A Psalm of David, when he changed his countenance before Abimelech, who banished him from his presence, and he departed from him.
David gives thanks to God for a signal deliverance, and takes occasion from it to celebrate his perpetual grace towards all the saints, and to exhort them both to trust in him, and to the study of godliness; affirming, that the only way to pass through life happily, is to walk holily and harmlessly in the world, in the service and fear of God. It is obvious from the title what particular instance of God's favor he here celebrates. When he was driven to King Achish, as recorded in 1 Samuel 27:2,1 whom, with the exception of Saul, he accounted the deadliest of all his enemies, it was not probable that he would ever be able to make his escape from him. The only means, therefore, he had of saving his life was to feign himself mad by frothing at the mouth, looking fiercely, and disfiguring his countenance. Nor is this to be wondered at; for Achish, being disappointed of the confident hope of victory which he had, and attributing to David alone both the loss which he had sustained and the dishonor which he had received, burned with implacable hatred against him. In allowing him to escape, therefore, contrary to his own expectation, and the expectation of all other men, David acknowledges that there had been exhibited a memorable instance of God's favor towards him, which may be serviceable for the general instruction of the whole Church. Instead of Achish,2 Abimelech is here employed; and it is probable that the latter name had been the common designation of the monarchs of the Philistines, as Pharaoh was the common name of the monarchs of Egypt, and Caesar that of the Roman Emperors, which was borrowed from the name of Julius Caesar, who had first seized the imperial power among the Romans. We know that many ages before David was born, the kings who reigned in Gerar in the time of Abraham were called Abimelech. It is not, therefore, to be wondered at, that this name should be handed down from age to age among their posterity, and become the common name of all the kings of Palestine. The Hebrew word
2 Achish may have been his particular name, while Abimelech was the common title of the Kings of Gath. The word Abimelech signifies Father -- King.
3 Ainsworth reads, His behavior, or his sense, reason; and observes, that it is "properly the taste, as in verse 9, Job 6:6, and often elsewhere, which is used both for one's in ward sense or reason, and outward gesture and demeanour, (as the Gr. here translateth it, face,) because by it a man is discerned and judged to be wise or foolish, as meats are discerned by the taste."
4 "Luy melt aussi au coeur ceste finesse." -- Fr.