1 Samuel 23
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.
What is interesting about this, and something we could miss if we were not going verse by verse through the Bible:
Is that even though the human component of all this was flawed with sin .... ultimately, God brings His plan out of it.
Given this observation .... David was a very successful man.
But in the midst of it, he fought the Lord’s battles and delivered Israel from her enemies.
Saul’s rule of Israel had been disastrous … even his own son, Jonathan, had said so.
One might say that Israel was groaning for God’s chosen king, David to come to the throne.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So then, unlike when David was with Ahimelech at Nob, this time David paused to determine the will of God.
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.
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.
He not only enabled David and his men to defeat the invading Philistines but also to take a great amount of spoil from them.
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.
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.
He probably had the Ephod of the High Priest, which is important because it had the breastplate of judgment () attached to it ().
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.
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.
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.
Ziph was a town fifteen miles southeast of Keilah in “the wilderness of Ziph” which was part of “the wilderness of Judah.”
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.
What a great friend Jonathan was.
And Jonathan was correct … though not entirely correct.
But Saul continued his stubborn resistance.