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1 Samuel 23

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David resuces the city of Keilah

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Introduction*

In the previous chapter, we saw the fruit of David’s scheming when he was relying on himself.

Doeg the Edomite told blood-thirsty King Saul that he had seen David with Ahimelech the priest at Nob.

He claimed that Ahimelech was helping David against Saul.
But Ahimelech knew nothing about Saul’s feud against David and David had lied to Ahimelech, telling him that he was on a mission from Saul.
Ahimelech provided David with some of the showbread that was being replaced and Goliath’s sword which was being kept in the sanctuary.
However, chapter 21 does not indicate, as Doeg claimed, that he inquired of the Lord for David with the Urim and Thummim.
This was something that the Midrash says was to be done only for the king.
(The midrash is early Rabbinical commentary and interpretation of both the written and oral Torah.)
In Saul’s mind, Doeg’s report was true and Ahimelech, by inquiring of the Lord for David, had as much as asserted that David should be king.
And so, Saul, infuriated by this report from Doeg, immediately called for Ahimelech and all the priests in Nob.
And holding an illegal trial, he declared them guilty and called for them - all of them - to be put to death, however, nobody among Saul’s men would do the deed.
That is, except for Doeg the Edomite.
He killed 85 priests as well as all the people and animals of Nob, the city of the priests.
He killed all the priests except for one … Abiather escaped and fled after David.
----

What is interesting about this, and something we could miss if we were not going verse by verse through the Bible:

In the second chapter of his book Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington wrote, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” Measured by this standard—and it’s a valid one—David was a very successful man. For ten years he was considered an outlaw, yet he fought the Lord’s battles and delivered Israel from her enemies. He lived with his faithful men in the forsaken places of the land and often had to flee for his life, yet he knew that the Lord would finally deliver him and give him the promised throne. David’s coronation was not only important to the people of Israel; it was important to all the people of God of every age. For out of David’s family the Redeemer would ultimately come, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, the Son of God.

Is that even though the human component of all this was flawed with sin .... ultimately, God brings His plan out of it.

… ultimately, God brings His plan out of it.
While this unjust trial and illegal sentence disturbs us, we must keep in mind that it was part of God’s plan.
For one thing, this slaughter of the priests goes all the way back to Eli and chapter 2.
It was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy that had been given to the unfaithful priest Eli.
In , God had promised to replace the house of Eli with the house of Zadok.
Eli’s sons were killed, and Eli himself died, but this massacre of the priests went a long ways to completely fulfilling God’s prophecy.
Except for the fact that Abiather escaped.
But the prophecy is finally fulfilled in .
Abiathar escaped this massacre, but was later removed by Solomon, leaving the house of Zadok as the priestly family.
For another thing, David has learned a valuable lesson about trusting in God rather than in himself.
David had tried to depend on other people and on himself with lies and schemes, rather than depend on the Lord.
Perhaps an indication of just where David was is that when he was with the priest Ahimelech at Nob, he did not ask the priest to inquire of the Lord.
He was depending on his own understanding, and that caused David to rely on lies and schemes.
But by the time Abiather has joined with David, he has repented and is again trusting in the LORD.
----
Also, in the previous chapter, David
Booker T. Washington wrote, “I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

Given this observation .... David was a very successful man.

For 10 years he was considered an outlaw.
He was hunted by Saul and had to live as if he were a criminal in hiding.

But in the midst of it, he fought the Lord’s battles and delivered Israel from her enemies.

He lived with his faithful men in the wilderness and in caves and he often had to flee for his life.
Yet he knew that the Lord would ultimately deliver him and give him the promised throne.

Saul’s rule of Israel had been disastrous … even his own son, Jonathan, had said so.

And chapter 22 explains that those who joined with David were in distress, in debt, and discontented.
So, Saul’s reign was not working out the way the people of Israel had thought when they had demanded a king like the other nations had.
One might say that Israel was groaning for God’s chosen king, David to come to the throne.
But even greater than that … David’s coronation was important to all the people of God of every age.
For out of David’s family the Redeemer would ultimately come, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, the Son of God.
---

We continue into chapter 23 tonight.

