1 Samuel 23 Commentary

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Chart from recommended resource Jensen's Survey of the OT - used by permission
1 Samuel Chart from Charles Swindoll

TIMELINE OF THE BOOKS OF
SAMUEL, KINGS & CHRONICLES

1107

1011

971

931

853

722

586

1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 1 Kings 2 Kings

31

1-4 5-10 11-20 21-24 1-11 12-22 1-17 18-25

1 Chronicles 10

  1 Chr
11-19
  1 Chr
20-29

2 Chronicles
1-9

2 Chronicles
10-20

2 Chronicles
21-36

Legend: B.C. dates at top of timeline are approximate. Note that 931BC marks the division of the Kingdom into Southern Tribes (Judah and Benjamin) and Ten Northern Tribes. To avoid confusion be aware that after the division of the Kingdom in 931BC, the Southern Kingdom is most often designated in Scripture as "Judah" and the Northern Kingdom as "Israel." Finally, note that 1 Chronicles 1-9 is not identified on the timeline because these chapters are records of genealogy.


The Ryrie Study Bible


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Map on Left ESV Global Study Bible, on right Jensen's Survey of the OT
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Overlappings in 1 Samuel

First Three Kings of Israel

Main Characters in 1 Samuel

MAPS TRACING
DAVID'S FLIGHT FROM SAUL
1 SAMUEL 19-24

Below is a summary from the ESV Global Study Bible of 18 places David fled


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The following notes are modified from ESV notes to include the related Scriptures.

David’s growing reputation fueled Saul’s jealousy which soon flamed into a desire to murder David (1Sa 19:9-10).

(1) David fled from Saul in Gibeah (1Sa 19:9-10) and then from his home (1Sa 19:11-17)

(2) After Saul tried unsuccessfully to kill him in his home, he fled to Samuel at Naioth in Ramah  (1Sa 19:18)

(3), Saul sought David in Naioth of Ramah, but the Spirit saved him (1Sa 19:19-24), and he fled back to meet Jonathan in Gibeah where Jonathan sent an "arrow-gram" warning David of Saul’s determination to kill him(1Sa 20:1-42)

(4). David then fled to Ahimelech the priest at Nob where he collected food and Goliath’s sword. (1Sa 21:1-9)

(5), David briefly sought refuge in the Philistine city of Gath (1Sa 21:10-15)

(6) David then escaped to set up headquarters at the cave of Adullam where his army swelled to 400 men. (1Sa 22:1-2)

(7), In order to protect his parents from harm, David left them in the care of the king of Moab at Mizpah (1Sa 22:3-4)

(8) and went to live in “the stronghold”, the cave of Adullam (1Sa 22:1, 4)

(9). Prophet Gad warns Davie and he went to the forest of Hereth (1Sa 22:5)

(10) and then left to rescue nearby Keilah from some Philistine raiding parties. (1Sa 23:1-5)

(11) When David heard that Saul was coming to Keilah, he and his 600 men fled Keilah. (1Sa 23:9-13) David relocated to the wilderness of Ziph (1Sa 23:14) 

(12) After the men of Ziph betrayed David to Saul (1Sa 23:19-20), David and his men went to live in the wilderness of Maon (1Sa 23:24-25) and narrowly escaped capture there by Saul (1Sa 23:26-28)

(13) . Fleeing the strongholds of Engedi (1Sa 23:29) David again evaded capture by Saul and refused an opportunity to take Saul’s life. (1Sa 24:1-22)

(14) After Samuel's death (1Sa 25:1) David went to the wilderness of Paran (1Sa 25:1)

(15). While he was there, David was again betrayed to Saul by the men of Ziph and refused another opportunity to take Saul’s life. (1Sa 26:1-25)

(16) Finally, David and his men sought refuge with Achish, the king of Gath (1Sa 27:1-12)


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Click to enlarge - from the Holman Bible Atlas (digital bookHardcover
copyright © 1998 B&H Publishing Group,
used by permission, all rights reserved.
This is one of the best resources for Bible maps. 
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1 Samuel 23:1  Then they told David, saying, "Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are plundering the threshing floors."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:1 καὶ ἀπηγγέλη τῷ Δαυιδ λέγοντες ἰδοὺ οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι πολεμοῦσιν ἐν τῇ Κεϊλα καὶ αὐτοὶ διαρπάζουσιν καταπατοῦσιν τοὺς ἅλω

LXE  1 Samuel 23:1 And it was told David, saying, behold, the Philistines war in Keila, and they rob, they trample on the threshing-floors.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:1 Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.

NET  1 Samuel 23:1 They told David, "The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:1 It was reported to David: "Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and raiding the threshing floors."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:1 Now they told David, "Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:1 When David was told, "Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,"

NLT  1 Samuel 23:1 One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:1 Now they told David, "The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:1 News was then brought to David, 'The Philistines are besieging Keilah and plundering the threshing-floors'.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:1 David received information that the Philistines were attacking Keilah and plundering the threshing floors.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:1 And they declare to David, saying, 'Lo, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are spoiling the threshing-floors.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:1 David was asked, "Did you know that the Philistines are fighting against Keilah? They are robbing the threshing floors."

  • Keilah:  city in western foothills of tribe of Judah. Jos 15:44 Ne 3:17,18 
  • plundering the threshing floors: Lev 26:16 De 28:33,51 Jdg 6:4,11 Mic 6:15 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

 Threshing Floor

PHILISTINES PLUNDERING
KEILAH'S THRESHING FLOORS

Don Anderson's titles for chapter 23 - "Learning to Look to God," "From Fear to Faith," "Betrayed." 

Alan Redpath points out that "At this point in his experience, David wrote at least three psalms: the 27th, the 31st, and the 54th. Others may also have been written at this time but these three sum up the spiritual conflict that was going on in his heart. They show what was shaping his life to make him a man of God." "My times are in Thy hand" (Ps 31:15), and that means that in this moment of adversity and trial, David knew that all the question marks of his life were in the hand of God. He knew it was impossible to be in God's hand and in the enemy's hand at the same time. The gloom begins to disappear and fear departs as faith emerges in glorious triumph. This man is rising out of his testing and adversity to learn to put his utter dependence on the Lord. If you begin with God, your enemies grow small. "If you begin with the enemy, you may never reach God. If you begin with Him, the problems begin to dwindle. If you begin with the problems, you never get through to God. Think of that and apply it to your life, in your adversity and testing." (See The Making of a Man of God - Life of David - 137 page PDF)

Gene Getz points out, "Following David's period of deep distress and fear which caused him to take matters into his own hands and woefully make a mess of things, he emerged from the cave of Adullam a different man. While hiding there from Saul, he had many quiet hours to think and reflect on his bizarre and deceitful behavior. It was there he no doubt had a unique encounter with his Lord." (Borrow David: God's man in faith and failure)

"How are thy servants blessed,
O Lord, How sure is their defense.
Eternal wisdom is their guide,
Their help omnipotence."
-- Joseph Addison

Then - David was apparently still in the forests of Hereth (#9 on map above)

they told David, saying, "Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah ("fortress") - Who is they? His men? See map #10 above for Keilah, located about 3-4 miles SE of Adullam, about 20 miles SW of Jerusalem and W of Hebron. The Philistines who David had just fled from was now raiding this town in Judah, the close proximity to Philistia making Keilah extremely vulnerable to aggression by the Philistines. The town would have been especially attractive to the Philistine raiders in the harvest season which would provide food for the Philistine army. There is a television show called "Better Call Saul," which would have be apropos for Keilah under Philistine attack, but Saul was more obsessed with killing David than he was with defending Keilah! 

Plundering (shasah - carrying off spoil from) the threshing floors - This signifies that the Philistines were stealing the harvested grain the Keilahites needed for sustenance.


