1 Samuel 23

1 Someone told David, "Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and stealing grain from the threshing floors."
2 David asked the Lord, "Should I go and fight these Philistines?" The Lord answered him, "Go. Attack them, and save Keilah."
3 But David's men said to him, "We're afraid here in Judah. We will be more afraid if we go to Keilah where the Philistine army is."
4 David again asked the Lord, and the Lord answered, "Go down to Keilah. I will help you defeat the Philistines.
5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines and took their cattle. David killed many Philistines and saved the people of Keilah.
6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the holy vest with him when he came to David at Keilah.)
7 Someone told Saul that David was now at Keilah. Saul said, "God has handed David over to me! He has trapped himself, because he has entered a town with gates and bars."
8 Saul called all his army together for battle, and they prepared to go down to Keilah to attack David and his men.
9 David learned Saul was making evil plans against him. So he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the holy vest."
10 David prayed, "Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul plans to come to Keilah to destroy the town because of me.
11 Will the leaders of Keilah hand me over to Saul? Will Saul come down to Keilah, as I heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell me, your servant!" The Lord answered, "Saul will come down."
12 Again David asked, "Will the leaders of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?" The Lord answered, "They will."
13 So David and his six hundred men left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul found out that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.
14 David stayed in the desert hideouts and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Every day Saul looked for David, but the Lord did not surrender David to him
15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul was coming to kill him.
16 But Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and strengthened his faith in God.
17 Jonathan told him, "Don't be afraid, because my father won't touch you. You will be king of Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this."
18 The two of them made an agreement before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David stayed at Horesh.
19 The people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and told him, "David is hiding in our land. He's at the hideouts of Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon
20 Now, our king, come down anytime you want. It's our duty to hand David over to you."
21 Saul answered, "The Lord bless you for helping me
22 Go and learn more about him. Find out where he is staying and who has seen him there. I have heard that he is clever.
23 Find all the hiding places he uses, and come back and tell me everything. Then I'll go with you. If David is in the area, I will track him down among all the families in Judah."
24 So they went back to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maonn in the desert area south of Jeshimon.
25 Saul and his men went to look for David, but David heard about it and went down to a rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard that, he followed David into the Desert of Maon.
26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side. They were hurrying to get away from Saul, because Saul and his men were closing in on them.
27 But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly! The Philistines are attacking our land!"
28 So Saul stopped chasing David and went to challenge the Philistines. That is why people call this place Rock of Parting.
29 David also left the Desert of Maon and stayed in the hideouts of En Gedi.

1 Samuel 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

David rescues Keilah. (1-6) God warns him to escape from Keilah. (7-13) Jonathan comforts David. (14-18) He is rescued from Saul by an invasion of the Philistines. (19-29)

Verses 1-6 When princes persecute God's people, let them expect vexation on all sides. The way for any country to be quiet, is to let God's church be quiet in it: if Saul fight against David, the Philistines fight against his country. David considered himself the protector of the land. Thus did the Saviour Jesus, and left us an example. Those are unlike David, who sullenly decline to do good, if they are not rewarded for services.

Verses 7-13 Well might David complain of his enemies, that they rewarded him evil for good, and that for his love they were his adversaries. Christ was used thus basely. David applied to his great Protector for direction. No sooner was the ephod brought him than he made use of it. We have the Scriptures in our hands, let us take advice from them in doubtful cases. Say, Bring hither the Bible. David's address to God is very solemn, also very particular. God allows us to be so in our addresses to him; Lord, direct me in this matter, about which I am now at a loss. God knows not only what will be, but what would be, if it were not hindered; therefore he knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and how to render to every man according to his works.

Verses 14-18 David made no attempt against Saul; he kept God's way, waited God's time, and was content to secure himself in woods and wildernesses. Let it make us think the worse of this world, which often gives such bad treatment to its best men: let it make us long for that kingdom where goodness shall for ever be in glory, and holiness in honour. We find Jonathan comforting David. As a pious friend, he directed him to God, the Foundation of his comfort. As a self-denying friend, he takes pleasure in the prospect of David's advancement to the throne. As a constant friend, he renewed his friendship with him. Our covenant with God should be often renewed, and therein our communion with him kept up. If the converse of one friend, at one meeting, gives comfort and strengthens our hearts, what may not be expected from the continual supports and powerful love of the Saviour of sinners, the covenanted Friend of believers!

Verses 19-29 In the midst of his wickedness, Saul affected to speak the language of piety. Such expressions, without suitable effects, can only amuse or deceive those who hear, and those who use them. This mountain was an emblem of the Divine Providence coming between David and the destroyer. Let us not be dismayed at the prospect of future difficulties, but stay ourselves upon Him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. Sooner than his promise shall fail, he will commission Philistines to effect our escape, at the very moment when our case appears most desperate. God requires entire dependence on him, If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established, ( Isaiah 7:9 ) .

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives an account of David's relieving Keilah, when it had like to have fallen into the hands of the Philistines, 1Sa 23:1-6; and of Saul's design to surprise him there, which David having notice of, and inquiring of the Lord, departed from thence; which when Saul heard of, he forbore to come forth, 1Sa 23:7-13; and of David's being in the wilderness of Ziph, where, in a wood there, he had an interview with Jonathan, 1Sa 23:14-18; and of the Ziphites offering to deliver him up to Saul, for which he commends them, and gives them instructions how they should behave to him in that affair, 1Sa 23:19-23; and of his seeking him in the wilderness of Maon, where David and his men were in great danger of being taken; which was prevented by the news of the Philistines invading the land coming to Saul just at the nick of time, 1Sa 23:24-29.

1 Samuel 23 Commentaries

Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.