DAVID THE FUGITIVE

1 Samuel 19 - 26

Davidís rise to popularity was meteoric in its suddenness. One day he is a simple shepherd and the next he is the hero of Israel who overshadows even the lofty king Saul. Chapter 18 records the growing fear which this sudden surge of adulation brought about within the heart of Saul.

m Saul looked at David with suspicion (18:9).

m Saul was afraid of David (18:12).

m He dreaded him (18:15).

m Saul was even more afraid of David (18:29).

This fear had already escalated to the point where Saul had thrown a spear at David, attempting to murder him in a fit of jealousy (18:11). Saul goes on to implicate others in his treachery to the point of declaring David to be an outlaw so that any who aid and abet him will be themselves punished.

19:1

20:1

21:10

22:6

24:1

26:1

David flees from the presence of Saul

David & Jonathan makes a covenant

David flees to Gath

Saul Pursues David

1st Pursuit

2nd Pursuit

3rd Pursuit

David assisted by Michal

David assisted by Ahimelech

David assisted by king of Moab

David encouraged by Jonathan

David cuts Saulís robe

David takes Saulís spear & jug

David assisted by the Lord

David assisted by Circumstances

David assisted by Abigail

David flees to Gath

Throughout this period, we continue to see Saul fall short at every turn while David continues to succeed.

 

JONATHANíS INTERCESSION

If ever there was someone who had the right to be fearful of David, it was Jonathan.

m Eldest son of Saul.

m War hero.

m Crown prince.

Before David had come along, it had been Jonathan who was the hero of Israel. His victory at Michmash had won him national acclaim. But that had all been forgotten after the Goliath Incident. Women now sung the praises of David and Saul. Jonathan was all but forgotten.

What is your reaction when your accomplishments go ignored? When someone else is the object of attention and you are left in the shadows? Do you feel those stirrings of jealousy?

Jonathan may have felt those stirrings, but he was a better man than to be ruled by such base desires. Instead, he acts out of LOVE.

This is one of the best examples in the whole of Scripture of godly civil disobedience. The Scriptures teach that we are to "be in subjection to the governing authorities" (Romans 13:1). This was not written in the days of a democracy. It was written under the reign of the Roman emperors. It was written in the day when the reigning monarch was a homosexual madman who had set himself up as a god.

And yet, there are times when it is both good and proper to be disobedient to such authorities. Jonathan does so in this chapter. There are two attitudes that mark godly disobedience.

a. An attempt to redeem the person being sinned against.

b. An attempt to redeem the person sinning.

If those two marks are lacking in any civil disobedience, it is not godly civil disobedience; it is ungodly.

Discussion question: Was the American War for Independence an example of Biblical or unbiblical civil disobedience?

Just as we saw the two children of Saul loving David in chapter 18, so now we see the two children of Saul protecting David in chapter 19.

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Jonathan loves David

Jonathan intercedes on Davidís behalf

An evil spirit from the Lord comes upon Saul

Saul attempts to murder David by pinning him with a spear

Michal loves David and marries him.

Michal helps David to escape.

1. Two Diverse Attitudes.

Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul's son, greatly delighted in David. (1 Samuel 19:1).

Father and son were alike in certain respects. They were both men of war - valiant men of action. But when it came to their moral character, they were remarkably diverse.

2. Jonathanís Warning.

So Jonathan told David saying, "Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

"And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you; if I find out anything, then I shall tell you." (1 Samuel 19:2-3).

Having learned of the plot to put David to death, Jonathan first warns David and then goes to intercede on his behalf. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (Matthew 5:9). Jonathan was a child of God.

Notice what is his initial reaction. Jonathan disobeys the edict of his father. He does this in two ways:

First there is his action of warning David and thus protecting the innocent party. This is the redemption of the innocent party.

Secondly, there is his intercession directed toward Saul - an attempt to redeem the person sinning.

He does not go out and put a pipe bomb in a building. His first step in civil disobedience is to seek to properly change the unrighteous edict.

3. Davidís Reprieve.

And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, "As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death."

Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these words. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as formerly. (1 Samuel 19:6-7).

Jonathanís appeal resulted in a reversal of Saulís policy against David. In doing so, he brought reconciliation (at least of a temporary nature) to David and Saul. We have a ministry of reconciliation. It involves helping others to make godly choices.

Saul makes a pledge and an oath. He swears by the name of Yahweh that David will not be put to death.

 

DAVIDíS ESCAPE

1. Saulís Second Murder Attempt on Davidís Life.

The restoration which Jonathan brought about was short lived. Once again, the reason behind the enmity was jealousy.

When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines, and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. (1 Samuel 19:8).

Why is this mentioned? I think that it is because it was this event which motivated Saulís renewed jealousy. This time we do not read of the singing of the women: "Saul has killed his thousands and David his ten thousands." This time we do not read about Saul being involved in the victory in any way. This time it is Davidís victory. Saul grows jealous.

Now there was an evil spirit from the Lord on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand.

And Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night. (1 Samuel 19:9-10).

Look at the contrast. Saul has a spear in his hand. David has a harp in his hand. One is a weapon of war - in this case, the weapon of an attempted murder. The other is an instrument of music - and the only reason David has it is to be of assistance to Saul. This would be the last time that David would be in the court of Saul. From now on, he will be a fugitive.

2. Michal aids in Davidís Escape.

Then Saul sent messengers to Davidís house to watch him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But Michal, Davidís wife, told him, saying, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death."

So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped.

And Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goatsí hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. (1 Samuel 19:11-13).

Saul sends a hit squad after David. Michal hears of it and warns her husband, assisting in his escape. And she goes so far as to arrange a decoy for her bed - a "household idol" ( ).

This brings up an interesting question. What was this idol doing in the house of David? Had he been engaging in worshiping false gods? Not necessarily. Such household idols were sometimes used as "good luck charms." It may have been a fertility idol used to insure lots of children. They were also used in parts of the ancient world as the title deeds to property.

On the other hand, the keeping of such idols was WRONG. It too often led to idolatry.

