The name “Gath” indicates winepress; and it is at this winepress that David is truly fighting on behalf of Israel. In chapter 29, we see David urging Achish to take him to the military campaigns so that he may “know what [his] servant can do”. What, indeed, can David do at the winepress? Isaiah 63:
1 Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.
2 Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone,
and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;
their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.
5 I looked, but there was no one to help;
I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
so my own arm brought me salvation,
and my wrath upheld me.
6 I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
I made them drunk in my wrath,
and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.
7 I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
the praises of the LORD,
according to all that the LORD has granted us,
and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
8 For he said, Surely they are my people,
children who will not deal falsely.
And he became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Indeed, David is the LORD who tread the winepress alone. Whilst he fought against the enemies of God akin to the Christ who was persecuted by His own people, so also Achish would have been led to his own demise if David was to stay with the group. We can see that his reputation precedes him – “how can this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Behold it not be with the heads of the men here?” Truly, this is the same David whom Achish had once considered a madman despite his grand repute of defeating 10,000 over Saul’s 1000. Yet, even the great Achish had to admit that David is as blameless as an angel of God (v.9), pronouncing David’s likeness to Christ the true Angel.
And throughout this chapter, we see God’s hand of providence guiding David back to Israel in the great exchange between the proverbial resurrection of David in exactly the same momentum as Saul and his children’s death by the hands of the Philistines. So that David is not forced to engage with his own men, God had guided David to the throne of Israel as the Redeemer of His chosen nation despite the death of the king and his family (Jonathan, who would have become the next king in line). Instead of Jonathan, the typological John the Baptist, stepping in to fill the regal role, we have David the Son of Man essentially assimilated back into Israel and accepted as the king of Judah in the second chapter of 2 Samuel. The question which the Philistinian lords asked now has an apparent answer: it is indeed true that the only way Jesus is to reconcile Himself to LORD the Father is by cutting off the heads of the men here, the men of Gath and Philistine who stand under the headship of Satan. David’s plan is to cut off the head of Achish and all those surrounding Gath, their lifeblood splattered on all their garments. What blindness this Achish is to see David as beautiful as a sent one of God, and yet they continued up to Jezreel (where God will, ironically, sow such wrath upon the Philistines not through Saul but through David) as David returned to Ziklag.
It is important that we see David returning to Israel before the defeat of the Philistines, for our Christ will not forever don the robes of beggars or sit humbly on the carpenter’s chair. His glory is not fully displayed in his humility alone – but in the full package of his humiliation and ascension, the Father sending His Son and restoring His Son to His right hand. In His ascension to the throne of Judah, so also the worthless men ascend to become full of worth; and as the king of Judah, the Satan can not dare call Jesus his servant as if the Christ would bow down to the fallen angel (Matthew 4).
Yet, the picture of redemption is not augmented until chapter 30. Where chapter 29 highlighted, in the eyes of the Philistinian lords, the omen that is David – in chapter 30, we see David once again pursuing the Amalekites as he had done in chapter 27. The Son of Man who, in his exile, was still pursuing the enemies of Israel as the house of Saul is coming to an end; just as the house of Samuel had superceded the house of Eli and his children. Thus, chapters 27 to 31 are collectively one turning point which builds on the theme of the recapitulation of the kingdom of Christ from shadow to flesh, from dust to new creation body, from Israel to spiritual Israel, from king of Israel to the King of the world, from Eli to Samuel, from Saul to David, from Israel to Christ the Head of Israel. Yet, the old must pass in order for the new to come (Matthew 9:17).