Early in his reign, King Saul had aggressively attacked the Philistines, but in his madness, he turned to persecuting the people of God.

We see Saul occupied in seeking David’s life.
While Saul was occupied in seeking David’s life, the Philistines were able to continue their aggression unmolested. David was conscious of their incursions, the latest of which was directed at Keilah, which belonged to Judah but was well behind the enemy lines at the time of this attack. The site is Tell Qila, south of the ancient Adullam.
And while he did this, the Philistines were able to continue their own aggression against Israel.
Baldwin, J. G. (1988). 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 8, p. 152). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
David was aware of their successful incursions resulting from Saul’s distraction.
The latest of the Philistine attacks was directed at the town of Keilah (kee-ah-ee-LAH).
Keilah was one of the lowland towns located in the lot of the tribe of Judah as described in Joshua 15.
It was less than 4 miles from the Cave of Adullam, and about 12 miles as the crow flies from the Philistine capital of Gath.
1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary vii. Saul Hunts David (23:1–29)

While Saul was occupied in seeking David’s life, the Philistines were able to continue their aggression unmolested. David was conscious of their incursions, the latest of which was directed at Keilah, which belonged to Judah but was well behind the enemy lines at the time of this attack. The site is Tell Qila, south of the ancient Adullam.

(Today, the site is Tell Qila and is primarily Arab occupied.)
The town is also mentioned outside of the Bible on the El Amarna Tablets, which were found in ancient Egypt in 1877.
They date to the time of Moses and contain letters written in Babylonian cuneiform on baked clay tablets.
The letters were written to Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria.
The tablets are important Biblically because they refer to the Hebrews, confirm history given in Joshua and Judges, and they mention a lot about the land and people of Canaan.
Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) by various kings dwelling in the land of Canaan and Syria.
because they refer to events in the middle east in the 15th and 14th centuries BC. They refer to the Hebrews, they give evidence of the trustworthiness of the book of Judges. They mention a lot about Canaan, the half of Israel to the west of the Jordan.
For instance, one letter reads:
To Naphkhororia [1] King of Egypt, my brother, to say: Thus speaks Burnaburiash King of Babylon, your brother. I am well. To your country, your house, your women, your sons, your ministers, your horses, your chariots, many greetings. I and my brother have signed a treaty, and I spoke thus: Like our fathers, who were friends, we will be friends.
And now, my merchants who travelled with Ahutabu [2] delayed in Canaan for business. After Ahutabu set out on his way to my brother and in the town of Hanatun which is in Canaan Shumda [3] Son of Baluma and Shutatna Son of Shartum from Akko sent their men there. They beat my merchants and stole their money. Ahutabu , whom I sent to you, is before you. Ask him and he will tell you. Canaan is your country and its kings are your slaves, in your country I was robbed. Bind them and return the money they robbed. And the men who murdered my slaves, kill them and avenge their blood. Because if you do not kill these men, they will again murder my caravans and even my ambassadors, and the ambassadors between us will cease. If this should happen the people of the land will leave you.
As far as his care of Israel is concerned, Saul was too wrapped up in his envy of David to do anything.
David, however, even as a fugitive acts more like the king of Israel than Saul does.
In our chapter, David comes to the defense of Keilah (kee-ah-ee-LAH).
Prayer: Lord, we ask that You open up Your word to us this evening and bless our study. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Tel el Amarna was in ancient Egypt near the Nile River about halfway between Memphis and Thebes. In 1988 there were about 400 cuneiform tablets discovered at this site which were part of the royal archives of Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) who reigned about 1400 BC.

V1-5

This is reminiscent of the Midianites and the Amalekites raiding Israel’s harvest in the time of Gideon.

Then, the Angel of the Lord gave Israel a savior in Gideon.

