1 Samuel Chapter 23

King Saul continued to seek for the life of David. David fled from him, going from place to place. At this point, David had gone to the forest of Hareth, which was in Judah. In his anger, Saul had killed a priest who had helped David. Saul made an example of the priest as well, by destroying his family and the entire city of Nob, where David had hidden. Still, David had gained followers as he went. His story continues:

1 Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.
2 Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.
3 And David’s men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?
4 Then David inquired of the Lord yet again. And the Lord answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.
5 So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
6 And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

David learned that their enemies, the Philistines, were robbing the Israelites in Keilah, which was a city in the land of Judah. David prayed to the Lord to know if he should go and fight the Philistines. The Lord told David to go and save the people of Keilah. Those who had gathered with David, were afraid to go and fight the Philistines. David prayed again, and the Lord gave him the command to go, with the promise that the Philistines would be delivered into his hand. With faith in the Lord, David took his men and they saved Keilah. Abiathar, who had also escaped the hand of Saul, and was the son of the priest who had helped David, went with David to Keilah. He was prepared with a ephod of the priesthood.

7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.
8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

Saul learned that David was in Keilah, and he was pleased. He felt that David had been delivered to him, because the town was closed off and could be besieged by the king and his men. Saul commanded his men to war against Keilah and David.

9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.
10 Then said David, O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, He will come down.
12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.

David knew the desires of Saul. He asked Abiathar to bring the ephod to him, which I think means that he wanted the priest to perform the duties of the priesthood in his behalf. David prayed to the Lord because he knew the town of Keilah was in danger because he was there. He asked if they would deliver him into the hand of Saul. The Lord told David that Saul would come to the town. Then David asked if the people there would turn him over to Saul, and the Lord told him that they would.

13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.
14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.

David took his men and left Keilah, going anywhere just to get away. Meanwhile, Saul learned that David had escaped, so he decided not to go to Keilah. David stayed in the strong holds of Ziph. Saul hunted for him, but God protected David and Saul was not able to find him. David knew that Saul was looking for him. He hid in the woods of Ziph.

16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
18 And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, met with David in the woods, and strengthened him. Jonathan gave David comfort by telling him that his father would not be able to find him, and David would be the king of Israel. He told David, that his father knew that Jonathan would be there to support David. The renewed their covenant of friendship with one another and then Jonathan returned home. David stayed hidden in the woods.

19 Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?
20 Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.
21 And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the Lord; for ye have compassion on me.
22 Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly.
23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.
24 And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.
25 Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.
26 And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.

David was hiding in the woods of Ziph, and men of the area went to Saul in Gibeah and told the king that David was hinding there, in the hill Hachilah. The men of Ziph told Saul that they would deliver David into their hands, if he desired to come to them. Saul was glad and told them to prepare for this by searching him out and finding exactly where he was staying at the time. Then, they were to tell him once they knew with certainty, and he would go with them until he found David. The men went to Ziph, while David was in the wilderness of Maon. When David heard that Saul was looking for him, he had left the woods of Ziph and went to Maon. Saul heard and went looking for him there. Saul and David were on opposite sides of a mountain. David wanted to get away from Saul and his men because they were preparing to take David and his men.

27 But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.
28 Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth.

When they were very close to capturing David, Saul received word that the Philistines had invaded the land. He left his plan to pursue David and turned his attention against the Philistines. The mountain between them, became known for this near battle between Saul and David.

29 And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at En-gedi.

David escaped again, to the strong-holds of En-gedi.

I cannot truly imagine what a life on the run would have been like for David. I can guess that it was not easy being forced to flee and hide so many times. And yet, David was still willing to devote his talents to helping those in need if the Lord wanted him to do it. Knowing that word of his helping would reach the king, David still fought for others. The Lord had blessed him with strength and wisdom, and he was committed to being an instrument for the Lord. Something I learn from this chapter, is the importance for us to sacrifice for the Lord. We are all blessed with talents. Some have a few and some are blessed with many talents. If we are doing what is right, we can know how to use our talents, just as David was able to know these things. When we have a willing heart, the Lord will not only allow us opportunities to use our talents, but he will also bless us greatly in other areas of our lives. I cannot help but think that the Lord continued to watch over David as he fled from one place to another, even possibly allowing the Philistines to come into the land, just so that David could once again flee from Saul and his men. I am so grateful for talents and I believe in the need for us to use them to further the work of the Lord, to uplift others, and to do good continually.

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