HEARING FROM GOD
Holy Spirit, help me to grow in understanding, and equip me to meet with faith the challenges I face.
Read 1 SAMUEL 23:1-13
David Saves Keilah
23 When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” 2 he inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”
The Lord answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!”
4 Once again David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. 6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)
Saul Pursues David
7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.” 8 And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.
9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” 10 David said, “Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.”
And the Lord said, “He will.”
12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?”
And the Lord said, “They will.”
13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.’1
A friend who has been a Christian for forty-odd years said, ‘Guidance does not get any easier with the years.’ We deal daily with choices, but every now and again the Lord closes a chapter and moves us into new areas: whether geographically, job-wise, in ministry, or in relationships – and the decisions we face have long-term consequences. Seeking God in those situations and taking wise steps is not easy when so many factors are uncertain.
David in our reading similarly encounters a challenge. On the one hand, the Philistines attack a Judahite city and he sees the need to help, as is the duty of a king. However, his men worry that coming out of hiding would expose them to danger and, indeed, the very city they deliver will later be prepared to betray them to Saul. In the midst of all this, David calls on God persistently until he is reassured and then he obeys. He is able to inquire of the Lord both in a personal relationship (vs 2,4), as well as through the ephod (probably referring to sacred lots to answer yes/no questions), which was available to kings through the priest (vs 9–12). In all this, he proves himself the model king.
In contrast, Saul, Israel’s de facto king, is so busy with his agenda (chasing his rival) that he neglects his royal obligations to defend the people of his realm. Neither does he ask for guidance but assumes that God presented him with the opportunity to catch David (v 7). Absorbed in his own concerns, he sees the Lord merely as an instrument for achieving his own ends. By the time he inquires of God much later, he has become so hardened in sin that the Lord no longer answers him.2
Lord, help us not to interpret events from our selfish perspective but to seek you until your answers are clear. May we be willing and enabled to follow through with obedience.
Father, I know I enjoy comfort more than challenge. By your Spirit, move me forward and create in me a desire to stretch beyond my comfort zone.
1 Ps 32:8, NASB 2 1 Sam 28:6
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