Here, we see another glimpse of God giving Israel a “savior figure” in David.
As he had come to the defense of Israel against the Philistines before, so now he does so for Keilah (kee-ah-ee-LAH).
This was God’s anointed king for Israel, and though he has already come against the enemies of Israel, we have a picture of the beginning of a ministry of rescue beginning with the wilderness.
Jesus’ ministry began in the wilderness with His being tempted for 40 days by Satan.
Was Jesus already at work in the world before His physical human incarnation?
Yes … we see Him at work in creation, and of course in many places where the Angel of the Lord, who is Christ, interacts with man, such as with Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and so forth.
The picture isn’t perfect but I wanted to give you something to chew on here.
----

Back to the text, situated so close to the enemy, Keilah was vulnerable, especially during the harvest season when the Philistine army was searching for food.

Had King Saul should have sent a detachment of soldiers to protect Keilah, but he was obsessed with finding David and killing him.

But David was being attentive.
Yet, David did not take immediate action.
As we see from verse 6, David had a priest with him who had an ephod, and he had Gad, the prophet.

So then, unlike when David was with Ahimelech at Nob, this time David paused to determine the will of God.

David paused to determine the will of God
Coming to the defense of this town would certainly increase David’s standing even more among the people.
But David was learning to trust in the Lord and did not want his own personal interests to get in the way of God’s will.
own personal interests to get in the way of God’s will.

This was a dangerous situation for David and his 400 men to get involved in … verse 3 tells us that his men expressed to him that they were afraid.

Their number was small compared to the Philistines and they could easily be surrounded and their retreat blocked, hence David’s double check on the guidance he received.
And what if Saul and his army showed up … they might then be caught between 2 armies.
they could easily be surrounded and their retreat blocked, hence David’s double check on the guidance he received.

So, in verse 4 we see that David inquired of the Lord a second time … perhaps one time was through the prophet Gad and the second time was through Abiether the priest.

We don’t know … it doesn’t say.
But we do know that this second confirmation reassured David’s men that this was the LORD’s will.
The Lord said, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah,” AND “Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”
Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”
AND God kept His promise.
God kept His promise.
God kept His promise.

He not only enabled David and his men to defeat the invading Philistines but also to take a great amount of spoil from them.

God more than kept His promise because He not only helped David slaughter the invading Philistines but also take a great amount of spoil from them. David moved into Keilah, which was a walled city, and it was there that Abiathar went when he fled from Nob carrying the precious ephod (22:20–23; 23:6). But Saul’s spies were at work and learned that David was now in Keilah, a walled city with gates. Saul told his troops they were going to Keilah to rescue the city, but his real purpose was to capture David, and he was certain that David could not escape. Saul was not only willing to slaughter the priests of Nob, but he would have destroyed his own people in the city of Keilah just to lay hands on David. People who are controlled by malice and hatred quickly lose their perspective and begin to abuse their authority.

v6

It may have been that Abiather didn’t arrive into David’s presence until David was in Keilah.

It’s a little hard to determine because the end of chapter 22 seems to put Abiather with David prior to that.

But it could have been that chapter 22 was just letting us know that Abiather had survived and giving us some resolution, but his conversation with David didn’t happen until he was with David in the town.
It doesn’t change anything if that’s the case … it just means that David sought confirmation from the Lord through the prophet Gad only.

That being said, the original Hebrew easily reads as a reminder that Abiather, who was with David, had an Ephod … something that chapter 22 had not informed us of.

This is the direction I lean on this .... “Abiather was with David when he was seeking the LORD, and oh, by the way, Abiather had an ephod.

He probably had the Ephod of the High Priest, which is important because it had the breastplate of judgment () attached to it ().

