1 Samuel 22-23 - Skip Heitzig
NARRATOR: Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine, and we want you to experience the life change that comes from knowing God's word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 22. Yeah, I knew that. 1 Samuel, chapter 22. We started to get into that last week, covered a couple verses and stopped. We only covered one chapter last week. You know I often bite off more than I can chew. So anyway, we're going to pick up in chapter 22 tonight. This is what we do on Wednesday night. Dave, you first came when we were doing Sunday nights. We used to do Sunday morning, a different study Sunday night, and a different study Thursday night. Three different things during the week, and Sunday night used to be our, what we call now, Through the Bible Wednesday Night. We make our way through the scriptures. We go verse by verse, chapter by chapter. We used to go several chapters a week, but in my old age I've slowed down a little bit. We sometimes probe deep. Sometimes we don't probe deep at all. Sometimes I go off on tangents and tell you stories about swords, like I did last week, but I hope to get through two chapters tonight.
(PRAYING) Father, thank you for the stories that give principals, telling us what is appropriate, what is not, what to do, what not to do. Sometimes, we read of warnings. Sometimes, we read of tremendous encouragement. Sometimes, it's just filled with praise, and it reflects our own hearts toward you. Lord, as we are covering the life of one of the most important biblical characters, King David, before he was King, he was a man hunted. A man on the run. A man who was being persecuted even though he was doing most things right. And so these chapters are an incredible encouragement to those of us who find ourselves in situations where we have people against us, or wanting to speak out against us, or move against us, or fire us, or whatever the case might be, Lord. We just pray that we would find our refuge in the Lord. I pray that you would encourage us as we gather. I pray that you will speak individually to people, as well to those of us who call this our home church. Speak to us as a group. We are your people. We give you this time, and just now trust for your Spirit, your Holy Spirit to do the teaching ultimately, to all of us, self included. That we would be built up together in the most Holy faith. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Well, I don't know who it was, but somebody once wrote that of all the seven deadly sins, perhaps anger is the most fun. Especially when you feel like your anger is justified. When somebody has done you wrong and you haven't done anything wrong, and you just love the idea of payback. And we justify that when we have that kind of anger. We call it righteous indignation. Sometimes it is righteous indignation. Sometimes it's just our flesh.
I heard about a guy who actually developed a product called "Revenge," a little aerosol spray can. He sold it for about $5. It was labeled, "Revenge," and it was a foul smelling, disinfectant odor, because he wanted to get back at smokers. He just hated people blowing smoke in his face, so he thought, I know what I'm going to do. I'm going to develop a product that will irritate people. It'll irritate their eyes, their nose, it'll just smell really bad, and I'll call it "Revenge." And it was his idea of getting back at smokers, so he just carried around with him and sold it.
And I remember coming across this, and I was amazed at the time how popular this product was. So it seems that people love the idea of revenge in general.
Jesus said, "Love your enemies." I know he said that. You know he said that, but be honest, that's a hard one, isn't it? It looks good on paper, but when you have an opportunity to get back, to pay back, our flesh loves it. It feels just so good. That's why I say of the seven deadly sins anger, especially this kind, revenge, is probably the most fun. But when you do pay somebody back, when you do attack somebody who's attacked you, when you go after them for whatever reason, you discover that you are poisoning your own soul.
I think it was the Chinese that had a proverb that says, "he who seeks revenge, digs two graves." Because you're not only hurting that other person, but you are doing something to yourself. David, you might say, had every reason, and we'll see it as the chapters go on, every reason to get back at Saul. But he is still loyal to him. He still loves Saul, and when he has the opportunity, and his men, this is in chapter 24, when his men say, "this is the Lord, delivering your enemy into your hands", he wouldn't lift his hand. Because he still believed that King Saul, as weird and wonky and off the spiritual grid that he was, was still the Lord's anointed.
So, as I mentioned last week, chapters 21 to the end of the book form that last section of this biographical book of 1 Samuel, where David is a fugitive. He's on the run. He is public enemy number one, and he goes from place to place. And when Saul and his men get the intel of where David is, they go after him and they try to pin him down.