Fighting (making war)(03898lacham means to do battle, fight, engage in combat, wage war -- against Egyptians (Ex 1:10), against Israel (Nu 21:1, 23, 25, 22:11; Josh 9:2); against Israel's enemies (Josh 10:29). Of Yahweh fighting for His people (Ex 14:14, Ex 14:25, Ex 17:9-10, Dt 1:30, Dt 3:22, Josh 10:14, Jer 21:5, Neh 4:14, 2 Chr 20:29) In doing so, Yahweh often calls into His service not only Israel, but also the elements of nature (Josh 10:11; Josh 24:7; Jdg 5:20). Nevertheless, the Israelites must also join the battle and fight with the Lord. Even though their land has been deeded to them as an inheritance, they must conquer it in battle (Ex 23:27-33). W E Vine - While the word is commonly used in the context of "armies engaged in pitched battle" against each other (Num. 21:23; Josh. 10:5; Judg. 11:5), it is also used to describe "single, hand-to-hand combat" (1 Sam. 17:32-33). Frequently, God "fights" the battle for Israel (Deut. 20:4). Instead of swords, words spoken by a lying tongue are often used "to fight" against God's servants (Ps. 109:2). (Vine's Expository Dictionary)

Plundering (08154shasah means to spoil or plunder of both land and objects usually that which belonged to Israel and usually allowed by God as divine judgment for sins against which they had been clearly warned but from which they refused to repent. It can also refer (as in this passage) to the people who do the plundering. It is notable that if the plunderers plundered more than God allowed, they too would be plundered! 


 ISBE - KEILAH -  ("fortress") - Keilah was a border town in Judah, about twelve miles from the Philistine city of Gath and some ten miles west of the forest of Hereth where David and his men were camping (1Sa 22:5). A city of the Shephelah mentioned (Josh 15:44) along with Nezib, Aehzib and Mareshah. Among those who repaired the walls of Jerusalem was "Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district. After him repaired their brethren, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah" (Neh 3:17,18).

David and Keilah: It is, however, from the story of the wandering of David that we have most information regarding this place. It was a city with gates and bars (1 Sam 23:7). The Philistines came against it and commenced robbing the threshing-floors. David, after twice inquiring of Yahweh, went down with his 600 men (1 Sam 23:13) and "fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and slew them with great slaughter." Saul hearing that David and his men were within a fortified town "summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men" (1 Sam 23:8). Then David asked Abiathar the priest to bring him an ephod, and he inquired of Yahweh whether, if Saul came, the men of Keilah would surrender him to save that city; hearing from Yahweh, "They will deliver thee up," he and all his men escaped from Keilah and went into the wilderness. The reputed strength of Keilah is confirmed by its mention in 5 tablets in the Tell el-Amarna Letters under the name of Kilts (qilti, Petrie) with Gedor, Gath, Rabbah and Gezer.


QUESTION - What is the significance of Keilah in the Bible?

ANSWER - Keilah is mentioned sixteen times in the Bible, all in the Old Testament (ED: 18x/16v - Jos. 15:44; 1 Sam. 23:1; 1 Sam. 23:2; 1 Sam. 23:3; 1 Sam. 23:4; 1 Sam. 23:5; 1 Sam. 23:6; 1 Sam. 23:7; 1 Sam. 23:8; 1 Sam. 23:10; 1 Sam. 23:11; 1 Sam. 23:12; 1 Sam. 23:13; 1 Chr. 4:19; Neh. 3:17; Neh. 3:18). In one instance, Keilah is a personal name, and in the others it is a place name. The meaning of the name Keilah is “fortress” or “citadel.”

A man named Keilah is mentioned in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 4:19. Every other time, Keilah refers to a geographical location. Although there are fifteen other uses, they occur in only three passages.

The place Keilah is first mentioned in Joshua 15:44 as one of the Canaanite cities that was allotted to Judah when the Promised Land was first being conquered and divided among the tribes.

Keilah is also mentioned twice in Jeremiah 3:17–18 where those who repaired the wall around Jerusalem are listed. Here Keilah is a district. Two leaders are mentioned, each of them over “half the district of Keilah.”

Keilah is mentioned twelve times in 1 Samuel 23:1–14. Before he became king and when he was fleeing from Saul, David led a band of about 600 men who served to protect him and to help other Israelites in need. Keilah, a fortified city in the Judean plain, was being terrorized by the Philistines and was in need of help.

“Now they told David, ‘Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors’” (1 Samuel 23:1ESV). David inquired of the Lord twice about going to Keilah (verses 2a and 4a), and twice the Lord promised victory over the Philistines (verses 2b and 4b). “And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah” (verse 5, ESV).

The report of David’s rout of the Philistines reached King Saul, and, thinking he had David trapped, Saul immediately “summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men” (1 Samuel 23:8, ESV). In Keilah, David consulted with Abiathar the priest and asked God if David and his men were safe in Keilah (verses 9–11). The Lord’s response was that David and his men were not safe. Saul would come down to the city, and the people of Keilah would surrender David into Saul’s hands (verse 12). “Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go” (verse 13, ESV). Saul gave up his plan to besiege Keilah but continued to search for David. “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand” (verse 14, ESV).

This passage illustrates how David relied on God’s leading in his day-to-day decisions and his desire to help his fellow countrymen. In 1 Samuel 23:1–12, David prays no fewer than four times. And David does not act until he knows the Lord’s will in the matter. Amazingly, the people of Keilah were disloyal to David, even after he had saved them. They were even willing to betray David into the hands of his enemy. In spite of this, David did not take vengeance on Keilah. He simply left before it became an issue.

In contrast to David’s four prayers, Saul does not pray at all. Rather, he assumes the circumstances that seemed favorable to him were proof of God’s blessing and that he was following God’s leading (1 Samuel 23:7). He had convinced himself that murdering David was God’s will, but God thwarted those evil plans and preserved David’s life. GotQuestions.org


God's Providence

Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.

When we live lives that are pleasing before the Lord, godly lives, righteous lives, we may always be assured that no matter where our steps take us, we have been led there by the Lord God Himself. Indeed, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23).

By this time in his life the madness of King Saul had become so notable that he had nearly destroyed himself and his nation as well. His hatred for David and his jealousy of this young Bethlehemite caused David to be resigned to a life of wandering. Once David learned that the Philistines were besieging the city of Keilah, he immediately hurried to rescue the city. Successful in his rescue, he drove off the enemy and scattered them, making this for a short time his headquarters (1 Samuel 23:1-6).

However, whenever Saul learned of the whereabouts of David, he was sure to be persistent in his pursuit of him; again David was forced to flee (1 Samuel 23:7-14). Although during his wanderings David attracted to his side 600 soldiers in support of his cause, nevertheless these were days of hardship and grief for David. Finally he had to leave the kingdom entirely and seek refuge among his former enemies, the Philistines.

Although the enemy clearly remembered that David slew the giant Goliath, now he was an enemy of Israel's king; and so the Philistines made an unlikely alliance with David and his men. With the consent of Achish, king of Gath, David made his headquarters at Ziklag for more than a year (1 Samuel 27:1-7). Because he supported the Philistine king in raids on the tribes to the south of the wilderness of Shur (1 Samuel 27:8-12), David gained the respect and friendship of Achish. Things were fine as long as the Philistines were fighting someone other than the Israelites. But that situation was about to change.

The Philistine armies assembled at Aphek to encounter the Israelites in Jezreel. David was now in a desperately ticklish situation. He was with the armies of the Philistines, arrayed in preparation for battle against his own people, Israel. What would he do? How would God get him out of this jam?

David didn't have to wait long for a resolution to the problem. The princes of the Philistines began to wonder whether or not they could trust David fighting against his own people. If he were to win the favor of King Saul again, what better way than to kill the Philistines. Therefore, Achish commanded, "Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart" (1 Samuel 29:10). Once again, through the suspicions of the Philistines, God had spared David from fighting against his own people.

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in a terrible automobile accident. Rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he did not regain consciousness until the next day. When he asked the nurse what he was doing there, she replied, "Don't try to talk now, just rest. You have been in an accident."

"Accident? Accident?" exclaimed Dr. Bingham. "There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. This is just an incident in God's perfect leading." Our attitude toward the Lord's leading our steps ought to be the same. When we live righteously before Him, free from known sin, there are no accidents in our lives, only incidents in His perfect leading. Let Him lead you today.

