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David Saves Keilah;

In the Shadow of God's Wings (1 Samuel 23:1-14; Psalm 63) November 9

As we study the life of David, we see some similarities between his life and the life of Jesus Christ. In chapter 23, we see David as "savior." Furthermore, David does not act on his own initiative. Instead, he inquires of the Lord whether or not to fight the Philistines, who are assailing the city of Keilah, a city about 15 miles southwest of Jerusalem belonging to Judah (see Joshua 15:44) and just south of David's stronghold at the cave of Adullam. Likewise, all of Christ's saving work is subject to and in harmony with the will of God the Father.

Moreover, David renews his inquiry as conditions warrant, the condition in this case being the fear David's men naturally have in facing such a formidable foe. Though not fearful himself, David is understanding of his men's fears and goes back to God for their reassurance. Jesus is the same way with us. He knows our frame (Psalm 103:8-14), sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and intercedes for us with the Father. (The Father, of course, knows our frame too—yet He has appointed Christ, who has actually walked in our shoes, as intercessor.)

David then saves the inhabitants of Keilah (verse 5). But in doing so, he puts himself in jeopardy by giving away his position to Saul. In Christ's saving work, He divested himself of divine glory to die an ignominious death in human flesh (Philippians 2:5-8). Part of Christ's saving work, which we must all learn to emulate, was laying down His life for others (compare John 15:13). While David did not literally die for others in this case, it is clear that he was willing to. He certainly endangered himself.

Saul, in 1 Samuel 23, makes a classic mistake in the way he deludes himself and takes God's name in vain—crediting God for his own evil plan seeming to work out (verse 7). Sadly, people sometimes use God's name this way to lend credibility to their clearly ungodly wrong motivations or actions. In verses 6 and 9, we find out how David was able to inquire of the Lord—through the use of the ephod, to which was attached the Urim and Thummim. Abiathar had managed to take it when he escaped from the scene of Saul's massacre (22:20).

With the ephod, David learns very distressing news—the people of Keilah will betray him to Saul. In this world, loyalty is too often only one-sided. David has been loyal to the Keilahites, but they do not reciprocate. How often Jesus Christ has experienced this with mankind. He has laid down his life for us but even the whole professing Christian world, though considering Him Savior, betrays Him time and again through failing to always honor and obey Him.

God saves David by revealing to him that the ungrateful Keilahites are about to betray his presence (verses 10-12). God's plan is sure. Our prayers are always answered when they are in accordance with His will. David and his men depart to the Wilderness of Ziph (verses 13-14), "about four miles southeast of Hebron [in Judah]. This region had many ravines and caves in which David's men could hide" (Nelson, note on 23:13-14).

Psalm 63 is introduced as being written by David "when he was in the wilderness of Judah," so it was likely written around this time. Though still pursued by Saul, things are going somewhat better for David as God continues to give him victories. David remains humble and gives God all the credit. As we read this psalm, we sense that David is more secure, realizing that God is working out His plan. David, enjoying true fellowship with God, knows he has God's protection: "Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice" (verse 7).

When David mentions "the king" in verse 11, he is referring to himself. Despite present conditions, He knows that he is the rightful king—anointed of God by Samuel. And he knows that God will yet fulfill this purpose in him. As Christians, we too can be confident in God's promise to make us kings and priests in His coming Kingdom (see Revelation 1:6).

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