We are reading three chapters today. A little more than usual. If you have a map handy (see below), it might be interesting to follow David as he travels like a pinball in and around Israel trying to get away from Saul.
Rather than make one big point, today I’ll offer a few comments along the way. There are many teachable moments in these verses. See what you can find.
The Support You Need
David wasn’t looking to create a rebellion, he was just trying to survive. Yet people were attracted to him because Saul was becoming unhinged. David had something the people were looking for and they were willing to take a risk to follow him.
Then everyone who was in trouble, in debt, or bitter about life joined him, and he became their commander. There were about four hundred men with him. 1 Samuel 22:2
Now, David had more than Jonathan for support, he had 400 men. Plus, the nation of Moab was willing to keep his parents safe. David’s coalition was building.
Saul’s paranoia peaked and his morals bottomed when he commanded the genocide of the city of Nob for helping David. But while Saul was looking to destroy David, David found ways to rescue others:
David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines, drove off their livestock, and decisively defeated them. So David rescued the people who lived in Keilah. 1 Samuel 23:5
In some ways, David’s band of men represented the church. In chapter 22 we learned that they were in trouble, in debt, or discontent…the offcasts of the culture. Yet God used these men, not just to protect each other from Saul, but to free other people from the enemy. It wasn’t formal or official. It was “organic” and it worked.
The Direction You Need
We often see David consulting God with “yes” or “no” questions through an ephod.
When Ahimelech’s son Abiathar fled to David at Keilah, Abiathar brought a priestly ephod with him. 1 Samuel 23:6
It’s not clear what an ephod was but we know it was something the priests wore (see Exodus 28:1-30). When the priest asked God a question, God signified a positive or negative response through the ephod.
The Protection You Need
In 23:19 the men of Ziph conspired to turn David in. But messengers tipped David off and then Saul was pulled away to fight the Philistines at the last minute. In all of these maneuverings God protected David.
Did you notice all the “strongholds” that were mentioned in this section? These were small fortresses scattered throughout the desert and mountains that David used as a temporary refuge. Like shade in the desert, God helped David find these strongholds at vulnerable times in his life.
What I see in all of this is that you can count on God to go before you, giving you the support, protection, and direction you need. You won’t always know what to do. You won’t always do the right thing. But if your heart’s desire is to please God, he will work all things together for your good.
Many times we don’t even know that God saved us. But some day God will show you all that he did for you and you’ll be amazed.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your protective hand in my life. This story shows me how you provide me with both people to support me, methods to direct me, and strongholds to protect me. You even foil the enemy’s plans against me. As the song says, You’re a good, good Father. That’s who you are. And I am loved by you. Thank you for that. May I trust you more knowing these things. Amen.