David was getting tired of the cat and mouse game. Twice he had been provided the opportunity to kill King Saul and twice he had spared the man’s life. Who was he to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed? But rather than recognizing that David was not a threat and backing down, King Saul continued to pursue him. Finally, the fugitive had enough. Recognizing that there would never be peace for him in Israel, David took his men and escaped to Philistine territory. He made a deal with Achish, son of the king of Gath (a city from which had come a certain giant that David had previously dealings with), and David and his men and their families settled in the capital.
Soon, though, it became apparent that this wasn’t the city for them. Maybe the people weren’t thrilled at having some of the hated Jews living with them, or maybe Goliath had some over-sized family members who still held a grudge. Whatever the reasons, David went to Achish and essentially said, “My friend, this town isn’t big enough for the both of us. How about my men and I move to an outlying town where we won’t be underfoot all the time?” Achish agreed and gave Ziklag to David. The future king settled his company there, and it was from Ziklag that David conducted his secret raiding parties.
When biblical minimalists attack the Scriptures, they often begin with historicity. If they can prove an inaccurate history, they can prove an inaccurate Bible. One of their favorite targets is David, because, along with Abraham and Moses, David stands in the triumvirate of great heroes of the Old Testament. Their talking points fall short though, because typically they are arguments of silence. In other words, there is nothing that has been found in archaeology that they can show contradicts the existence of David. Instead, they can only argue that there has not been enough evidence found that can definitively prove the existence of the great king.
It is true that there have been no front door mats found that say “Welcome to Dave’s Place” or cave etchings that read, “David, son of Jesse, slept here”. However, the extra-biblical evidence for the great king is growing. There are the Tel Dan Stele that refers to the “House of David” and the Moabite Stone that contains that same phrase. The discovery of what appears to be the remains of King David’s palace outside Jerusalem’s northern city wall adds even more credence.i Then in 2019, in the area between Kiryat Gat and Lachish in the old Philistine region of Gath, a site called Khirbet a-Ra’i has been unearthed that many believe to be David’s old settlement of Ziklag.ii
There are a couple reasons to believe that this perfectly located dig is revealing the future king’s old town. First, there are the artifacts found and their dating. Above several strata filled with Philistine artifacts is one that can be dated to the time of David. On that particular level, rather than Philistine material, archaeologists have found artifacts that are very similar to ones that were discovered twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem at Khirbet Qeiyafa, an ancient Israelite fortress overlooking the Elah Valley.iii A Philistine village filled with Israelite artifacts says that something unusual took place at that specific moment in history.
A second reason for believing this is David’s Ziklag is that there is evidence of an intense fire that burned many of the town’s buildings.iv According to 1 Samuel 29-30, when the Philistines were going up to fight against King Saul, David and his men were turned away by Achish from joining the army. When they returned to Ziklag, they found that in their absence the Amalekites had raided their settlement, kidnapped all the women and children, and burned the town to the ground. Once again, archaeology perfectly matches the biblical account. These facts were evidence enough for lead archaeologists Yoseph Garfinkel, Saar Ganor, Kyle Keimer, and Gil Davis to conclude that Khirbet a-Ra’i is in fact David’s Ziklag.v
Archaeologists have never nor will ever uncover historical evidence that contradicts the Bible, because God’s Word is true from cover to cover. Once again, our faith in the accuracy of Scripture has been justified, this time by a small village that was once occupied by a certain man who was a fugitive and future king.
i Windle, Bryan. “King David: An ARCHAEOLOGICAL BIOGRAPHY.” Bible Archaeology Report, 17 Jan. 2020, biblearchaeologyreport.com/2020/01/17/king-david-an-archaeological-biography/.
ii “Biblical Town of Ziklag May Have Been Discovered.” Biblical Archaeology Society, 25 Aug. 2021, www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-town-of-ziklag-may-have-been-discovered/.
iii Schuster, Ruth, and Nir Hasson. “Biblical City of Ziklag Where Philistines Gave Refuge to David Found, Researchers Claim.” Haaretz.com, Haaretz, 8 July 2019, www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.premium.MAGAZINE-biblical-city-where-philistines-gave-refuge-to-david-found-researchers-claim-1.7455800.
v “Biblical Town of Ziklag May Have Been Discovered.”