In verse 1 of chapter 22, which is-- we should take it as a whole-- David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to meet him. And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, everyone who was discontented, gathered to him. So he became Captain over them, and there were about 400 men with him.
We ended with this verse last week, I believe. But the description is noteworthy, and it is one of my favorite little sections in scripture. Everybody who was in distress. Why were they in distress? Well, they had enemies all around them. They had enemies breathing down their throat on every side, and their own political leadership was weak. And because of that, the people were distressed.
Second, they were in debt. Now, why were they in debt? Because they had a numb-skull named King Saul who was raising taxes. And Samuel warned them of this. Remember what Samuel said back in chapter 8? He said, "you guys are clamoring for a King, but know this. When you get a King, it's going to be an economic strain on you. He's going to take your sons and your daughters to work in his palace on his staff. He's going to take a tenth of your grain. He's going to take a tenth of your vineyards. He's going to take a tenth of your olive groves. And you are going to cry out to God in that day."
So they're in distress. They're in debt. The economy is collapsing. Taxes are going up. And then third, everybody who was discontented.
They were discontented, once again, because their political leadership. They wanted a change in leadership. They're sorry that they wanted this King, or they wanted a King and got this King. But it's too late. Saul's in charge.
Now, I don't want to make too big of a deal of it, but I do want to say when I read this verse, I feel we are in similar circumstances. And I don't mean that in any way, I'm not trying to make a political statement here. I don't mean that just locally. I don't mean that just nationally. I mean that internationally. I think now, more than ever before, you have a world filled with people who are in distress. And because of Coronavirus, not just our country, but certainly our country, and the nations of the world are feeling the economic break down. They're in debt. And most people that I talk to out there are discontented.
I do believe we are in the last days. And people will often ask me, asked me lately, or have asked me over the last 18 months, "where do you see the Coronavirus in terms of the prophetic calendar?" And I'm always a little reticent to answer that specifically, because honestly we have to wait and see how it shakes out. But I see a number of prophetic implications. One being this, Jesus promise that in the latter days, the last days of human history, he said there will be-- listen to his language-- distress of nations. Plural. Not just your nation, not just your neighborhood, not just your state, or your country. Distress of nations with perplexity. Men's hearts failing them from fear.
In that text, in the Gospel of Luke, distress of nations with perplexity-- perplexity could be translated "no way out." People will feel distress, and they will look, and they will see no way out of it. No solutions. Things just seem to go worse, to worse, to worse. Distress of nations with perplexity. So I find here an interesting parallel.
Then verse 3, "David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab, and he said to the King of Moab, 'please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.' And so he brought them before the King of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, 'do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.' So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth."
David goes to Mizpeh. Now, Mizpeh is a Hebrew word. Mizpeh is a Hebrew word that means "watchtower." And it says, "of Moab." Where's Moab? Moab is east of the Jordan River. Moab, the Moabites, were enemies of Israel; certainly they were enemies of King Saul.
But David has already gone to Gath, the Philistine capital, also enemies of King Saul, enemies of Israel. Because David's working philosophy at this time is, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." So Saul hates the Moabites. The Israelites hate the Moabites. Moabites hate the Israelites. All go there because, it's enemy territory. Certainly, I'll be safe.
But there's another reason David, I think went to Moab. David's great-grandmother was from Moab. Remember her name? Ruth. Ruth the Moabitess, who came back to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, and settled in Bethlehem, and married Boas. And they had children, and then grandchildren, and then David was born from that family. So he has kin back there in Moab. And probably was well-connected, probably stayed in contact with him, and so they would respect David, and they would give him asylum there in that place.
But I want you to notice something, just because I find it interesting. I can't prove it. I don't want to make a big deal out of it. But in verse 4, notice that it says, "and they dwelt with him. All that time David was in the stronghold." See, the word "stronghold." The word "stronghold" is the Hebrew word, matsuda. And matsuda is, we would translate it in English, masada.
