1 Samuel 23-24: “David And His Men Deliver Keilah, Then David Spares Saul’s Life”
1.1. In our last study, we looked at chapters 21 and 22 as David now had gone into his period of his wanderings and fleeing from king Saul who was chasing him like an animal hoping to murder him at the soonest opportunity.
1.1.1. During this period of time we studied, we saw that David’s faith gave way to fear as he began to look for help in man rather than in the Lord alone, and as he plotted and schemed in order to get himself out of trouble.
In our story today, we are going to study chapters
23 and 24 and we will look at how David began to act to protect Israel from her
enemies as he and his men go and deliver the city of Keilah from the siege of
the Philistines against the city. In the
mean time, all that Saul is preoccupied with is capturing David, not fulfilling
God’s calling for him and protecting or wisely governing the nation of
1.2.1. During this period of David’s wanderings, we have already discussed how that the Lord was using all of David’s trials and difficulties for the molding of his character for that time when David would be made to reign over the nation of Israel. Every single incident in his life was hand-crafted by the Lord to teach David specific lessons and build the character that would enable David to reign as a righteous king, to glorify the Lord, and to look to the Lord in all that he undertook.
126.96.36.199. We believers today can see parallels at every step of David’s life during this time with the things that the Lord is doing in our lives to shape us into that man or woman of God He intends us to be.
1.2.2. After the events of the last couple of chapters as David in his fleeing for his life from King Saul looked to the arm of the flesh for help and took matters in his own hand and manipulated situations attempting to get himself out of trouble, David has learned some hard lessons.
1.2.3. When I had just graduated
from high school I needed to find a job and so I went down to the local
unemployment office looking for any job openings. I found a job as a construction laborer in
the town of
At the construction site the workers had just dug up the dirt so they could put up in the building’s foundation and the crew was putting up the forms for laying the concrete foundation. The second day on the job my foreman, a guy who was probably in his mid to late 20s, told me that he wanted me to help him pound in pointed 2 x 4s to support the concrete forms. Then, he asked me if I wanted to hold the 2 x 4s or if I wanted to swing the sledge hammer to pound them into the ground. Thinking for a second about the fact that if the person swinging the sledge hammer missed that the other guy’s fingers would be crushed by the sledge hammer, I told him that I would rather swing the sledge hammer.
Then, my foreman told me, “OK, but whatever you do don’t hit my fingers!”
Well, I pounded in a couple of the 2 x 4s, but on the third 2 x 4 I started thinking more and more about what he said to me and the fact that I had better not hit his fingers with the sledge hammer, and sure enough I swung that sledge hammer and hit his fingers with the sledge hammer. I was looking right at them.
It was a horrible injury and I felt horrible. I remember in slow motion the blood exploding out of his finger tips and him screaming.
Then, he said to me, “Give me that sledge hammer, and hold that 2 x 4.” I thought that he might try to hit my fingers so I held the 2 x 4 all the way down by the ground.
I heard later that I had crushed the guy’s fingers and that he was out of work for an extended period of time. After the third day I quit the job because my back was killing me after digging holes for most of two days straight. I decided that I could make the same minimum wage doing a lot easier work.
Now, I tell this story just to make the point that what we focus upon does a great amount to direct our actions. My foreman should never have said to me, “Whatever you do don’t hit my fingers,” for after that his fingers was all I was thinking about. I’ll bet he never asked an 18 year old kid again whether or not he wanted to hold the 2 x 4 or swing the sledge hammer.
Well, David in our story, after learning the hard lessons from the previous two chapters, now was no longer scheming but was focusing completely upon the Lord and we will see that now before he undertakes anything he first inquires of the Lord as to whether or not he should do it.
1.2.4. Because David now begins to inquire of the Lord’s will before undertaking anything, we see in these chapters that the Lord gave David great victory and protected him from the threatenings of King Saul who is continually hunting him trying to kill him.
1.2.5. For us as God’s people, we need to learn that we as people must seek the Lord’s will in prayer and through the study of His word ( and what it teaches us ) before we do anything. If we will do this we too will be blessed and fruitful for the Lord in all that we do!
