Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 21

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Verses 1-15

  1. INTRO:
    1. Back on Aug.5th a mine collapsed in Chile trapping 33 miners. Yesterday, day 66, the rescue shaft made it down to the miners. The families continue to wait at Camp Hope, till the Escape Capsule is able to retrieve the miners.
      1. This morning we’ll watch on, in our own Camp Hope, as David finds himself temporally caught in a cave.
    2. David lived in exile for about 10 years.
      1. And we reap wisdom from Psalms 7,11,12,13,16,17,22,25,31,34,35,52,53,54, 56,57,58,59,63,64,142,143 from what he learned during the 10 years of exile!
      2. From these encouraging Psalms God’s people throughout the generations, & still today, can find strength & courage in our own times of testings.
        1. Even Jesus drew strength from them on the cross! Ps.22:1; 31:5
    3. The bible never flatters its heroes. It tells the truth about them no matter how unpleasant it may be. So we get to watch on as their character is developed, w/all the facts so we might study them. [Meet God’s man: in exile, running for his life, destitute of friends, begging bread, lying, pretending madness]
      1. We’ve all been in high altitude & found ourselves out of breath from the thin air, the lack of oxygen.
        1. It isn’t easy to walk w/God, for the air at that height is somewhat rare.
        2. It is pure, but sometimes its hard to breathe, & faith almost gives up in the attempt to keep pace w/God’s way w/His child.
      2. I’ve been at the lowest elevation on earth’s surface. The Dead Sea(1200’ below sea level) It’s easy to breathe there. Many flock there for Climatotherapy: [i.e. treatment which exploits temperature, humidity, sunshine, barometric pressure]
        1. It’s true to human experience, it’s easier to breathe/live in the depth of the valleys rather than in the thin air of the mountain tops.
    4. Deception/lying - Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight. Prov.12:22
      1. It’s disappointing to see David depending on lies for protection.
        1. He lied to Ahimelech the priest. He lied to Achish the king of Gath.
      2. Scripture commands us to tell the truth & warns about the consequences of lying
        1. Jesus is our example, for there was no deceit in His mouth. 1 Pet.2:22
        2. Speak the truth in Love. Eph.4:15
        3. If our telling the truth endangers others, silence is our best response!
        4. When David ran ahead of God, he found himself in trouble & lied.
        5. The safest thing is to stay away from those situations & to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” (Warren Wiersbe: With The Word; pg.174)
    5. 5 Loaves - 12 loaves set out weekly for God on show-table. Afterwards priests would eat.
      1. Mt.12:3,4 disciples walking thru field on Sabbath, grabbed a handful of grain.
        1. The religious leaders had defined Work & classified it under 39 different headings. 4 of these headings were: Reaping, Threshing, Winnowing, & Preparing a meal. [explain: pluck, rub, blow, eat] They technically broke all 4 of these!
      2. Ahimelech gives the bread to David because of the “higher law of Moses”, the principle of acting to sustain life.
        1. Jesus referred to this incident as an illustration of compassionate flexibility in the application of the Torah’s rules.
    6. (7) Beware, sin is expensive! - (22:22) God may forgive & restore you, but the consequences of your sin may involve not only you but others who are innocent.
    7. Off David goes with 5 loaves of God-bread, & a dead giants sword.
    9. Fear of Saul temporarily replaced faith in the Lord! Fear is always the enemy of Faith!
      1. So David flees 23 miles to the enemy city of Gath.
      2. Should be safe from Saul in Philistine area & maybe for friends back home.
      3. But Fear is always the enemy of Faith! - To believe God, to rest in the Word, to enjoy the promises of God is to conquer our fear.
        1. No wonder when fear comes in the door, faith flies out the window!
      4. Here we have a good man in bad company! - Why did he go here? I hate to admit but sometimes a persecuted Christian gets better treatment from the enemies of God’s people than from his own Christian friends. :(
        1. It was the king of Judah who imprisoned Jeremiah & the king of Babylon who set him free!
        2. We glory in our wonderful gospel of love & mercy for the unsaved, but we usually act as if we have no gospel for the saint who has been tripped by the devil! (Alan Redpath; The Making of the Man of God; pg.72)
    10. Lets remember, at this particular point, God had shot an arrow beyond him. David was going through this situation not because of any failure or sin, but simply because of God’s purpose in proving the reality of David’s love, devotion, & faith.
      1. Remember he was preparing him for his throne!
      2. This then is all the will of God to make him the man of God.
      3. It takes a moment to make a convert; it takes a lifetime to manufacture a saint!
    11. (11) David the king - Some King? He had no country, no queen, no subjects, no friends.
      1. All he had left was his self-respect...well, until that was stripped away also when he faked insanity.
        1. What an undignified moment in the life of a man who had been anointed by the spirit of God! How utterly unworthy of his calling was his behavior!
        2. But, we can probably all think of a time where we panicked in God’s will & found ourselves acting like a complete fool!
      2. From national hero to madman!
        1. From pats on the back, to looking over his back, because of the fear of getting stabbed in the back. Israel’s Most Wanted!