MORNING HYMN
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along,
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some thru the waters, some thru the flood,
Some thru the fire, but all thru the blood;
Some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Devotional is used with permission from the author. It may be used solely for personal, noncommercial, and informational purposes. Republication or redistribution of this devotional is prohibited. (Courtesy of Back to the Bible)

1 Samuel 23:2  So David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And the LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah."

καὶ πατάξεις ἐν τοῖς ἀλλοφύλοις τούτοις καὶ σώσεις τὴν Κεϊλα

LXE  1 Samuel 23:2 And David enquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said, Go, and thou shalt smite these Philistines, and shalt save Keila.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:2 Therefore David enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.

NET  1 Samuel 23:2 So David asked the LORD, "Should I go and strike down these Philistines?" The LORD said to David, "Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:2 So David inquired of the LORD: "Should I launch an attack against these Philistines?" The LORD answered David, "Launch an attack against the Philistines and rescue Keilah."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" And the LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:2 he inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" The LORD answered him, "Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:2 David asked the LORD, "Should I go and attack them?" "Yes, go and save Keilah," the LORD told him.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:2 David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" The LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:2 David consulted Yahweh, 'Shall I go and fight these Philistines?' Yahweh replied to David, 'Go and fight the Philistines and save Keilah.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:2 So he consulted the LORD, inquiring, "Shall I go and defeat these Philistines?" The LORD answered, "Go, for you will defeat the Philistines and rescue Keilah."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:2 And David asketh at Jehovah, saying, 'Do I go? -- and have I smitten among these Philistines?' And Jehovah saith unto David, 'Go, and thou hast smitten among the Philistines, and saved Keilah.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:2 David asked the LORD, "Should I go and attack these Philistines?" "Go," the LORD told David, "attack the Philistines, and save Keilah."

  • inquired: 1Sa 23:4,6,9-12 30:8 Nu 27:21 Jos 9:14 Jdg 1:1 2Sa 5:19,23 1Ch 14:10 Ps 32:8 Pr 3:5,6 Jer 10:23 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DAVID SEEKS YAHWEH'S
WORD ON KEILAH

So - So means "and for this reason" or "therefore". What reason? The Philistines were raiding and plundering Keilah is David's reason. In short, in a time of adversity watch what David does! And keep the context in mind -- David is a man on the run himself and yet he is not so inwardly focused that he does not seek to help others in distress.

THOUGHT - There is certainly a good lesson in David's response for all of us, for adversity tends too often to cause us to hold back help or even withdraw from aiding others in their adversity. "I have enough bad news in my life right now, so I don't need your bad news to compound bad news and complicate my life!" David's bad news did not blind him to the bad news of his fellow Israelites, those for whom he was the "king in training" and would one day reign over. David considered others at Keilah as more important than himself! Who does that sound like? (Rhetorical of course - see Php 2:3-5+).

David inquired of the LORD - This is the David we have come to love, the man after God's own heart, who again (after the Nob nightmare and Gath madness) is seeking His LORD. Clearly David is again in fellowship and communion with the LORD. He has recognized his sins and their consequences and confessed and repented, now going in his heart and mind toward the LORD, instead of previously away from the LORD and to self. We can all identify with this scenario! 

Is prayer my first or my last resort? 
God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Warren Wiersbe notes that "David paused to determine the will of God, a practice every leader needs to imitate, for it's easy for our own personal interests to get in the way of God's will." (Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament)

THOUGHT - Do you hear that wise advice President ________ of the USA? What if every major decision of the President were undertaken like David undertook this endeavor? Just wishing "In God We Trust" would be a real time practice! 

Don Anderson - At this particular time David didn't know anything of his great future except by faith. In fact, it didn't look too bright right now, but God was shaping his life. He was learning to look to the Lord. We too are going to share a throne with the King of Kings one day, but right now we have to live toward that day by faith. This is our training and preparation time

TSK Note -  Had not David loved his country, and been above all motives of private and personal revenge, he would have rejoiced in this invasion of Judea, as producing a strong diversion in his favour, and embroiling his inveterate enemy. In most cases, a man with David's wrongs would have joined with the enemies of his country, and avenged himself on the author of his calamities; but he thinks of nothing but succouring Keilah, and using his power and influence in behalf of his brethren.

Saying, "Shall I go and attack these Philistines?" - How did David seek Him? The text does not say, but presumably by words in prayer. Alternatively he may have used the ephod as in 1Sa 23:9-11. One has to wonder what the outcome would have been had David inquired earlier "Shall I go to Nob for bread and weapons?" 

And the LORD (Jehovah - Yahwehsaid to David, "Go and (launch) attack the Philistines and deliver (save, rescue) Keilah - Yahweh answers David affirmatively but exactly how He communicated is not stated. Clearly David is back on the straight and narrow path of holiness or otherwise God would not have answered for Psalm 66:18 says "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear."

THOUGHT- So God is "deaf" so to speak to our cries if we have unconfessed sin! Is God answering your prayers? Are you making sure you keep short accounts by frequent confession (1Jn 1:9+)? That is a good practice to assure that He even "hears" or listens to our prayers! 

Luis Palau makes an interesting observation: "If David had applied this same principle to his domestic life, how different his family history might have been. David committed his military decisions to the Lord but he neglected to consult God regarding marriage. He simply didn't pray about the women in his life. And that severely crippled his effectiveness for God. This has happened to many people, not just to David. People will pray about a job, a church, unsaved relatives, and the Sunday School lesson, but when it comes to choosing a girlfriend or a boyfriend, they think, That's my choice. God doesn't have to be involved, so they refuse or carefully neglect to speak to the Lord about this portion of their lives. In Proverbs we read, 'Above all that you guard, watch over your heart, for out of it are the sources of life' (Proverbs 4:23)."


Pray First

David inquired of the Lord. — 1 Samuel 23:2

Today's Scripture & Insight: 1 Samuel 23:1-5

When my husband and I supervise our son’s piano practice sessions, we begin by asking God to help us. We pray first because neither my husband nor I know how to play the instrument. Together, all three of us are coming to understand musical mysteries such as the meaning of “staccato” and “legato” and when to use the piano’s black keys.

Prayer becomes a priority when we realize that we need God’s help. David needed God’s assistance in a dangerous situation as he considered fighting the Philistines in the city of Keilah. Before engaging in battle, “David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go and attack these Philistines?’” (1 Sam. 23:2). God gave His approval. However, David’s men admitted that the enemy forces intimidated them. Before a single sword was lifted against the Philistines, David prayed again. God promised him the victory he later claimed (v.4).

Does prayer guide our lives, or is it our last resort when trouble strikes? We sometimes fall into the habit of making plans and then asking God to bless them, or praying only in moments of desperation. God does want us to turn to Him in moments of need. But He also wants us to remember that we need Him all the time (Prov. 3:5-6). By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Dear God, please guide me as I walk through this life. Help me not to act only by my own wisdom, but to seek Your will in every situation.

God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

1 Samuel 23:3  But David's men said to him, "Behold, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then if we go to Keilah against the ranks of the Philistines?"

BGT  1 Samuel 23:3 καὶ εἶπαν οἱ ἄνδρες τοῦ Δαυιδ πρὸς αὐτόν ἰδοὺ ἡμεῖς ἐνταῦθα ἐν τῇ Ιουδαίᾳ φοβούμεθα καὶ πῶς ἔσται ἐὰν πορευθῶμεν εἰς Κεϊλα εἰς τὰ σκῦλα τῶν ἀλλοφύλων εἰσπορευσόμεθα

LXE  1 Samuel 23:3 And the men of David said to him, Behold, we are afraid here in Judea; and how shall it be if we go to Keila? Shall we go after the spoils of the Philistines?

KJV  1 Samuel 23:3 And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?

NET  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, "We are afraid while we are still here in Judah! What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?"

CSB  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, "Look, we're afraid here in Judah; how much more if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!"

ESV  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, "Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?"

NIV  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, "Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!"

NLT  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said, "We're afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don't want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!"

NRS  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, "Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?"

