April 14, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Samuel 21-25.
Background: I Samuel 16-20.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Learning from examples: As David begins his run from Saul, he comes in haste to Nob meet Ahimelech the priest, looking for something to eat for him and his men. The problem is, however, that the only bread that the priest has is the bread of the presence which was only lawful to be eaten by the priests (see Leviticus 24:5-9). Ahimelech is wiling to give the bread to David and his men, though, on one condition, and that was if his men had not had sexual relations with women during their journey, which was a sign of purity (compare with Exodus 19:7-15). David assures Ahimelech that this is the case for all his journeys, and they eat of the bread of the presence and David takes the sword of Goliath as a weapon. It will be important later to remember that Doeg the Edomite was here on this occasion (see next chapter). If this story ended here, it would be quite interesting and worthy of discussion. However, perhaps what this story serves to teach us even more that what is found in this immediate context is tough by Christ when He brings up this story to make a point to the Pharisees (see Matthew 12:1-8). The Pharisees criticize Jesus’ disciples for plucking grain on the Sabbath because they were hungry. Jesus points to this example to show how David did something similar when his men were hungry, though it was not lawful for them to eat of the bread of the presence, showing that giving life is more important than obeying the letter of the law. It is interesting to see how Jesus uses examples from the Old Testament to teach lessons, not through exact replication of the situation, but rather through the principles found in the stories. It would follow that we can do the same.
2. Feigning insanity: David had gained quite a reputation after he had defeated Goliath, so much so that people started to attribute more war success to David than they did Saul (this was why Saul was pursuing him in the first place, out of jealousy). This reputation seemed to get David in a lot of trouble, and it was no different when he fled to Gath. Fearing that Achish king of Gath would feel treated by him on account of his reputation, David feigned insanity, so as to show himself as not a threat to the king. This clever thinking paid off, as Achish simply took him as a mad man and sent him away.
David flees as Saul pursues: David goes from Gath the cave of Adullam, where he would pen two of his psalms, psalm 57 and 142. He then went to Moab, where he would leave his father and mother in the care of the king of Moab until he worked things out with Saul. After leaving them at Moab, Gad the seer told David to go into the land of Judah. When Saul heard that David had been seen fleeing from him, he gets angry and tells the people around him that they are not loyal to him because they have not told him where David has been. He basically accuses them of treason, for they hadn’t even told him about the covenant that Jonathan, his son, had made with David. Then Doeg the Edomite spoke up and tells Saul that he had seen David with Ahimelech the priest. Saul shows how much his jealous has driven him past the point of reason when he rails at Ahimelech for helping David, even after Ahimelech tells Saul that he didn’t think that David was out to get him. Instead of reasoning or even considering what Ahimelech has to say, Saul orders his men to kill the priest. As credit to them, they would not lift their swords against the priests of the Lord, implying that they indeed served a higher power than Saul. Doeg the Edomite, however, did not have the same conviction, as he obeyed Saul’s command and basically slaughtered the city of Nob. Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, was the only son to escape. He came to David, who felt guilty when he heard that Saul had slaughtered the city of Nob. He kept Abithar in his protection. This story shows just how far jealousy can drive us if we leave the emotion unchecked.
1. Building repertoire: As David has been fleeing from Saul, he has gained a small group of warriors to accompany him along the way. If David is going to become king, it would indeed be a good move for him to build some repertoire with the people, and it would seem that this was the plan of God. When he finds out that Keilah, a city of Judah, is being attacked by the Philistines, he inquires of the Lord if he should go up against the Philistines. The Lord says yes, but his men are afraid, as so David inquires again, and the Lord assures him that He will give the Philistines into his hand. Thus they go up and defeat the Philistines and rescue the city of Keilah. However, it would seem that this would not earn the people’s complete loyalty, as when Saul approaches the city the Lord tells David that the men of the city would give him up to Saul. With this information, David and his men (a number which had now grown to 600) left the city and went into the strongholds of the wilderness of Zipa. And the Lord was with David, and would not allow him to be given into the hand of Saul.
2. Saul continues to pursue: While in the wilderness, Jonathan comes to meet David, and makes a covenant with him that when he is king, Jonathan will be at his right hand side. Jonathan knows that the Lord would deliver David from the hand of his father. Saul does not give up on David so easily, however, and the Ziphites are quick to give David up, telling Saul that he is in the strongholds of the wilderness. Saul pursues David constantly, and David is just narrowly evading the men of Saul when Saul gets a message that the Philistines were making a raid of Israel. Saul then has to return home to deal with the problem on the other front, and David is able to escape from the hand of Saul, thus why the place was called “the rock of escape.”
David’s integrity: In this chapter, we can really get a feel for the upright character and spirit of David, understanding better why he was said to be a man after God’s own heart (see I Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22). After dealing with the Philistines, Saul returns to the pursuit of David with 3,000 men. As fate would have it (or rather, providence), Saul chooses a cave to relieve himself in which was the very cave that David and his men where staying in the innermost part. Inferring that the Lord had given Saul into his hand, David cuts a corner of Saul’s robe off stealthily, but does not kill the Lord’s anointed. Even just cutting the corner of his robe off makes David feel guilty, however, for Saul was the Lord’s anointed. David does not allow any of his men to do any harm to Saul. When David confronts Saul, he shows great humility, paying homage to the king and showing him evidence of his innocence towards him. If David was seeking to do Saul harm, he would have killed him in the cave when he was given the perfect opportunity. But he didn’t, because he did not have any intention of killing Saul. Saul’s reaction here is very interesting, as instead of going after David, he basically repents of what he has done and acknowledges that God would indeed make David king over Israel. Knowing this, Saul makes a covenant with David that he would not cut off the line of Saul when he becomes king, a covenant that David has no problem making. David’s integrity here is truly inspiring, as not many people would have been able to take the high road as David did. Even his own men told him to kill Saul. But David would not lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed, even if he was seeking after his own life.
The courage of Abigail: After Saul ceases (at least for the moment) chasing after David to kill him and Samuel dies, we see a bit of a change of theme, along with the great courage and quick thinking of an intelligent woman. David and his men dwell in the wilderness of Paran, where they stay with the shepherds of a rich man named Nabal, providing them protection day and night, and not harming them in any way. Thus, when David’s men need food, he decides to send messengers to Nabal and ask him to provide some food for he and his men, for they had dealt graciously with his shepherds. Nadal, who’s name means “fool,” however did not take kindly to this request, but rather railed at the messengers in his arrogance. It would seem that Nabal did indeed know who David was (as he makes mention of people breaking off from their masters houses, implying that the was at least somewhat familiar with David’s situation), but he simply thought he was better than David, or at the very least felt no obligation whatsoever to help David. This reaction almost cost Nabal’s house everything, as David was prepared to wipe out Nabal and his lineage when he received Nabal’s message. Fortunately for the people, Nabal had a wise and beautiful wife, who when she found out what Nabal had done, quickly made a way to rectify the situation. She prepared food and provisions for the men of David and went to meet David, showing great humility before him, and was even able to reason with David so that he would not bring bloodguilt upon himself by killing Nabal and his entire family. Thus, Abigail saved her family with her quick thinking, and the Lord repaid Nabal for his foolish actions, as Nabal’s heart was struck when he heard what his wife had done, and he died 10 days later. Abigail would then go on to become David’s wife, showing that wise decisions can often lead to blessings in life. She will always be remembered for her actions, as we still discuss what she did today. She is a good role model for us to follow in terms of courage, humility and wisdom.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 42-44.
Be strong and courageous.