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 David And The Ziphites

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CHAPTER 23 Jul. 10 
Keilah Saved by David
David was told, The Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors. 2Therefore David inquired of Yahweh, Shall I go and attack these Philistines? Yahweh said to David, Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah. 3David’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 Yahweh yet again. Yahweh answered him, Get up and go down to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand. 5David and his men went to Keilah and fought against the Philistines and carried off their livestock and killed them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. 6When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, he brought an ephod with him.

Saul Continues to Pursue David
7Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah and he said, God has delivered him into my hand, for he is trapped by going into 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. 9David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him, so he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring the ephod here. 10Then David said, O Yahweh the God of Israel, Your servant has definitely heard that Saul intends to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. 11Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? Yahweh, the God of Israel, I beg you, tell Your servant. Yahweh said, He will come down. 12Then David said, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? Yahweh said, They will deliver you. 13Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and left Keilah, and went wherever they could go. Saul heard that David had escaped from Keilah so he gave up going there. 14David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds and in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God didn’t deliver him into his hand. 15David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life when he was in the wilderness of Ziph, in the forest. 16Jonathan, Saul’s son, went to David into the forests and strengthened his hand in God. 17He said to him, Don’t be afraid, for the hand of Saul my father will not find you; you will be king over Israel and I shall be next to you. Saul my father well knows that. 18They both made a covenant before Yahweh, and David stayed in the forests but Jonathan went home. 19Then the Ziphites came to Saul in Gibeah saying, Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds in the forest, on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desert? 20Now therefore, O king, come down when you are ready; our part will be to deliver him into the king’s hand. 21Saul said, Yahweh bless you, for you have had compassion on me. 22Please go and make sure and find out where his haunt is and who has seen him there, for they tell me that he is very crafty. 23So find out all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information, and I will go with you. If he is in the area I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah. 24They set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul, but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah on the south of the desert. 25Saul and his men went to seek 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, and David hurried to get away for fear of Saul, for Saul and his men surrounded David and his men to take them. 27But a messenger came to Saul saying, Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land! 28So Saul returned from pursuing David and went against the Philistines. Therefore they called that place Sela Hammahlekoth. 29David went from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.


23:2 See on 22:5. This situation is typical of Christ’s in Jn. 11:7,8.
23:15 To seek his life- Psalm 54 was written when David received the news that the Ziphites had betrayed him. The reference to oppressors ‘seeking after my soul / life’ (Ps. 54:3) uses the same Hebrew words as here, where Saul seeks for David’s life at Ziph. That Psalm gives an insight into the mind of David; how he perceived himself, how he understood God. He was obviously in a desperate situation- he’d been betrayed, and Saul appeared certain now to corner him and kill him. He asks God of course to save him; he doesn’t just resign himself to what looked like an impossible situation. He had the vision to believe that God can do miracles. He asks God to ‘judge’ him, to ‘plead my cause’ (Ps. 54:1 Heb.). There he was, just having received the news… and he prays, and composes a Psalm, right there and then. Composing poetry in the heat of the moment was his way of calming down and focusing his faith. That’s not to say, of course, that he didn’t later refine Psalm 54 and ‘write it up’ as it were.
23:16,17 Only occasionally could Jonathan and David meet, brief moments of intense fellowship away from the rest of the world, strengthening each other's hand in God, re-confirming their covenant together (18:3; 20:8,16; 23:18). No wonder their goodbyes were so hard (20:41). Not surprisingly, they looked forward to the promised day of David's Kingdom. Our communion meetings with Christ (see on 18:3) during our wilderness journey must surely mirror those meetings.  
23:21 Yahweh bless you, for you have had compassion on me- Saul made the common mistake of assuming that anyone on his side and against his perceived enemies was therefore also on God’s side. But our enemies’ enemy isn’t therefore necessarily a good person or Godly. This logic leads to all manner of damaged relationships between individuals and groups.
23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain and David and his men on the other- David was going up one side of the cone shaped mountain, getting higher and higher, whilst Saul was chasing him, never catching up with him, but going around the other side. The dust from David’s group would’ve been visible to Saul’s army. It was clear that soon David would reach the summit- and there would be no way out, apart from upwards to Heaven. He was in a no way out situation, just as God sometimes puts us into. But amazingly, God stopped Saul in his tracks, just as He sometimes saves us from such humanly hopeless situations, so that we will walk humbly and gratefully before Him the rest of our days. See on 29:4.
23:27 The way Saul returns from pursuing David because of a rumour of invasion is so similar to Rabshakeh’s retreat from Jerusalem after rumours of incursions (Is. 37:9,10). There is a tremendous repetition within the Biblical narratives. Individuals tend to go through very similar experiences, and often the same words are used in the descriptions of the experience or their response to it. Some of these similarities are so specific and humanly unlikely to be replicated that one can only conclude that there was a higher power over-ruling their situations. It may be that the Angels work in human lives according to some kind of Divine pattern, and this accounts for the sense of repetition anddéjà vu. But it may also be because it is God's intention that we meditate upon the lives of previous servants to the point where we see their experiences coming through, in principle, in our own lives; and we are urged on to a like victory as they attained.