1 Samuel 23

1 Samuel 23

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David Saves the City of Keilah

23 Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” Then David said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

Saul Pursues David

David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? Now come down, O king, according to all your heart’s desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king’s hand.” And Saul said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me. Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you. And if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.” And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.

Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.


1 Samuel 23 Commentary

by Hank Workman

Drunk on the fresh blood of priests murder, Saul is out to destroy David.  Ruthless in his attempts he leads his army in pursuit of his own.  David continues to flee from place to place as his own army of men has grown to 600 strong.  What’s so ironic is although David is marked a traitor by Saul, a man whom in his own eyes must be destroyed – David still fights for Israel. Honestly, it’s insane.  David takes his men and they fight against the Philistines in order to protect Israel and yes be supportive of Saul, all the while as Saul still drives his forces to murder him.

David always one step ahead of Saul, God keeps him protected from the murderous plan from taking place.  In one more piece of irony, Jonathan finds and speaks with David as he hides; something Saul cannot seem to do.  This will be the last time these two friends meet.  Jonathan encourages David in what he’s doing going so far as to state he knows His Father will never find him and that David will indeed wear the crown for Israel.

Consider this is the prince of Israel who rightfully would be king upon Saul’s death but believes and knows that David is the up and coming King.  Genuine, deep friendship as he supports his friend, encourages him and speaks with anticipation of what is to come.

In the darkness of flight, God sends Jonathan to encourage and keep David’s eyes on the truth of the matter.  There are those who surround us in much the same place.  They are on the run from something. They are feeling the pressure surmount as the darkness of a situation presses in.  As Jonathan was able by the Lord’s guidance able to find and encourage David – we too have a role in doing just the same.

People struggle.  They get caught up in the loss of hope at times.  Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another…” Reach out that hand to the one who needs it.  Seek them out.  Trust God to lead you.  You may be the only light in the situation today they will see.

1 Samuel 23 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

All Saul cares about is killing David. He doesn’t care about worshiping God. He doesn’t care about hearing from God. He doesn’t want to follow God. Yet, he justifies his actions by using the Name of God.

Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.”

1 Samuel 23:7 ESV

When we take our own preconceived ideas into a relationship with God, we will change His truth to validate our own ideals. Because Saul wanted David dead, and David seemed to be trapped, Saul assumed that God had approved his maniacal ideal to murder David.

“He easily believed what he greedily desired, though his own experience had oft showed him how strangely God had delivered [David] out of his own hands, and what a singular care God had over [David].”

Matthew Poole

Common sense would tell Saul that God was on David’s side. But common sense had been abandoned by this point. Since Saul has become obsessed with his own desires instead of God Himself, he has lost all spiritual discernment. It is a sad case study in how a corrupted attitude can blind us from God’s Spirit.

“It seems impossible that Saul could either have misunderstood or forgotten the word of the Lord delivered to him by Samuel; and yet he here speaks as though his pursuit of David was undertaken with the Divine approval, and puts an entirely false meaning upon his present position.”

Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary
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