Fleeing in Faith

Posted: October 22, 2009 in 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 22-23, “Fleeing in Faith”
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When we last left David, he was running for his life away from Saul. Saul was furious that the kingdom had been ripped away from him, and promised to David – and even his own son Jonathan had covenanted with this person he saw as a usurper to the throne. So, finding a way to trick Saul, Jonathan & David learned Saul’s true intents, and David fled. He did so by walking in his flesh – lying to the priest Ahimelech, and trying to find refuge in the land of his enemy (Gath of Philistia). To keep his head, David has to feign insanity, but even in his humiliation he praised God (Ps 34), recognizing that God was the one to deliver him.

So will David learn his lesson? He’s tried fleeing in his flesh; now he’s going to try fleeing in faith. And God will prove Himself to be faithful every time.

1 Samuel 22 (NKJV)
1 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam [Ps 57 & 142 written there]. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

A. Interesting development with his brothers. Originally, they seemed to object to David’s anointing, but now they receive it… At the very least, they recognize the potential trouble their lives could be in, simply for being related to David. For the right reason or just a convenient one, they ended up coming alongside the anointed one of God.
__a. Isn’t that the way so many of us were? Some people truly saw their spiritual poverty & trusted Christ. Others had no where else to go, so they came to the foot of the Cross. Still others of us didn’t even have a clue what was going on & God surprised us out of the blue & called us to Himself. (Personally, I was just going for a free concert…) However we came to Christ, praise God that He revealed Himself to us & saved us!

B. Who came with David? 400 men badly in need of help. In debt, in trouble, in discontent with Saul…not exactly what most recruiting officers would be looking for when building an army. If a general had his pick of the crop, most of these guys probably would have been refused. … We see the same thing with Jesus & the disciples. He chose fishermen, tax collectors, hotheads (James & John), doubters (Thomas), and even petty thieves (Judas) to follow him.
__a. Just like us. We were not the noble ones, but God called us… 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 (26) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. (27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; [] There was nothing about us that God should have chosen us; all of us should have been rejected! But God in His grace DID choose us! …
__b. BTW, this may be how David’s army began, but this is not how they were known later on. The more time they spent with David, they eventually became known as “David’s mighty men.” … The same thing happens to us the more time we spend with Christ Jesus. Look at what happened to the apostles: all but Judas Iscariot followed Christ to the end – surprising the Sanhedrin with their knowledge & turning the world upside down with the gospel. What can God do with someone who’s willing to spend time at the feet of Jesus, absorbing the word of God, being filled with the Holy Spirit? God can use that man or woman to move mountains!
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3 Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.” 4 So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

A. Providing protection for his family… Why Moab? Possibly because of his family connections via great-grandmother Ruth…
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5 Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

A. Already see a big difference from last week. Here, David is being guided by God, through the prophet Gad. … Gad is going to serve with David for years to come, even pronouncing the chastisement of God when David sins as king by ordering a census of the people (2 Sam 24). But David had a desire to know & seek out the word of God, and he’s learning from his past mistakes of walking in the flesh.
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6 When Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered—now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tamarisk tree in Ramah, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants standing about him— 7 then Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? 8 All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son has made a covenant with the son of Jesse; and there is not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day.”

A. The man is paranoid…accusing the whole tribe of Benjamin of conspiring against him, and concealing Jonathan’s covenant with David. As if the whole tribe knew? Saul is consumed with rage and jealousy. He doesn’t trust the Lord & he certainly doesn’t trust men.
__a. Did it have to be this way with Saul? No. Saul could have been grateful for the role God gave him to play; instead, he was never satisfied. He attempted to take priestly duties away from Samuel – he attempted to supersede the commands of God regarding the army – and never once has he humbled himself to repent & accept God’s decision & word. He could have easily have been like John the Baptist, saying of David, “He must increase, while I must decrease” (John 3:30), and it would have been to the glory of God. Instead, Saul continues in despair, distrust, and destruction.

B. Re: “fields & vineyards…captains.” This is an appeal to tribal loyalty. David is of Judah; Saul is of Benjamin. Saul is basically trying to buy the people’s loyalty & claim that David would no longer give them preferential treatment like Saul did.
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9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, “I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10 And he inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

A. Here, Doeg shows his true colors. In Ch 21, Doeg was detained at the Tabernacle with the priests – but obviously not due to any devotion for God. He was a Gentile servant of Saul, and was there for some other reason; he obviously had no care for God or respect for the priest. He takes the 1st opportunity to betray David & Ahimelech in order to grow his own reputation with Saul…
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11 So the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob. And they all came to the king. 12 And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub!” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Then Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?”

A. Saul insults him (“son of Ahitub” – not 1st name); degrades the priest in front of the whole company of people gathered there.

B. Saul assumes the worst. Instead of getting Ahimelech’s side of the story, Saul is predisposed to believing that the Gentile Doeg is more faithful to him than the priest of the Most High God. It’s folly to answer a matter before hearing it out (Prov 18:13); Saul is showing himself to be a fool here.

C. It should go without saying that Saul provides a great example in how NOT to handle conflict. Nothing about Saul at this point reflects either the love of God or the true justice of God.
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14 So Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? 15 Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me! Let not the king impute anything to his servant, or to any in the house of my father. For your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.”