NJB  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him, 'We are already afraid here in Judah; how much more, then, if we go to Keilah to fight the Philistine troops!'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:3 But David's men said to him: "We are afraid here in Judah. How much more so if we go to Keilah against the forces of the Philistines!"

YLT  1 Samuel 23:3 And David's men say unto him, 'Lo, we here in Judah are afraid; and how much more when we go to Keilah, unto the ranks of the Philistines?'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:3 David's men told him, "We're afraid of staying here in Judah. How much more afraid do you think we'll be if we go to Keilah against the Philistine army?"

DAVID'S MEN FEAR
PHILISTINES

But David's men said to him, "Behold, we are afraid here in Judah - Apparently they are still in the forest of Hereth (1Sa 22:5). They did not trust the LORD's instructions and thus were not eager to obey. 

Gene Getz comments that "From a human perspective we can understand why these men were so fearful. First, they weren't first-class soldiers. In fact, they were classified "3-D" (Compare "4-F") -- Scripture records that 'Everyone who was in Distress, and everyone who was in Debt, and everyone who was Discontented (1Sa 22:2 - gathered to join David in the cave of Adullam.'" (Borrow David: God's man in faith and failure)

How much more then if we go to Keilah against the ranks of the Philistines - If you think we are afraid now, just charge us to go against the Philistines and you will see real fear! This is not a good attitude with which to enter battle. NLT paraphrases their intent = "We certainly don't want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!"

1 Samuel 23:4  Then David inquired of the LORD once more. And the LORD answered him and said, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:4 καὶ προσέθετο Δαυιδ ἐρωτῆσαι ἔτι διὰ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ κύριος καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν ἀνάστηθι καὶ κατάβηθι εἰς Κεϊλα ὅτι ἐγὼ παραδίδωμι τοὺς ἀλλοφύλους εἰς χεῖράς σου

LXE  1 Samuel 23:4 And David enquired yet again of the Lord; and the Lord answered him, and said to him, Arise and go down to Keila, for I will deliver the Philistines into thy hands.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:4 Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

NET  1 Samuel 23:4 So David asked the LORD once again. But again the LORD replied, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:4 Once again, David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him: "Go at once to Keilah, for I will hand the Philistines over to you."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:4 Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:4 Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, "Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:4 So David asked the LORD again, and again the LORD replied, "Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines."

NRS  1 Samuel 23:4 Then David inquired of the LORD again. The LORD answered him, "Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:4 So David consulted Yahweh again and Yahweh replied, 'Be on your way; go down to Keilah, since I shall give the Philistines into your power.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:4 Again David consulted the LORD, who answered, "Go down to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your power."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:4 And David addeth again to ask at Jehovah, and Jehovah answereth him, and saith, 'Rise, go down to Keilah, for I am giving the Philistines into thy hand.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:4 David asked the LORD again, and the LORD answered him. He said, "Go to Keilah. I'm giving you the power to defeat the Philistines."

  • yet again: 1Sa 28:6 Jdg 6:39 
  • for I will: Jos 8:7 Jdg 7:7 2Sa 5:19 2Ki 3:18 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DAVID'S SECOND 
INQUIRY OF YAHWEH

Then - Because of the hesitancy and trepidation of his men. David knows that soldiers entering battle afraid of the enemy is not a good recipe for victory. 

David inquired of the LORD once more - In light of the state of the fear in the hearts of his men, a second request is reasonable.

And the LORD answered him and said, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand (yad - Lit - "hand" = give into hand is idiom that speaks of give over to another's power) - Now the LORD not just to go, but promised victory over the Philistines. This is a message that should calm the fear in the hearts of his men. It is also teaching his men that David depends on and trusts in the LORD of hosts. This is the old "giant slayer" they knew before. 

1 Samuel 23:5  So David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines; and he led away their livestock and struck them with a great slaughter. Thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:5 καὶ ἐπορεύθη Δαυιδ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες οἱ μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ εἰς Κεϊλα καὶ ἐπολέμησεν ἐν τοῖς ἀλλοφύλοις καὶ ἔφυγον ἐκ προσώπου αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπήγαγεν τὰ κτήνη αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπάταξεν ἐν αὐτοῖς πληγὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἔσωσεν Δαυιδ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας Κεϊλα

LXE  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men with him went to Keila, and fought with the Philistines; and they fled from before him, and he carried off their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter, and David rescued the inhabitants of Keila.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

NET  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them. David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:5 Then David and his men went to Keilah, fought against the Philistines, drove their livestock away, and inflicted heavy losses on them. So David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines and carried off their cattle and inflicted a great defeat on them. Thus David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:5 David then went with his men to Keilah and fought with the Philistines. He drove off their cattle and inflicted a severe defeat on them, and thus rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:5 And David goeth, and his men, to Keilah, and fighteth with the Philistines, and leadeth away their cattle, and smiteth among them -- a great smiting, and David saveth the inhabitants of Keilah.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:5 David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines, drove off their livestock, and decisively defeated them. So David rescued the people who lived in Keilah.

DAVID OBEYS AND
DEFEATS THE ENEMY

So - This conjunction means "and for this reason" or "therefore" and speaks of David and his men's trust in and obedience to the Word of the LORD (now that David had brought a second word from the LORD, a word of sure victory)

David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines - The men followed David and obeyed Yahweh, traveling about 10 miles from the forest of Hereth to the city of Keilah where they engaged the Philistine contingent.

and he led away their livestock and struck them with (heavy losses) a great slaughter - The result of their obedience was blessing and victory over a strong and fearful enemy. Isn't that always God's formula for the blessed life? The livestock presumably was part of the spoil they had taken from Keilah. 

THOUGHT - This verse sounds out a vital Biblical truth like a broken record repeating the same song "Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy (blessed) in Jesus than to TRUST AND OBEY!"

Thus David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah - Note the juxtaposition of man's responsibility (David delivered) and God's sovereignty, provision and power (I will give the Philistines into your hand) This is an illustration of the "Paradoxical Principle of 100% Dependent and 100% Responsible. The effects of this victory would be to increase David's faith in the promises of Yahweh and would increase the trust and loyalty the men would have for David as their leader. This is also evidence that even though he had gone to King Achish, a Philistine, his true loyalty was to the people of Israel. 

1 Samuel 23:6  Now it came about, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:6 καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ φυγεῖν Αβιαθαρ υἱὸν Αβιμελεχ πρὸς Δαυιδ καὶ αὐτὸς μετὰ Δαυιδ εἰς Κεϊλα κατέβη ἔχων εφουδ ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:6 And it came to pass when Abiathar the son of Achimelech fled to David, that he went down with David to Keila, having and ephod in his hand.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:6 And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

NET  1 Samuel 23:6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:6 Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, and he brought an ephod with him.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:6 When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:6 (Now Abiathar son of Ahimelech had brought the ephod down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

NLT  1 Samuel 23:6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:6 When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:6 When Abiathar son of Ahimelech took refuge with David, he went down to Keilah with the ephod in his hand.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:6 Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, who had fled to David, went down with David to Keilah, taking the ephod with him.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:6 And it cometh to pass, in the fleeing of Abiathar son of Ahimelech unto David, to Keilah, an ephod came down in his hand.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:6 When Ahimelech's son Abiathar fled to David at Keilah, Abiathar brought a priestly ephod with him.

  • when Abiathar: 1Sa 22:20 
  • an ephod: 1Sa 14:3,18,36,37 Ex 28:30,31
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

1 Samuel 30:7-8 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Please bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue all.”


Ephod is outer garment held by shash & covering blue robe
(Urim & Thummim - square over his chest)

ABIATHAR FLED
WITH THE EPHOD

Now it came about, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, that he came down with an ephod (epod) in his hand - Abiathar though surely fearful of Doeg's sword was resourceful and thus carried off from Nob an ephod that represented to David the divine presence, and was used by him to inquire of the will of the Lord (1Sa 23:9; 1Sa 30:7–8).


