1 Samuel 22:1-23:29
David’s on the run from King Saul, but thank God he’s not alone. His circle of friends and ragtag soldiers begins to grow. Their characteristics as listed in the Scriptures are interesting – men who were distressed, in debt, and discontented. One day they would form “David’s Mighty Men.” (there’s hope for me)
Meanwhile, “Back at the Ranch,” King Saul is sitting around, sulking, and feeling sorry for himself. His style of leadership has degenerated as he hones in on taking David down, he tries to motivate his men through bribery and sympathy. Doeg was probably trying to score some points, so he informs the king of the day he saw David at Nob, but adds some tragic and evil embellishment.
1 Samuel 22:9–10 (NKJV) “Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, ‘I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10 And he inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.’”
The High Priest Ahimilech DID give bread and a sword to David, but he did not inquire of the LORD for him. Doeg lied, big time, but all Saul needed was one measly witness. Saul called the Priests to give an account, believed only what he wanted to believe and proceeded to order the slaughter of almost the entire family of High Priest (Abiather escaped). Eighty-five men who wore a linen cloth died that day, but not just the me :
1 Samuel 22:19 (NKJV) “Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword.”
It’s heartbreaking. One of the sons of Ahimelech named Abiathar escaped and informed David of what happened, who acknowledges the fact that he was partially to blame. O, the damage of lies.
Warren Wiersbe noted, “Saul was unwilling to kill the wicked Amalekites, but he murdered God’s priests. Saul was fighting a losing battle, and he was desperate.”
When the city of Keilah was attacked by the Philistines, it’s refreshing to see David inquiring of the LORD. I’m thoroughly convinced that part of being a good leader of the people of God, is simply being a good follower of the LORD our God. The LORD told David to defend Keilah. David’s men initially disagreed with the decision. So David double checks with the LORD. Which brings up another good quality of a Godly leader – he’s open to counsel and he’s willing to take it to prayer if his decision is questioned. But again, God makes it clear to defend Keilah, which they did, successfully.
Somehow Saul finds out that David is in Keilah. Saul is deceived into thinking that God has delivered him into his hands:
1 Samuel 23:7–8 (NKJV) “And Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. So Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8 Then Saul called all the people together for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.
Did Saul really think that God was on his side? The Spirit had departed from him. A tormenting spirit had come upon him. He was obsessed with murdering David who had done no wrong and he killed the priests of the LORD. But still, Saul thinks that God is with him. It brings to mind the people out there who claim to be Christians, and yet do absolutely horrible things.
As Saul heads towards Keilah, David finds out and asks the LORD if the people of Keilah would give him into the king’s hands. God affirms that they would, so David leaves the city. In one sense we wonder why they wouldn’t protect the one who defended them, but at the end of the day, their city instincts are all about survival. You may have noticed by now in life, that many times people don’t appreciate what we do for them. It’s for that reason we need to do everything unto the Lord, as Paul the Apostle would later write:
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV) “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Saul pursued. David ran, and God protected him over the years, in many ways.
1 Samuel 23:14 (NKJV) “And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.”
That last line caught me, and reminded me, how the enemy comes after us, “every day.” We may take a day off, but the enemy doesn’t. We need to take this into consideration and therefore always have our armor on, resist the devil, flee temptation, and fight when necessary. It’s a blessing to know that when belong to God and rest in Him, staying where we belong, God will protect us and direct us every time. I couldn’t help but think of Jesus when I read where David stayed in 1 Samuel 23:18, the “Rock of Escape.”
We are safe in God’s hands. It doesn’t mean we don’t run or use common sense (as He leads), but we can trust, and we can rest in the truth that God is our shield.
The Lord uses illustrations of shepherds and sheep, and thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings in order to teach us the realities of the Kingdom of God.
After the healed blind man had been excommunicated from the Temple, we get this teaching about true leaders, shepherds, and sheep. Jesus uses two different illustrations.
In the city areas there were sheepfolds where sheep of differing flocks would be kept. The only way in and out was through the front door/gate. So, if a man climbed over the wall to steal sheep – it was obvious, he’s not a genuine shepherd, he’s a thief stealing to slaughter. But if a man comes through the front door (legitimately) he calls his sheep, they know his voice, they follow him, and he leads them out. Jesus is essentially saying that these leaders in Israel were not legit, they were thieves.
Jesus offered another illustration. If a shepherd led his sheep out beyond a day’s journey, they would have to spend the night in a cave, or a similar structure, at which point the shepherd would lie down in the entrance to be the gatekeeper, the protector and essentially the “door” for the sheep.
What Jesus was saying to them and to us, is that He is the Good Shepherd who owns the sheep and lays down His life for the them. He is the Door for the sheep the entrance into the fold, and He protects them. He even promises that no one will snatch them out of His hand (or His Father’s hand – John 10:28-29).
The Jewish leaders were thieves, robbers, strangers, and hirelings who were only in it for the money, they were fleecing the flock. They didn’t truly love or care about the people. As a matter of fact, they weren’t even true “sheep.” They weren’t part of God’s flock. (Psalm 100:3; Acts 20:28)
Jesus spends a lot of time elaborating on the fact that if they were truly a part of the flock of God, they would know His voice and follow Him…but they weren’t.
I’m just blessed that I have a Good Shepherd who not only gives me life, but life abundantly, who speaks to me, calls me by name, makes me to lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:2), who protects me, cares for and even loves me to the point of laying down His life – on a cross!
Jesus presented Himself to them then, and to us now. How will we respond? There will always be a division when it comes to Jesus (Matthew 10:34-36). Here we have two extremes, those who demonize Jesus for no reason at all, and those who rationalize about Jesus with reason, “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” No! Only God can!
Back in 2002 Chris Tomlin released his second studio album called, “Not to Us,” which was based on this Psalm. Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name we give glory.
For Your mercy.
For Your truth.
Our God is not like the idols of the Gentiles, He’s alive, He’s the Almighty, and He keeps us alive. The idols are lifeless stones and statues, but our God helps us, intervenes, and is trustworthy.
The Psalmist challenges Israel to trust the LORD, as well as the house of Aaron, and even any Gentiles that might fear the LORD, we can and should trust Him knowing He’s our help and shield…He is even “mindful of us” (Psalm 115:12; see also Psalm 8:4).
The Psalmist ends with a declaration (He will bless) an invocation (May you be blessed) and a proclamation (We will bless the LORD from this time forth and forevermore).
Amen! Let’s give Him the glory!
V. 18 – It’s not just the weather that’s hot, huh? NIV, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict…” Some might make that excuse, “It’s in my blood, bro, I’m hot tempered, can’t help it. I’m different.” But that excuse is not excusable, it’s not usable – the Bible says in:
James 1:19-20 (NKJV) “So then, my beloved brethren, let EVERY man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
We’ve probably all been there (I know I have) we get mad and make things worse. If we extend that “fuse” we’ll allay contention (diminish it or put it to rest).
V. 19 – NIV/NLT = the way of the sluggard, or lazy man is blocked with thorns…
Here we see in the simile that the path of life taken by the lazy person has many obstacles that either hurt him or stop him. He does it to himself, through delay, indecision, a neglect of duties; so it’s like trying to break through a hedge of thorns.
The upright, however, have open highways, clear sailing…they’ll go far.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.