If you've ever been to Israel on a tour with us, we take you one day to Masada. And Masada is 1,320 feet below the level of the Dead Sea. It's right at the Dead Sea. And then it rises up 1,320 feet. It is a fortress. It is a stronghold. It is almost like an island of land in the landscape. And it's, because of its unique situation, very defensible. King Herod built a palace on Masada. The last holdout before one of the Roman occupations that brought Masada down, took place, the remaining Jews, were under Eleazar ben Jair. They stayed at the stronghold of Masada.
Now, I don't know that, when it's a stronghold, matsuda, Masada, that it's speaking of that Masada. Because Moab is still a little bit further East, just on the Eastern part of the Dead Sea and Jordan River. But it could be that Masada, the one that we visit on our tours, was the Mizpeh, the watchtower for the kingdom. And so as you would go down, you would have somebody stationed there at the fortress to see who is coming toward that direction. So it could be that David was stationed at Masada.
So you that have been to Israel, you're picturing Masada right now. So those who have not been are kind of looking at me like, I don't know what you're talking about. But trust me, when you go with us on our tour to Israel, and you will one day, you either go this time, or you'll go in the kingdom age. You'll see it. But it's good to go now so you get a before and after. But we'll take you to Masada. And and you'll go to the very top of this 1,320 foot watchtower. It's an amazing place; an incredible view. And you go, I don't want to walk 1,320 feet up. Don't worry, there's a cable car that goes all the way up, you'll be fine. Unless you want to do what I've done for 21 times and hike it, up and down.
But anyway, David went to this place until Gad, the prophet. Gad the prophet. Who is Gad the prophet? Answer: I don't know, but he sort of comes out of nowhere. There's no explanation as to who he is who is, what his lineage is, or what he's up to. There's no history, just Gad shows up with a message. And David is thinking, "Gadzooks! If a man of God comes, I better listen to him."
Later on, Gad will show up again in chapter 24 when David numbers the people. 2 Samuel, chapter 20, when David numbers the people, and judgment comes upon David, and upon Jerusalem. It is Gad who will be the spokesperson to David. So he just kind of shows up, and he tells David, "get out of here and go to the land of Judah." So David departed, and went into the forest of Hereth.
If you are in Masada, and somebody says, "go to the forest," you're going, yes. This must be from the Lord. Because Masada, and that area of Moab and the Dead Sea is just barren. I mean it makes Rio Rancho look lush. It is just, there's nothing.
So David would be refreshed in going to this forest in Judah. So he went to the forest of Hereth. Now, Hereth, I can't tell you exactly where it is, but Judah is hilly country. It is 23, 22, 2,500 feet above sea level. So it's cool. It's 30 miles inland, but it takes the prevailing ocean breezes, so it's really great weather. And Judah is very hilly country. And in ancient times, it was very densely populated with trees.
Since Israel has gotten back into the land, May 14th, 1948, they have undertaken a massive project called The Reafforestation of the Land, where they have planted millions upon millions upon millions of trees by hand. And so you'll drive through Judah, and you'll see all this beautiful-- these conifer pines, and wispy pines, and all these different kinds of vegetation. And the tour guides are always quick to point out every one of those trees was planted by hand since 1948.
And they believed that because so many of the occupiers before them tore down the trees, including the Romans, including the Crusaders, to build their siegeworks that they owed it to future generations to make it a beautiful place. So whether you're up north and Mount Carmel, or you're down south in Judah, you see these forests that at one time, in biblical times, that's what it was like. It was very densely forested.
Now they have reforested it, and you can see it once again, what it was like from its biblical perspective. So much so, that experts say that this success of tree planting in Israel has managed to change the climate of Israel itself. Because what it does in the biosphere, it attracts more moisture, more rain clouds, and they have actually increased the rainfall measurably. You could check that out on your own. Don't do it on your device in church, but when you get home. But the weather has changed because of their incredible vision to reforest the land.
I know this has nothing to do with, per se, what we're dealing about but, he does go to the forest of Hereth. And if you go to Judah today, and you go through that same area, you'll get a picture of what it looked like during David's time.
