(1 Samuel 23:9-14 ESV) 9 David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 Then David said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.
The historical account we read today describes a low-point in David’s life. He was aware of his destiny, but for whatever reasons, he had not yet arrived at the place of transition from being a young shepherd boy to being the king he was meant to be. If things weren’t bad enough, he was surrounded by men who were in pretty dire straights as well. Scripture says, “And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:2 ESV)
David needed trustworthy information so he called for Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and inquire of the Lord. David asked God two very important questions. (1) Will Saul come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me? (2) Will the men of Keilah betray me into the hands of Saul to prevent their destruction? The answer to both questions was straightforward. “He will.” “They will.”
Let me just say that this was not the answer David was hoping for. When we call out to God during difficult seasons, we want to hear a more encouraging word; an answer more in line with our hopes and desires. But, God did not gloss over the challenges that lay ahead for David. He wanted him to be alert. His mind had to be sharp as he faced Saul’s relentless pursuit. He could not afford to let down his guard.
I read and reread this passage searching for a comforting word to David. You know what? It’s not there. God did not add the obligatory, “Don’t worry, I’ll fight the battle for you.” Scripture simply follows up with, “Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go.”
How could David confidently advance knowing that Saul and his men would pursue him so aggressively? It’s because God had promised David that he would be king; that he would succeed Saul in leading Israel. Since that was not yet a reality, David knew it was coming in the future. So, he just kept believing!
And here’s the good news… “Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.” God’s promise to David became evident each day; at the end of every day David was able to declare God’s faithfulness. He experienced new mercy each day even while being pursued by the most powerful and unreasonable man in Israel.
The same is true for you! Satan, the enemy of your soul is out to steal from you, to kill you, and destroy you. He wants to prevent you from achieving your destiny in Christ. Stay sharp! Continue to advance! And, when you look back over your shoulder, you will see the hand of God as He directed your steps throughout life’s journey.
PRAYER: Father, I will trust You even when it appears that my enemy is advancing. Your promises are true regardless of the pursuit of the enemy. In the end, I will overcome because You will keep me safe in Your hand. Amen.