explains that this breastplate had on it four rows of precious stones set in gold, 12 stones total each with the name of a tribe of Israel on it.
had the breastplate of judgment () attached to it (). The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
also tells us that he breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones ... the Urim and Thummim.
So, when David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
The names Urim and Thummim mean "Lights and Perfections."
Why did
We aren't sure what they were or how they were used.
Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a "yes" or "no" from God.
The idea is that High Priest would ask God a question that could be answered with a "yes" or a "no," reach into the breastplate, and pull out the stone indicating God's answer.
This ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, was more helpful to David than a thousand soldiers, because it helped him discern the will of God.
And we probably hear this and think it sounds silly … like a flip of a coin.
Whether the answer was simply a yes or a no we cannot be sure about … it seems like sometimes the answers are way more specific than that.
And then other times, like in verses 10-12, the answers DO seem to be a simple yes or no.
Whatever the case … these were tools given to Israel by God.
Many Christians set aside the tools God has given us such as His written Word and Prayer, and rely on “feelings” instead.
It is good for us to note that David was not asking a question that God has already answered in His Written Word.
How many Christians read that Homosexuality is an abomination to God and yet ask, “Does God really say that homosexuality is a sin?”
David will again seek the Lord in this next section, and we know for sure this time that he asks Abiather to use the ephod.

V7-13

After defeating the Philistines, David then moved into Keilah, which was a walled city.

But Saul’s spies were at work and he learned that David was now in Keilah.

But Saul’s spies were at work and learned that David was now in Keilah, a walled city with gates. Saul told his troops they were going to Keilah to rescue the city, but his real purpose was to capture David, and he was certain that David could not escape. Saul was not only willing to slaughter the priests of Nob, but he would have destroyed his own people in the city of Keilah just to lay hands on David. People who are controlled by malice and hatred quickly lose their perspective and begin to abuse their authority.
It is interesting that Saul had men there who were not offering any protection to the town … but were only looking out for David.
David suspected that Saul was planning to capture him in the city, and he was right.
And Saul was so off the rocker now that he would besiege the city.
Many might die if David remained.
And having already been responsible for the death of the priests, David was anxious not to let this happen.
David’s prayer reveals his thoughts, Saul seeks … to destroy the city on my account.
----

The ephod gives affirmative answers to both David’s questions: Saul is coming, and the people of Keilah will surrender David.

It would be the obvious way to avoid the destruction of their city.

David had the signal he needed.
While the way was open, he and his now six hundred men made their exit from the city.
Any hopes David may have had of making Keilah his headquarters were abandoned.
Saul was not only willing to slaughter the priests of Nob, but he would have destroyed his own people in the city of Keilah just to lay hands on David.
And Saul told his troops they were going to Keilah to rescue the city, but his real purpose was to capture David, and he was certain that David could not escape. Saul was not only willing to slaughter the priests of Nob, but he would have destroyed his own people in the city of Keilah just to lay hands on David. People who are controlled by malice and hatred quickly lose their perspective and begin to abuse their authority.
But when Saul got the word that David had left Keilah, he called off the attack, but he still sought him day after day and neglected the important affairs of the kingdom.
And Saul told his troops they were going to Keilah to rescue the city, but his real purpose was to capture David, and he was certain that David could not escape. Saul was not only willing to slaughter the priests of Nob, but he would have destroyed his own people in the city of Keilah just to lay hands on David. People who are controlled by malice and hatred quickly lose their perspective and begin to abuse their authority.
When Saul got the word that David had left Keilah, he called off the attack, but he still sought him day after day and neglected the important affairs of the kingdom. However, the Lord was on David’s side and made sure that Saul was never successful in his quest. Ziph was a town fifteen miles southeast of Keilah in “the wilderness of Ziph” which was part of “the wilderness of Judah.” This is a destitute area adjacent to the Dead Sea where David’s faith and courage were greatly tested. When visitors to the Holy Land see this wilderness area, they often express amazement that David could ever survive living there.
However, the Lord was on David’s side and made sure that Saul was never successful in his quest.

v14-18

With the constant pressure from Saul, David and his men were forced to hide in the hostile areas of the mountains of Judah, to the south and south-east of Hebron.

Under constant pressure from Saul, David and his men were forced to hide in the inhospitable and little-frequented areas of the mountains of Judah, to the south and south-east of Hebron.

Ziph was a town fifteen miles southeast of Keilah in “the wilderness of Ziph” which was part of “the wilderness of Judah.”