Michalís actions in aiding her husband are reminiscent of some of the actions of women of the past.

3. The Spirit of Prophecy.

Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth. (1 Samuel 19:18).

David finds refuge with Samuel in Ramah (the word "Naioth" seems to refer to the dwelling of Samuel - a location within the area of Ramah). Samuel had anointed both David and Saul. But this did not make Samuel immune to the threat of violence at the hands of Saul. Samuel had feared the anger of Saul from the very beginning.

And it was told Saul, saying, "Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah."

Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. (1 Samuel 19:19-20).

Whereas David had previously been protected first by Jonathan and then by Michal, now it is the Spirit of God who intervenes to protect him. The Spirit of God comes upon these messengers and they begin prophesying.

But that is not all. After sending two more groups of messenger with the same result, Saul comes himself to Ramah where he also participates in this same experience.

And he proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah.

And he also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" (1 Samuel 19:23-24).

What was the character of this "prophesying"? I do not know. It was from God. It apparently involved speaking forth the words of God. And it came upon them in such a way that they were not able to continue upon their original mission - they had no control over it.

There is a lesson here. It is that there are times when God acts in ways that do not fit into our nice, neat theological packages.

This chapter concludes with the third in a series of assisting events which took place on Davidís behalf.

Saul orders Davidís death (19:1)

Jonathan intercedes for David (19:2-7).

Evil spirit from the Lord comes on Saul (19:9).

Saul attempts to murder David (19:10).

David flees (19:10).

Saul sends messengers to Davidís house to murder him (19:11)

Michal helps David to escape (19:12-17).

Saul sends messengers to Ramah to murder David (19:20).

The Spirit of God comes upon the messenger to help David escape (19:20-23).

The fact that this last event involved Saul prophesying is significant. He had begun his kingship in exactly the same way. Immediately after having been anointed as the new king of Israel, Saul had met a group of prophets and "the Spirit of God came upon him mightily, so that he prophesied among them" (10:10). Now it happens again.

The first time served as a sign that Saul was to be the new king of Israel. I believe that the second time serves as a sign that the kingship has been taken from Saul and given to another.

 

DAVID & JONATHAN

1. David comes to Jonathan.

Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said to Jonathan, "What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?"

And he said to him, "Far from it, you shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!"

Yet David vowed again, saying, "Your father knows well that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, `Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.í But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is hardly a step between me and death." (1 Samuel 20:1-3).

David now comes to Jonathan with his fears. Jonathan is at first inclined to give his father the benefit of the doubt. But David explains that Saul has become two-faced, not revealing his true motives even to his own son. It is only when he binds his word with a twofold oath than Jonathan relents and says, "Whatever you say, I will do for you" (20:4).

This puts Jonathan in a difficult place. We usually focus upon his love and his loyalty toward David. But what of his loyalty toward his own father, the king? For Jonathan to be loyal to David, he must be disloyal to his own father.

2. Plan to Determine Saulís Intentions.

So David said to Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with he king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening.

"If your father misses me at all, then say, `David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.í

"If he says, `It is good,í your servant shall be safe; but if he is very angry, know that he has decided on evil." (1 Samuel 20:5-7).

Davidís plan involves a deception upon Jonathanís part. They will pretend that David has gone home for the holidays in order to determine what will be Saulís response.

This is only the start of a series of deceptions and outright lies which David shall tell during the course of his flight from Saul.

Davidís concern at this point is self-centered. He is not particularly concerned what his plan will do to the relationship between Jonathan and Saul.

In the last chapter, Jonathan was open and transparent and therefore was able to bring reconciliation, if only for a short time. This time, he enters into the deception and there is no reconciliation.

Furthermore, there is no mention here by David of the Lord (by contrast, notice how many times Jonathan mentions the Lord in verses 12-16). It seems that David is trusting in his own plans instead of in the Lord. God had already promised that he would be king in place of Saul. But he is afraid that Saul will overcome the promise of God. And so, he determines to take matters into his own hands. In this, we might be tempted to think that he is beginning to emulate Saul.

3. The Plan for Notification (20:18-23).

Realizing that Jonathan might be watched, he comes up with a plan whereby David will be notified of Saulís reaction.

At the same time, Jonathan renews his covenant with David: "As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever" (20:23).

4. Saulís Reaction.

When Saul realizes that David is absent and hears Jonathanís explanation of this absence, he becomes angry.

Then Saulís anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your motherís nakedness?

"For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die." (1 Samuel 20:30-31).

Saulís anger is now directed against Jonathan for what he sees as a betrayal. Evidently, he saw through this shallow lie. Saul was old and he was given to sullen moods of depression, but he was no fool. In typical male anger, he berates Jonathanís mother (translate this in modern colloquialism).

But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?"

Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. (1 Samuel 20:32-33).

In his rage, Saul lashed out at the first thing in front of him - even his own son, Jonathan. Jonathan, in turn, is enraged. He has been publicly humiliated by his father. And he has had his own father try to kill him.

Subsequently, Jonathan notifies David according to their plan. They say their farewells for the last time recorded in the Scriptures and then they part, having renewed their covenant of friendship.

When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David more.

And Jonathan said to David, "Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, `The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.í" Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city. (1 Samuel 20:41-42).

In Jonathan, David had found an older brother who really loved him, who was committed to him and had put him first, even before his own interests.

He had clothed David in the clothes of the crown prince. He had made a covenant with him. He had acknowledge that David would receive, not only the right of a firstborn, but the entire kingdom.

The scene closes with Jonathan going back into the city. He returns to the court of his father. He will loyally remain in his fatherís service until the day of their death.

 

DAVID & AHIMELECH

Chapters 21-22 form a complete unit. They are in parallel and form a chiasm.

David & Ahimelech - David takes Goliathís sword (21:1-9)

Saul & Ahimelech - Ahimelech slain by sword (22:6-19)

ê

é

David & Achish, king of Gath (21:10-15).

David & king of Moab (22:3-4).

î

ì

Davidís band of 400 (22:1-2).

