hard it is to avoid it.
III. God’s providence ordered it wisely and graciously for him. For, besides that the snare was broken and he was delivered out of the dilemma to which he was first reduced, it proved a happy hastening of him to the relief of his own city, which sorely wanted him, though he did not know it. Thus the disgrace which the lords of the Philistines put upon him prove, in more ways than one, an advantage to him. The steps of a good man ore ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way. What he does with us we know not now, but we shall know hereafter, and shall see it was all for good.