A. Ahimelech defends David (calling him by his name; not the insult Saul used “son of Jesse”). David had a reputation for being honorable (amen!), and Saul had no reason to think ill of him. (Interesting that at this point, many people in the nation saw Saul’s irrationality for what it was; the only person who was really blinded to it was Saul himself.)

B. Ahimelech defends his own actions. He was innocent of any wrong doing, because he had no reason to assume David was being pursued by Saul. To be accused of treason was certainly unfair, as Saul had obviously not put out any notices to the people of what was going on. If Ahimelech had known, he may have acted differently (then again, maybe not)…but it was an unfair charge.
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16 And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house!” 17 Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.” But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the LORD.

A. Saul is in a rage! Willing to murder to further his own kingdom, even though God had already ripped it from him…

B. Guards refuse… Question: was it wrong for them to disobey a direct order from their king? After all, we’re supposed to submit to the authorities over us (Rom 13:1)… Keep in mind even though we have rulers & authorities, that ultimately we serve God! The soldiers did what was right. [Apostles & Sanhedrin 2nd time] Acts 5:27-29 (27) And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, (28) saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” (29) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. [] Given the choice between insubordination & murder, the guards were correct to honor God & disobey Saul.
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18 And the king said to Doeg, “You turn and kill the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod. 19 Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword.

A. Doeg had no fear of God whatsoever. Massacred 85 priests + their families & livestock. Interestingly, the Bible never says what became of Doeg, but David was confident that God would show him His justice. Psalm 52:5 God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away, and pluck you out of your dwelling place, And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah [] We can be certain that God is just & His justice WILL be done. Both with the Doegs of this world – and the ultimate enemy of our souls who inspired him. Satan WILL have his day in Hell…
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20 Now one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the LORD’s priests. 22 So David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23 Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.”

A. David takes responsibility for his actions. He didn’t actually murder the priests, but he understands that it was his lie that put Ahimelech in that position.

B. David protects the one survivor of the massacre. We’re not told exactly when Abiathar actually met with David after the slaughter…probably not until 1 Sam 23:6. Whatever the actual chronology, Abiathar knew his only hope for survival was to stay under the protection of David.

C. What do we do when pursued by our enemy? Stay close to the Son of David, Jesus Christ! The devil hates us because the devil hates Jesus (like the world, John 15:18), but He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world!! (1 John 4:4) We need to stay close to Jesus Christ – He is our only hope – our only salvation – our rock of refuge – our strength!
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1 Samuel 23 (NKJV)
1 Then they told David, saying, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.”

A. What were the Philistines doing? Robbing Keilah of their produce. Keilah was a border town with Philistia, and they’d come in & take the wheat that had already been threshed & give it to their army.

B. Interesting that people brought the need to David, rather than their ‘official’ king… Protecting cities from the Philistines was a role Saul should have been fulfilling.
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2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines, and save Keilah.”

A. We’re going to see a great pattern here…David inquires of the Lord. There is a legitimate need, but before David takes a step in that direction, he’s going to ask the Lord God if it is God’s will that he go there.
__a. Just because there’s a need doesn’t mean there’s a call. If we gave money to every single person & ministry who had need, we’d be broke by the end of the day. One of the reasons that God has brought us into the “body of Christ” is because we can’t individually do it all. The hand has to play the role of the hand, the foot has to work the role of the foot, etc… We want to be wise about what we do, never hesitating to do good, but always proceeding in prayer & according to the Word of God.

B. May we be a people who are quick to seek out the Lord’s will through prayer & the Scripture! That’s exactly what David did, probably through the prophet Gad. We may not have a prophet at our beck & call, but we have a far better revelation of the will of God: the completed Scriptures! Want to know God’s will for your life? Look it up in the Bible… Ask God through prayer… What a privilege we have! We have the freedom & even the invitation to bring all our requests before God: Philippians 4:6-7 (6) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (7) and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [] If we want to walk in faith, we need to act according to faith. Be filled with the Spirit – seek the Lord’s guidance & wisdom in prayer – receive God’s instruction through the Bible…
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3 But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the LORD once again. And the LORD answered him and said, “Arise, go down to Keilah. For I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

A. David’s 2nd inquiry with the Lord…basically asking for a confirmation of the previous call. This wasn’t a lack of faith in David; this was brought about by a concern of David’s army. Like any good leader, David is listening to those whom he’s serving, and doesn’t hesitate to take their very real concerns before God for God’s word on the matter.

B. What were they afraid of? Being caught between two armies. They were already on the run from Saul there in Judah. Now they would be going up against the Philistines as well…they were afraid of being caught in the middle with no way out. It was wise of them to ensure that God was calling them to go.

C. The end result? God would deliver the victory. In vs. 2, God commanded David to go save Keilah; in vs. 4 God confirms that He would make them victorious.
__i. When in doubt, seek the Lord!
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5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. [Amen!] 6 Now it happened, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, that he went down with an ephod in his hand. 7 And Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah. So Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8 Then Saul called all the people together for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

A. David had just fought for the freedom of the city (which God granted), but now Saul lays siege to one of his own cities in his pursuit of David…

B. Completely messed up priorities! Saul has plenty of time to run after David, but apparently no time to protect his own people…
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9 When David knew that Saul plotted evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has certainly heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah to destroy the city for my sake. 11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will deliver you.”

