1 Samuel 23:1-6 . DAVID RESCUES KEILAH.
1 Samuel 23:14-18 . DAVID ESCAPES TO ZIPH.
14, 15. David abode in the wilderness . . . of Ziph--A mountainous and sequestered region was generally called a wilderness, and took its name from some large town in the district. Two miles southeast of Hebron, and in the midst of a level plain, is Tell-ziph, an isolated and conical hillock, about a hundred feet high, probably the acropolis [VAN DE VELDE], or the ruins [ROBINSON] of the ancient city of Ziph, from which the surrounding wilderness was called. It seems, anciently, to have been covered by an extensive woods. The country has for centuries lost its woods and forests, owing to the devastations caused by man.
16, 17. Jonathan went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God--by the recollection of their mutual covenant. What a victory over natural feelings and lower considerations must the faith of Jonathan have won, before he could seek such an interview and give utterance to such sentiments! To talk with calm and assured confidence of himself and family being superseded by the man who was his friend by the bonds of a holy and solemn covenant, could only have been done by one who, superior to all views of worldly policy, looked at the course of things in the spirit and through the principles of that theocracy which acknowledged God as the only and supreme Sovereign of Israel. Neither history nor fiction depicts the movements of a friendship purer, nobler, and more self-denying than Jonathan's!
1 Samuel 23:19-29 . SAUL PURSUES HIM.
19-23. Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us?--From the tell of Ziph a panorama of the whole surrounding district is to be seen. No wonder, then, that the Ziphites saw David and his men passing to and fro in the mountains of the wilderness. Spying him at a distance when he ventured to show himself on the hill of Hachilah, "on the right hand of the wilderness," that is, the south side of Ziph, they sent in haste to Saul, to tell him of the lurking place of his enemy [VAN DE VELDE].
25. David . . . came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon--Tell Main, the hillock on which was situated the ancient Maon ( Joshua 15:55 ), and from which the adjoining wilderness took its name, is one mile north, ten east from Camel. The mountain plateau seems here to end. It is true the summit ridge of the southern hills runs out a long way further towards the southwest; but towards the southeast the ground sinks more and more down to a tableland of a lower level, which is called "the plain to the right hand [that is, to the south] of the wilderness" [VAN DE VELDE].
29. David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at En-gedi--that is, "the spring of the wild goats or gazelles"--a name given to it from the vast number of ibexes or Syrian chamois which inhabit these cliffs on the western shore of the Dead Sea ( Joshua 15:62 ). It is now called Ain Jiddy. On all sides the country is full of caverns, which might then serve as lurking places for David and his men, as they do for outlaws at the present day [ROBINSON].