Gracious Lord, I praise you for the gift of this day; for the blessings it bestows and the challenges it presents.
Read 1 SAMUEL 23:14-29
14 David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.
15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that[a] Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for giving him into your hands.”
21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah.”
24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.
26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.[b] 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.[c]
- 1 Samuel 23:15 Or he was afraid because
- 1 Samuel 23:28 Sela Hammahlekoth means rock of parting.
- 1 Samuel 23:29 In Hebrew texts this verse (23:29) is numbered 24:1.
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.
‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.’1
The two incidents in chapter 23 form a pair in highlighting Saul’s pursuit of David, but while the events around Keilah focus on guidance, today’s reading stresses God’s protection of the future king (v 14). Saul’s search is unrelenting, yet the Lord blocks his way, while, strikingly, his son Jonathan has no trouble finding his friend (v 16).2 David does not know what the narrator tells us about God’s protection; one can only imagine his anguish in being on the run, fearing for his life and never knowing when the end might come. Yet, the Lord’s reassurance gets to him through the encouragement of a faithful friend who recalls God’s purposes for David and pledges again his commitment in covenant (vs 17,18). Sometimes God speaks to us through trusted friends who stand by us when we lose heart and remind us of God’s larger plan. May we also be such friends to others.
When the Ziphites betray David’s whereabouts, Saul responds with self-centered piety (v 21). The events that unfold are worthy of a dramatic film climax as Saul’s troops march on one side of the mountain and David’s men try to outrun them on the other. Yet, once again the prize eludes the king when the Philistine threat forces him to abandon the chase (v 27). The narrator does not say it explicitly here, but God clearly takes a hand in this narrow escape.
When we follow God in obedience, he sometimes puts us into situations of great uncertainty where anxiety may engulf us over our future, our finances, the well-being of our loved ones. Will God come through for them, for us, when we need him? It is good to be reminded that his plans will not fail and that he cares for us.
If you are in a challenging situation, pray for a renewal of your trust and to be able to see God’s bigger picture. Pray for others who may be disheartened.
Heavenly Father, as I look back over my life, I now see ways in which you protected me. Prayer requests not granted, opportunities missed, your hand was in all these things. I trust you anew today.
1 1 Pet 5:7 2 Stephen B Chapman, 1 Samuel as Christian Scripture: A Theological Commentary, Eerdmans, 2016, p184
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