1 SAMUEL 22:1 – 24:22 and LUKE 17:1–37
1 Sam 22
David now moves to the caves at Adullam. We also note that he gathers a band of people around him who were in distress, discounted or in debt. It is a picture of Christ who was able to identify with the downtrodden of society. It appears that God allowed David to be brought to Adullam under such circumstances as a way of preparing him further for his future reign.
In verse 5 David is exhorted by the prophet Gad to depart and get further into the land of Judah. Perhaps it was felt that he would be better protected and defended being in the land of his brethren. Saul explodes in fury when he hears about David and the fact that many knew of his whereabouts but did not inform him. The envy is now taking on full scale rage. Remember when Jesus spoke about having anger in the heart and how it could be linked to murder (Math 5:21-22)? This also helps us to understand the chain of events between Cain and Abel. We can equate Saul to being like Cain. Their lives and offerings were rejected while the heart and offerings of David and Abel were acceptable before God. Cain’s anger and jealousy resulted in the murder of his brother (Gen 4:4-8). Saul’s envy is now manifesting itself in his zeal to murder David.
Saul had someone who was sympathetic to his rant. This man was named Doeg and he used this opportunity to report on David when he was with Ahimelech the priest (vs 9). Doeg is the type of character who seeks to exploit situations in the manner that Ham did with his father Noah. He gives an account of what he saw and witnessed while David was there. When you look at what Doeg did you get a good picture of what is seen today. The Doeg’s of today are always looking for people to exploit and expose. They do this to ingratiate themselves with people of influence for the purpose of promoting themselves. The spirit that is driving Doeg is similar to what will be seen in Haman when we get to the Book of Esther. Doeg is a despicable personality yet God uses people like this for the fulfilment of purposes.
The rage of Saul is now driving him to execute Ahimelech and all of the priests for the help that was given to David. Ahimelech responded wisely to Saul but it did not assuage the kings anger. He ordered his murder and it was left to the despicable Doeg to follow through on the act. (There were others there who would not do it due to knowing the innocence of David and Ahimelech.) If only Saul would have been as thorough with Amalek as he was with Ahimelech and his priests this whole sequence of events would probably never had occurred. There were 85 priests that were slain on that occasion and only one of the priests was able to escape. This priest was Abiathar who found his way to David and stayed alongside him to the end of his life. Abiathar informed David as to all that had taken place.
One can imagine the deep lament that David must have had when he heard the news of Ahimelech and his priests. He felt the time would come when Doeg would one day turn on David. He saw himself as being responsible and occasioning the deaths of these dear men (vs 22). It is a sobering reality in seeing what happens when a person of stature loses the anointing. It gives great opportunity for the enemy to come in and begin to work. This can only be countered with deep rooted repentance provided God would grant it. We know that Esau sought repentance which God did not grant (Heb 12:17). It was an Edomite, whose roots are tied to Esau who followed through in the execution of these priests. He did not have to report to Saul but there was something in his heart that looked to take advantage. The sin of Esau was his appetite, the light regarding of the things of God. Whatever was in the heart of Doeg resulted in the murder of Ahimelech and his 85 priests. David is in training for reigning. One can be sure that this was not what would be expected. Similarly, we should not be surprised when seeing certain events playing out in our lives. We need to see God as sovereign and in control; to come to a place of being able to rest in His plan and purposes.
1 Sam 23
David and his men are confronted with the possibility of war with the Philistines at a place called Keilah. He enquires of the Lord whether he should go to battle against them or not and the Lord gives permission to go to battle. The men with David felt it was better to join hands with David and fight these kinds of battles than to be stationary in Judah. David and his men are becoming a fighting force. The Lord delivered them in this battle and they were able to take a great spoil.
We also see that Abiathar is with David with the ephod. David will be doing much enquiring of the Lord during this period in his fleeing from Saul. David is not just being trained for his future role as a king but he is being trained to be a true priest as well. God is very much in control and His sovereignty can be clearly seen. The news of David’s exploits becomes known to Saul who still is in furious pursuit of David. He assumes that the Lord has now delivered David into his hands at Keilah (vs 7). Saul calls for the men of war to go to Keilah to capture David and his men (vs 8). In verses 9-12 David makes enquiry to the Lord as he has Abiathar the priest bring to him the ephod. The Lord responds by saying that the men of Keilah would deliver David to Saul if he were to come to that place. David and his men (about 600 of them) leave Keilah and continue to move on (vs 13).
