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1 Samuel 21-23: The Lord's Anointed on the Run Print E-mail
1 Samuel
Sunday, 18 June 2017
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Things donít always look like we expect them to look. Being a father is not exactly what I thought it was going to be. I love it. I am humbled by the responsibility to raise two men. But parenting does not always look like I thought it would. It involves a whole lot more mundane tasks than I realized: changing diapers, waiting in lines after school, teaching the same lessons day after day. When I held Isaiah in my arms for the first time nine years ago, I had no idea exactly what it would look like being his dad. Sometimes I can get frustrated by this fact, but other times I am just thankful for the opportunity to be a father.

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Trusting in the Lordís promises for our lives does not always look like we expect either. Maybe we thought it would be easy or maybe we thought it would be more glorious, but sometimes it just does not seem like things are working out. The Lord has promised that all of the followers of Christ will be conformed into His image, but the process to get there can seem crazy at times. If you are like me, then you have often wondered: ĎHow is this going to work out for my good?í David probably wondered the same thing at times. He was told by Samuel that he was going to be the next king of Israel (16:13). Yet, it will be years before that promise comes to pass. And how does David spend those years? He spends them on the run. Over the next ten plus chapters in 1 Samuel, David is fleeing from Saul. Years on the run from Saul is probably not how David pictured his life when Samuel told him that he would be the next king. Yet, no matter what, we see over and over again how the Lord saves and sustains His anointed. Story after story reveals Godís providential protection of David. And each of these stories should be an encouragement to us as well. So letís consider some of the ways God saves David this morning from our text.
A Lawbreaking Priest (21:1-9)

Our text begins with David fleeing to the city of Nob, a place of religious significance during Saulís reign. Look at 21:1-6. Ahimelech is fearful and suspicious of David arriving without the king, so he questions him. David tells him that he is on a mission for the king (which is true if he is subtly referring to the true King of Israel) and asks him for food for his men. The priest does not have any bread, but offers them the holy bread. This bread was supposed to only be eaten by the priests according to the Law (see Leviticus 24:5-9), but Ahimelech felt he could break this Law in such dire circumstances (a conclusion that Davidís greater Son would affirm, see Matthew 12:1-8). He gives David some bread, seeks the Lord on his behalf, and turns over Goliathís sword to him as well, all ways in which the Lord provides for David through this priest. We should note verse 7. Look at that with me. This is a bit of foreshadowing that will come into play later in the story.
A Tricked King (21:10-15)

Next we see just how desperate David is when he flees to Gath, the hometown of Goliath. Perhaps he thought that no one would recognize him, but he soon finds out that he has made a mistake. The people know who he is and have even heard the songs that were written about him. David is in trouble (which is reflected in Psalm 34 which was perhaps written about this event). He decides to pretend like he is insane by writing on the gates of the city and letting spit run down his beard. The king is tricked and demands that David be removed from Gath, which allows him to safely leave the city. It is hard to know why the king did not have David killed or let the people kill him, but he did not. And the Lord used him to protect His anointed.
A Desperate People (22:1-5)

After escaping the Philistines, David hides out in the cave of Adullam (where he seemingly wrote Psalm 57 and 142 and perhaps others). What is interesting to note is the people that are drawn to him. Look at 22:1-2. These are what we would refer today as the social outcasts: distressed, in debt, discontent. Sounds a bit like those who will be drawn to the Savior. These desperate people will rally to Davidís side and be with him as he is on the run from Saul. God will use them to fight with and for David in the days ahead. Two others we could mention are found in verses 3-5. Look at those with me. Why would the king of Moab help David? Perhaps he sides with him against Saul. Or perhaps he helps David because of his great grandmother: Ruth, the Moabite. Think about it this way: God was planning to save David even when Naomi left Israel for Moab. What a glorious God we serve! Not only that, but the prophet Gad is mentioned in this text and he will play a prominent role in Davidís life as well. The Lord is working in countless ways to protect and provide for His anointed.
A Devoted Priesthood (22:6-23)