      3. Now his enemies discarded him. Would God also abandon him?
      4. It’s easy to lose 20-20 spiritual vision. Its easy to develop a spiritual squint, to see things in the wrong perspective, & to start to panic.
    12. But I’m glad the bible turns the key & opens the door to the inner shrine of this man’s life & shows us - A changed behavior but a fixed heart on God! - Ps.34
      1. Don’t just dismiss David as another missionary casualty. We might be finished with him...but God sure hasn’t!
      2. Whatever happened to David in Gath caused him to acknowledge the inadequacies of his own wisdom & brought him to a place where he again placed his confidence in the Lord.
      3. Ps.56 was his prayer for God’s help - Ps.34 was his hymn of praise.
        1. Ps.34 also shares that he did alot of praying while in Gath. See 34:4,6,15b,17,18.
          1. He learned that the fear of the Lord conquers every other fear!
    14. (1,2) David must have felt like Noah’s Dove as is told in Gen.8:9, But the dove could find no place to set its feet...; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.
      1. David unable to find rest, tossed on a sea of trials, ready to drop into the helpless waves. Then the ark presents itself, & a hand graciously reaches out & rescues!
    15. The Cave of Adullam has been discovered about 2 miles south of the scene of David’s triumph over Goliath. At this place is a hill some 500’ high pierced with numerous honeycombed caverns. Some of these caves are large enough to hold 200-300 men.
      1. At least now he’s in friendly territory. 15 miles from Bethlehem(hometown).
    16. We learn that being a person after God’s own heart doesn’t mean never experiencing the darkness of the cave. Rather it means being able to trust that God’s light is there & that He is the God of all Hope.
      1. Here he composed Ps.142. Read all w/intro [note esp: vs.4 No one cares for my soul]
    17. But what happens is that this cave becomes David’s Holy Tabernacle where faith could find shelter under the wings of the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. Ps.57:1
      1. What looked like a cave to others was a divine sanctuary.
        1. David said in Ps.142:5 “You are my refuge & my portion”.
    18. a cave can be a place of respite, we should not use it as an excuse of becoming cave dwellers, barricading the entrance to our lives & not letting anyone else inside!
      1. Q: Are you a cave dweller sometimes?
      2. Q: What threatening enemies usually force you into hiding?
      3. Q: Where do yo most often retreat? [When does a cave become a prison?]
    19. God brought family to him:
      1. The same brothers that stood ahead of David to receive Samuel’s anointing, now lined up behind him, supporting him moment of his greatest need.
    20. God brought people to him: (his motley crew)
      1. 400 men who looked to David for leadership. His own little Tea Party Movement!
      2. Distress - some were staggering under great pressures & stresses.
        1. Spiritually no self-satisfied man ever comes to Christ. Matter of fact in Rev.3 Jesus stands outside the door of the church that saw themselves as rich, increased w/ goods, & in need of nothing. It was sheer distress that drove the prodigal son back to his father.
      3. Debt - others were drowning in debt due to Saul’s heavy taxation.
        1. Spiritually we also are bankrupt wretched people, & apart from grace we find ourselves bankrupt, insolvent, desperately in debt & helpless to meet God’s judgment. Therefore, our only hope is to fly to the wounded side of the Lord.
      4. Discontented - still others sought out the national hero who had been similarly abused.
        1. Spiritually today many are embittered, disappointed, frustrated, & restless yet instead of running to Christ they gather around the worlds broken cisterns trying to satisfy their thirst for they know not what. Yet, if any man thirst, let him come to Jesus & drink, then out of his life shall flow rivers of cool living water.
        2. Well, David welcomed these men & provided the godly leadership they needed.
        3. He said, Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Ps.34:11
    21. God may not bring 400 people to your doorstep, but he may bring someone who is in a similar situation to say, “I understand”.
      1. As...Cancer patients find a new reason to live by reaching out to other cancer patients; Alcoholics, the strength to stay sober by helping other recovering alcoholics; Victims of abuse, the hope to endue by ministering to other victims of abuse. (Swindoll)
    22. In David’s darkest hour, God gave him a ministry of helping men like him who had been word down by injustice!
      1. Their spirits could have easily soured like rotten milk, fermenting into calls for a violent revolution.
      2. But David kept his eyes on God & instilled character & direction in their lives. He trained them to be mighty warriors(1 Chron.11:10-47) & their # increased from 400 to 600 strong.
    23. Wait! How did this take place? - From lonely desperation to God-entrusted leadership?
      1. 3 Psalms clue us in: Ps.142,57,34 reveal the attitude that made change possible
    24. (3-5) Moab? - Remember David’s great-grandmother was from there (Ruth the Moabitess).
      1. There the Moabite king grants asylum to his parents.
    25. Key: David is now undergoing a most essential part of his training, which will qualify him to pass on to us cave dwellers…“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts/takes refuge in him.”
      1. Maybe you find yourself in Camp Hope, praying & hoping in God for a family member like our friends in Chile; Maybe you find yourself in the Cave Adullam; Maybe you find yourself in Distress, or in debt, or discontent. Oh, taste & see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts/takes refuge in him.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 21". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.