A. David’s 3rd & 4th inquiries. In a word, what’s going to happen? Betrayal. Faced with handing over David-the-hero, or being destroyed by their own king, the city would hand David over to Saul. On one hand, we can sympathize with them – they were in a tough situation, but betrayal is still betrayal. Instead of taking a stand to do what was right (like the guards regarding killing the priests), Keilah was planning to take the easy way out. … Men will often fail us; God never will. God never betrays us…He is always true.
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13 So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and went wherever they could go. Then it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah; so he halted the expedition.

A. David escaped the city unharmed (not waiting around for Keilah to betray him). And notice the growth…50%! Quite a few people are taking sides & joining with David.

B. Saul left Keilah after David did; he didn’t care about the city at all…neither to protect it, nor to destroy it. They were just a means to Saul’s end of destroying David.
__a. Saul provides such a tragic example. Never forget that this was a man who at one time was filled with the Holy Spirit & anointed by God for His glory. What a fall from grace! Complete abandonment of God, and it destroyed him.
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14 And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.

A. Don’t miss it here, this is key! WHO protected David? God. Saul would only catch David if God so allowed it. Our God is completely sovereign; there is nothing outside of His hands!
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15 So David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest. 16 Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.

A. Renewed the covenant…

B. Note even Saul knew the truth about David becoming king; he was just kicking against the goads…
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19 Then the Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is David not hiding with us in strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon? 20 Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.” 21 And Saul said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, for you have compassion on me. 22 Please go and find out for sure, and see the place where his hideout is, and who has seen him there. For I am told he is very crafty. 23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides; and come back to me with certainty, and I will go with you. And it shall be, if he is in the land, that I will search for him throughout all the clans of Judah.”

A. Another betrayal. Unlike Keilah who would have been forced to turn David over to Saul, Ziph proactively sought to curry Saul’s favor by delivering David into his hands. This was a far more foul motive. David wrote about this in the psalms – Psalm 54:1-3 (1) Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. (2) Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth. (3) For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Selah [] Wonderful prayer! David understood it wasn’t going to be by his own strength that he’d be saved; it would only be by the hand of God. The God Whom the Ziphites did not fear would be glorified & victorious.

B. This time, Saul didn’t go…asked Ziph to search out the caves & find David.
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24 So they arose and went to Ziph before Saul. But David and his men were in the Wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. [they escaped] 25 When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David. Therefore he went down to the rock, and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon. 26 Then Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. So David made haste to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were encircling David and his men to take them. [things are looking bad…] 27 But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!” […but God delivered!] 28 Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape. 29 Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi.

A. Saul had them on the run, and eventually surrounded David. Humanly speaking, David was through. But what is impossible for man is possible with God! God allowed an attack from the Philistines that forced Saul away from his pursuit…
__a. Can God use evil things for His purposes & glory? Yes! That doesn’t make them less evil; it just demonstrates God is sovereign over all. (Rom 8:28)

B. How sovereign is God? No matter how many times Saul came after David – no matter how many people betrayed him – David was not going to fall into the hands of Saul unless God allowed it. And God didn’t. … Just like Jesus! No one could lay a finger on Jesus unless He let them. People tried to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29), stone Him (John 8:59), and otherwise kill Him (John 5:18), but until God was ready & Jesus’ hour had come to suffer & die, people could not take Him. Even after Jesus was arrested & beaten, He knew that Pilate & the Romans had no power over Jesus unless God had given it to them (John 19:11).

a. So what? So God is in control. God is ALWAYS in control. Do we deal with the consequences of living in a fallen world? Yes. Do we deal with sin both of our own & of others? Yes. But nothing is going to happen to us that hasn’t gone through the careful fingers of God 1st. We can trust Him to deliver us! Maybe deliver us from the trial; maybe through the trial…but either way, our lives are in the hands of the God who loves us & bought us by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion:
Huge contrast from Ch 20-21! When David first fled from Saul, he did so in his flesh. He was crafty, told many lies, and endangered the lives of those who helped him. In Ch 22-23, David is no longer operating in his flesh; he’s operating in faith! He took responsibility for his previous actions and started relying on the Lord completely for guidance, wisdom, and deliverance…

May we learn to do the same! Too often, we go off half-cocked in our flesh, and the result is we hurt ourselves & other people, and we end up having consequences to pay. But when we’re led by the Spirit, and we walk by faith, everything’s different. It doesn’t mean that we won’t suffer through trials (we will!), but we can be assured that God is the One who is taking us through those trials, giving us the strength to endure, and the wisdom to know how to proceed. He is the One who then gets the glory, and we praise His name as a result.

Whatever you’re walking through tonight, are you walking by faith? Are you seeking the will of God through prayer & the Scriptures? Are you relying on His power and His strength? Take the time tonight to commit yourself to the Lord & ask His help in walking by faith & not by sight.

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