David and his men came to a stronghold called Ziph. Saul was driven in his zeal to find David and to destroy him. The Lord however is in control and does not allow David to be delivered into his hand. We made the point earlier as to how God intervenes on behalf of His own when they are walking in the will of God. David was anointed to be king and finds himself running for his life from the current king. David has a priest alongside him and together they make constant enquiry as to what they should do next. It is here where we see the usage of the Urim and Thummim at work. The sovereign plan of God is ascertained by David as he faithfully goes forward. David is very much in the center of God’s will. He is not making presumptuous enquiries; it is a life or death matter for him at this period.
There is an intimacy that is beginning to develop between David and God. It resembles the intimacy that Jesus displayed during His earthly ministry. We saw how the Father would deliver His Son when the enemy sought to kill him. This is not a simple account of hide and seek that is taking place between David and Saul. There are clear patterns here we need to observe and take note of. We can come to a place of such intimacy where God’s voice can be heard; where guidance through troubling waters can be given so that we can be preserved and prepared in our own respective journeys. God allows for a refreshing to come to David by allowing Jonathan to come to him (vs 16-18). To David this would be like a mini oasis, a short season of being revived by a brother whom he was very close to. The Bible says much about the closeness of a brother, especially at selective times.
Pro 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
The relationship between David and Jonathan is a subject all its own. I somehow feel that this was exactly what David needed at this moment. It helps to affirm David in his calling to reign and allows for perspective to be revived. The reality of what is taking place is far more than just a Saul versus David kind of conflict. This is a kingdom issue where the forces of Satan are engaged against the sovereign will of God. We saw something similar in the days of Moses. You had Satan empowering Pharaoh while God was empowering Moses. Here we have the formation of a true king/priest being threatened and pursued by one who lost his anointing in much the same way Lucifer lost his appointed role in heaven. This is a battle that is pitting the kingdom of heaven against the kingdom of hell and its expression is coming forth through David and Saul. The heavenly Father strengthened and encouraged His Son at Transfiguration Mountain (Math 17:1-7). Perhaps, this brief meeting between Jonathan and David could be likened to that event.
In the last chapter we saw Doeg the Edomite turn on David; here it is the Ziphites who are about to do the same thing. There will always be such adversaries and I guess we should not be surprised by it. Saul blesses them for this news and makes plans to come against David. Once again we see the sovereign hand of God at work as He allows for the Philistines to stir up trouble causing Saul to temporarily halt his pursuit of David. Is it not encouraging seeing how God works on behalf of those who please Him? He makes a way where there is no way. He is sovereign and He can orchestrate events to accommodate His will. It is essential for us to have a tender and pure heart before Him; a heart that does not seek its own way. It is to such a person that God would move heaven and earth to accommodate His will and purposes. Though David is in a wilderness, constantly fleeing from Saul with a meager band of men he is yet being shown the greatness of God and His ways. It’s true; God’s ways and thoughts are certainly not like that of men (Isa 55:9).
1 Sam 24
The war with the Philistines has ended and the attention of Saul again returns towards David. He takes 3000 men and comes to Engedi. This was a wilderness place, a stronghold that David had probably gained some familiarity with. The Lord in reality was delivering Saul into David’s hand. This was his opportunity to avenge Saul for all that he had done. The men alongside David saw it that way (vs 4). It would seem only natural after what happened to Ahimelech and the priests (1 Sam 22:18-19). This resembles the opportunity given to Moses when he could be set free from the complaining multitudes of people (Exo 32:10). What did Moses do? This was a defining moment for Moses as he recognized the big picture. He came to know the heart and person of God which enabled him to more effectively lead Israel. He came to know the long-suffering and merciful character of God (Exo 34:6). He could have been rid of all the problems and complaining of people and God would have raised Him up. It was here where Moses entered into a whole new realm of leadership due to His proximity to God. He now was a man who came to truly know God’s ways and thoughts (Isa 55:9).