Now in verse 6 the camera pans. We're now not dealing with David and his men, but now Saul and his reaction to David. "When Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered, now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tamarisk tree in Ramah with his spear in his hand." Boy, that guy likes holding that spear, right? He always has a point to make, doesn't he? Everywhere he goes. He was going to throw his spear at David, then throw a spear again at David, then throw it at Jonathan. He's always holding that spear.
"And all his servants standing about him, then Saul said to his servants who stood about him, 'hear now, you Benjamites, will the son of Jesse--" he can't even say the name of David-- "will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son has made a covenant with the son of Jesse. There's not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in wait as it is this day."
Boo hoo. What a baby. "It's all about me." And "you don't love me." And "you don't care about me." Here's what's interesting. He says, "hear now, you Benjamites."
Couple possibilities. Number one: Saul's power base has become so narrow now that really he doesn't have all the tribes. He's not representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Really the people that are following him are just his own tribe. He's from the tribe of Benjamin. So his power base, his influence, people are bailing right and left. They're joining David, or they're not hanging with Saul, or they're not just responding to the call to arms. It could be that his power base is limited to just his own tribe, the Benjamites. Number one.
Number two: he is speaking in particular to his own tribe saying, look, you're Benjamites like I am. Nobody else is going to treat you with the extra favor, giving you the gifts and things that I do. Jesse is from the tribe of Judah, so he won't treat you Benjamin to a special favor like I am. It could be that he's intimating that of all the tribes of Israel he's giving the Benjamites certain favors.
So there's a couple of ways to look at it. It seems to me that his power, he's struggling with people. And it's mostly his own tribe, Benjamin, that is loyal to him. But notice how paranoid he is. He's so upset. He thinks that there's going to be an ambush. He believes that his own son Jonathan has come up with a way to kill him, which isn't true. But you know, when you're paranoid, you see demons and everything. Everything's a sign. Everything's against you.
I find it interesting how some people that I've met, that I know, are suspicious in nature. And everything's a conspiracy. Yeah I know they say this, but really, something else is going on. And it might be. But because they kind of feel that way about everything, it makes me just think that they may be a little bit paranoid. I think Saul certainly was. Everybody's conspiring against him.
Then, answered Doeg. Remember Doeg from last week's study. Doeg the Edomite. Edom, like Moab, Edom is East of the Jordan River, east of the land of Israel. Longtime enemies of the Jews. This one has defected, this one works for King Saul. Doeg is the chief of the herdsmen, we are told in a previous chapter.
Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, not all translations say that. Some translations say he was sent, set over their mules, or the donkeys, of Saul. So it could be he's just nothing more than the chief donkey herder, donkey keeper.
He said, "I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub. And he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine." Now that's true. David did go to Nob. David was given bread. David was given this sort of Goliath the Philistine. But it wasn't a conspiracy. In fact, David lied to the police at Nob and said, "I'm here on official police business. The King sent me." And the priests were understandably upset because David was alone, and they knew how Saul was off his nut, and could attack them, and their worst fear will come true in this chapter.
We also remember that this guy, Doeg the Edomite, was there and overheard the whole situation. Now the Edomites, get this, were descendants of Esau. Descendants of Esau. You know the story of his Esau and Jacob. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Jacob was the one that the covenant that God promised to Abraham and Isaac was going to go to. Not the firstborn, Esau, but the second born, because Esau sold his birthright to Jacob.
There has been animosity between the sons of Esau and the sons of Jacob to this very day. To this very day, the descendants of Esau-- not all, but for the most part-- in their respective Arab nations, despise the sons of Jacob, Israel.
And one thing they have hated since May 14th, 1948, is that there is a Jewish presence in the Middle East. According to many of their people, their belief system, their ideology, their Islamic ideology, there should be no Jewish presence at all. That's why if you wonder why some nations, and certainly Palestinians, don't even acknowledge Israel as a nation. It's not a nation. They're the occupiers. Even though they had the land way before those people had the land. Goes all the way back to this promise.
But there's been animosity between the Edomites, including Doeg, and the sons of Jacob, the Israelites, for generations. Since they were brothers. Still going on to this day. Here's a little pericope of that.