In the last chapter, we saw David manipulating Jonathan and Michal to his own ends. This process continues throughout this section and does not end until David comes face to face with the results of his manipulations - the death of Ahimelech.

Saulís court was in Gibeah, a city in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, about 10-15 miles north of Jerusalem. David leaves there and travels 5 miles south to the city of Nob. This was a city belonging to the priests. The tabernacle had evidently been moved to this locale.

1. Davidís Lie to Ahimelech.

The David came to Nob to Ahimelech the [high] priest; and Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, "Why are you alone and no one with you?"

And David said to Ahimelech the priest, "The king has commissioned me with a matter, and has said to me, 'Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place.í" (1 Samuel 21:1-2).

Ahimelech was the grandson of Phinehas. As such, the high priesthood had passed on to him. Because David was high in the ranks of the Israelite army, he would have been well-known to Ahimelech. But now David arrives in Nob without his army. It strikes Ahimelech as being suspicious. He questions David.

Davidís response? He lies through his teeth. He makes up a false secret mission. He indicates that his troops have been directed elsewhere.

This is a case of "situational ethics." David is in a situation in which he has real needs. The needs are real. The situation is legitimate. What is wrong is that he is not trusting the Lord. He is instead trusting in his wits and in his ability to lie with a straight face.

2. Davidís Eating of the Consecrated Bread.

"Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found."

And the priest answered David and said, "There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women." (1 Samuel 21:3-4).

This was the "bread of the Presence," the twelve loaves that were placed on the table within the Tabernacle, each loaf representing a tribe of Israel. Each loaf was dedicated to God. They indicated that God was the provider for all of the needs of Israel.

When this bread was replaced, the old bread was taken and eaten by the priests within the Tabernacle. The was the only bread that Ahimelech had. It had come right off the table of the Lord as the fresh bread was replaced. Thus, to eat this bread, Ahimelech insists that the partakers are ceremonially clean.

So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away. (1 Samuel 21:6).

Now, let me ask you a question. Was it wrong for David to eat the consecrated bread? No, it wasnít. The New Testament supports his actions.

You see, the ceremonial Law was never to interfere with real human need. God designed the Sabbath for man's benefit, not bor his burden. This was graphically illustrated one day when the disciples of Jesus began picking and eating heads of grain as they walked through a grainfield on the Sabbath. When the Pharisees saw it, they accused them of breaking the Sabbath.

But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and his companions; 4 how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?

"Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent? (Matthew 12:3-5).

There was one group of people who always worked on the Sabbath. It was the priests. The Sabbath was their busiest day of the week. Most preachers find that their busiest day of the week is on Sunday. That is why so many take Monday off.

"But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here? 7 But if you had known what this means, `I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice,í you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:6-8).

The bottom line is that God desires compassion rather than sacrifice. Reality rather than rules. Meeting needs rather than meeting deadlines.

It was not wrong for David to eat the consecrated bread. He had a legitimate need. What WAS wrong was he did not come in an open and honest way. He lied. One lie led to another. It would only end with the death of the high priest.

The tragedy was that David fell victim to the tyranny of the urgent. He was failing to trust in the Lord. He should have remembered the time that God had intervened when Saul and his three groups of messengers were halted by a spirit of prophecy.

3. Doeg - an Unfortunate Witness.

Now one of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; and his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul's shepherds. (1 Samuel 21:7).

Doeg happens to be in town and spot David. He overhears a portion of the conversation and hears enough to understand that Ahimelech is helping David.

What is more, David sees Doeg and knows that he has been seen. He knows Doeg will go back and tell Saul. And so, perhaps he thinks to protect Ahimelech by not letting him know the real nature of his situation. Asking for a weapon, he takes the sword of Goliath which has been left here for safe keeping.

 

DAVIDíS FOREIGN WANDERINGS

1. Arrival in Gath.

Then David arose and fled that day from Saul, and went to Achish king of Gath. (1 Samuel 21:10).

Gath was a city of the Philistines. This had been the hometown of Goliath. And David arrives carrying Goliathís sword. It was a sword which had belonged to a 9-foot tall giant. David might as well carried a sign announcing, "David, the Giant-killer."

To make matters worse, he has red hair and he is living in a land where few people have red hair. If that were not bad enough, Goliath has four more brothers still living in Gath.

2. Reception in Gath.

But the servants of Achish said to him, "Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of this one as they danced, saying. ĎSaul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands?í" (1 Samuel 21:11).

David is recognized by the people of Gath. After all, he had been the object of the number one song on the Israelite "Hit Parade." Who were the ten thousands which David had slain? They were Philistines! David finds that he has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

3. Davidís Feigned Madness.

And David took these words to heart, and greatly feared Achish king of Gath.

So he disguised his sanity before them, and acted insanely in their hands and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard. (1 Samuel 21:12-13).

The superscription of Psalm 56 indicates that David was arrested and brought before the king of Gath. David does the only thing he can. He pretends insanity. In those days, a person who was mad was thought to be "seized by spirits." It was considered bad luck to touch such a person.

Then Achish said to his servants, "Behold, you see the man behaving as a madman. Why do you bring him to me?

Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house? (1 Samuel 21:14-15).

4. David in the Cave of Adullam.

As you leave Gath and travel eastward back up the Valley of Elah toward Bethlehem, you soon come to an area of the hill country which is pock-marked with caves. It was located on the boarder between the territories of the Israelites and the Philistines.

So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his fatherís household heard of it, they went down there to him. (1 Samuel 22:1).

There are eight Psalms written about this period in the wilderness. All eight of those Psalms express David's deep trust in and commitment to his God. And yet, these Psalms reflect a continuing struggle between his trust in the Lord and his feeling of unfair persecution. God is taking him through this wilderness experience to teach him absolute faith.

God used these experiences to make David a man of God in the same way that He took the nation of Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness for 40 years to make them His holy nation. There is a principle here for today. Our own wilderness experiences are designed by God to make us holy.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, but he shouts to us in our pain." - C.S. Lewis.

