Shmuel Alef 23

1 3 Then they told Dovid, saying, Hinei, the Pelishtim fight against Ke’ilah, and they rob the granot (threshing floors).
2 Therefore Dovid inquired of Hashem, saying, Shall I go and strike these Pelishtim? And Hashem said unto Dovid, Go, and strike the Pelishtim, and save Ke’ilah.
3 And Anshei Dovid said unto him, Hinei, Anachnu (we) are afraid here in Yehudah; how much more then if we come to Ke’ilah against the maarkhot (military lines) of the Pelishtim?
4 Then Dovid inquired of Hashem yet again. And Hashem answered him and said, Arise, go down to Ke’ilah; for I will deliver the Pelishtim into thine yad.
5 So Dovid and his anashim went to Ke’ilah, and fought with the Pelishtim, and brought away their livestock, and attacked them with a makkah gedolah (great defeat). So Dovid saved the inhabitants of Ke’ilah.
6 And it came to pass, when Evyatar (Abiathar) Ben Achimelech fled to Dovid to Ke’ilah, that he came down with the Ephod [with oracular lot; see Ex 28,39] in his yad.
7 And it was told Sha’ul that Dovid was come to Ke’ilah. And Sha’ul said, Elohim hath delivered him into mine yad; for he is shut in, by entering into an ir (town) that hath gates and bar.
8 And Sha’ul called kol HaAm together for milchamah, to go down to Ke’ilah, to besiege Dovid and his anashim.
9 And Dovid knew that Sha’ul secretly plotted ra’ah (evil, harm) against him; and he said to Evyatar (Abiathar) HaKohen, Bring here the Ephod.
10 Then said Dovid, Hashem Elohei Yisroel, Thy eved hath certainly heard that Sha’ul seeketh to come to Ke’ilah, to destroy the ir (town) on my account.
11 Will the Ba’alei Ke’ilah (citizens of Ke’ilah) deliver me up into his yad? Will Sha’ul come down, as Thy eved hath heard? Hashem Elohei Yisroel, tell now Thy eved. And Hashem said, He will come down.
12 Then said Dovid, Will the Baalei Ke’ilah shut me and my anashim up into the yad Sha’ul? And Hashem said, They will deliver thee up.
13 Then Dovid and his anashim, which were about shesh me’ot ish, arose and departed out of Ke’ilah, and went wherever they could go. And it was told Sha’ul that Dovid was escaped from Ke’ilah; and he refrained from going forth.
14 And Dovid stayed in the midbar in metzadot (strongholds, masadas) and remained on a har in the midbar Ziph. And Sha’ul searched for him every day, but Elohim delivered him not into his yad.
15 And Dovid saw that Sha’ul was come out to seek his nefesh: and Dovid was in the midbar Ziph at Choresh.
16 And Yonatan Ben Sha’ul arose, and went to Dovid at Choresh, and strengthened his yad in Elohim [i.e., encouraged him in G-d].
17 And he said unto him, Fear not; for the yad Sha’ul Avi shall not find thee; and thou shalt be Melech over Yisroel, and I shall be mishneh (second) unto thee; and that also Sha’ul Avi knoweth.
18 And they two made a brit (covenant) before Hashem; and Dovid stayed at Choresh, and Yonatan went to his bais.
19 Then came up the Ziphim to Sha’ul to Giveah, saying, Doth not Dovid hide himself among us in metzadot (strongholds, masadas) at Choresh, in the hill of Chachilah, which is on the south of Yeshimon?
20 Now therefore, O Melech, come down according to all the desire of thy nefesh to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the yad HaMelech.
21 And Sha’ul said, Berukhim atem l’Hashem (Blessed be ye of Hashem); for ye have compassion on me.
22 Now go, prepare further, and know and see his makom where his hideouts are, and who hath seen him there; for it is told me that he dealeth very craftily.
23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the machavo’im (hideouts) where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you; it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Yehudah.
24 And they arose, and went to Ziph ahead of Sha’ul; but Dovid and his anashim were in the midbar Ma’on, in the Aravah on the south of Yeshimon.
25 Sha’ul also and his anashim went to seek him. When Dovid was told, he descended and came down to the Sela (Rock), and stayed in the midbar Ma’on. And when Sha’ul heard that, he pursued Dovid in the midbar Ma’on.
26 And Sha’ul went on this side of the har, and Dovid and his anashim on that side of the har; and Dovid made haste to get away for fear of Sha’ul; for Sha’ul and his anashim encircled Dovid and his anashim round about to take them.
27 But there came a malach unto Sha’ul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Pelishtim have invaded HaAretz.
28 Wherefore Sha’ul returned from pursuing after Dovid, and went against the Pelishtim; therefore they called that makom Sela HaMachlekot (Rock of Escaping).
292 (24:1) And Dovid went up from there, and dwelt in metzadot at Ein-Gedi.

Shmuel Alef 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.

Shmuel Alef 23 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.