Is Deception Always Wrong?

David must surely have been both someone desperate and very bold to escape Saul by living among the Philistines, of whom he had fought and won many victories. 1 Samuel 27 is a very thought provoking chapter.

1 Samuel 27

David Flees to the Philistines

      1Then David said to himself, “Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Saul then will despair of searching for me anymore in all the territory of Israel, and I will escape from his hand.” 2So David arose and crossed over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. 3And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, each with his household, even David with his two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the Carmelitess, Nabal’s widow. 4Now it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he no longer searched for him.

      5Then David said to Achish, “If now I have found favor in your sight, let them give me a place in one of the cities in the country, that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” 6So Achish gave him Ziklag that day; therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. 7The number of days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

      8Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites and the Girzites and the Amalekites; for they were the inhabitants of the land from ancient times, as you come to Shur even as far as the land of Egypt. 9David attacked the land and did not leave a man or a woman alive, and he took away the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothing. Then he returned and came to Achish. 10Now Achish said, “Where have you made a raid today?” And David said, “Against the Negev of Judah and against the Negev of the Jerahmeelites and against the Negev of the Kenites.” 11David did not leave a man or a woman alive to bring to Gath, saying, “Otherwise they will tell about us, saying, ‘So has David done and so has been his practice all the time he has lived in the country of the Philistines.’” 12So Achish believed David, saying, “He has surely made himself odious among his people Israel; therefore he will become my servant forever.”

David does not explicitly seek the LORD for whether or not he should go to Philistine. While there, he deceives the Philistine ruler with outright lies and intentional plans to back them up and make them convincing. Further he makes raids on neighboring people and leaves none alive. He leaves none not because God said so and not because it was necessary to get the supplies he needed, but to make his lies and deception to the ruler convincing. He does so repeatedly.

There is no rebuke for this behavior recorded.

This must surely cause some to struggle and others just to not think about it much and quickly turn the page. Is YHWH ok with David’s approach? He does not punish David for it and elsewhere He does punish David for his sin, at times in dramatic fashion. Is this leading us to accept that sometimes we can not be absolute in our desire not to lie? For example, is it ok to lie in order to accomplish a greater purpose or avoid a greater threat? Yeshua did  reinforce that we must give more thought to how we apply / obey the commands than simply absolutes in many cases. One such example is recorded in Mark 2.

Mark 2

Question of the Sabbath

      23And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. 24The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; 26how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” 27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28“So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

If this is a bit uncomfortable concept to accept, let it sink in awhile. Do not dismiss it. Pray about it and reflect on it. Remember, we test everything against scripture, and not against teaching of men in churches. However, do not let this be an invitation to lie and deceive freely. May it never be.

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