So Doeg the Edomite said, look, I saw this whole thing going down. Verse 10: "then he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions, gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistines, and the King sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house. And the priests who were in Nob, and they came to the King. And Saul said, 'hear now, son of Ahitub,' and he answered, 'here I am, my Lord.' And Saul said to him, 'why have you conspired against me? You and the son of Jesse.'" See, everything's a conspiracy. "'In that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him.'"
How dare you pray for him?
"'That he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day.' So Ahimelech answered the King and said, 'and who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the King's son-in-law, who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me! Let not the King impute anything to his servant, or to any in the House of my Father. For your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.' And the King said, 'you shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house!' Then the King said to the guards--" This is his elite guards, now. "Who stood about him, 'turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand is also with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.' But the servants of the King would not lift their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. "
Mark that. Their King, their government, has given them a direct command and they look to their authority and flatly refused to obey it. Disregard it. Not going to do it. "It's an order. I'm the King. I'm the government, you must do as I say!" Not going to do it. Why? Because it was an unreasonable request, and an unbiblical request. So they said, "no," and they disobeyed. "We must obey God rather than man."
"And the King said to Doeg, 'you turn and kill the priests!' So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day 85 men who wore a linen ephod." That is, who were in the priesthood.
"Also Nob, the city of priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children, and nursing infants." Unthinkable. "Oxen and donkeys and sheep-- with the edge of the sword." Doeg the Edomite was not a patriot. He was not a nationalist. He was an opportunist. He saw this as a way to ingratiate himself with the King to score points, to get a promotion. He killed 85.
Josephus, the Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus-- whom I have quoted for years, because he has written on Jewish history-- says that the precise number in all, all total of those people that lived in-- priests, families, everybody. Women, children-- 385 he butchered. 385.
Sad that Saul is becoming like so many other Middle Eastern tyrants who are just in total control and don't think about life. Don't think about killing, or raping, or pillaging. If it serves their purpose, or suits their manner, they do it.
"Now one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord's priests. So David said to Abiathar, 'I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there that he would surely tell Saul.' Now look at what he says. "'I have caused the death of all the persons of your father's house.'"
David takes the rap for it. David, here, even though Saul is the one who gave the order, David takes the blame. Why? Because David knows that because of his sin, his lie, right? He said, "I'm here on official royal business," and the priest didn't believe David, but David assured him. Took the bread, took the sword, got out of the situation, took provisions, and left. David now realizes, because of my sin, because of my folly, my sin has affected other people. And it's always that way. It's always true. Your actions always affect other people. For better or for worse. Good actions, bad actions. You never sin, you never do anything in an isolated, in as an island. You always affect others.
So David realized that. We should realize that. God said to the first humans on the Earth, "in the day that you eat thereof of that tree, you will surely die." Death entered the human race on that day.
In Romans 3, we're told, "the wages of sin is death."
So David realizes, "I have to take part of this blame. I know Saul gave the order, but I was the one who lied. Doeg was there. I knew it when I saw it.
And so he says to Abiathar, "'stay with me; do not fear." And Abiathar will. Abiathar will be his priest. You'll see him throughout much of the history of King David and his reign.
"'For he who seeks my life seeks your life but with me you shall be safe.'" David did sin. David did lie. We can't excuse that. Yeah, he got warm bread, he got a cool sword, and he got delivered from the enemy of Saul temporarily. But he caused the life of at least 85, if not, according to Josephus, 385 people.
And again, we have to realize that when we look at heroes in the Bible like David. David, a man after God's own heart. Yes, but like we said last week, even the best of men, are men at best. They're still flesh and blood. They still blow it. They still make mistakes.
But he tells Abiathar to stay with him. Now, during this time, David wrote a psalm. And the psalm that he wrote is Psalm 52. So I have marked that out, and I'm going to read just a portion of that. If you want to turn to Psalm 52, you're welcome to do that. Won't take you but a few moments. You know where Psalms are.
Psalm 5-2, 52. And you'll notice what it says at the beginning of the psalm. "To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of David, when Doeg the Edomite went and told Saul, and said to him, 'David has gone to the House of Ahimelech.'"