Ziph was a town fifteen miles southeast of Keilah in “the wilderness of Ziph” which was part of “the wilderness of Judah.” This is a destitute area adjacent to the Dead Sea where David’s faith and courage were greatly tested. When visitors to the Holy Land see this wilderness area, they often express amazement that David could ever survive living there.
It was on the crest of some hills in a destitute area adjacent to the Dead Sea.
Although in the tribal territory of Judah, it is within a steppe area that would have been sparsely inhabited and a place in which fugitives could easily hide.
The Hebrew “stronghold” is Metsad (for instance, that great stronghold Herod built in this same area which is called Metsadah to this day).
David’s faith and courage were greatly tested here, but the protection of God was over David.
David wrote:
Psalm 18:2 NKJV
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
NKJV
----
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Although in the tribal territory of Judah, it is within a steppe area that would have been sparsely inhabited and a place in which fugitives could easily hide.
When visitors to the Holy Land see this wilderness area, they often express amazement that David could ever survive living there.

Verse 16 tells us that David’s beloved friend Jonathan visited him in the wilderness here and “helped him find strength in God.”

Jonathan took a big risk … in fact he risked his life in doing this.

But he loved David and wanted to reassure him … offer him some encouragment.
And it wasn’t only the warmth of human friendship that strengthened David, but much more Jonathan’s certainty as to God’s purpose for the future.
Jonathan could not rescue David or give him all the answers, but he strengthened his hand in God.
It was not only the warmth of human friendship that strengthened David, but much more Jonathan’s certainty as to God’s purpose for the future. Jonathan had come to see that his father’s hope of ridding himself of David and of reinstating his own dynasty was a forlorn one.
David’s beloved friend Jonathan risked his life to visit David in the wilderness and “helped him find strength in God” (v. 16, niv). This was their last recorded meeting. Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield. Jonathan had no idea that he would be slain before David became king, because he talked with David about their future coregency and renewed with him the covenant they had made (18:8; 20:31). He assured David that God would surely make him king in His good time, and that David would always be delivered from Saul’s schemes to capture him. Jonathan admitted that his father knew all these plans.

What a great friend Jonathan was.

Jonathan had come to see that his father’s hope of ridding himself of David and of reinstating his own dynasty was a forlorn one.
He comforted and supported him against all his fears, and he reminded him of God's unfailing promises.
David’s beloved friend Jonathan risked his life to visit David in the wilderness and “helped him find strength in God” (v. 16, niv). This was their last recorded meeting. Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield. Jonathan had no idea that he would be slain before David became king, because he talked with David about their future coregency and renewed with him the covenant they had made (18:8; 20:31). He assured David that God would surely make him king in His good time, and that David would always be delivered from Saul’s schemes to capture him. Jonathan admitted that his father knew all these plans.
God would protect him and see him through … God’s promises would not fail.
He reminded him of God's infailing promises., and his singular providence which hitherto had and still would be with him."

And Jonathan was correct … though not entirely correct.

You see, Jonathan would not be next to David when he assumed the throne.
In fact, this would be their last recorded meeting.
Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield.
Wiersbe, W. W. (2001). Be successful (p. 126). Colorado Springs, CO: Victor/Cook Communications.
This was their last recorded meeting. Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield. Jonathan had no idea that he would be slain before David became king, because he talked with David about their future coregency and renewed with him the covenant they had made (18:8; 20:31). He assured David that God would surely make him king in His good time, and that David would always be delivered from Saul’s schemes to capture him. Jonathan admitted that his father knew all these plans.
This was their last recorded meeting. Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield. Jonathan had no idea that he would be slain before David became king, because he talked with David about their future coregency and renewed with him the covenant they had made (18:8; 20:31). He assured David that God would surely make him king in His good time, and that David would always be delivered from Saul’s schemes to capture him. Jonathan admitted that his father knew all these plans.
David’s beloved friend Jonathan risked his life to visit David in the wilderness and “helped him find strength in God” (v. 16, niv). This was their last recorded meeting. Jonathan isn’t mentioned again in 1 Samuel until 31:2 where we’re told he died on the battlefield. Jonathan had no idea that he would be slain before David became king, because he talked with David about their future coregency and renewed with him the covenant they had made (18:8; 20:31). He assured David that God would surely make him king in His good time, and that David would always be delivered from Saul’s schemes to capture him. Jonathan admitted that his father knew all these plans.
Regarding God’s promise that David would be king, Jonathan says that Saul knows it.
Wiersbe, W. W. (2001). Be successful (p. 126). Colorado Springs, CO: Victor/Cook Communications.
1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary vii. Saul Hunts David (23:1–29)

But Saul continued his stubborn resistance.