188.8.131.52. Scheming, manipulating, and relying upon the flesh just gets us into trouble.
2. VS 23:1-6 - “1 Then
they told David, saying, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah
and are plundering the threshing floors.” 2 So David inquired of the
Lord, saying, “Shall I go and
attack these Philistines?” And the Lord
said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah.” 3 But
David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in
2.1. King Saul should have been looking out for his subjects in Israel, seeking to protect and govern them wisely, however because he knew that the Lord was planning to take away his kingly dynasty and make David the next king over Israel, all that occupied King Saul’s mind was hunting David and finding a way to kill him.
2.1.1. It is a sad state to be in when a person is caught up in primarily seeking to keep the Lord from doing His will in his/her life.
2.1.2. We could ask the question, “Why hadn’t King Saul come to his senses and realized that no one ever wins a battle against the Lord?” King Saul’s struggle was one of futility!
At this time David is still hiding out with his men
2.3. In appears from verse 6 here that Abiathar joined up with David after David had conquered the Philistines and delivered Keilah, however in 1 Sam. 23:22-23 we read that Abiathar had already joined up with David and his men as an act of protected asylum from King Saul, who would have killed Abiathar had Abiathar not been under protection. Abiathar then had used the Urim and Thummim for determining the Lord’s leading before David went up to Keilah, and now Abiathar simply brought the Urim and Thummim with him when he joined David in Keilah after the battle.
2.4. But now, in chapters 23 and 24 we have a turning point for David. Previously, in chapters 21-22 we saw that David’s faith had given way to fear and that he acted in a very irrational way as he was fleeing and seeking refuge in man and the arm of the flesh rather than in the Lord:
2.4.1. David first fled to Nob where the priests resided and asked for food and weapons from the high priest. Ironically, we saw that David took the sword of Goliath from the priests at Nob for his protection.
184.108.40.206. David lied to the priest about his mission and we saw that this lie had grave consequences for it ended up later causing all of the priests at Nob to be slaughtered at the hand of Saul.
2.4.2. Next, David fled to
220.127.116.11. In order to save his life we saw that David feigned insanity after the king discovered who he was, and he began scribbling on the gates of the city and letting his saliva run down into his beard. Then, the king sent David away.
2.4.3. David then fled to the
2.5. The turning point in David’s life here though is that now in all that he does, David begins to inquire of the Lord first before acting.
2.6. David first inquires of the Lord about whether he is supposed to go to Keilah and attack the Philistines and the Lord tells him to go. However, when David tells his men about this they balk at the idea for they are afraid that King Saul will show up and then they will be fighting against both the Philistines and King Saul’s army. Therefore, David inquires of the Lord a second time, and this time the Lord again tells him to go but also promises him victory in the battle. Therefore, David and his men go up to Keilah and the Lord gives them a great victory over the Philistines.
2.6.1. Don’t forget, David’s victory couldn’t have occurred had he not been obedient to the Lord and gone up to battle at Keilah. Obedience and faith are the two vital and interconnected actions in the life of a victorious Christian.
2.7. In this battle with the Philistines, David and his men also capture a bunch of the Philistine’s cattle, and this provision will help to feed them now.
3. VS 23:7-13 - “7 When it
was told Saul that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered him
into my hand, for he shut himself in by entering a city with double gates and
bars.” 8 So Saul summoned all the people for war, to go down to
Keilah to besiege David and his men. 9 Now David knew that Saul was plotting
evil against him; so he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10
Then David said, “O Lord God
3.1. After conquering the Philistines who were besieging Keilah, David and his men settled into the city for a time.
3.2. We see that David’s band of men has grown from 300 to 600.
3.3. Saul heard that David and his men were staying in Keilah and Saul thought that this would be the perfect place for him to be able to capture David since that city was surrounded by a wall and David could be surrounded. He thought also that the people of Keilah would surely surrender David rather than be destroyed by his army.
3.4. Saul tells his army that he is going to deliver Keilah, however his real scheme is to capture and kill David. However, Saul is also willing to see a whole city of his people killed as a necessary price for capturing David.
3.5. David requested Abiathar the priest to inquire of the Lord for him using the Urim and Thumim in the priest’s ephod.
3.5.1. David first inquired as to whether Saul would come after him. The answer was ‘yes.’
3.5.2. David secondly inquired if the people of Keilah would deliver him up to Saul. The answer again was ‘yes.’
3.6. It is sad that the people of Keilah demonstrated so little gratitude towards David for having delivered them from the Philistines that they would be willing now to turn over David to King Saul to be killed. The people probably thought that if they didn’t turn over David that they would end up just like the priests of Nob whom Saul murdered because he thought that they had conspired with David against him.
