The Shepherd King – Part 13 September 13, 2016

In the continuing study of the life of King David, we are now at the point described in I Samuel 23.  David continues to avoid capture by King Saul but even in his time of hiding, his thoughts are with his people.

In chapter 23 of I Samuel we learn that the Philistines were attacking the Israeli town of Keilah. When David hears about it, he is conflicted.  Should he take the men who’ve gathered around him and go defend his fellow Israelites who lived in Keilah?  Or should he remain hidden?

His heart tells him what to do: he finds a quiet place in the cave and seeks the LORD’s guidance.  God’s answer is recorded for us: ‘The LORD answered him, Go attack the Philistines and save Keilah.’ I Sam. 23:2

When he relays his decision to his ragtag army, they are hesitant.  ‘Here in Judah we are afraid.  How much more if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces?’ they said. I Samuel 23:3

David’s response to their fear is to turn back to the Lord Who repeats His directive that they should go defend Keilah.  Apparently the men are emboldened by God’s confirming word and they go.  Their efforts are successful and Keilah is saved. I Sam. 23:4-6

What David does in this instance gives us pause.  There’s an important lesson to be learned.  Notice that he does not rebuke his men for ‘doubting’ that he had heard from the LORD.  Instead, he goes back and inquires of the LORD again.  Significantly, God does not rebuke David for asking a second time, nor does He show any displeasure towards the men either.  After all, this mission was life threatening to all of them.  It was no small thing.

There is a difference between doubting God and doubting whether we have heard Him correctly!  It is one thing to hear what God says about a situation or issue in our lives and quite another to comprehend not only what God is saying but when and how we are to implement what He is saying.

David did not seek God a second time because he doubted what God had said.  He did so to confirm to himself and to his men that he had understood correctly and NOW was the time to move out.   You see, to hesitate to obey God when His directive to us is clear constitutes disobedience.  However to seek confirmation – particularly in serious and or life/changing matters – is not only wise but it is also biblical for the scriptures say that in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall anything be established.

David followed this pattern not just once but twice.  When King Saul heard that David had successfully defended the city and overcome the Philistines, he mustered his forces, thinking that at last he would capture David by invading Keilah.  When David heard that Saul was coming his way, he sought the LORD again, posing two specific questions to Him.  David wanted to know whether Saul was in fact coming with the express intent to kill him and would the people of Keilah, whom he had just saved, repay the favor and protect him?

God answered straightaway.  Yes, Saul was breathing murder against David.  No, the people of Keilah would not protect him.  So David and his men quickly fled into the desert.

Saul did reach Keilah and was frustrated that David had escaped. But Saul’s son, Jonathan – David’s best friend – went looking for David, albeit clandestinely, and finding him at Horesh, encouraged him greatly with these words:

Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. ‘Don’t be afraid, ‘ he said. ‘My father Saul will not lay a hand on you.  You will be king over Israel and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.’ The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home but David remained at Horesh.  I Sam. 23:16-18


What a precious example of the power of true friendship.  At the risk of his father’s displeasure, Jonathan searches and finds his beloved friend for the purpose of encouraging him and reconfirming God’s call upon his life.  Notice that Jonathan helped David find strength in God; he pointed his friend’s attention back to the only real source of strength, the Holy One of Israel.  And he affirmed his own loyalty to God’s Word and to David, his friend.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to our friends is precisely this: encourage their faith and confidence in God and re-affirm our loyalty to them no matter what they are going through.  It is also the greatest gift we can receive from our friends.

David was smarting from the pain of betrayal by the people whose lives he had just saved. But when his best friend showed up, pointed him back to God and to His call on David’s life, as well as assuring him of his own undivided loyalty to David, what an incredible comfort that must have been.


Friendship is a wonderful gift and anyone who has even two or three intimate friends in life is abundantly blessed.  Today, take a moment to thank God for the good friends He has given you, let them know what they mean to you and commit to be the kind of friend who always points others to the LORD by word and example.


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