Ephod (0646epod is a masculine noun that means something girt, a sacred vestment was made by a skilled workman and worn originally by the high priest (Ex. 28:4) and was embroidered with divers colours. Afterwards it was worn by the ordinary priest (1Sa 22:18), and characteristic of his office (1Sa 2:18, 28; 14:3). From the historical books we learn that ephods were worn by persons other than the high priest and was even worn by David (2Sa 6:14). It was made of fine linen, and consisted of two pieces, which hung from the neck, and covered both the back and front, above the tunic and outer garment (Ex. 28:31), an apron-like garment suspended from shoulder straps that draped over the robe and extended from the chest down to the thighs (Ex 28:4, 6–14, 25–28; 29:5; 39:2–7). Gideon made an ephod which was an idolatrous cultic object (Jdg 8:27) In Hos 3:4 it is one of the sacred items the sons of Israel will lose access to for a period of time (because of disobedience). The breastplate, with the Urim and Thummim, was attached to the ephod. The ephod in some contexts was clearly associated with the presence of God or those who had a special relationship with God and as in 1Sa 23:9 was in some way a source of divine guidance, 

New Bible Dictionary - A sacred vestment originally worn by the high priest and made of “gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen—the work of a skilled craftsman” (Exod 28:6–14; 39:2–7). It was held together front and back by two shoulder pieces at the top and a girdle band around the waist. On each shoulder piece was an onyx stone engraved with six names of the tribes of Israel. Attached to the ephod by chains of pure gold was a breastplate containing twelve precious stones. The blue robe of the ephod was worn underneath, having a hole for the head and extending to the feet, with a hem alternating with gold bells and pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet (28:31–35; 39:22–26).

NAVE's summary - A sacred vestment worn by the high priest. Described, Ex. 28:6-14, 31-35; 25:7.Making of, Ex. 39:2-26. Breastplate attached to, Ex. 28:22-29. Worn by Aaron, Ex. 39:5. Used as an oracle, 1Sa 23:9, 12; 30:7, 8. An inferior, was worn by the common priests, 1Sa 22:18; by Samuel, 1Sa 2:18; David, 2Sa 6:14. It was called Coat, Ex. 28:40; 29:8; 39:27; 40:14; Lev. 8:13; 10:5. Made by Gideon, became an idolatrous snare to Israel, Judg. 8:27; 17:5; 18:14. Prophecy concerning the absence of the Ephod from Israel, Hos. 3:4.


Theodore Epp -  BEWARE OF CIRCUMSTANCES! 1 Samuel 23:6-14

We learn from this chapter that people who intend evil can also speak of the Lord and His work in a very pious way.

Saul was told that David had delivered Keilah, and he said, "God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars" (1 Sam. 23:7).

This was Saul speaking, a man who had been so disobedient to God that the Spirit of God had departed from him. He was a man who, no matter how he prayed, received no answer from God because his heart was not right toward God.

Yet here he was saying that God had delivered David into his hands. We must always be careful of our interpretation of circumstances.

On a number of occasions I have counseled with different persons who were very obviously following a selfish path. Their one strong argument was that the circumstances favored the course they wanted to take; but it was obvious to me, at least, that they were viewing circumstances in a false light.

I was able to check the subsequent history of some of these people and found them miserable in heart with no joy in the Lord. If our wills are not wholly submitted to the Lord, we are bound to misinterpret the circumstances around us.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 16:25).


QUESTION - Who was Abiathar in the Bible?

ANSWER - Along with Zadok, Abiathar served as one of the chief priests during David’s reign as king. Abiathar’s name means “father of excellence” or “father of abundance” in Hebrew.

Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech, who served as a priest at Nob (1 Samuel 21:1; Mark 2:26) until he and the other priests were murdered by King Saul (1 Samuel 21:1–19). Being the only son of Ahimelech to escape the massacre at Nob, Abiathar fled to David and was promised protection by the future king (1 Samuel 21:20–23).

Because Abiathar served David and acted as priest for all of David’s men in hiding, he was made high priest along with Zadok once David began his reign as king (1 Chronicles 15:11). This was a natural role for him to take on, as he had kept the ephod and administered the Urim and Thummin when David sought direction from the Lord (1 Samuel 23:6; 30:7).

When Absalom rebelled against his father and attempted to usurp the throne, Abiathar remained loyal to David. Abiathar was among those who fled the capital city with David (2 Samuel 15:24). Zadok and the Levites carried the ark of the covenant, “and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city” (2 Samuel 15:24). Although David admired the loyalty and faithfulness of the priests, he ordered them to return to the city with the ark. This proved helpful because they were then able to send word to David about Absalom’s plans (2 Samuel 15:27–29; 17:15–16). David was restored to his throne and Abiathar to his priestly office.

Things changed as David’s son Solomon took the throne. Abiathar was not loyal to the new king. Adonijah, another one of David’s sons, put himself forward as king with the help of Joab (one of David’s nephews) and Abiathar (1 Kings 1:5, 7). Once the threat from Adonijah was neutralized, King Solomon dealt with the conspirators. One of Solomon’s actions was to remove Abiathar from the priestly office. This fulfilled the Lord’s word of judgment over Eli and his descendants, which impacted Abiathar since he was related to Eli (1 Samuel 3:12–14; 1 Kings 2:27). It was only because of the priest’s loyal service to David that Solomon did not kill him. Solomon told Abiathar, “Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign LORD before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships” (1 Kings 2:26). Zadok replaced Abiathar as priest under Solomon (1 Kings 2:35).

Abiathar lived most of his life in faithful service to the Lord, but he did not finish well. Instead of siding with the rightful king of Israel (2 Samuel 7:12; 1 Kings 1:17), Abiathar assisted one of David’s rebellious sons who desired to rule. He allowed earthly matters to become his focus, which cost him the priestly office. Like Abiathar, we can easily get caught up in worldly schemes and lose sight of God’s plan. Rather than seeking our own way or chasing what seems politically expedient, we should seek to faithfully follow God. Then, when our time on earth is done, we can state with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:7NLT). GotQuestions.org

1 Samuel 23:7  When it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hand, for he shut himself in by entering a city with double gates and bars."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:7 καὶ ἀπηγγέλη τῷ Σαουλ ὅτι ἥκει Δαυιδ εἰς Κεϊλα καὶ εἶπεν Σαουλ πέπρακεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς εἰς χεῖράς μου ὅτι ἀποκέκλεισται εἰσελθὼν εἰς πόλιν θυρῶν καὶ μοχλῶν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keila: and Saul said, God has sold him into my hands, for he is shut up, having entered into a city that has gates and bars.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.

NET  1 Samuel 23:7 When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:7 When it was reported to Saul that David had gone to Keilah, he said, "God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself by entering a town with barred gates."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:7 Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, "God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, "God has handed him over to me, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:7 Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. "Good!" he exclaimed. "We've got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!"

NRS  1 Samuel 23:7 Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, "God has given him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:7 When word was brought to Saul that David had gone to Keilah he said, 'God has delivered him into my power: he has trapped himself by going into a town with gates and bars.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:7 When Saul was told that David had entered Keilah, he said: "God has put him in my grip. Now he has shut himself in, for he has entered a city with gates and bars."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:7 And it is declared to Saul that David hath come in to Keilah, and Saul saith, 'God hath made him known for my hand, for he hath been shut in, to enter into a city of doors and bar.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:7 When Saul was told that David went to Keilah, Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hands. He has trapped himself by going into a city which has a gate with a double door held shut by a bar."

  • God: 1Sa 23:14 24:4-6 26:8,9 Ps 71:10,11 
  • shut: Ex 14:3 15:9 Jdg 16:2,3 Job 20:5 Lu 19:43,44 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

SAUL'S SPIES REVEAL
DAVID IS IN KEILAH

When it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah - Gibeah to Keilah is about an18-19 mile trip. Saul undoubtedly had spies throughout the land to keep him apprised of David's whereabouts.

Saul said, "God has delivered him into my hand - What a difference in perspective between a king rejected and a king anointed. David inquired of Yahweh and God answered that He would deliver the enemy into his hand. Saul killed 85 priests of the LORD and now presumes to think that these providential circumstances indicate that this same LORD had given David into his hand. Saul is clearly not in touch with the LORD and has no clue as to His will. 