David’s role as a leader is defined in this moment in a similar fashion. He can be set free from his nemesis. He does take a portion of Saul’s skirt as proof of his being able to take his life. He is immediately aware that Saul is God’s appointed leader and it is not for him to take advantage of this opportunity. This is a true defining moment for David. His response is one of the qualities that endeared him to God; being a man after God’s own heart. David saw what others could not see. He saw God working all of this for good (Rom 8:28). He was like the Apostle Paul who was able to rejoice in his prison experience because he saw the fruit of patience being developed in his life (Rom 5:3).
Do we have that kind of perspective today? Are we so closely aligned with God whereby we can see His hand working in ways that sometimes does not make sense? David could have killed Saul but he saw something bigger. He came to know a bit more about God and His ways. He saw Saul as God’s appointed leader for this season. He saw Saul and his pursuit of him as something that God was allowing. This perspective would prove helpful but it does not lessen the reality of its impact. David will yet come to a place of greater trial and struggle but in it he is being prepared to lead as a king/priest who has a heart after God.
Would today’s church put up with this kind of reality? We become so easily offended over trivial issues. I truly fear that we are ill equipped for what God is looking to do. We are called to be true kings and priests and I do not feel we are even close to qualifying according to the criteria seen here in David’s life. It is a matter of perspective. How would you see the pursuit of Saul in modern day terms? Would you respond as David did? Would you be able to recognize God’s hand working behind the scenes for the purpose of preparing you to rule and reign? These are questions we need to ponder over. Just because we are born again and in the kingdom of God does not mean we are automatically kings and priests. True kings and priests are made and the example we see in David’s life here is showing us the process.
There are several accounts covered in this chapter that we have seen in some of the other gospels. There is the message on forgiveness.(Math 18:21-22). The faith of a mustard seed (Math 13:31, Mark 4:31) and the account of the last days (Math 24). The portion I feel to highlight is covered in verses 11-19. It is the account of the cleansing of the lepers. Jesus enters into a certain village where there were 10 men who had leprosy. They recognized Jesus and then cried out for mercy (vs 13). Jesus gives them instruction to go show themselves to the priest which was the fulfillment of a Levitical ceremonial law (Lev 14:2). It was in their going to the priest that they were healed. The priest was not the source of the healing he was the means by which one would be pronounced clean.
In verse 15 there is one man who returned to Christ after coming to the knowledge of his healing. It is hard to say whether he actually followed through in going to the priests nonetheless he returned to the great physician and gave thanks. This man broke Old Testament ceremonial law; he returned to the source of his healing. The other 9 presumably showed themselves to the priests, were pronounced clean and went about their lives in being healed from their leprosy. One returned and gave thanks. 1/10 of those healed returned with thanksgiving. There were 1/10 of the people who would not settle in Babylon but rather returned to the land in the time of restoration (Isa 6:12-13). The principle of the one tenth has significant meaning in scripture. The 1/10th who returned from captivity were made whole (Jer 24:6-7). It is the same with this man who was cured from leprosy. Look at what Jesus says to him as a result of his coming back and giving thanks.
Luk 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
The other nine did not return to give glory to God (Luk 17:18). Can we better understand the principal of tithing? In tithing with a cheerful and thankful heart we are giving glory to God. The 1/10th captives of Babylon who returned to their native land did so with thanksgiving; God was glorified through His people and restored temple. It is a picture of a greater restoration to come in these last days.
A problem we have seen with the children of Israel in the Old Testament was their inability to be truly thankful for all that God had done for them. They resemble the 9 men cleansed of leprosy. They cried out for mercy, received their healing and then went their way. Israel did the same thing until their next crisis came along. Jesus cited this one man who returned and accredited it to faith. It was a step of faith in his returning to give thanks.
A song comes to mind that somewhat speaks to this event. “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord”. The song then goes on to say the following “and we offer unto you the sacrifices of thanksgiving…” A cheerful thankful heart is so pleasing to God. This man who returned to give thanks for his healing received more than just a healing. He was made whole! It is the thought of a potter’s vessel being broken and remade into wholeness. It is a picture of true restoration, something that is broken and then restored into something greater. We celebrate the healings but it is a far greater thing to be restored in body, soul and spirit. The key is in our ability to give thanks. Remember, an unthankful heart is the first step to backsliding. A thankful heart, a cheery disposition keeps us our heart soft, pliable and open to the Lord. This kind of heart is what God longs for. May God help us to be like the one who returned and gave thanks so that we to can be whole and fully restored.