But Saul continued his stubborn resistance.
But Saul continued his stubborn resistance.
---

Before we move on to the next group of verses, we should note that the inhabitants of Ziph remained loyal to Saul, despite the fact that David was of their tribe, Judah.

Ziph, like Keilah, belonged to Judah, but its inhabitants remained loyal to Saul, despite the fact that David was of their tribe. No doubt they hoped to profit in some way from their betrayal of David’s position. David’s assessment of them is that they are insolent and ruthless, men who ‘do not set God before them’ (; cf. the heading of the psalm). He for his part could say ‘God is my helper’, and in that confidence he made his request for God’s vindication.

They will betray David … No doubt hoping to profit in some way from their betrayal.

It might remind us of how Jesus was betrayed by Judas (or in Hebrew Yehudah .... Judah) in the hopes of some profit.
Judas was needed to find Jesus so they could arrest Him … in the night in the garden, he was not distinguishable from all the others.
For every faithful Jonathan, there is also a Ziphite, someone willing to betray.
Many a godly man or woman has known both friends and betrayers, just as Jesus did.
In Ziph, the geography allowed David to hide out and without the help of those familiar with David and the geography, it would have been hard for Saul to find David.

v19-29

The Ziphites weren’t interested in following God’s plan.

Their great concern was to protect themselves from the rage of King Saul and maybe find some personal gain from betraying David.

The Ziphites weren’t interested in following God’s plan; their great concern was to protect themselves from the rage of King Saul. They knew where David was hiding so they conveyed this important information to Saul, carefully addressing him as “king.” This was their way of assuring him that they were loyal to him and not to David. Saul was still manipulating people by making them feel sorry for him (v. 21; 22:8), and this combination of building personal pity and wielding ruthless power seemed to be working. But Saul’s character was deteriorating very quickly, while the Lord was molding David into a courageous man of God.
They knew where David was hiding and how to get there.
So they conveyed the information to Saul, and look at verse 20 … they were very careful to address Saul as “O king.”

They didn’t want anyone to think they thought David was the rightful king.

This was their way of assuring him that they were loyal to him and not to David.
And look at what Saul says … he needed compassion from the people!
While he was wielding his power ruthlessly, he was expecting people to be compassionate toward him.
So happy was Saul at the treachery of the Ziphites that he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD.”
Saul’s character was deteriorating very quickly, while the Lord was molding David into a courageous man of God.
---

Saul was excited to know where David was, but he knew that he couldn’t find David in the wilderness of Judah without some good directions.

So he asked the Ziphites to send him exact details.

He wanted to know the hiding places in the rocks and caves that David frequented and the hidden paths that he took.
Once he had the directions and possibly a guide, Saul could search out the area and quickly find his enemy.
But David also had his spies working and knew what Saul was doing, and the Lord was watching over the future king.
David moved out of the area of Ziph and went 3 miles south into the wilderness of Maon.
But Saul wasn’t about to give up, so he followed David into the wilderness of Maon, and the two armies met at “the rock,” as verse 25 put it.
----

Saul didn’t realize how close he was to David.

They were on the same mountain, separated by a ridge.

Saul had known that David was so close! They are on the same mountain (what we would think of as a large hill), separated by the ridge. Saul did his best to trap David, and it looked like he would.
Saul did his best to trap David, and he almost did.
He divided his army and sent half around one side of the mountain and half around the other side.
This should have meant total defeat for David and his 600 soldiers.

But the Lord was in control.

He brought the Philistines to attack somewhere in Judah.

And Saul, not knowing how close he was to David had to make a decision … and he chose to abandon pursuit for now.
----

It was a very close call for David, but God kept His promises.