Pain has been described as God's megaphone. It is the tool that God often uses to mold us into the image of His Son. At the same time, there was a comfort for David from an unexpected source - his own family.

...and when his brothers and all his fatherís household heard of it, they went down there to him. (1 Samuel 22:1b).

The last time we saw the brothers of David, they were berating him for coming to the battlefield where Goliath was issuing his challenge. Now they come again. I believe that their presence was a comfort to David.

Throughout his entire life, David had been the runt of the litter. He had been the youngest who was not even deemed worthy of consideration when Samuel came to anoint the one whom God had chosen. But now he is the leader of the family. His older brothers now recognize that leadership.

5. Davidís Motley Men.

And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him. (1 Samuel 22:2).

Like an ancient Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, David begins to gather a band of "merry men." But these men arenít very merry. They are made up of the outcasts of society.

m Distressed

m Debtors

m Discontented

That is the kind of people God always delights in using. The foolish. The weak. The base and the despised, "that no man should boast before God" (1 Corinthians 1:29).

These are the kinds of people that God freed and brought out of Egypt to make a new nation. A nation of rebels and malcontents. They griped and murmured.

David is going to be the king of these people. And he is going to have to learn how to bring them together and become a united nation.

6. Refuge in Moab.

And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, "Please let my father and my mother come and stay with you until I know what God will do for me."

Then he left them with the king of Moab; and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

And the prophet Gad said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:3-5).

The land of Moab was located on the southeastern shores of the Dead Sea. These people were traditional enemies of Israel. Yet it is to Moab that David turns as he seeks to find a place of refuge for his mother and father. Why? Because Davidís great-grandmother is from Moab. She was known as Ruth the Moabitess.

Though Saul had fought and defeated Moab (1 Samuel 14:47), this had been before Davidís time. All of Davidís fighting had been against the Philistines. Thus, he expected to receive a warm reception in Moab.

7. Return to the Forest of Hereth.

And the prophet Gad said to David, "Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:5).

This is the first mention which we have had of Gad the prophet. He is described in 1 Chronicles 29:29 as having joined with Samuel and Nathan the prophet in writing the biography of David. Gad directs David to return to Judah. Why? Why should David leave the safety of his stronghold to go to the land of Judah where Saul will again begin to hunt for him?

Iím not certain. But it might be a test of faith. David has been trusting in his stronghold. Now the Lord will be his stronghold and his mighty fortress.

I have a confession to make. I am not a risk-taker at heart. Oh, I have done some risky things in my day. I have run into burning buildings when everyone else was running out of them. But I donít naturally enjoy taking risks.

But the Christian life is a life of risk taking. It is called "faith." Faith is when you step out and act like you believe that what God says is true, even when you do not see how it is ever going to work out.

David is called to go back into Judah and become a man of faith. He is going to be taking a risk. And as a result, he will grow in faith.

 

SAUL & THE PRIESTS OF NOB

1. Saulís Call to Loyalty.

Then Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered. Now Saul was sitting in Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. (1 Samuel 22:6).

It isnít long before the news of Davidís return reaches the ears of Saul. After all, Judah is right next door to Benjamin.

And Saul said to his servants who stood around him, "Hear now, O Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse also give to all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds?

For all of you have conspired against me so that there is no one who discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in ambush, as it is this day." (1 Samuel 22:7-8).

Saulís call goes out to those who are around him. His retainers. They are made up primarily of Benjamites. But notice the implication as to how Saul guaranteed their loyalty. Through bribery. He bought their loyalty by making them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds.

Do you remember what Samuel had warned when the Israelites had first asked for a king? He had said that a king would take their sons for his army and put over them commanders of hundreds and commanders of thousands. He said that the king would take their vineyards and their fields and give them to his followers. That is exactly what Saul describes here.

Donít miss this. The very people who should have been the most loyal to Saul - those who were from his own tribe - were only loyal because of what they could get out of Saul in terms of position and power and money. But the people who had been the most loyal to Saul - namely David and Jonathan - had become the objects of his suspicion.

There is a lesson here about sin. When you begin to harbor sinful attitudes, it is not long before you begin to suspect those attitudes in others.

Do you know someone who is critical and suspicious of others? It is probably because they are harboring similar sin in their own lives. Here is the point. Guilty people try to make other people feel guilty, too.

2. The Report of Doeg.

Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing by the servants of Saul, answered and said, "I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.

"And he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine." (1 Samuel 22:9-10).

Doeg was an Edomite. He was a foreign mercenary under the employ of Saul. He had happened to be in Nob when David had come there to speak to the high priest.

This is all that Saul needs to hear. He immediately calls for the arrest of the high priest. When he arrives, he conducts his own i__errogation.

3. Saulís Interrogation of Ahimelech.

Then the king sent someone to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's household, the priests who were in Nob; and all of them came to the king. (1 Samuel 22:11).

Saul didnít arrest just Ahimelech. He also arrested his entire family. And not just the immediate family. He brought in all of the priestly family who lived in Nob.

And Saul said, "Listen now, son of Ahitub." And he answered, "Here I am, my lord."

Saul then said to him, "Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?" (1 Samuel 22:12-13).

Saul has already assumed that Ahimelech is guilty of treason. He is guilty until proven innocent. That is the way critical people always are. They assume the worst in everyone.

Jesus said, "Do not judge lest you be judges" (Matthew 7:1). He did not mean that Christians should never pass judgment. There are places in the Scriptures where we are not only allowed, but are COMMANDED to judge. But we are not to jump to conclusions. We are to be certain of our judgments. And we are to judge ourselves first.

Saul accuses Ahimelech of aiding and abetting the enemy. He says, "David is planning an assassination attempt and you have put the murder weapon in his hands."

Saul is angry. But who is the object of his anger? Ahimelech? David? David has done nothing to Saul to bring about anger. The real object of Saulís anger is GOD. It is GOD who has rejected Saul. It is GOD who has chosen David. It is GOD who has sent an evil spirit to harass Saul. Saul is angry at God. But how do you get at someone who is invisible? You canít. You canít get at God because God is "ungettable." So you get at His people. You get at His priests. That is why Satan attacks Christians. That is why the world hates us. Because we are the only ones that they can get at.