So here's part of the psalm. "Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction like a sharp razor working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, and lying rather than speaking righteousness. You love all devouring words you, deceitful tongue." Now you know who he's writing against. You've read that psalm before. Now you know what's going on in David's thinking. He's thinking of Doeg.
I don't even like the name "Doeg."
"God shall likewise destroy you forever." You will find in the Psalms, several of such judgemental psalms. We call them "imprecatory Psalms." An imprecatory psalm, or an imprecation, is the calling down of, an assailing, or a judgment against somebody. And David was pretty liberal with these imprecations.
On one time, like we read a couple of weeks ago, he says, "don't kill them all at once. Let them die a slow death." That was a worship song. That's the lyrics of a worship song. "Break their teeth in their mouth, O God." Can you imagine singing that?
(SINGING) Break their teeth in their mouth, O God. The Psalms were the hymnal of Israel. So you read some of these inprecatory Psalms. One of my pastors says, "I vote that we have a prayer service, and pray imprecatory Psalms against the Taliban." Right? You did that say that, right, Matt Perillo? Right? Yeah.
Yeah yeah. For everybody in the world to know. That's a good idea, though. I'm with you on that. So chapter 23 begins, "then they told David, saying, 'look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they're robbing the threshing floors. Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, "shall I go and attack these Philistines?' And the Lord said to David, "go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.'"
Keilah was a little town in the foothills of Judah, around Jerusalem. Now whose job was it to protect Israel? Saul's job. He's the King. But he's not doing a good job. He's not thinking of protecting life. He's thinking of his own political future, and David trying to take it away from him.
So David becomes the deliverer, even though he is not the King yet. He's the King in waiting. David is the one who will save Keilah. But notice, that he first prays. "Lord, is this something you want me to do?" Instead of saying, "look, I just got to do it. I mean, it's pretty obvious. Nobody has to really pray about this. You got the enemies attacking, you have these poor innocent people being attacked by the Philistines, who have been butchering people around the land. I've got to protect them. I got to save it. He prayed, "Lord, do you want me to do this?"
Sometimes we think that certain things in life, really, we don't really need to pray about that, because it's just there. It's obvious. You just do it. It's foolish to presume that, Everything should be brought before the Lord. Just make it a habit. Ask the Lord before. You know, you can always do more than pray, after you prayed. But you really can't do more than pray, until you pray. You begin there. You begin seeking God's advice. You begin your day in the morning, "Lord, take this day. Let my life be lived for your glory. Show me what opportunities you have for me." Just begin your day that way. And then pray, as the Bible says, without ceasing. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
And "David's men said to him, 'look, we're afraid here in Judah. How much more if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?'" Now remember, this was not a trained army. These are men in debt, discontent, and now disoriented. They're thinking, look, I don't want to go fight in a battle. Our lives are in danger here, let alone to go to war. But David drafts them for the battle. And because of that, he's going to train them. As I said last week, these 400 ragtag men will become David's mighty men. And here, they enter their first lesson of what it is to trust in the Lord for victory.
"Then David inquired of the Lord once again. And the Lord answered and said to him, 'Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.' And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. Now it happened, when Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, fled to David at Keilah, that he went down with an ephod in his hand."
Why is that important? Because David is inquiring of the Lord what to do. But now we know the means by which David engaged God in prayer. In the ephod that the priests wore, the high priests wore, this covering, the ephod, there was a pouch. A pocket. And in that pocket, there were two stones according to the law. One is called the Urim. And the second was called the Thummim. Or Urim Thummim in Hebrew. The Urim and Thummim. Lights and perfections is what it means. It is believed that one stone was white. The other stone was black. And perhaps, when asking God if you should do something, yes or no, it was sort of a binary, very basic system. It's like white means yes, black means no. Or black means yes, white means no. We don't know. But he would go in, and pick out a stone, and that would be the answer.
Now I know it sounds crazy, and almost sounds like you're like throwing dice to find out God's will for your life. "Lord, should I marry that gal? I don't know. Let me throw it. If I get snake eyes, it's a yes." Right? It kind of sounds like that. But the difference is this worked. This was prescribed by God. God told them to inquire of him this way. And so David is being obedient to the law that he was given, the law of Moses, the dictates of the Levitical code, and that's why the ephod, this priest with the ephod, and the Urin and Thummim was so important. Because David would inquire of the Lord using that method.