THOUGHT - Can you see the principle in this section? Is Saul in the will of God? Of course not! Does Saul know God's will ("God has delivered him into my hand.") Of course not! So here is the timeless principle - If you are out of the will of God, you are ignorant of the ways of God! You can mark that one down in stone for future reference! See The Will Of God

Theodore Epp makes a great point - Saul said, 'God has delivered into my hand, for he is shut in by entering into a town that has gates and bars.' This was Saul speaking, a man who had been so disobedient to God that the Spirit of God had departed from him. We must always be careful of our interpretation of circumstances. If our wills are not wholly given over to the Lord, we are bound to misinterpret the circumstances surrounding us.'

for he shut himself in by entering a city with double gates and bars - This description may indicate there was only a "front door" so to speak to the city with no "back door," no "escape hatch" for David! Saul thinks David has made a tactical blunder and these circumstances have entrapped and surely doomed him! Notice Saul's lack of gratitude that David had just defended one of Saul's cities! This man has a very dark heart!

1 Samuel 23:8  So Saul summoned all the people for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:8 καὶ παρήγγειλεν Σαουλ παντὶ τῷ λαῷ εἰς πόλεμον καταβαίνειν εἰς Κεϊλα συνέχειν τὸν Δαυιδ καὶ τοὺς ἄνδρας αὐτοῦ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:8 And Saul charged all the people to go down to war to Keila, to besiege David and his men.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

NET  1 Samuel 23:8 So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:8 Then Saul summoned all the troops to go to war at Keilah and besiege David and his men.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:8 And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:8 And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:8 So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:8 Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:8 Saul called all the people to arms, to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:8 Saul then called all the people to war, in order to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:8 And Saul summoneth the whole of the people to battle, to go down to Keilah, to lay siege unto David and unto his men.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:8 So Saul called together all the troops to go to war and blockade Keilah, where David and his men were.

SAUL SEEKS TO
LAY SIEGE TO KEILAH

So Saul summoned all the people (NIV - All his forces; NLT - his entire army; NET - mustered all his army) for war, to go down to Keilah to besiege (tsur; Lxx - sunecho - press in and around, hem in) David and his men - Note the adjective "all" indicating Saul is going for an all out attack against David, which he is sure will bring about his enemy's death. He is not going to send down a small raiding party but his entire army! He is thinking "I've got that slippery son of Jesse this time!" Saul will surround and lay siege to Keilah until he captures David. Surrounding the city would make it impossible for David to escape. Even if Saul could not fight his way into the city, he could lay a siege around it and starve David and his men until they were forced to surrender.


Besiege (harass, attack) (06696tsûr/sur has the basic meaning to enclose or to confine. It conveys the ideas of to lay siege, to secure, to tie up or bind (2Ki 5:23, Ezek 5:3, Dt 14:25), to surround. The most common meaning of tsûr is to lay siege, usually to a city, by surrounding it and cutting off its supplies. To “encircle and enclose a fortified area as an aggressive military strategy to defeat a city or nation.” The word does not necessarily denote an actual battle but emphasizes taking control of a city. For example, David's men besieged Rabbah (2Sa 11:1; 1Chr. 20:1); Nadab laid siege to Gibbethon (1Ki. 15:27) Omri to Tirzah (1Ki. 16:17). Saul attempted to surround David at Keilah (1Sa 23:8). The Assyrians under Ben-Hadad besieged Samaria (1Ki. 20:1; 2Ki. 6:24f). Shalmaneser V laid siege against Samaria (725BC 2Ki 18:9) which fell after three years (722 BC). Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem in 597 BC (2Ki. 24:11) and 588BC (Jer. 32:2; 37:5). Instructions to Israel regarding siege tactics appear in Dt. 20:12, 19. 2Sa 20:15 describes the strategy of building ramps to overtake a walled city.

1 Samuel 23:9  Now David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him; so he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod here."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:9 καὶ ἔγνω Δαυιδ ὅτι οὐ παρασιωπᾷ Σαουλ περὶ αὐτοῦ τὴν κακίαν καὶ εἶπεν Δαυιδ πρὸς Αβιαθαρ τὸν ἱερέα προσάγαγε τὸ εφουδ κυρίου

LXE  1 Samuel 23:9 And David knew that Saul spoke openly of mischief against him: and David said to Abiathar the priest, Bring the ephod of the Lord.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.

NET  1 Samuel 23:9 When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him, he told Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod!"

CSB  1 Samuel 23:9 When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:9 David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod here."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:9 When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:9 But David learned of Saul's plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the LORD what he should do.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:9 When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, "Bring the ephod here."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:9 David, however, was aware that Saul was plotting evil against him, and said to Abiathar the priest, 'Bring the ephod.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:9 When David found out that Saul was planning to harm him, he said to the priest Abiathar, "Bring forward the ephod."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:9 And David knoweth that against him Saul is devising the evil, and saith unto Abiathar the priest, 'Bring nigh the ephod.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:9 When David learned that Saul was planning to harm him, he told the priest Abiathar, "Bring the ephod."

  • David: Jer 11:18,19 Ac 9:24 14:6 23:16-18 
  • Bring: 1Sa 23:6 1Sa 14:18 1Sa 30:7 Nu 27:21 Jer 33:3
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries 

DAVID FOREKNEW
SAUL'S PLOT

Now David knew that Saul was plotting evil against him - Forewarned is forearmed. Clearly David's knowledge here is not just Saul's usual evil toward him, but the knowledge that there is now a specific plan to take him out. How did David know? He may have heard from God. Or he may have had men loyal to him in Saul's court. Think about it -- if Saul was mustering his entire army, surely there was someone who loved David and would get the message to him some 18-19 miles away (only 1 day's journey by foot, even faster by horseback or mule). 

so he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring the ephod (epod) here - David is surely thankful that Abiathar brought the ephod from Nob. 

1 Samuel 23:10  Then David said, "O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:10 καὶ εἶπεν Δαυιδ κύριε ὁ θεὸς Ισραηλ ἀκούων ἀκήκοεν ὁ δοῦλός σου ὅτι ζητεῖ Σαουλ ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ Κεϊλα διαφθεῖραι τὴν πόλιν δι᾽ ἐμέ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:10 And David said, Lord God of Israel, thy servant has indeed heard, that Saul seeks to come against Keila to destroy the city on my account.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:10 Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.

NET  1 Samuel 23:10 Then David said, "O LORD God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:10 Then David said, "LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard that Saul intends to come to Keilah and destroy the town because of me.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:10 Then David said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:10 David said, "O LORD, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:10 Then David prayed, "O LORD, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:10 David said, "O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:10 David said, 'Yahweh, God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul is preparing to come to Keilah and destroy the town because of me.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:10 David then said: "O LORD God of Israel, your servant has heard a report that Saul plans to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:10 And David saith, 'Jehovah, God of Israel, Thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul is seeking to come in unto Keilah, to destroy the city on mine account.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:10 Then David said, "LORD God of Israel, I have actually heard that Saul is going to come to Keilah and destroy the city on account of me.

  • destroy the city: 1Sa 23:8 22:19 Ge 18:24 Es 3:6 Pr 28:15 Ro 3:15,16 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DAVID'S PREFACES HIS
INQUIRY TO YAHWEH

Then - Don't miss this strategic "then," for in the background of knowledge that Saul is plotting evil against him, David THEN goes to God, his Refuge and Strength. 

David said, "O LORD God of Israel, Your servant has heard for certain that Saul is seeking to come to Keilah to destroy the city on my account - Saul is a madman who doesn't just want to kill David, but anyone he thinks may have befriended David, so again the entire city of Keilah is at risk, as was a reality at the city of Nob. 

1 Samuel 23:11  "Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant." And the LORD said, "He will come down."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:11 εἰ ἀποκλεισθήσεται καὶ νῦν εἰ καταβήσεται Σαουλ καθὼς ἤκουσεν ὁ δοῦλός σου κύριε ὁ θεὸς Ισραηλ ἀπάγγειλον τῷ δούλῳ σου καὶ εἶπεν κύριος ἀποκλεισθήσεται

LXE  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the place be shut up? And now will Saul come down, as thy servant has heard? Lord God of Israel, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, It will be shut up.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.