3.7. Notice that when David and his men fled from Keilah that it says that they went ‘whithersoever,’ and this simply means that for some reason they fled in every direction. They evidently were filled with fear at being caught by King Saul’s army, yet they should have realized by all that had happened in God’s showing David favor and giving him success in battle that the Lord was going to protect and deliver them.
4. VS 23:14-29 - “14 David
stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country
in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not
deliver him into his hand. 15 Now David became aware that Saul had
come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16
And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and
encouraged him in God. 17 Thus he said to him, “Do not be afraid,
because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over
David and his men left the city of
4.2. Again, rather than Saul spend his time administrating his kingdom he is daily seeking to take the life of David.
4.3. Jonathan seeks out David, his best friend, in the Wilderness of Ziph and we see here the precious words that Jonathan “strengthened his hand in God.”
4.3.1. How precious are those who are willing to look beyond their own concerns and troubles to encourage someone else, especially in the things of God. There are no better friends than these.
4.3.2. What a small amount of time and energy it takes to be a blessing in encouraging a brother or a sister in the Lord. We as Christians would be wise to seek to allow the Lord to use us to strengthen God’s peoples’ hands in the Lord. Just a short word of encouragement, sometimes just a hug, or even at times just something as simple as a smile can lift the spirits of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Jonathan assures David that King Saul’s hand shall
not find David and that David shall be the next king of
4.5. David and Jonathan again renew their covenant with each other that David shall be the next king and that at that time Jonathan shall be second under him in his kingdom.
4.6. This is the last time on earth that Jonathan and David ever saw one another alive. Jonathan and Saul are soon killed in battle against the Philistines.
4.7. The Ziphites from the Wilderness of Ziph come to King Saul and tell him that David is hiding out in their land. King Saul is very pleased to get this information and he asks the Ziphites to find out exactly where David and his men are hanging out. King Saul has had difficulty in the past catching David and so he wants as much specific information as he can have before he comes to capture David.
4.8. King Saul gives an empty blessing to the Ziphites for giving him this information about David’s whereabouts, saying ‘Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me,’ and notice that just as he previously did with his subjects that he is trying to also gain their sympathy for himself. King Saul’s blessing is an empty one because it comes from a heart that is set against the Lord.
4.9. Finally, King Saul comes with his army down to the Ziphites to capture David. The Ziphites tell King Saul that David and his men are now hiding out in the Wilderness of Maon.
David and his men go up onto a mountain and king
Saul and his men begin to follow David and his men around the mountain and are
soon to close in upon David. However,
the Lord delivers David and his men when word and a urgent cry for help comes
to King Saul because of an attack by the Philistines. Then, Saul and his army leave to go defend
4.11. The Israelites named this mountain where Saul and his men were pursuing David and his men ‘Selahammahlekoth’ which means “Cliff of Divisions.”
4.12. After the Lord delivered
David and his men on this mountainside in the Wilderness of Maon, they went and
hid out in the strongholds of Engedi, on the western side of the Dead Sea in
the Wilderness of
5. VS 24:1-7 - “1 Now
when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold,
David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three
thousand chosen men from all
5.1. King Saul had pursued the Philistines after he had left the mountain in the Wilderness of Maon where he had David and his men trapped. Now, King Saul hears that David and his men are hiding out in Engedi, so he musters his men to again go to pursue David.
5.2. The Lord shows that He has a sense of humor here I believe for He causes David to catch His enemy with his pants down.
5.3. David here probably passed the greatest test of his life when he does not take vengeance into his own hands against King Saul but instead allows the Lord to work. David does not even consider Saul his enemy even though King Saul had been hunting him to kill him for a very long time at this point.
5.4. David tells his men why he had not attempted to kill King Saul and he also restrains them from attempting anything against the king themselves as he says to them, ‘The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.’
5.5. David did not respect King Saul as a man however he respected King Saul for the office the king held and because of this he is not willing to kill King Saul or harm him in any way.
5.5.1. We as Christians are commanded in a few scriptures in God’s word to have respect for the authorities that the Lord places over our lives, and even to give proper respect to them. For instance:
5.6. Notice here that David feels guilty for having cut just the skirt off of King Saul’s robe for King Saul was the Lord’s anointed. David felt bad for having brought humiliation upon the Lord’s king.
6. VS 24:8-15 - “8 Now
afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying,
“My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face
to the ground and prostrated himself. 9 David said to Saul, “Why do
you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you’? 10
“Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some
said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not
stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 “Now, my father, see!
Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of
your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or
rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying
in wait for my life to take it. 12 “May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall
not be against you. 13 “As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of
the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14
“After whom has the king of
6.1. We see here David showing the utmost respect for King Saul, a man who deserved none of this respect. David calls King Saul, ‘My Lord the king,’ then he stoops with his face to the earth and bows before the king.
6.2. David tells King Saul that his actions in sparing the king’s life demonstrate that those who were giving the king counsel saying that David was out to hurt the king were wrong.
6.3. David tells King Saul the reason that he could not lift up his hand against the king saying, ‘I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.’ Again, as was mentioned, David honored and respected King Saul because of the office that the king held.
6.4. King Saul was ‘the LORD’s anointed,’ and we know in the Old Testament that when the word “Lord” is in all capital letters that this is done because the Jews would not print the Lord’s Name because it was too sacred. This really says then that King Saul was “Yahweh’s Anointed.”
6.5. David calls out to King Saul to take into account that he has done no transgression and has not sinned against the king, even though the king was hunting for him to take his life.
6.6. David then calls upon the Lord to judge between himself and King Saul and for the Lord to bring vengeance upon the king, for his hand would not do so.
6.6.1. How important it is for us as Christians to get to that point where we no longer take out vengeance upon others but leave all vengeance to the Lord, as Rom. 12:19 teaches us, “19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.”
6.6.2. “A college professor answered his telephone at 3:00 A.M. “This is your neighbor, Mr. Smith,” said the voice. “Your dog is barking and keeping me awake.” The professor thanked him kindly and hung up. The next morning Mr. Smith’s telephone rang at exactly 3 A.M. “This is the professor,” said the caller. “I just wanted you to know that I don’t have a dog!”” -- ILLUSTRATION: Only God can execute vengeance justly because only He truly knows the whole story in every person’s life.
6.7. David then quotes some ancient proverb, ‘Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked.’ which is just to say in essence that a person’s character is discovered from his conduct.
Then David tells King Saul not to worry about him
because David was a ‘dead dog’ ( something that was unclean under the law and
considered most vile in
6.9. Then, David again calls upon the Lord to judge between himself and Saul, to bring vengeance, and to deliver David out of King Saul’s hand.
7. VS 24:16-22 - “16 When
David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your
voice, my son David?” Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He
said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me,
while I have dealt wickedly with you. 18 “You have declared today
that you have done good to me, that the Lord
delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me. 19 “For
if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in
return for what you have done to me this day. 20 “Now, behold, I know
that you will surely be king, and that the
7.1. David was the king’s son-in-law and at one time had been looked upon with great favor by King Saul, and now after David has spoken to the king and revealed the true state of his heart towards the king, King Saul for a moment begins to come to his senses as he reacts with great tenderness towards David saying, ‘Is this thy voice, my son David?’
7.2. King Saul appears to be expressing genuine softening and repentance here, and he even returns home after this, however this repentance is short lived for soon afterwards we will see that King Saul will again be hunting for David to kill him. At this point in time we can imagine that Saul is being controlled to a large extent by the Devil and thus he is subject to the same ugly demonic mood changes we saw him experience earlier when David would play the harp to soothe him.
7.3. King Saul even in his supposed state of softening and repentance is thinking of himself primarily as he requests of David that when David becomes king that he will not kill off all of his sons (his ‘father’s house) nor destroy his name forever. David readily agrees to this for he bears no malice toward the king.
7.3.1. David in fact kept his word for when he was made king he actually spared the life of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson.
8.1. As we study these two chapters and see David now beginning to get focused upon the Lord in all that he does, inquiring of the Lord before anything that he does, and as a result being blessed and protected by the Lord, we as Christians ought to ask ourselves if we truly are focused as we should be upon the Lord?
8.1.1. Do you take James 1:5-8 to heart which promises that whenever we lack wisdom that we can ask of the Lord and are guaranteed that the Lord will indeed give us the wisdom we need, “5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” ?
8.1.2. Proverbs 3:5-6 is another promise from the Lord to all who inquire of the Lord, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
8.1.3. Let’s also vow today to be a friend to others as was this man Jonathan who strengthened David’s hand in the Lord. Let’s commit ourselves to being encouragers of our brothers and sisters.