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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 23

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 12

‘IN PERILS AMONG FALSE BRETHREN’

‘They will deliver thee up.… God delivered him not into Saul’s hand.’

1 Samuel 23:12; 1 Samuel 23:14

I. Base ingratitude.—The treachery of the people of Keilah was like that of Judas. David had risked his life to save the town from the Philistines. Notwithstanding the danger he was already in from Saul, and against the earnest protest of his men not to endanger himself further with warring with the Philistines, he generously went to the rescue of the helpless inhabitants of Keilah. One would naturally suppose that their gratitude would be such that they would, in turn, have defended him against Saul. But evidently they had no sense of honour. They would do the thing they thought best for their own self-interest.

Saul was coming with a great army. It seemed likely that David and his few men would be taken, anyway; and the people of Keilah probably expected to gain favour, and possibly a reward from the king. Had they had faith to believe that only a few more months would pass, and then David would have all power in the land, they would most likely have acted differently. Keilah and Judas are not the only ones who, for the hope of worldly favour or gain, have betrayed the rightful King. In business and social life there come, almost every day, opportunities to stand for Christ against His enemies; but how often, from fear of man, or in the hope of gaining favour or making money, a child of God will, like a coward, betray his Lord by an act, or by a laugh, or by silence when he should speak, notwithstanding the fact that Christ has given His life to save us from our great enemy.

II. David and Saul: a contrast.—David’s reliance upon God’s guidance, and his confidence in God’s help, are in sharp contrast to the empty profession of religiousness which Saul constantly assumed. David would not smite the Philistines without ascertaining whether it was God’s will ( 1 Samuel 23:2). He would not leave Keilah on his own judgment, but inquired what was the Lord’s mind about it ( vv. 9–11). When the Ziphites were about to disclose his lurking place, he sings: ‘Save me, O God! by Thy Name.… Behold! God is my helper.… For He hath delivered me out of all trouble’ (Psalms 54).

But observe, in contrast, Saul’s words to the Ziphites: ‘Blessed be ye of the Lord, for ye have had compassion upon me’ ( v. 21). Where God is unable to help us is in paths of our own choosing. But it is impossible to walk with Him and fall into the hands of Saul. Saul may seek us every day, and false friends, as the Ziphites, play into his hands, but we may say, as David did at this time (Psalms 54), that God is with them that uphold our souls, and that His Name is good.

III. But amid all the outward strife God provides for us, as He did for David, some Jonathan, some rill of human love, some sweet friendship or brotherhood.—Ah! this is the use of a friend, to strengthen our hands in God, to whisper words of hope, to enter into covenant with us. And this is what that Best of Friends does, Who discovers us in the deepest, thickest woods, and whispers His Fear not. There is no soul so lonely or desolate with whom Jesus will not enter into covenant and pour in the oil of His comfort and the wine of His love.

Illustrations

(1) ‘A wanderer’s life was this in very deed! Yet here, amid the rocks and caves of Judah, David wrote many of his most helpful Psalms. The whole Church is richer for these days of trial; and here is the clue to much that we cannot understand of the meaning of pain. We have to learn in suffering what we teach in song. But amid his wanderings how closely David walked with God! Before starting on his expeditions he carefully, and more than once, inquired of God, through the mysterious Urim and Thummin which Abiathar had brought with him. And when once a man gets into this blessed habit he may rely on God’s deliverances.’

(2) ‘That the men of Keilah, suffering from plundering bands of Philistines, should have sought help from David rather than from Saul indicates his standing before the people and the service rendered to the country by his band of armed men. It astonishes us that Keilah, saved by David, is so ungrateful as to consent to surrender him to the power of Saul. The fact gives us a new sense of the trials incident to this period of David’s history. He owed his safety to the forewarnings of danger which he obtained from the Lord, at one time through the prophet Gad; at other times through the priests with the linen ephod.’

