Monday, March 6, 2023

David's Mighty Men protect Keilah from the Philistines

One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?”

“Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him. -1st Samuel 23:1-2

David gang of followers are hiding out in the caves, in the fields, and more recently in the forest. Now, David is inspired by God to move to protect Israel from an enemy nation that has constantly assaulted them. The Philistines are attacking Keilah. David asks God what to do. 

Point number one, David prays and asks for God’s permission before he takes a new course of action. We must do the same, when we sense God's Spirit inspiring us to do something, we must verify it with God, in prayer. Then, we will know what to do next. 

1st Samuel 23:3 But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”

Point number two, David has to trust God more than his own soldiers who are already afraid and on the run. But David sees the big picture. He’s not held down by the feelings of his own people. He sees beyond that. Similarly, those around us may question what God is doing in our lives. But we need to hold true to what God is saying. 

1st Samuel 23:4 So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

Point number three, David double-checks with God. Sometimes it’s wise for us to do the same thing. We think we heard from God, we think we know what to do, but check again with God, just to be sure. Maybe our friends were right, and we're way off from what God wants! I've seen that many times. Someone is very sure, they need to leave their wife for their mistress. God told them to. Well, God didn't tell them to. They are being led by their emotions, not by God. That's a danger for us as well. Double check your emotions with God. Our emotions are not God's leading. His Spirit leads us. There is a big difference! 

1st Samuel 23:5-6 So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

Point number four, David had been going to God directly. Certainly a good thing to do. But David realizes, wait, I have a pastor I can go to about these questions too. This is a good thing. Go to your spiritual leaders for guidance. You can always talk to your pastor, or an elder in the church, or a Christian friend to get some guidance on decisions you make. 

1st Samuel 23:7-14 Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the Lord what he should do. Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”

And the Lord said, “He will come.”

Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”

So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all. David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.

Point number five, God will give you favor as you follow Him. David asked God if he should stay or go. The Lord tells him to leave Keilah. Don’t make your stand there. Instead go and hide. And Saul keeps searching for David, but the Lord makes sure Saul doesn’t find him.

1st Samuel 23:15-18 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

In verses 15-18 we see the pact renewed between David and Jonathan.

Point number six, even when friends are far away, God will from time to time renew the brotherhood, or sisterhood between them.

1st Samuel 23:19-24 But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. “We know where David is hiding,” they said. “He is in the strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon. Come down whenever you’re ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!”

“The Lord bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me! Go and check again to be sure of where he is staying and who has seen him there, for I know that he is very crafty. Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I’ll go with you. And if he is in the area at all, I’ll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!” So the men of Ziph returned home ahead of Saul.

Meanwhile, David and his men had moved into the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah Valley south of Jeshimon. When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock, and he remained there in the wilderness of Maon. But Saul kept after him in the wilderness.

Point number 7, even when the walls are closing in we can trust God. The citizens of Ziph betray David and his men. And they have to go even deeper into the wilderness, to the great rock. Jesus is our great rock. We can run to Him and find safety. He is our salvation. He is the rock deeper into the wilderness, when everything is going wrong. He is the rock of rescue. Sometimes at the deepest darkness in our life, we finally find that rock bottom refuge, something we could never see before, until we had reached a point of no return. That's often where Jesus meets us. It's the same in my testimony. Jesus heard my cry at rock bottom, as my cry to Him echoed up into the chasms of heaven one after another, all the way up to the throne of God. He answered me at rock bottom, and delivered me to a lush oasis of life and beauty, gushing warm waters and fruit and honey and shade for my dry skin. 

1st Samuel 23:26-29 Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape. David then went to live in the strongholds of En-gedi.

And again, point number 7 reinforced here, David men and Saul’s men are on opposite sides of a mountain. And Saul is about to catch David’s men, but God makes sure the timing is just right, that Saul gets word that enemies are attacking, and so he has to leave the area.

And that great rock was called henceforth the rock of escape. Jesus is our rock of escape from the sins and destruction of this world. There is no other rock of escape in all the earth and all the universe to run to. Only Jesus Christ the living savior of all who would dare to believe. Would you dare to believe today? Cry out to Jesus Christ will all your might and believe he can help you. Start there. 

And David finds a new stronghold to rest in, in En-gedi. Praise the Lord. A beautiful oasis in the desert of his current circumstances.