Saul is out to get the Lordís anointed one. What does the word "anointed" mean in Hebrew? Messiah! Saul is after God's Messiah and Saul is after God's believing priests.

Satan still has the same strategy today. He worked to put to death Godís Messiah and instead death was defeated. Satan is powerless against Jesus. And so, he attacks us.

This is not a physical battle. It has physical ramifications and sometimes even leads to physical persecution, but the battle itself is a spiritual one and is fought with spiritual weapons.

Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, "And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king's son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house?

"Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair." (1 Samuel 22:14-15).

Ahimelech pleads ignorance to treason. He says, "Aiding and abetting the enemy? What enemy? David? The kingís son-in-law? The captain of the guard? The one who is honored in the house of the king? That "enemy"?

4. The Murder of the Priests of Nob.

But the king said, "You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's household!" (1 Samuel 22:16).

Saul is not content with Ahimelechís answer. He is angry and he is going to take it out on someone and he does not care if that someone is guilty or innocent.

Saul orders the execution of all the priests of the Lord. But the retainers of Saul are hesitant to lift up their hand against the priests of the Lord.

Then the king said to Doeg, "You turn around and attack the priests." And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod.

And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he struck with the edge of the sword. (1 Samuel 22:18-19).

Saul now turns to his pagan mercenary. And Doeg does the dastardly deed - acting as Saulís executioner. Saul puts the city of Nob under the ban. Everything is destroyed - men, women, children, infant, livestock.

Do you remember why Saul was last rejected by God? It was because he had disobeyed in destroying all that God had told him to destroy. He had spared the choice livestock from the Amalekites. But he does not do so here. His dedication in fighting against Godís people goes far beyond any dedication he showed in fighting the enemies of the Lord. He places the city under the ban.

There was a provision in the Mosaic Law under which Israelite cities were to be destroyed. It was for cases of idolatry.

"If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, `Let us go and serve other godsí (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. And if it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. 16 Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt." (Deuteronomy 12:12-16).

Saul orders the city of the priests of the Lord are to be put under the ban and utterly destroyed. This was the penalty of idolatry. But against which god had they been unfaithful? Who is Saulís god whom he is trying to protect? HE is! He sees idolatry against himself as idolatry against his god, namely himself.

5. The Report to David.

But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiather, escaped and fled after David. (1 Samuel 22:20).

Abiather escapes and comes to report to David. What is Davidís response? He takes full responsibility for the tragic events.

Then David said to Abiather, "I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomites was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your fatherís household.

"Stay with me, do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life; for you are safe with me." (1 Samuel 22:22-23).

This is the difference between David and Saul. It was not that Saul was a sinner while David was righteous. They were BOTH sinners. But David was willing to confess his sin.

The chapter thus concludes with king-elect and priest-elect joining forces as fellow fugitives.

 

SAUL PURSUES DAVID

The next four chapters of 1 Samuel are taken up largely with the various pursuits of David by Saul. David had fled from the presence of Saul and had sought refuge in various locales. Now Saul collects his posse and goes after David.

21:10

22:6

24:1

26:1

27:1

David seeks refuge in... Philistia & Judah

1st Pursuit

2nd Pursuit

3rd Pursuit

David given refuge in Philistia

Jonathanís encouragement (23:6).

Encounter with Saul (24:8).

Encounter with Saul (26:17).

1. David Delivers Keilah (23:1-5).

Then they told David, saying, "Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are plundering the threshing floors." (1 Samuel 23:1).

Keilah was a town of Judah. It was located about 8 miles northwest of Hebron. David receives news that it is under attack.

Threshing floors were open, circular areas where the grain kernels were separated from their husks. By looting the threshing floors, the Philistines were robbing Keilah's citizens of all their food supplies. David inquires of the Lord and is led by God to rescue the city.

So David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines; and he led away their livestock and struck them with a great slaughter. Thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah. (1 Samuel 23:5).

2. Saulís Response.

Saul hears the news that David has rescues the city from the Philistines. What is his response! Does he show concern for his subjects? Is he thankful for Davidís actions? No! He sees a self-serving opportunity to capture and kill David.

When it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hand, for he shut himself in by entering a city with double gates and bars."

So Saul summoned all the people for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men. (1 Samuel 23:7-8).

Up to this point, Saul has been unable to locate David. David has been keeping one step ahead of the law, first by leaving the country, and then hiding out in Sherwood Forest (the Hebrew says Hereth Forest).

When David hears that Saul is on his way, he inquires of the Lord as to whether the men of Keilah are to be trusted. The Lord speaks through Abiather, telling him that the men of Keilah will betray him.

Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit.

And David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. (1 Samuel 23:13-14).

Saul was a dogged hunter. He did not give up easily. But he could not catch David - not because David was so good at hiding, but because the Lord was in control.

Nevertheless, it would be physically, emotionally and spiritually wearing upon David to be constantly on the run. It would have been easy to become discouraged. And so, the Lord sends an encourager to minister to David.

3. Jonathanís Encouragement.

And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God.

Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father shall not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also."

So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house. (1 Samuel 23:14-18).

Jonathan comes and meets David, near Hebron. Jonathanís encouragement is in the form of a prophecy. The prophecy is that Saul will not find him, but that instead he will survive to be king. Jonathan seals his agreement with a formal covenant.

There is a noteworthy contrast here between the men of Keilah and Jonathan. The people of Keilah thought to give David up to Saul, perhaps to ingratiate themselves before the king. But Jonathan, the crown prince, has everything to lose and nothing to gain by protecting David. And yet it is HE who makes a covenant with David.

4. The Treachery of the Ziphites.

Whereas the people of Keilah were ready to give up David if Saul came and surrounded their city, the inhabitants of Ziph actively sought out Saul to betray David into his hands.

Keilah: "Weíll give David up if you surround our city."

Ziph: "Weíll actively look for a way to give up David into Saulís hands."

î

ì

Jonathan: Binds himself to David with a covenant

The Keilahites were planning to betray David, but they were not going to initiate the betrayal. They would let Saul do that. He was going to surround their city and destroy it in order to be sure he got David and all his men. The Keilahites would just hand David over.

The Ziphites live to the west of the Dead Sea, right in the heart of Judah. They are members of the same tribe as David. You would think they would be on his side. But they are not. They are only looking for what THEY can get out of it.

Saul has them to a thorough reconnaissance to trace all of Davidís movement. Only then does his make his move. As he comes down to capture David, David bolts for his hiding place in the wilderness. And Saul follows, for he has learned of Davidís hiding places. Saul plans for all possible contingencies. But he does not plan on the Lord.

But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land."

So Saul returned from pursuing David, and went to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape. (1 Samuel 23:27-28).

Saul may have thought of this as mere "bad luck." But David new better. He knew that God had brought about this way of escape.

And David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of Engedi. (1 Samuel 23:29).

Engedi is on the western side of the Dead Sea. It is an oasis where the rain from the Judean hills trickles down the limestone cliffs through steep valleys as it makes its way down to the Dead Sea.

5. Encounter at Engedi.

Now it came about when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi."

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. (1 Samuel 24:1-2).

Saul is still out to capture David. This time he hand-picks an elite fighting force. His men outnumber Davidís men 5 to 1. With this force, he travels down the wilderness to the oasis on the edge of the Dead Sea known as Engedi.

The name "En-gedi" means "eye of the little goat." It is a little paradise nestled between the steep limestone cliffs on the eastern edge of the wilderness of Judah where it drops down to the Dead Sea.. Where the waters of the mountains of Judah cascade over the cliffs in shimmering waterfalls, they have carved out hundreds of caves.

And he came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.

And the men of David said to him, "Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, `Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.í" Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul's robe secretly. (1 Samuel 24:3-4).

As Saul is conducting his reconnaissance in an effort, he decides to take a restroom break. There arenít any port-o-potties in the area, so Saul makes diligent use of a nearby cave. As chance would have it, Saul chooses the very cave in which David and his men are hiding.

Davidís men are elated. They whisper among themselves, "We are seeing a prophecy come true! God said that David would reign instead of Saul and here is Saul at our mercy!"

David silently moves against Saul, but not to murder him. David contents himself with merely cutting a piece off Saulís robe. My first impulse is to commend Davidís restraint. After all, he had Saul at his mercy and let him live. Whatís a piece of robe between enemies?

But on further reflection, we should note that this action was highly disrespectful on Davidís part. A bit like taking a photograph of the boss and putting it up on the dart board. Or fastening a note on someoneís back that reads, "Kick me." Or keying someoneís double-parked car.

What David did was a token slaying. He is thumbing his nose at the king of Israel. And after he has done this, he realizes the significance of his actions.

And it came about afterward that David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul's robe.

So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed." (1 Samuel 24:5-6).

David realizes that his actions were directed against the Lordís anointed one. The fact that he has also been anointed by God does not make a difference. His sin is effectively a rebellion against God.

This has direct ramifications in how we deal with conflicts with other Christians. Have you ever played the game, "Roast the pastor?" Or put down another Christian?

David names his sin before the Lord. His sin is in stretching out his hand against the Lordís anointed. His sin is murder - murder of the heart. David and Saul are both murderers. One has made an open attempt at murder. The other has performed a symbolic act of murder. But they are both guilty before the Lord.

Now afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. (1 Samuel 24:8).

After Saul has departed from the cave (and presumably has put no little distance between himself and David), David calls out to Saul and shows the piece of robe as evidence that he had Saul in his power but then released him alive.

"Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it.

"May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.

"As the proverb of the ancients says, `Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness;í but my hand shall not be against you.

"After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, a single flea?

"The Lord therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause, and deliver me from your hand." (1 Samuel 24:11-15).

Saul has been focusing upon David. David points to the Lord - the God of the covenant; the God who anointed Saul king; the God who allows Saul to stay king. Saul is not fighting David, he is fighting God.

To this end, David described himself as "a dead dog." What is the point? It is that David is nothing. God is everything. Youíve heard the old saying that "His bark is worse than his bite." Dead dogs can neither bark nor bite. They can do NOTHING.

David realizes that this is true of himself. He is powerless without the Lord. He is lower than a dog. He is a dead dog. Or perhaps even less. A flea on the carcass of a dead dog. Saul has been chasing after a single flea while the Philistines infest the entire country.

Saulís reaction is one of repentance.

Now it came about when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. (1 Samuel 24:16).

Did you notice what Saul had been calling David up to now? "Son of Jesse" (son of that family descended from the Moabitess). That kid!

But as David calls to Saul and shows compassion, mercy and respect, addressing him as, "My lord, the king" and "my father," Saul responds with a repentant heart.

And he said to David, "You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you.

"And you have declared today that you have done good to me, that the Lord delivered me into your hand and yet you did not kill me.

"For if a man finds his enemy, will be let him go away safely? May the Lord therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day." (1 Samuel 24:17-19).

Saul makes a public confession and fully acknowledges that David is doing right. He shows genuine remorse for his sins. And yet, we cannot help but notice that his words of blessing are identical with those with which he blessed the Ziphites for betraying David into his hands in chapter 23.

And Saul said, "May you be blessed of the Lord for your compassion on me." (1 Samuel 23:21).

Notice the emphasis of his blessing. It is self-centered. It is a blessing of benefit of SELF.

Before we are too quick to condemn Saul, let us pause and examine ourselves. How often do our prayers reflect a similar self-centered attitude? How often do we treat God as though He were a short order cook ("Iíll have a couple of blessings, a shot of spirituality and a day of divine protection to go").

Despite his failings, I believe that Saul was sincere. After all, he had originally loved David. And I think that there is something within Saulís heart that still loves David. This is seen as he predicts that David will indeed become king.

"And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father's household."

And David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. (1 Samuel 24:20-22).

