This journey is marked with great drama and powerful emotions. Here are some of the action words or ideas that can be found in these six chapters: joy, galled, anger, betrayal, fear, bold rescues, grief, love, friendship, daring escapes, fiend insanity, ruthless pursuit, murder, and jealousy. Michal, Saul’s youngest daughter, is a big part of this drama. She “loved” David but Saul knew he could use her as a snare to kill him. She helped David make a daring escape but I find it interesting that she never tried to flee Saul and go to David’s side. I believe that since David was a songwriter he used the things in his life to be the inspiration for his songs. I could attribute fifteen psalms to this time of drama.
The story of Keilah is the story of David starting to act like a king. In the time it is set with the Feast because a harvest was happening, which is what the Philistines were after – the grain. Keilah must have been an important city because it had “bars and gates” and a population big enough to “hand David over” to Saul. On most maps, David’s hideout is only a few miles from the city. To compare Saul and David here is appropriate; David went to the city and liberated it from the enemy but the Bible never mentions Saul going there to check on the population.
In Chapter 23 we see David growing as a leader and David’s men learning to trust him as a leader. There is a difference between saying someone is your leader and then actually following him into battle. David’s habit of asking God for directions is mentioned at least five times in this story. It would seem that David had a prophet named Gad and after the victory in Keilah the priest of God named Abiathar and Aaron’s Breastplate (the ephod) to give Heaven sent answers.
David gained much knowledge and help from his willingness to free Keilah.
- He found out that just because God had you do something it does not mean the people will be thankful, the citizens of Keilah would have turned him over to Saul.
- David learned that you follow God just because He says to do it. This will lead to God’s bragging on you and not praise from men.
- David learned to keep his options open and to ask more than one time for directions.
- On the practical side, he picked up 200 more men, the Philistine’s supplies, and a new enemy.
David’s new enemy was the Ziphities. They were descendants of Caleb and a leading clan in Judah. They were going to turn David over to Saul even though David rescued Keilah. The reason could have been many but jealousy and fear of losing prominence within the Tribe of Judah possible were factors. David penned Psalm 54 over this incident and with phrases like, “Let evil recoil on those who slander me” verse 6 (NIV); it is clear there was no love loss. The word Ziph deals with flowing asphalt. This was found around the Dead Sea and brings to memory its trapping ability when Bera’s men fled in Genesis 14:10 and fell into tar pits.
He is a priest (Aaron’s family) and a member of the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:30). He was faithful to David during his life but did not agree with Solomon as king. He sided with Adonijah so Solomon removed him and his family from being a priest (1 Kings 2:22). It is possible that his family being killed was going on at the same time as David rescuing Keilah; compare 1 Samuel 22:20 with 23:6.
For me, the BIG thing in this story is that David, acting independent of Saul, showed compassion and concern for the people of Israel. This is the first recorded time that he did what a king would have done, save a city.