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Saul’s fierce hunt (23:1-24:22)
Since Abiathar had brought with him the high priest’s ephod (containing the Urim and Thummim), David was able to ask and receive God’s direct guidance. God’s first direction was to rescue the Israelite town of Keilah from the raiding Philistines (23:1-6). As soon as he had defeated the Philistines, David withdrew from Keilah. He knew that Saul’s army was larger and better equipped than his. He knew also that he could not trust the people of Keilah to stand with him against Saul. David still recognized Saul as the legal king and did not want to fight against him. Nor did he encourage the Israelite people to fight against their king (7-13).
David hid in the hill country near Ziph, and Jonathan came to visit him. Jonathan also remained loyal to Saul as the legal king, but he reassured David that nothing had changed the relationship between the two of them (14-18).
Saul was delighted, and David distressed, when some people from Ziph told Saul where David was hiding (19-24; see Psalms 54:0). David was saved from certain capture when Saul left hurriedly to deal with another attack by the raiding Philistines (25-29).
Having dealt with the Philistines, Saul resumed his pursuit of David (24:1-2). Saul had in his court a group of zealous followers, probably Benjaminites, who accused David of plotting against the king and urged Saul on to destroy him (see 18:22-26; 22:7; 24:9; 26:19; Psalms 7:0). By sparing Saul when he could easily have killed him, David proved that he had no evil intentions against Saul (3-13). God knew that David had not plotted against Saul (14-15), and even Saul himself recognized that David’s uprightness was the mark of a true king. He asked David to promise that when he became king he would not wipe out Saul’s family. Saul, however, gave no promise to spare David. Therefore, when Saul returned home, David thought it safer to return to his hiding place (16-22).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 23". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany