David Rescues Keilah.
1. Then they told David—rather, "now
they had told"; for this information had reached him previous to his
hearing (1Sa 23:6) of
the Nob tragedy.
Keilah—a city in the west of Judah
15:44), not far from the
forest of Hareth.
and they rob the
threshing-floors—These were commonly situated on the fields
and were open to the wind (Jud 6:11; Ru 3:2).
2-5. David inquired of the Lord—most
probably through Gad (2Sa 24:11; 1Ch 21:9), who was present in David's camp (1Sa 22:5), probably by the recommendation
of Samuel. To repel unprovoked assaults on unoffending people who were
engaged in their harvest operations, was a humane and benevolent
service. But it was doubtful how far it was David's duty to go against
a public enemy without the royal commission; and on that account he
asked, and obtained, the divine counsel. A demur on the part of his men
led David to renew the consultation for their satisfaction; after
which, being fully assured of his duty, he encountered the aggressors
and, by a signal victory, delivered the people of Keilah from further
6. an ephod—in which was the Urim and
28:30). It had, probably,
been committed to his care, while Ahimelech and the other priests
repaired to Gibeah, in obedience to the summons of Saul.
1Sa 23:7-13. Saul's Coming,
and Treachery of the Keilites.
7. it was told Saul that David was come to
Keilah—Saul imagined himself now certain of his victim, who
would be hemmed within a fortified town. The wish was father to the
thought. How wonderfully slow and unwilling to be convinced by all his
experience, that the special protection of Providence shielded David
from all his snares!
8. Saul called all the people together to
war—not the united tribes of Israel, but the inhabitants of
the adjoining districts. This force was raised, probably, on the
ostensible pretext of opposing the Philistines, while, in reality, it
was secretly to arouse mischief against David.
9. he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither
the ephod—The consultation was made, and the prayer uttered,
by means of the priest. The alternative conditions here described have
often been referred to as illustrating the doctrine of God's
foreknowledge and preordination of events.
1Sa 23:14-18. David Escapes
14, 15. David abode in the wilderness … of
Ziph—A mountainous and sequestered region was generally
called a wilderness, and took its name from some large town in the
district. Two miles southeast of Hebron, and in the midst of a level
plain, is Tell-ziph, an isolated and conical hillock, about a hundred
feet high, probably the acropolis [Van De
Velde], or the ruins [Robinson]
of the ancient city of Ziph, from which the surrounding wilderness was
called. It seems, anciently, to have been covered by an extensive
woods. The country has for centuries lost its woods and forests, owing
to the devastations caused by man.
16, 17. Jonathan went to David into the wood, and
strengthened his hand in God—by the recollection of their
mutual covenant. What a victory over natural feelings and lower
considerations must the faith of Jonathan have won, before he could
seek such an interview and give utterance to such sentiments! To talk
with calm and assured confidence of himself and family being superseded
by the man who was his friend by the bonds of a holy and solemn
covenant, could only have been done by one who, superior to all views
of worldly policy, looked at the course of things in the spirit and
through the principles of that theocracy which acknowledged God as the
only and supreme Sovereign of Israel. Neither history nor fiction
depicts the movements of a friendship purer, nobler, and more
self-denying than Jonathan's!
1Sa 23:19-29. Saul Pursues
19-23. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to
Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us?—From the
tell of Ziph a panorama of the whole surrounding district is to be
seen. No wonder, then, that the Ziphites saw David and his men passing
to and fro in the mountains of the wilderness. Spying him at a distance
when he ventured to show himself on the hill of Hachilah, "on the right
hand of the wilderness," that is, the south side of Ziph, they sent in
haste to Saul, to tell him of the lurking place of his enemy [Van De Velde].
25. David … came down into a rock, and abode
in the wilderness of Maon—Tell Main, the hillock on which was
situated the ancient Maon (Jos 15:55),
and from which the adjoining wilderness took its name, is one mile
north, ten east from Carmel. The mountain plateau seems here to end. It
is true the summit ridge of the southern hills runs out a long way
further towards the southwest; but towards the southeast the ground
sinks more and more down to a tableland of a lower level, which is
called "the plain to the right hand [that is, to the south] of the
wilderness" [Van De Velde].
29. David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong
holds at En-gedi—that is, "the spring of the wild goats or
gazelles"—a name given to it from the vast number of ibexes or
Syrian chamois which inhabit these cliffs on the western shore of the
Dead Sea (Jos 15:62).
It is now called Ain Jiddy. On all sides the country is full of
caverns, which might then serve as lurking places for David and his
men, as they do for outlaws at the present day [Robinson].