MembersCunning as Serpents

David’s Defection – Part II

By Tsvi Sadan |
Sculpture Snake Decoration
Sculpture Snake Decoration Stone Carving Symbol Photo: MaxPixel

This segment of our series dealing with exercising certain acts of immorality in particular circumstances examines David’s defection to the Philistine camp.

The Bible tells us that David, being “very crafty” (1 Samuel 23:22), joined forces for a few months with Israel’s archenemy. Nor was his defection merely a charade, evidenced by the fact that David willingly took part in the Philistines’ war against Israel (1 Sam 29:6). David’s sole purpose was to save his own life and the lives of his family and the men with him (1 Sam 21:11). Whether or not this makes David selfish depends on how one chooses to look at this perplexing story.

That seeming act of betrayal was followed up by the utter destruction of Geshurite, Girzite and Amalekite towns where David “did not leave a man or woman alive” (1 Sam 27:8-9). Ellicott’s Commentary views these as “acts of ferocious barbarity without excuse.” This conclusion is reasonable if morality is based solely on sympathy for the victims. From this perspective, David’s course of action was unjustifiable. But...

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