To commemorate this great escape, the Jews called the place “Sela Hammahlekoth,” which means “The Rock of Escape.”

The Hebrew carries the idea of “a smooth rock” and therefore “a slippery rock,” in other words, “the rock of slipping away.”
It is interesting that the Hebrew carries the connotation of both a slippery rock and a rock that divides.
David was saved by a rock.
Not the physical rock where he was physically hiding.
But He was saved by The Rock …
In , David said, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.”
Psalm 18:2 NKJV
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
And let’s not forget that the Bible says Jesus is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.
1 Peter 2:8 NKJV
and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.
Some are saved by The Rock and others find Jesus to be a stumbling stone and they oppose Him and are crushed.
Rejection of the Savior is fatal.
Unfortunately, many do reject Him.
"He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall" ().
Isaiah 8:14 NKJV
He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
To continue to reject the Savior is to court judgment so severe that the only thing left will be dust.
To persistently reject the Savior is to court judgment so severe that the only thing left will be dust. The prophet Daniel gives a similar picture of the Messiah, likening Him to a rock "cut out, but not by human hands," which smashes into the nations of the world and completely obliterates them ().
The prophet Daniel gives a similar picture of the Messiah, likening Him to a rock "cut out, but not by human hands," which smashes into the nations of the world and completely obliterates them ().
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Back to our text, David quickly moved from Maon to Engedi, next to the Dead Sea and nearby Masadah.

David quickly moved from Maon to Engedi, next to the Dead Sea, a place of safety with an ample water supply.

Engedi is a place of safety with an ample water supply.

David wrote on this occasion.
The title to that Psalm reads, A Contemplation of David when the Ziphites went and said to Saul, "Is David not hiding with us?"
In , David called out to the LORD for help: Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your strength ().
Psalm 54 NKJV
To the Chief Musician. With Contemplation of David When the Ziphites Went and Said to Saul, “Is David Not Hiding with Us?” Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
Psalm 54:1 NKJV
Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength.
AND David spoke of his enemies saying, “For strangers have risen up against me, and oppressors have sought after my life; they have not set God before them” ().
Psalm 54:3 NKJV
For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah
Also David expressed his confidence in the LORD: Behold, God is my helper; the LORD is with those who uphold my life ().
Psalm 54:4 NKJV
Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life.
But Daivd did something else very interesting in this Psalm … Instead of bitterness and fear, David praised the LORD: I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good ().
Psalm 54:6 NKJV
I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.
It’s not easy to choose to praise God instead of being angry, bitter, or fearful … but it’s the wise choice to make.
David left his troubles with the One who is sufficient to deal with them.
Where before he looked to himself, to other people and even to enemies for answers … He is now looking at God.
If you look to God, your troubles grow small.
The Rock of Salvation is greater than any trouble we can ever have.
If you begin with God, your enemies grow small. If you begin with the enemy, you may never reach God."
David knew that the flatterers in Saul’s official circle, people like Doeg, were telling lies about him and making it look as though David wanted to kill the king. These fawning toadies were hoping to be rewarded by Saul, but they only went down in defeat because they gave allegiance to the wrong king. Leaders who enjoy flattery and praise, and who encourage and reward associates who seek only to gratify their leader’s ego, can never build other leaders or accomplish the will of God to the glory of God. David developed officers who were “mighty men” (; ), but Saul attracted officers who were moral weaklings. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” ().
and in it prayed for salvation and vindication from the Lord. David knew that the flatterers in Saul’s official circle, people like Doeg, were telling lies about him and making it look as though David wanted to kill the king. These fawning toadies were hoping to be rewarded by Saul, but they only went down in defeat because they gave allegiance to the wrong king. Leaders who enjoy flattery and praise, and who encourage and reward associates who seek only to gratify their leader’s ego, can never build other leaders or accomplish the will of God to the glory of God. David developed officers who were “mighty men” (; ), but Saul attracted officers who were moral weaklings. “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” ().
Wiersbe, W. W. (2001). Be successful (pp. 126–127). Colorado Springs, CO: Victor/Cook Communications.
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