Saul himself confirms that he knows David will one day be king. The very man David wanted to kill is the very man God uses to strengthen Davidís faith. On the other hand, I think it possible that this request points out a conspicuous flaw in David's character.

It was common in the ancient world for a new dynasty to eliminate man, woman and child, particularly male children, of the old dynasty. They wanted to eliminate all chance of opposition. When we come to the book of Kings, the wicked kings of the northern ten tribes do this again and again.

This request from the lips of Saul are an echo of Jonathanís request of David when he made a covenant with him and acknowledged that David would some day be king. Jonathan had requested, "If I am alive, be good to me and if I am dead, be good to my relatives." (1 Samuel 20:14-15).

Both Saul and Jonathan had loved David. And they both asked that, when the time came for David to reign, he would not effect retaliation upon their family.

Perhaps they knew something about David. Perhaps they knew that David had a tendancy toward vindictiveness. For this reason, they both ask that this vindictiveness not be directed toward their families.

This vindictiveness comes to light in the next chapter as David encounters two new characters - Nabal and Abigail.

 

NABAL & ABIGAIL

The incident involving Nabal and Abigail are set for in a chiasm which begins with the death of Samuel:

Samuel dies (1)

David comes to the land of Nabal and his wife Abigail (1-3).

David learns of Nabalís insult & prepares vengeance (4-13).

Abigail prepares food for David and his men (14-19).

David meets Abigail (20-35).

Abigail returns home where Nabal is eating food (36-38).

David learns of Nabalís death & praises God (39).

David takes Abigail as his second wife (39-43).

Saul treats David as though he were dead (44)

1. The Death of Samuel.

Then Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and buried him at his house in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. (1 Samuel 25:1).

Samuel had been friend and champion, first to Saul, and now to David. But now he was gone. And with his going would also go the last restraint upon Saul. David must have felt as though everything were now lost. And so, David travels southward.

The Massoretic Text reads that David came to the wilderness of Paran. However, this would have him entering the Sinai desert and this seems doubtful. The NIV has adopted the Septuagint reading of "Maon" (as is found in verse 2).

2. Introduction to Nabal and Abigail.

Now there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel; and the man was very rich, and he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. And it came about while he was shearing his sheep in Carmel 3 (now the man's name was Nabal, and his wife's name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite), 4 that David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. (1 Samuel 25:2-4).

We are introduced to a man and his wife. They lived in Maon, a town in the hill country of southern Judah (9 miles south of Hebron).

a. Nabal means "fool."

I do not think that he was foolish in the worldís eyes. To the contrary, he was a wealthy businessman. He embodied those qualities which are esteemed in the business world today.

This is the Biblical definition of a fool - one who has said in his heart that there is no God (Psalm 14:1).

Nabal was a descendant of Caleb - the same Caleb who had accompanied Joshua into the land of Canaan. The descendants of Caleb were known for being stubborn. Caleb had been stubborn for the glory of God. Nabal was stubborn for himself.

b. Abigail means "joy of her father."

She is the picture of wisdom. We cannot hold it against her that she was married to a fool, since marriages in those days would have been arranged by the parents.

She is described as being "intelligent and beautiful in appearance." If a "fool" is one who lives as though there is not God, "intelligence" denotes one who lives in light of Godís presence - "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10).

3. Davidís Request.

So David sent ten young men, and David said to the young men, "Go up to Carmel. visit Nabal and greet him in my name; 6 and thus you shall say, ĎHave a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7 And now I have heard that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us and we have not insulted them, nor have they missed anything all the days they were in Carmel. 8 Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we have come on a festive day. Please give whatever you find at hand to your servants and to your son David.í" (1 Samuel 25:5-8).

David sends a delegation to Nabal asking for supplies. It is a reasonable request. David has been instrumental in protecting Nabalís flocks from theAmalekite rustlers. The reason that Nabal is having such a prosperous season because of the presence of David. And so, David appeals to the grace of Nabal.

4. Nabalís Reply.

But Nabal answered David's servants, and said, "Who is David? And who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants today who are each breaking away from his master.

"Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?" (1 Samuel 25:10-11).

Nabalís words are insulting in the extreme. By pretending ignorance as to Davidís mere existence, he indicates that David is too unimportant and too insignificant a man for him to know.

If you want to insult a Mideasterner just question his heritage, his parentage. Nabal not only feigns ignorance of this national hero, but he casts disparaging remarks upon Davidís family.

5. Davidís Anger.

And David said to his men, "Each of you gird on his sword." So each man girded on his sword. And David also girded on his sword, and about four hundred men went up behind David while two hundred stayed with the baggage. (1 Samuel 25:13).

Gone are the gracious words in the message he sent to Nabal. David is furious. He is out for revenge.

Notice what David does NOT do here that he has done prior to every other battle. He does not inquire of the Lord. In his anger, it seems as though he has forgotten all about the Lord. Vengeance will be his, and the Lord can have whatever is left.

6. Abigailís Intervention.

When Abigail learns of how her husband has treated David, she goes behind his back to take matters into her own hand.

Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread and two jugs of wine and five sheep already prepared and five measures [60 quarts] of roasted grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.

And she said to her young men, "Go on before me; behold, I am coming after you." But she did not tell her husband Nabal. (1 Samuel 25:18-19).

Abigail takes drastic steps to save her husband from the results of his own folly. It might be argued that she is not being submissive to his authority. This is another case of civil (or in this case, domestice) disobedience.

Her purpose is the same as Jonathanís civil disobedience. She is seeking to redeem her husband from the effect of his folly. And she also seeks to redeem David from his sinful vengeance.

Abigailís actions are similar to those of Jacob when he returned to the land of Canaan and was confronted with the news that Esau was coming to meet him with a force of 400 men.

Do you remember what Jacob did? He took a groups of sheep, goats, camels, cattle and donkey and had each group approach Esau one after another with word that these were presents. Five great presents approached Esau, one after another. As a result, Esauís anger was assuaged. Abigail does the same thing here.

When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David, and bowed herself to the ground.

And she fell at his feet and said, "On me alone, my lord, be the blame. And please let your maidservant speak to you, and listen to the words of your maidservant.

