1 Samuel 21:1-23:29
David visited Ahimelech the priest, at Nob, and asked for food. David lied to Ahimelech and told him he was on a secret mission for the king. Ahimelech did not have any ordinary bread. He had ‘consecrated bread; that had been removed from before the Lord’s presence and replaced by hot bread. This was only meant to be eaten by priests. Also, David had fled from Saul with no weapons and so he also took Goliath’s sword that had been stored there. One of Saul’s servants, Doeg the Edomite, witnessed these things.
David went to Achish, king of Gath, but found he was already too well-known there. The servants referred to him as ‘the king of Israel’ (1 Sam 21:11). David feigned insanity to escape to the cave of Adullam where he gathered four hundred followers. He had a rag-tag army of ‘those who were in distress or in debt or discontented’ (1 Sam 22:2). As Christians, we should welcome all wounded people into our ranks to form the army of Christ.
David sent his parents to safety with the king of Moab and was advised by a prophet to go into the land of Judah.
Saul was told by Doeg that the priest, Ahimelech, had given David provisions and a sword and so he confronted him. Ahimelech was innocent of conspiring against Saul because he had been falsely told by David that he was still working for the king. The king ordered his guards to kill all the priests but they refused. Instead, Doeg killed eighty-five priests and put the whole priestly town of Nob to the sword. Saul had now clearly set himself against God.
Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, escaped to David who realised that Doeg had reported him. However, David knew this would happen and so David felt responsible for the death of all the priests.
The Philistines were attaching the town of Keilah and David asks the Lord, for the first time as a leader, what he should do. God told him to attack the Philistines and save Keilah. The priest that had fled to David, Abiathar, had brought the official priestly ephod (priestly vestment) with him. David’s men were already frightened of Saul and weren’t keen to pick a fight with another nation. David asked God again, who confirmed that He ‘would give the Philistines into your hand’ (1 Sam 23:4). David and his men rescued Keilah, fighting the Philistines and carrying off their livestock.
David, with the priest and the ephod, again asked God the future. God confirmed that if he stayed in Keilah, Saul would come to attack him and the citizens of the town would hand him over. David escaped – now with six hundred men – and kept moving from place to place. Day after day, Saul searched for him but David was able to hide in the desert as he was protected by God.
Saul’s son, Jonathan, went to find David at Horesh. Jonathan loved David so much that he was happy for David to take his birth-right in the future, to become king. Jonathan wanted to be second to him. They made a covenant together before the Lord (1 Sam 23:18). We need to loyally help all our friends when they are being persecuted, particularly those who have no-one else to rely on.
The Ziphites informed Saul that David was hiding in their territory. Saul asked them to come back with definite information as to his location. Saul went off to the desert of Mon and was closing in on David and his men when a messenger arrived and announced that the Philistines were raiding the land (1 Sam 23:27). Saul was diverted to fight the invading forces. It is amazing how God used a pagan nation, the Philistines, to intervene at precisely the right moment to save one of his faithful servants.
Judas guided a detachment of soldiers and religious officials to arrest Jesus. When Jesus confirmed his name, ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’ (John 18:6). We should aim to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that evil people cannot stand to be with us and will fall to the floor as we approach. It would be fantastic to be able to deliver people from evil spirits just by walking into a room due to the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit within us.
Jesus did not try to hide or pretend to be someone else. He was proud to be Jesus Christ with the name above all other names (Phil. 2:9). Jesus did not care for his own safety, he handed himself over and wanted all his disciples to be be set free.
Simon Peter cut off the priest’s servant’s ear with a sword. According to Luke, Jesus then healed him (Luke 22:51). The injured man, Malchus, was healed by a saviour he didn’t believe in and wanted to imprison. Jesus wants to heal and forgive all of us, even when we are still working for the devil. By healing Malchis, Jesus also stopped Simon Peter being convicted of violence.
Jesus was struck in the face for speaking the truth. Speaking the truth can bring both physical and mental attacks. However, we have no choice as disciples of Jesus but to bear witness to the truth. We have the Spirit of Truth living within us and he helps us to discern right from wrong.
As baptized, believing Christians we should not worry about what to say when we are prosecuted for our faith. The Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say (Luke 12:11-12).
We should never be too proud to take advice. We can be turned away from death by the teaching of the wise (Prov. 13:14). Ignoring good advice can bring poverty and shame (Prov.13:18). Love and humility can prevent a lot of pointless quarrels.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves (Prov. 13:11).
We should always live in hope: hope of having all our prayers granted; hope of enjoying everlasting life in heaven. When God answers our prayers, it is sweet to our souls. We need to persevere in prayer. Endurance will bring character. To combat temporary disappointments we need to live in permanent gratitude. Give God praise and glory for the wonderful gifts he has delivered in our lives.
Many people are hostile to the gospel and do not want to radically change their lifestyles (Prov. 13:19). Praying for our family, friends, colleagues will result in miracles as God works on their hardened hearts and removes the scales from their eyes.
Image: Unterlinden Museum, CC BY 2.0