The story takes an ugly turn in the rest of chapter 22. After David returns from Moab, the scene shifts to Saul and what he is doing to find David. In the middle of Saul feeling sorry for himself and criticizing his leaders for not helping him find David, the man mentioned at Nob reappears. Look at 22:9-10. Doeg was there the day that the priest helped David. We should note that he is a foreigner and has no problem selling out David or the priest. But it only gets worse. King Saul sends for all of the priests in Nob and questions Ahimelech about David. Look at his response in verses 14-15. Ahimelech was not aware of Saulís hatred of David (perhaps another reason for Davidís secrecy). He honestly had no idea why it was wrong to help him. He had sought the Lord for him in the past and saw no reason not to do it this time. But Saul didnít care. He wanted David dead and he would kill anyone who stood in his way, no matter what office they held, which is exactly what he does next. Look at verses 16-19. We see the wickedness of Saul in this event. These priests were not willing to hand over David and so they were devoted to destruction. There is great irony in this as well. Since none of Saulís servants were willing to carry out his wicked command, he had foreigner do it. Israelís king is commanding an Edomite to destroy the priests of Israel along with a town. We see just how far Saul has fallen. At the same time, we see the Lord protecting His anointed through the sacrifice of others. Such devotion was not lost on David. Look at verses 20-23. These priests died for helping David and all David could do was protect the only remaining son, who plays a role in the next story.
A Rescued Ephod (23:1-14a)

As David is hiding out, he hears about a threat to one of the local Israelite cities named Keilah. The Philistines were threatening to invade and David asks the Lord if he should go and help. The Lord tells him that he should, but his men are not quite sure. So David asks the Lord again and the answer is the same. Thus, David takes his band of misfits to Keilah and they defeat the Philistines, thereby saving the inhabitants of the city. Yet, when Saul hears that David is in Keilah, he decides to attack. You would expect the people to defend the man who just saved their lives, but David is not so sure. So he seeks the help of Abiathar, the only remaining priest from Nob, who took his ephod with him when he fled from Doeg. By using the ephod, the Lord reveals to David that Saul is coming and that the men of Keilah will turn him over if he stays. Thus, David and his now 600 men flee the city and Saul is foiled again, all because Abiathar used the ephod to help David hear from the Lord.
A Providential Path (23:26a)

After David flees Keilah, he hides out in the wilderness and Jonathan comes to comfort him, which we will look at in a moment. The people in the surrounding area (the Ziphites) decide to tell Saul that David is hiding among them (perhaps they had heard about what happened to the priests and the city of Nob). So Saul gathers the army and sends them out to track down David. Things get tense for David as Saulís army gets closer and closer. At one point, David and his men go on one side of the mountain while Saulís army go on the other side. Look at verse 26a. Maybe David took this route because he knew Saul would go around the other side or maybe when they saw Saul heading around one side they went around the other. Either way, it is clear that God providentially lead them on a path away from Saul. If they would have gone on the other side of the mountain then they would have been caught. But the Lord protected His anointed and sent him down the right path.
A Philistine Attack (23:19-29)

The tension keeps building as Saul is getting closer to David and his men. And just when it seems that David is finally going to get caught, a crazy thing happens. Look at verses 26b-28. Can you picture that scene? Saulís army is closing in, Davidís men know that they are running out of time, and just when they are about to be caught, a messenger makes it to the king. He tells Saul that the Philistines are attacking and Saul is forced to abandon his pursuit of David. So the Lord actually uses an attack from the enemies of Israel to preserve Davidís life.

Over and over again the Lord rescues David and keeps him safe. He uses various means to do that in our three chapters this morning. And as crazy as it all must have felt for David, the Lord was always bringing about his purposes. Jonathan actually encourages David with this truth. Look at 23:14b-18. Jonathan knows that David will be king. How does he know that? He believes in the promise that God gave to David. He believes that no matter how much David has to run and hide, the Lord will protect him and keep him. Saul apparently did not believe, or at least did not like, what God had told David. But no matter what he does, he cannot defeat Godís purposes. How about you? Will you trust in Godís purposes and promises like Jonathan or will you fight against them like Saul? God sent us Jesus to die on a cross for our sins and be raised from the dead so that we could repent of our sins and be saved. Do you believe that promise or reject it? Are you living in light of that truth, no matter what your circumstances might bring, or are you rejecting it like Saul? I encourage us all to believe in Godís promises to us through Christ. Following Jesus will not always look like we expect, but His plans to make us like Christ will never be thwarted. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 03 July 2017 )

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