"Please do not let my lord pay attention to this worthless man Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I your maidservant did not see the young men of my lord whom you sent." (1 Samuel 25:23-25).

Abigail shows us how to deal with an angry man. She had lived all her married life with an ungodly man and David is acting in an ungodly manner. She begins with the approach outlined in 1 Peter 3, "Wives be submissive to your own husbands so if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of they wives as they observe your pure and respectful behavior."

a. Respectful behavior.

She comes to an angry man, who is on an ego trip, who has no right to be where he is, and the first thing she does is show him respect. He has not earned this respect from her. But she gives in anyway.

Keep in mind that Abigail is not some peasant girl. She is the wife of a wealthy man. She has flocks and herds and servants.

b. An attitude of submission. Abigail falls to Davidís feet. Instead of pride, there is true humility here.

c. She accepts the full weight of Nabalís guilt: "On me alone, my lord, be the blame."

This is what Jesus has done on our behalf. He humbled himself, laying aside His glory and becoming flesh to walk our dirty streets and pay for our dirty sins.

7. Davidís Repentance.

Then David said to Abigail, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me, 33 and blessed be your discernment, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodshed, and from avenging myself by my own hand.

"Nevertheless, as the Lord God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from harming you, unless you had come quickly to meet me, surely there would not have been left to Nabal until the morning light as much as one male." (1 Samuel 25:32-34).

David realizes that the hand of the Lord has been active in sending Abigail to him in this situation. We know the nature of his repentance by looking at his focus. It is upon the Lord.

He realizes that it would have been sinful to take matters into his own hands and to take his vengeance against Nabal. Not because Nabal is right. Indeed, he does not change his mind about Nabal. The issue is not about Nabal at all. The issue is submission to the Lord.

Notice the role of Abigail. She plays the part of an intercessor. She sets out to be a peacemaker. She stops David from taking vengeance.

Nabal: Reacts with arrogance and pride

ç

Abigail

è

David: Reacts with humility and faith

What role are you playing today? Which of these is a picture of your own spiritual life? Are you a Nabal, a David or an Abigail?

8. Nabalís Death.

Notice what Abigail does not do. She does not desert her husband to go running off with David. She returns to her proper place. Neither does she try to deceive him. Instead, she confesses her actions.

Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk: so she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light.

But it came about in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, that his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone.

And about ten days later, it happened that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died. (1 Samuel 25:36-38).

Instead of David taking vengeance upon Nabal, it is the Lord who strikes him down. Hearing the news, David sends a proposal to Abigail, taking her as his wife.

Note: Abigail ultimately has a child by David who is evidently raised to become the heir of Nabalís estates in accordance with Levitical Law. In 2 Samuel 3:3 he was named Chileab, meaning "father of restraint" (the same word used in verse 33).

 

DAVID & SAULíS FINAL ENCOUNTER

Chapter 24 and chapter 26 have some noteable similarities. In both chapters...

The contrast of these two chapters with chapter 25 form a chiasm:

David refuses to smite Saul (24).

David refuses to smite Saul (26).

ê

é

David initially intends and then repents of his plan to smite Nabal (25:1-35).

è

God smites Nabal (25:36-55).

1. David Comes into the Camp of Saul.

David then arose and came to the place where Saul had camped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army; and Saul was lying in the circle of the camp, and the people were camped around them. (1 Samuel 26:5).

This is not the first time that Abner has been mentioned, but he will come more and more to the forefront as we progress through the books of Samuel.

Abner was Saulís cousin. He had been with Saul for a long time. It had been Abner who had first presented David to Saul following his slaying of Goliath (17:55-58).

Then David answered and said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joabís brother, saying, "Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?" And Abishai said, "I will go down with you." (1 Samuel 26:6).

Joab and Abishai were cousins to David. They were his two companions both in war and in peace. Between the two, it was Abishai who seems to have been the more impetuous one.

So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him.

Then Abishai said to David, "Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time." (1 Samuel 26:7-8).

As they come upon Saul in the midst of the camp, Abishai asks permission to strike Saul and kill him in his sleep. His reasoning is that...

David is not swayed. He has consistently refused to take part in the slaying of the Lordís anointed.

But David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lordís anointed and be without guilt?"

David also said, "As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish.

"The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lordís anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water, and let us go."

So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saulís head, and the went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a sound sleep from the Lord had fallen on them. (1 Samuel 26:9-12).

Saul was the Lordís anointed one. It did not matter that David was also anointed of the Lord. He respected the fact that Saul was special and holy in the eyes of the Lord and he would not dishonor that anointing.

In Psalm 2, we read of kings and rulers who take counsel against the Lord and against His Anointed (Psalm 2:2). The word "anointed" is the Hebrew word "Messiah." The Greek translation is the word "Christ."

2. David Calls to Saul.

Then David crossed to the other side, and stood on top of the mountain at a distance with a large area between them. (1 Samuel 26:13).

First taking himself out of Saulís reach, David calls out and attracts the attention of those who are pursuing him. He directs his comments to Abner, berating him for doing such a poor job of protecting Saul and showing as evidence the spear and jug of Saul.

Saul again speaks words of repentance, inviting David to return to the land in peace.

Then Saul said to David, "Blessed are you, my son David; you will both accomplish much and surely prevail." So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place. (1 Samuel 26:25).

There are two different approaches to life that are pictured in this chapter. You always find yourself taking one of these two approaches.

Everyone has faith. The question is WHERE is your faith. Our problem is that we all have varying degrees of trust in self. We see it when we experience worry or jealousy or strife or materialistic ambition. To the extent that we indulge in this self-trust, we will share in Saulís bitter experience. He feels compelled to hold onto his kingdom and to put down anyone he sees as a threat.

By contrast, when a person comes to grips with the grace of God, he can act the part of David.

Have you come to know the grace of God. Have you learned the lesson of David and have you come to the Son of David?


About the Author
Return to the St Andrews Homepage
Return to Online Bible Studies & Sermons Page
Have a Comment?