1 Samuel Bible

When Operating in Fear, Poor Decisions are Made

Today we move on in our study of the life of David to 1 Samuel chapter 27. 

In our studies we have seen David endure pain, suffering, and fear as Saul has attempted to kill him many times. In this chapter we see David make a poor decision because he is operating from a fearful frame of mind. We can praise David for his faithfulness in past chapters, but today we need to condemn David for his lack of loyalty to God, Saul, Israel, and for his lies. It is good to remember that even though many of us greatly admire David and appreciate him, he was not perfect. This story of David in chapter 27 is an example to us of what to do and what not to do.

“As chapter 27 begins, David seems to be at the end of his tether. He and his men can go nowhere without Saul’s pursuing them. David is aware that, in spite of Saul’s words promising change, nothing has really changed in the relationship. . . . God did not protect David from experiencing difficult periods in his life, but He did work through those experiences to prepare him for the throne.”[1]

Chapter 27 begins with David thinking, “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” (27:1). So David, his 600 men, and their families pack up and head to Philistine territory. They arrive and King Achish of Gath (which is a Philistine city) allows them to stay there in Gath. Then King Achish gives them the town of Ziklag to live in. While living in the town of Ziklag David and his warriors make regular raids against towns and people who are enemies of Israel and the Philistines. However, David lies to King Achish about where he and his men are making their raids. Then the Philistine men muster their army for a battle against Israel, which is David’s home country–a country he fought for most of his life and loved but has now fled in fear of Saul. King Achish tells David that he expects David to fight with him and Philistia in the battle against Israel, and David replies, “Very well. Now you will see for yourself what we can do” (28:2). To abandon your home country and be willing to fight for another enemy nation was a big deal back then. These are some very bold and controversial decisions David is making. I am sure his men must have disagreed with some of these decisions since they were now going to be fighting against the same men they fought along side while living in Israel. This leads us to the lesson we can learn from David that when operating in fear, poor decisions are made. 
Operating in Fear Leads David to Make These 5 Poor Decisions
  1. David abandons God (27:2)
  2. David abandons his king (27:2)
  3. David abandon his country of Israel (27:2)
  4. David puts his family and warriors in danger (27:3)
  5. David lies (27:10)
But, why is David operating in fear? David operates in fear because he leans on his own understanding, not God’s. In 1 Samuel 27:1 we see David thinking about the way to solve his issue of feeling unsafe by his own understanding. David does not consult God about how to stay safe from Saul. In addition to that, David makes the decision to escape to the Philistines without any input on what God wants him to do. David also chooses to live in Philistia instead of remaining faithful to God by living in Israel. The Bible is very clear that lies are not pleasing to God and are not His will. David lies and deceives King Achish about where and who David and his men are actually raiding.
We also notice that David almost gives up on God’s promise to him about someday becoming king of Israel. God has promised to David through Samuel’s anointing that someday David will become king of Israel. But, escaping to the Philistines is not a very good idea if you still plan to become king! Instead of operating in fear, David needs to operate in courage. Instead of trying to not be killed, David needs to be courageous and stand for what he believes in.
A couple of things David can do to operate in courage are to:
  1. Remember God’s promise: It has been several years since Samuel anointed David with oil symbolizing God’s promise that David would be king of Israel. David needs to remember that promise and do his best to hold on to it.
  2. Believe in God’s ability to outwit Saul: Several times already David has escaped when Saul was close to capturing him. Each time God has helped to keep David safe. 
The lesson for us is to prevent ourselves from operating in fear. We do that by:
  1. Staying in God’s word: Reading the Bible is encouraging and helps us stay close to God. 
  2. Remembering the promises God has given us: I always write down in my prayer time what I feel God telling me. This allows me to go back to the promises over and over again to remember exactly what He has told me so I can continue to follow His will for my life and do what is right.
  3. Keeping Strong and Encouraging Friends: Strong and encouraging friends are the most valuable to you in the bad times. Earlier we learned about how David allowed his best friend to help him, and we too can do that in our own lives.
Question: How do you keep from operating in fear?
[1] Kenneth L. Chafin, The Communicator’s Commentary: 1, 2 Samuel (Dallas, TX: Word Books), 213.

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at