NET  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, please inform your servant!" Then the LORD said, "He will come down."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come down as Your servant has heard? LORD God of Israel, please tell Your servant." The LORD answered, "He will come down."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant." And the LORD said, "He will come down."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant." And the LORD said, "He will."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O LORD, God of Israel, please tell me." And the LORD said, "He will come."

NRS  1 Samuel 23:11 And now, will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant." The LORD said, "He will come down."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:11 Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? Yahweh, God of Israel, I beg you, let your servant know.' Yahweh replied, 'He will come down.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:11 Will they hand me over? And now: will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, tell your servant." The LORD answered, "He will come down."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:11 Do the possessors of Keilah shut me up into his hand? doth Saul come down as Thy servant hath heard? Jehovah, God of Israel, declare, I pray Thee, to Thy servant.' And Jehovah saith, 'He doth come down.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come here as I have heard? LORD God of Israel, please tell me." "He will come," the LORD answered.

DAVID'S QUESTIONS
YAHWEH'S AFFIRMATION

Will the men of Keilah surrender (betray) me into his hand? Will Saul come down just as Your servant has heard? - Will the people he has just delivered from the Philistines demonstrate their ingratitude by delivering David to Saul? David identifies himself as Yahweh's servant, something Saul never said! Presumably he used the ephod again and some think this entailed the use of the Urim and Thummim but that is somewhat conjectural because the only specific mention of Urim in 1 Samuel is in 1Sa 28:6 which says "Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets." 

O LORD God of Israel, I pray, tell Your servant." And the LORD said, "He will come down - Yahweh answers just the first of David's two questions. How did God answer? Was it through use of the ephod (although that mode of communication is mysterious to us today). "Regardless of how God communicated then, He communicates with us through his Word, and with illumination in our souls and joy as we walk in His will." (Anderson)

1 Samuel 23:12  Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you."

KJV  1 Samuel 23:12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.

NET  1 Samuel 23:12 David asked, "Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul's hand?" The LORD said, "They will deliver you over."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:12 Then David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?" "They will," the LORD responded.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:12 Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:12 Again David asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:12 Again David asked, "Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?" And the LORD replied, "Yes, they will betray you."

NRS  1 Samuel 23:12 Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" The LORD said, "They will surrender you."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:12 David then went on to ask, 'Will the notables of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?' Yahweh replied, 'They will hand you over.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:12 David then asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah deliver me and my men into the grasp of Saul?" And the LORD answered, "Yes."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:12 And David saith, 'Do the possessors of Keilah shut me up, and my men, into the hand of Saul?' And Jehovah saith, 'They shut thee up.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:12 "Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?" David asked. "They will hand you over," the LORD answered.

  • surrender: Heb. shut up, Ps 31:8 
  • They will: 1Sa 23:7 Ps 62:1 118:8 Ec 9:14,15 Isa 29:15 Heb 4:13 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

DAVID REPEATS 
HIS FIRST QUESTION

Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?" And the LORD said, "They will surrender you - Keep in mind that the men of Keilah were members of the tribe of Judah, in effect, "family members" of David who had just delivered them! But David is not naive and is concerned that his Judean brethren might turn him over to Saul's wrath! Praise God David sought the wisdom from the LORD Who alone knows the beginning and the end and everything in between (Isa 41:22,23). Just a thought to ponder -- What would have happened had David not sought the LORD, thinking the men of Keilah would never surrender him to Saul for he (David) had delivered them from the Philistines. 

Arthur Pink - "And the Lord said, 'They will deliver thee up.' This must have been saddening to David's heart for base ingratitude wounds deeply. Yet, let us not forget that the kindness of other friends, whom the Lord often unexpectedly raises up, counterbalances the ingratitude and fickleness of those we have served." (Life of David - chapter 11)

Howard Vos has a slightly different comment than Pink - "The inhabitants would give up to save themselves. This revelation sounds like horrible ingratitude after what David had just done for them. But no doubt, the memory of the Nob massacre was fresh in the minds of the people of Keilah. They knew Saul was perfectly capable of pulling down the walls, burning the city, and killing all of its inhabitants. David and his force, which had now grown to 600, withdrew from Keilah and wandered about." (Borrow 1, 2 Samuel : Bible Study Commentary)

Don Anderson - The treachery of the people of Keilah was like that of Judas. David had risked his life to save the town from the Philistines. You would think that they would be grateful, but evidently they had no sense of honor. They would do the thing they though best for their own self-interest. We can really sit back and talk about how awful they are, but not so fast. Judas and the people are not the only ones who betray the rightful king. In business and social life, there comes almost every day opportunities to stand for Christ against his enemies. But how often for fear of man or in the hope of gaining favor or making money will a child of God, like a coward, betray the Lord by an act or by a laugh, or worst of all, by silence when he should speak. Guilty, anyone?

1 Samuel 23:13  Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:13 καὶ ἀνέστη Δαυιδ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες οἱ μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ ὡς τετρακόσιοι καὶ ἐξῆλθον ἐκ Κεϊλα καὶ ἐπορεύοντο οὗ ἐὰν ἐπορεύθησαν καὶ τῷ Σαουλ ἀπηγγέλη ὅτι διασέσωται Δαυιδ ἐκ Κεϊλα καὶ ἀνῆκεν τοῦ ἐξελθεῖν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:13 And David arose, and the men with him, in number about four hundred, and they went forth from Keila, and went whithersoever they could go: and it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keila, and he forbore to come.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.

NET  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another. When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men, numbering about 600, left Keilah at once and moved from place to place. When it was reported to Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he called off the expedition.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men-- about 600 of them now-- left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn't go to Keilah after all.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:13 At this, David made off with his men, about six hundred in number; they left Keilah and went where they could. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he abandoned the expedition.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and wandered from place to place. When Saul was informed that David had escaped from Keilah, he abandoned the expedition.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:13 And David riseth -- and his men -- about six hundred men, and they go out from Keilah, and go up and down where they go up and down; and to Saul it hath been declared that David hath escaped from Keilah, and he ceaseth to go out.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:13 So David and his men, about six hundred in all, left Keilah. They went wherever they could go. Then Saul was told, "David has escaped from Keilah!" So he gave up the campaign.

DAVID'S ENLARGED FORCES
LEAVE THE FORTRESS

Then David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah (means "fortress"), and they went wherever they could go - David listened to the words of the LORD. They left and began roaming the countryside. In other words, they did not stay in one place for very long, lest Saul discover their location and surprise attack.

When it was told Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the pursuit - So much for Saul's "word" that the LORD had delivered David into his hands. 

Anderson comments that "A guided life is dependent upon a clean heart. If we ask for wisdom and want it for the purpose of continuing in the will of God, He will give it to us. But on the other hand, if we want it so that we might sit in judgement and decide whether we want to do the will of God or not, then God will not show us.

THOUGHT - As Jesus put it "If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." (John 7:17) If we do not do the will He has revealed, rest assured, we are not going to see the next step He would have for us to take in the will of God. Once again this distills down to trust and obey His revealed will and He will reveal His will! 

1 Samuel 23:14  David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:14 καὶ ἐκάθισεν Δαυιδ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐν Μασερεμ ἐν τοῖς στενοῖς καὶ ἐκάθητο ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἐν τῷ ὄρει Ζιφ ἐν τῇ γῇ τῇ αὐχμώδει καὶ ἐζήτει αὐτὸν Σαουλ πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας καὶ οὐ παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν κύριος εἰς τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:14 And he dwelt in Maserem in the wilderness, in the narrow passes; and dwelt in the wilderness in mount Ziph, in the dry country. And Saul sought him continually, but the Lord delivered him not into his hands.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

NET  1 Samuel 23:14 David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the desert of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time, but God did not deliver David into his hand.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:14 David then stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul searched for him every day, but God did not hand David over to him.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:14 David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn't let Saul find him.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:14 David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the LORD did not give him into his hand.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:14 David stayed in the desert, in the strongholds; he stayed in the mountains, in the desert of Ziph; Saul kept looking for him day after day, but God did not deliver him into his power.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:14 David now lived in the refuges in the desert, or in the barren hill country near Ziph. Though Saul sought him continually, the LORD did not deliver David into his grasp.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:14 And David abideth in the wilderness, in fortresses, and abideth in the hill-country, in the wilderness of Ziph; and Saul seeketh him all the days, and God hath not given him into his hand.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:14 David lived in fortified camps in the desert, and he lived in fortified camps in the mountains of the desert of Ziph. Saul was always searching for him, but God didn't let him capture David.

