362.) 1 Samuel 23

This map can help get us situated.  In the previous chapter, David was in Adullam.  Now he comes to rescue the city of Keilah from Philistine looting.  Remember David is in the territory between the coast and the hills that no one really controls.

1 Samuel 23   (NRSV)

David Saves the City of Keilah

Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.”

So it seems that as soon as the people got their grain all harvested, the Philistines swooped in and stole it.  Why did the people  go to David?  Why didn’t they go to King Saul?  Evidently Saul was not able to protect them.

2David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”

4Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. 6When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand.

7Now 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.” 8Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

9When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.”

The Lord said, “He will come down.”

12Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?”

The Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

14David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the Lord did not give him into his hand.

David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness

the wilderness of Ziph

15David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life. 16Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord. 17He said to him, “Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so.” 18Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

This may have been the final time that David and Jonathan were together.  And how generous and gracious of Jonathan to encourage David in the Lord.

19Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. 20Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.”

21Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord for showing me compassion! 22Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning. 23Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks, 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.”

_________________________

Psalm 54 (New International Version)

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, “Is not David hiding among us?”

1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.

2
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.

3 Strangers are attacking me;
ruthless men seek my life—
men without regard for God.
Selah

4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.

5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.

6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, O LORD,
for it is good.

7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

_________________________

24So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon.

26Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. 27Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” 28So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.

_________________________

Music:

David may have felt himself in danger from Saul, but actually he was quite safe in the Lord’s hands.  And we, in the various vicissitudes of our lives, can also rest in our Lord’s loving care for us.  “My peace I give to you,” Jesus said, “— not as the world gives.” Here is a new arrangement, by Craig Curry, of an old hymn, “Near to the Heart of God.”  Played by Eric Swadell.  Lyrics follow.

There is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.

Refrain:

O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where we our Saviour meet,
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release
Near to the heart of God
A place where all is joy and peace
Near to the heart of God.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map showing Keilah.    http://bibleatlas.org/area/keilah.jpg
wilderness of Ziph.    http://bibleencyclopedia.com/placesjpeg/Wilderness_of_Ziph,_tb_n021900.jpg
Psalm 54.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps54-04.jpg

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