God throws His sovereignty around

1 Samuel 23:1-14 SCC 3/22/15



Word reached David from the Shephelah of Judah confirming his worst fearsóthe Philistines were beginning to move again v 1. His vigilant defense force was ready. It was late spring, and the grain of the valleys was being harvested and processed at the many threshing floors in the area. The Philistines had advanced up the valley to the region of Keilah.

1. Davidís first response was to seek the Lord v 2. What we see is a man who diligently pursues the Lordís perspective. He does so in v 2, 4, 10, 11-12. He does so when needing direction v 2. He does so when need affirmation v 4. He does so when needing confirmation v 10-11. He does so when needing information v 12. Prayer is for all seasons of life experiences.

2. Davidís second response is to assure his followers of the need to act in spite of the peril they may face personally v 3-4. Unlike Saul, who bellyached to his cohorts about his own peril, David considers the concern of his friends and acts with spiritual sensitivity. If caught, many of the men would face criminal charges due to their backgrounds, plus suffer the consequences of following the rebel leader, David.

4. Davidís third response was to act decisively once there was clarity v 5. They went, they fought, they led away, they struck, and they delivered. Quick, decisive, executed plans consistent with the assessment beforehand.

NB: Here is a paradigm of action we can take when our situations seem unclear:

1. Invite the Lord into the midst of your questionable situation and ask for clarity.

2. Be willing to pursue some kind of solution even if it might be personally perilous.

3. Once deciding what to do act decisively in response to your situation trusting Lord with the outcome.

Today the righteous seeks clarity from Godís Word containing the will of God to be acted and applied.



In response to Davidís selfless salvation of the city of Keilah, David learns that the people would have turned him over to Saul if he had come and besieged the city.

1. David, in response to the impending threat from Saul, asks for the ehpod of the priest to be brought to him. Now the priest joined David at Keilah v 6. The presence of the ephod made it possible for David to continue to obtain guidance from the Lord in answer to his prayers.

2. Saul piously claimed that God had delivered David into his hands v 7. God did not want Saul to hunt him down, much less kill him. Keilah evidently had only one gate by which people could enter and exit the town. Saul felt confident that he could control the gate and so trap David. Saul summoned soldiers to accompany him to Keilah but there is no mention he prayed for divine guidance as David had done v 8.

3. David prayed again v 9 and requested answers to two questions v 10-11. He opened and closed his prayer with an appeal to the ĎLORD God of Israelí the ultimate ruler of His people. He also described himself as the Lordís Ďservantí twice. David voiced concern for his men v 12 as well as for himself.

4. The willingness of the people of Keilah to hand David over to Saul demonstrates either a base ingratitude for Davidís deliverance of them v 12 or reveals how fearful they were of Saul who had recently destroyed another town, Nob, for harboring David 22:19.

5. David left Keilah after he learned that he would be vulnerable if he stayed there v 13. He did not take revenge on the citizens of Keilah for telling Saul where he was. Saul had taken revenge on the citizens of Nob for not telling him where David was. The number of Davidís supporters had grown from 400 to 600. More people were siding with David and were turning from Saul. Saul abandoned his plans to attack Keilah, and David moved on to the wilderness near Ziph.

NB: At this point in his life, things must look mighty dark and foreboding to David. Here is a man with a price on his head who cannot be sure of anyone. At Nob, David has his doubts about Doeg, the Edomite; now he must doubt even his own kinsmen. It seems there is no one to whom David can turn.

NB: Notice the answers from God after enquiry and what we can learn about Godís priorities as he answers us in our distress and need for clarity:

1. Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah v 2.

2. Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand v 4.

3. He will come down v 11.

4. They will surrender you v 12.

First, Godís answer places them in personal jeopardy and vulnerability to the very dangers they are trying to escape. So following the will of God can be potentially costly and dangerous.

Second, Godís response is to initiate against the enemy. So in spite of personal cost, God expects you to initiate in accordance with His will.

Third, Godís counsel affirms the increased danger from enemies and supposed friends. So initiating Godís will can increase the personal cost, potential danger, and need to negotiate that difficulty.

Fourth, Godís reply does not bring closure to the situation but requires ingenuity and innovation to adapt a strategy to survive. So often Godís way is to require us to figure a way to apply what we know of Him and his will to our situation. God does not micromanage our lives! God allows us to find our way.



God Brings Encouragement through Friends 16-18

The arrival of Jonathan to the hideout of David falls in the very middle of chapter 23, a significant fact because of what lies at both ends of the chapter. In the midst of betrayal by the people of Keilah and those of Ziph, there is the loyal love and devotion of Davidís closest friend, Jonathan. Saul may be looking for David, but it is Jonathan who finds David. Jonathan could not have appeared at a more opportune time, nor could his words have been any better chosen v 16. Notice v 17:

(1) Jonathan tells David not to be afraid. With all of Saulís resources, it seems virtually impossible for David to escape his grasp. Davidís fears are not without reason.

(2) Jonathan assures David that in spite of his fatherís efforts to find him, he will not succeed.

(3) Jonathanís assurance seems based upon his confidence in Godís designation of David as the next king. Jonathanís assurance is rooted in the sovereignty of the God whom he and David serve, whom Saul seeks to resist.

(4) Jonathan assures David of his submission and loyal service to him as Israelís future king. Jonathan knows that God will somehow remove his father from the throne and install David as the next king and joyfully accepts this fact purposing to be Davidís most loyal support.

(5) Jonathanís loyalty is not a secret. Jonathanís father Saul is fully aware of his sonís loyalty to David. Jonathan has not kept his association with David a secret. They agree to another covenant.

What can we learn about the nature of encouragement:

First, encouragement comes at the right moment, and it picks the right words to say.

Second, encouragement addresses fear and promotes courage.

Third, encouragement produces the courage to act.

Fourth, encouragement gives discouraged men courage by turning their eyes toward God.

Fifth, encouragement comes from people who exemplify courage, not just those who talk about it.

NB: Godís sovereignty is pervasive in this scenario:

1. The Lordís declared will is evident throughout the episode v 2, 4, 11, 12.

2. The presence of the Ephod confirms Godís presence throughout the circumstances v 6, 9.

3. God intervened to protect David from Saulís attempts to capture him v 14.

4. Jonathan appeared at ripe moment to deliver encouragement in God v 16.

So God is always serving the best interests if His righteous ones even though that sovereign work is often unnoticed or we are incapable of perceiving the work of God in it. We can count on that work.


We bring ingenuity to our circumstances 19-29

NB: Davidís ingenuity is pervasive in this scenario:

1. David is going to be betrayed by the Ziphites v 20.

2. David hides out in the wilderness of Maon v 24. Before this he and his men went wherever they could go escaping to Keilahites entering the wilderness of Ziph.

3. David barely escapes Saul about to be surrounded and seized v 26.

4. David hides further in the interior in the strongholds of engedi v 29.

You can feel the sweaty palms and foreheadsóheightened wariness and beating hearts.

First, there is a point where you have to find a way to act and manage your situation without violating the will of God.

Second, God expects you to use ingenuity, strategy and innovate through your circumstances. This is the stage of maturity and where God wants you to traverse.

Third, this is not taking matters into our own hands but investing what we know of Godís declared will and bringing that along with us to guide us in action where God has not declared himself. David had no declaration from God and had to manage based on what he knew of God and from God.



1. Study the Word of God so you can act decisively on what you already know His will to be.

2. Count the cost of fulfilling the will of God as you determine to apply it to your situation.

3. Recall God is orchestrating His purposes even though we are not privy to these in our lives.

4. Both Godís sovereignty and our ingenuity are necessary elements working in our lives. ††