Verse 14

‘IN PERILS AMONG FALSE BRETHREN’

‘They will deliver thee up.… God delivered him not into Saul’s hand.’

1 Samuel 23:12; 1 Samuel 23:14

I. Base ingratitude.—The treachery of the people of Keilah was like that of Judas. David had risked his life to save the town from the Philistines. Notwithstanding the danger he was already in from Saul, and against the earnest protest of his men not to endanger himself further with warring with the Philistines, he generously went to the rescue of the helpless inhabitants of Keilah. One would naturally suppose that their gratitude would be such that they would, in turn, have defended him against Saul. But evidently they had no sense of honour. They would do the thing they thought best for their own self-interest.

Saul was coming with a great army. It seemed likely that David and his few men would be taken, anyway; and the people of Keilah probably expected to gain favour, and possibly a reward from the king. Had they had faith to believe that only a few more months would pass, and then David would have all power in the land, they would most likely have acted differently. Keilah and Judas are not the only ones who, for the hope of worldly favour or gain, have betrayed the rightful King. In business and social life there come, almost every day, opportunities to stand for Christ against His enemies; but how often, from fear of man, or in the hope of gaining favour or making money, a child of God will, like a coward, betray his Lord by an act, or by a laugh, or by silence when he should speak, notwithstanding the fact that Christ has given His life to save us from our great enemy.

II. David and Saul: a contrast.—David’s reliance upon God’s guidance, and his confidence in God’s help, are in sharp contrast to the empty profession of religiousness which Saul constantly assumed. David would not smite the Philistines without ascertaining whether it was God’s will ( 1 Samuel 23:2). He would not leave Keilah on his own judgment, but inquired what was the Lord’s mind about it ( vv. 9–11). When the Ziphites were about to disclose his lurking place, he sings: ‘Save me, O God! by Thy Name.… Behold! God is my helper.… For He hath delivered me out of all trouble’ (Psalms 54).

But observe, in contrast, Saul’s words to the Ziphites: ‘Blessed be ye of the Lord, for ye have had compassion upon me’ ( v. 21). Where God is unable to help us is in paths of our own choosing. But it is impossible to walk with Him and fall into the hands of Saul. Saul may seek us every day, and false friends, as the Ziphites, play into his hands, but we may say, as David did at this time (Psalms 54), that God is with them that uphold our souls, and that His Name is good.

III. But amid all the outward strife God provides for us, as He did for David, some Jonathan, some rill of human love, some sweet friendship or brotherhood.—Ah! this is the use of a friend, to strengthen our hands in God, to whisper words of hope, to enter into covenant with us. And this is what that Best of Friends does, Who discovers us in the deepest, thickest woods, and whispers His Fear not. There is no soul so lonely or desolate with whom Jesus will not enter into covenant and pour in the oil of His comfort and the wine of His love.

Illustrations

(1) ‘A wanderer’s life was this in very deed! Yet here, amid the rocks and caves of Judah, David wrote many of his most helpful Psalms. The whole Church is richer for these days of trial; and here is the clue to much that we cannot understand of the meaning of pain. We have to learn in suffering what we teach in song. But amid his wanderings how closely David walked with God! Before starting on his expeditions he carefully, and more than once, inquired of God, through the mysterious Urim and Thummin which Abiathar had brought with him. And when once a man gets into this blessed habit he may rely on God’s deliverances.’

(2) ‘That the men of Keilah, suffering from plundering bands of Philistines, should have sought help from David rather than from Saul indicates his standing before the people and the service rendered to the country by his band of armed men. It astonishes us that Keilah, saved by David, is so ungrateful as to consent to surrender him to the power of Saul. The fact gives us a new sense of the trials incident to this period of David’s history. He owed his safety to the forewarnings of danger which he obtained from the Lord, at one time through the prophet Gad; at other times through the priests with the linen ephod.’

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 23". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-samuel-23.html. 1876.
 
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