Saul was told, David, verse seven. Or Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, so Saul said-- now watch this. "Saul said, 'God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shot himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.' And Saul called for the people to gather for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men."
Saul is bonkers. And not only is he superstitious, but like so many superstitious people, they see things as signs from God. This guy's not even close to the heart of God, and he says, "Oh, this has got to be the Lord doing this."
Probably not. But again just so conspiratorial, so superstitious.
Some Christians I know, kind of take this approach to life. That if there's two people on the side of an argument, that whatever side of the argument they're on, is God's side. And whatever side of the argument that other person, or people, are on, is the devil. Right? That's how we think. And so, if something works in our favor, "Oh, it's the Lord." Or "oh, it's the devil." Saul was living in that kind of idea. So this is the Lord. The Lord's doing this. He's helping me out here.
"When David knew that Saul," verse 9, "plotted evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, 'bring the ephod here.' And David said, 'O Lord God of Israel, Your servant--" he's referring to himself, I'm Your servant, Lord-- "Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake."
And he asks the Lord this, "Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, I pray, tell your servant.' And the Lord said, 'He will come down.' David said, "Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?'" And the Lord said, "Yup, they will deliver you."
You have to admit. For a town that has just been delivered from their actual enemies-- the Philistines, by David-- for them to take the hero, and rat on him, and deliver him to the guy who wants to seek his life, must mean that they are more afraid of what Saul would do to them, than what the Philistines might do to them. That's how bad it was living under the political influence of this numbskull, King Saul.
So yep, they'll deliver you to him. So David and his men, about how many? 600. So the number has grown from 400 to 600. So people are bailing on Saul right and left. And they're coming over to David and his side. So it's a ground roots movement.
"...about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition. And David stayed in the strongholds in the wilderness, remained in the mountains of the Wilderness of Ziph." It's about two miles Southeast of the the area of Hebron, out in the open country, not in a walled city anymore.
It says this-- this is fascinating. "Saul sought him every day." Just let that sink in. If you have somebody trying to kill you every day, or let's put it this way, if you have a trial that you face every day. If you have an obstinate child every day. If you have chronic pain, or a chronic disease every day. Or a boss who just is trying to get you every day. It gets old. It wears on you. David is facing this every day for years, but it says, "God did not deliver him into his hand. So David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph." In a forest.
If you are dealing with anything chronic like this, whether it's chronic pain, or disease, or attacks from others, let this minister to your heart. You're fine as long as God is delivering you out of that hand. And I would say this: what you need during times like that is encouragement. Let's see David's encouragement.
"Then Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God." A better translation: strengthened his confidence in God. Bolstered his faith in God. Just his presence, and his encouragement. That's the idea. He came and encouraged David, who was worn down by this trial of suffering Saul, day in and day out.
"And he said to him, 'Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my Father shall not find you. You shall be King over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that. So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house."
Proverbs 27 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a man's countenance-- so a man strengthens the countenance of his friend."
Just when David needed encouragement the most. Now, there is a spiritual gift in the New Testament called The Gift of Exhortation. A better translation is "the gift of encouragement." and I love to be around people who have that gift. In fact, I usually know who they are, and I seek them out. I don't want to be around Eeyore, the donkey, always seeing something bad. Find me Tigger. Right? Find me Barnabas the son of encouragement. Find me Jonathan. Somebody that'll strengthen your hand, strengthen your heart in the things of the Lord. "Iron sharpens iron."
Ask the Lord for that gift. The church is in desperate need of encouragers. "So well, the gift of exhortation is me, kind of like lowering the boom." No, that's the gift of condemnation. There's no such gift. So the gift of exhortation is the gift of encouragement. Somebody once said "a pat on the back, even though it's just a few feet away removed from a kick in the pants, is miles ahead in results." Ask God to give you that gift of encouragement. The church needs it.
