David Saves A City
While David and his men were hiding out in the forest of Hereth in Judah, word came that the Philistines had attacked the city of Keilah, robbing the threshing floors. They must have waited for the harvest, then rushed in to steal the grain and feed their cattle.
David had sympathy for them. But, before acting, he asked if the Lord if he should attack the Philistines. He asked twice because his men had doubts. The Lord told him to attack. He did and he defeated the Philistines. He took their livestock. With all of those men to feed, the livestock probably were a great benefit.
David Flees the City
When Saul heard that David was in Keilah, he mustered the army to go after David. Oddly, he concluded that God had given David into his hand because David is enclosed behind the city walls. (7)
However, since God has rejected Saul and withdrawn his spirit from him, while anointing David, that could hardly be the case. Saul is deluded.
Apparently both sides had spies. David hears that Saul was coming to Keilah, willing to destroy it because David was there. So, David sought God’s direction. That is a good thing.
David told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod so they could inquire of the Lord what to do. (9) The ephod is sort of an apron. Attached to the front is a cloth piece called the breastplate of judgment. It has little pockets for 12 stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. It also has a pocket for the Urim and Thummin. They were used to answer inquiries of the Lord. The Lord instructed Joshua to ask the high priest questions for the Lord which are answered by the Urim and Thummin. (Exodus 28:28)
So David asked if Saul would come down to Keilah to attack David. The Lord said he would. David then asked if the men of Keilah would surrender David to Saul. The Lord said they would.
So, David took him men and left the city. He now had 600 men. They hid in various places in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul called off the expedition to catch David at Keilah.
Jonathan Encourages David
Jonathan went to see David at Horesh. That is evidently a grove of trees in the wilderness of Ziph. He encouraged David not to fear, knowing David would be king and Jonathan would support him. He also said Saul actually knew this. So, they made a covenant and Jonathan went home.
The Ziphites Betray David
While David and his men were hiding out in the wilderness of Ziph, the people of the area went to Saul in Gibeah and told Saul where he was. They did this even though they were of the same tribe as David (Judah). They invited Saul to come down there and they would surrender David to him. (20)
Saul was encouraged. He blessed them in the name of the Lord. But, he asked them to make and make sure exactly where David was and tell him before he came there. So, they went to accomplish that.
David Escapes Again
So, Saul took his men and went to find David. David had move a few miles further south to the wilderness of Maon. Saul found out and went after him there. David was on a mountain, believed to be Mount Kholed.
Saul split his force into two groups and charged up either side of the mountain to trap David and his men. As they closed in on David, a messenger came to tell Saul the Philistines were attacking. So, Saul abandoned the pursuit and went to fight the Philistines. The Lord saved David again.
After Saul left, David took his men to Engedi and stayed there. Engedi is east of Ziph on the shore of the Dead Sea. It is a large oasis.
David wrote Psalm 54 when betrayed by the people of Ziph. He asked God to save him from his enemies. He trusted God to be his helper and to uphold his life. And he promised to make a freewill offering to thank the Lord for deliverance. A free will offering is one that is completely voluntary and not one of the required sacrifices.
David was trusting the Lord to take care of him: he sought the Lord’s guidance.
The Lord took care of David. Sometimes by telling him what to do, sometimes by diverting Saul from the pursuit.
David expressed his gratitude to the Lord, both by writing a psalm and by making an offering.