1Sa 23: David saved Keilah (men of his own tribe) from the
Philistines, but then found himself, with his men, in a walled town. To Saul
this was a splendid opportunity to capture or kill David -- it was so much
easier than hunting him in the open wilderness. And the men of Keilah, mindful
of what had happened at Nob (1Sa 22:18,19), were disposed to seek Saul's
friendship by betraying David to him (1Sa 23:7). Divine counsel by Urim and
Thummim saved the situation (vv 9-12). David had no desire to be encircled,
because the last thing he wanted was to have to fight against "the Lord's
anointed". And so (directed by divine counsel?) he cleared out.
What helps to explain the attitude of the men of Keilah is the
fact that they were Calebites, as also were the men of Ziph (1Ch 4:16,19). Their
disreputable link with Nabal (see 1Sa 25) evidently counted for more than their
honorable descent from the courageous and faithful Caleb. The men of Ziph
likewise attempted a betrayal (1Sa 23:19); had it not been for the providence of
God (1Sa 23:27) they would have succeeded.
KEILAH: Sig "enclosed". A fortified city in the
Shephelah allotted to Judah (Jos 15:44), situated eight miles NW of Hebron and
overlooking the north-south route from the Valley of Elah to Hebron. In the time
of Nehemiah the city had been reoccupied by Jews returning from Babylon (Neh
THE THRESHING FLOORS: Usually located outside the city
walls (Jdg 6:11; Rth 3:2,15).
HERE IN JUDAH WE ARE AFRAID: Afraid of Saul and his
Not only did David defeat the Philistines, but he gained food
sorely needed for the 600 men and their families. God does above and beyond what
we ask for (Eph 3:20).
ABIATHAR... HAD BROUGHT THE EPHOD: This explains how
David could inquire of God (vv 2,4,9). Saul's slaughter of Israel's priests
served only to send the new High Priest and his comfort to Saul's great enemy,
GOD HAS HANDED HIM OVER TO ME: Saul is supposing that
God is aiding his evil schemes.
DAVID HAS IMPRISONED HIMSELF: "Pharaoh will think, 'The
Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert'
" (Exo 14:3).
FOR BATTLE, TO GO DOWN TO KEILAH: Ostensibly to fight
Philistines, but secretly to kill David (vv 9,15).
WHEN DAVID LEARNED...: The reason David knows: he is
now, at every turn, inquiring of God (v 6). "In order that Satan might not
outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2Co 2:11).
PLOTTING: Or, as KJV, "practised mischief", or "ra"
(evil): sw Psa 52:1.
LORD, GOD OF ISRAEL: God's covenant title. Poss ref to
Jacob's perils, when his name was changed to "Israel" by angel, and he was
delivered from his brother's threat of violence.
DESTROY THE TOWN ON ACCOUNT OF ME: Although he knew
Saul's desire was to kill him, David was solicitous for the welfare of the town
which was indirectly threatened.
"The winter's wind is not so unkind as man's ingratitude" (TMD
60). (The men of Keilah prob knew of Saul's recent massacre of the priests of
Nob, who had helped David.)
ABOUT SIX HUNDRED: Increased from the 400 of 1Sa
ZIPH: Sig "refining"; poss there were minerals or
metals to be mined there. A town in the hill country of Judah (Jos 15:55), five
miles sse of Hebron, sometimes thought to be the same as Tell Zif, which had a
strategic location commanding the desert. It was founded by Mesha, a son of
Caleb (1Ch 2:42, NEB). It was near here that David twice hid from Saul (1Sa
23:14,15; 26:2). Later it was fortified by Rehoboam to guard the approach to
Jerusalem from the south (2Ch 11:8).
Nevertheless, David does not retaliate. "Better a patient man
than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city" (Pro
16:32). The flesh-born persecutes the Spirit-born (Gal 4:29).
The final meeting between David and Jonathan.
AND I WILL BE SECOND TO YOU: This will only come true
in the resurrection and the Kingdom of God!
THE ZIPHITES WENT UP TO SAUL: Psa 54, title: "When the
Ziphim came and said to Saul, 'Doth not David hide himself with us?' "
Saul desires more detailed information.
MAON: A city in the hill country of Judah (Jos 15:55)
and the home of Nabal, the great flockmaster (1Sa 25:2). The site is now called
Tell Ma'in, eight miles south of Hebron.
"There is a conical hill near Maon and the indications are
that when Saul's troops arrived they well nigh surrounded the hill in which
their prey was hidden" (TMD 62).
SELA HAMMAHLEKOTH: Sig "the rock of divisions, escape,
or parting". This was a cliff in the wilderness of Maon, a section of the
wilderness of Judah. The RSV and NASB translations use "the Rock of Escape." It
perhaps may be identified with the Wadi el-Malaqi, a deep gorge approx 8 mi
east-northeast of Maon toward En-gedi.
EN GEDI: In ancient times an agricultural settlement
watered by a copious spring ("spring of the goat-kid" or "spring of abundant
waters") on the west shore of the Dead Sea (Eze 47:10), about midway between the
north and south ends in the general direction or vicinity of Hazazon-tamar (2Ch
20:2). It was included in the territory of Judah (Jos 15:62). In Solomon's time
it was a fertile oasis in the midst of the desert where spice plants and
vineyards were cultivated (Song 1:14). En Gedi was also famed in Jewish and
Roman literature for its fine date palms.
"It is about the middle of the western shore of the lake. Here
is a rich plain, half a mile square, sloping very gently from the base of the
mountains to the water, and shut in on the north by a lofty promontory. About a
mile up the western [incline], and at an elevation of some 400 feet above the
plain, is the fountain of Ain Jidy, from which the place gets its name. The
water is sweet, but the temperature is 81 degrees Fahrenheit. It bursts from the
limestone rock, and rushes down the steep descent, fretted by many a rugged
crag, and raining its spray over verdant borders of acacia, mimosa, and lotus.
On reaching the plain, the brook crosses it in nearly a straight line to the
sea. During a greater part of the year, however, it is absorbed in the thirsty
soil. Its banks are now cultivated by a few families of Arabs, who generally
pitch their tents near this spot. The soil is exceedingly fertile, and in such a
climate it might be made to produce the rarest fruits of tropical climes" (SBD,