Then the Ziphites came to Saul in Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in the strongholds in the woods, in the hills of Hachilah, which is in the south of Jeshimon?" They ratted him out. They gave David's coordinates, GPS coordinates, to him. Here's exactly where he is.
"Now therefore, O King, come down according to all the desire of your own soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the King's hand. And Saul said, 'Blessed are you of the Lord, for you have had compassion on me.'" There's this crazy guy again. This is God. This is a sign from God. "Please go and find out for sure, and see the place where his hideout is, and who has seen him there. For I am told that he is very crafty. See therefore, and take knowledge of all this working places where he hides; and come back to me with certainty, and I will go with you. And it shall be, if he is in the land, that I will search for him throughout all the clans of Judah.'"
We won't look at it, but write down Psalm 54. David writes Psalm 54 right around time frame.
"So they arose and went to Ziph," which is toward the Dead Sea, so they're descending, once again, in elevation. Going kind of back tracking toward Moab, down by the Dead Sea, descending in elevation. There's ravines in that area. I've been in this area. It's barren, but it's rocky, and there's these huge hundreds of feet cliffs, drop offs. So you can be on one plateau with a ravine, and you can see that the other one, you could talk to the person on the other plateau. So that's the setup here.
Where did I leave off?
Verse 24. Thank you.
"Then they arose and went to Ziph before Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plane on the south of Jeshimon. When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of my Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon. Then Saul went on one side of the mountains, and David on the other-- David and his men on the other side of the mountain." Again, picture the ravine.
And "So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them." So Saul breaks up his army into two, and one go one way, and one go the other way, and let's head him off on that other plateau, or that other mountain, the other side of the ravine.
"But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hasten and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!" Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escaping. Then David went up from there and dwelt in the strongholds at En Gedi.
And that's where we close for tonight's study. We'll pick up at En Gedi next week.
En Gedi, by the way, in the Hebrew language, whenever you see the word En, it's "ein" in Hebrew. "Ein" Gedi means, "the spring of the wild goats."
And when you travel with us to Israel, and we will take you to Ein Gedi, you'll see why it's named that. Because there's this species of ibex, this mountain goat, all throughout that area. And as you're walking up this narrow path, you'll be ascending, and En Gedi is beautiful. You'll understand why David hung out there. There's a natural spring that flows out of the rocks and empties into the Dead Sea. And it's very refreshing, verdant. There are waterfalls, and greenery, and pools of water. We often take our groups and go swimming in them. And you'll see all these little caves where you can hide. And that's where David and his men hid at En Gedi.
But David, for much of his refuge-- just make note of this-- is in the desert. And you will find-- have you found, in the Bible, that God sometimes takes his choicest servants and teaches them profound lessons in the deserts. Moses, he took to Midian. In the desert. John the Baptist, the Judean Desert. Paul the apostle, the Arabian Desert for three years. And now David, down in the Judean Desert by the Dead Sea.
So some of these servants of the Lord, rather than God sending them to Rome or to Babylon, or the cushy places, he sends them to the desert. He gives them not a PhD, but a BSD: Backside of the Desert degree.
And they learned some deep and profound lessons, and they write about them. David writes so many Psalms during this, but we'll pick it up next time as we find out a very interesting, intriguing story, and I'll try to paint the picture as we cover the next two chapters next week.
(PRAYING) Father, thank you for the ability to gather together, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, going through what Paul referred to in Acts 20 as the whole counsel of God. Certainly David is somebody we should know about, because we worship the son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, one who will rule and reign in the kingdom age from the throne of David, geopolitically in Jerusalem. And then as the King of Kings over the entire universe after that. So David becomes a very important figure to us, especially when it comes to the covenant that God makes with David. Lord, I pray that we would be encouraged if we find ourselves in a desert place, not just literally, but figuratively. If we feel that we are being hounded, or hunted, or pursued, or misunderstood. Or we're facing some kind of chronic, painful condition. Lord send us those Jonathans to bring us encouragement, and may we look for people who are struggling, and give them your encouragement, strengthening their hand in God. That we might serve you wholeheartedly, and with pure faith. In Jesus' name, God's people said, Amen.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us from this teaching in our series Expound.