  • Hill : Ps 11:1-3 
  • the wilderness:  Jos 15:24,55 
  • Saul: 1Sa 27:1 Ps 54:3,4 Pr 1:16 4:16 
  • but God: 1Sa 23:7 Ps 32:7f 37:32,33 Ps 54:3,4 Pr 21:30 Jer 36:26 Ro 8:31 2Ti 3:11 4:17,18 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The Barren, Rugged Wilderness of Judah! 

DAVID STAYS IN STRONGHOLDS
AND STRONG ARMS OF YAHWEH

David stayed in the wilderness (midbār; Lxx = eremos) in the strongholds (metsad; Lxx = eremos), and remained in the hill country in the wilderness (midbārof Ziph - See #11 on map above. The town of Ziph lay about 4 miles south of Hebron. The wilderness of Ziph was the wilderness area that surrounded the city. 

And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand - Note another one of the great uses of the phrase "but God!" Saul sought, but Jehovah kept safe. 


Strongholds (04679)(metsad) means fastness, stronghold, fortress, and could be man-made or natural defenses that made it difficult for an enemy to access and would provide a place for refugees, etc. - "wilderness strongholds" - 1Sa 23:14, "strongholds at Horesh" - 1Sa 23:19 and "the strongholds of Engedi" - 1Sa 23:29. The righteous will have a refuge in "the impregnable (metsad) rock!" (Isa 33:16) 1 Chr. 11:7 - " David dwelt in the stronghold;(JERUSALEM) therefore it was called the city of David." 

Gilbrant - In Jdg. 6:2, this defensed area in the mountain is distinguished from caves that served the same purpose (Ezek. 33:27). Yet, as evidenced in the accounts of David hiding himself from Saul in strongholds located in the hilly wilderness of Judah, it is likely that such strongholds were caves. If these were not references to caves, then other natural elements of the land such as clefts, dense woods, ravines and boulders must be in view (see 1 Sam. 23:14, 19, 29; Isa. 33:16). The remaining references indicate a constructed fortress of some sort. After David had conquered the Jebusites who dwelt in Jerusalem (previously, Jebus), 1 Chr. 11:7 says that he "took up residence in the fortress, and so it was called the city of David" (NIV). The entire walled city here was called a stronghold. One final use of metsādh occurs in 1 Chr. 12:8, 16. While David was banished from the presence of Saul, warriors from the various tribes joined with him in established wilderness strongholds. (Complete Biblical Library)

Metsad - 11x - impregnable(1), stronghold(3), strongholds(7). Jdg. 6:2; 1 Sam. 23:14; 1 Sam. 23:19; 1 Sam. 23:29; 1 Chr. 11:7; 1 Chr. 12:8; 1 Chr. 12:16; Isa. 33:16; Jer. 48:41; Jer. 51:30; Ezek. 33:27

Wilderness (04057midbār means wilderness or desert, an open area of land which is sparsely populated and is generally dry in climate. The term applies to areas which are dry deserts as well as open grazing lands. Midbār is used to describe three types of country in general: pastureland (Joshua 2:22; Psalm 65:12; Jeremiah 23:10), uninhabited land (Dt. 32:10; Job 38:26; Pr 21:19; Jeremiah 9:1), and large areas of land in which oases or cities and towns exist here and there. The wilderness of Judah has at least a half-dozen cities in it. The wilderness of Jordan (the alluvial plain) contains cities, and the wilderness of Sinai has within it a number of oases. midbār is also used figuratively (Hosea 2:5; Jeremiah 2:31). The largest tracts called midbār are Sinai, the Negeb, the Jordan Valley, and the Arabian desert. Specific wilderness areas are: Beer-sheba (Genesis 21:14), Paran (Genesis 21:21; Numbers 10:12; Numbers 12:16; Numbers 13:3, 26; 1 Samuel 25:1), Sin (Exodus 16:1; Ex 17:1; Nu 33:11-12), Sinai (Numbers 1:19, etc; Exodus 19:1-2; Leviticus 7:38); Zin (Numbers 13:21 etc.; Deut. 32:51; Joshua 15:1), Bethaven (Joshua 18:12), Judah (Judges 1:16; Psalm 63 title), Ziph (1 Samuel 23:14; 1 Samuel 26:2), Maon (1 Samuel 23:24-25), Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:24), Damascus (1 Ki 19:15), Edom (2 Kings 3:8), Jeruel (2 Chron. 20:16) Shur (Exodus 15:22; Exodus 16:1; Numbers 1:19 etc.), Etham (Numbers 33:8), Kedemoth (Deut. 2:26), Tekoa (2 Chron. 20:20), Kadesh (Psalm 29:8; Psalm 63 title), and Egypt (Ezekiel 20:35). The wilderness is often described negatively as without grapes, fountains, pools of water, rivers, pleasant places—or as in a notable statement: "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?" (Psalm 78:19). (Earl Kalland in TWOT - online) 

Uses of midbar in Samuel, Kings, Chronicles - 1Sa 4:8; 1Sa 13:18; 1Sa 17:28; 1Sa 23:14; 1Sa 23:15; 1Sa 23:24; 1Sa 23:25; 1Sa 24:1; 1Sa 25:1; 1Sa 25:4; 1Sa 25:14; 1Sa 25:21; 1Sa 26:2; 1Sa 26:3; 2Sa 2:24; 2Sa 15:23; 2Sa 15:28; 2Sa 16:2; 2Sa 17:16; 2Sa 17:29; 1 Ki. 2:34; 1 Ki. 9:18; 1 Ki. 19:4; 1 Ki. 19:15; 2 Ki. 3:8; 1 Chr. 5:9; 1 Chr. 6:78; 1 Chr. 12:8; 1 Chr. 21:29; 2 Chr. 1:3; 2 Chr. 8:4; 2 Chr. 20:16; 2 Chr. 20:20; 2 Chr. 20:24; 2 Chr. 24:9; 2 Chr. 26:10

PARALLEL PASSAGES
RELATED TO DAVID'S TIME IN THE STRONGHOLD
1 Chronicles 12:8-18

From the Gadites ("an invader: a troop: fortune") there came over to David in the stronghold (metsad) in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for war, who could handle shield and spear, and whose faces were like the faces of lions, and they were as swift as the gazelles on the mountains. 9 Ezer was the first, Obadiah the second, Eliab the third, 10Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth, 11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh, 12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth, 13 Jeremiah the tenth, Machbannai the eleventh. 14 These of the sons of Gad were captains of the army; he who was least was equal to a hundred and the greatest to a thousand. 15 These are the ones who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks and they put to flight all those in the valleys, both to the east and to the west.  16 Then some of the sons of Benjamin and Judah came to the stronghold to David. 17 David went out to meet them, and said to them, “If you come peacefully to me to help me, my heart shall be united with you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look on it and decide.” 18 Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, who was the chief of the thirty, and he said, “We are yours, O David, And with you, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to him who helps you; Indeed, your God helps you!” Then David received them and made them captains of the band. 

NOTES:

Gadites - The portion allotted to the tribe of Gad was on the east of Jordan, and comprehended the half of Gilead, a region of great beauty and fertility (Deut. 3:12), bounded on the east by the Arabian desert, on the west by the Jordan (Josh 13:27), and on the north by the river Jabbok. It thus included the whole of the Jordan valley as far north as to the Sea of Galilee, where it narrowed almost to a point. This tribe was fierce and warlike; they were "strong men of might, men of war for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, their faces the faces of lions, and like roes upon the mountains for swiftness" (1Ch 12:8; 5:19-22). Barzillai (2Sa 17:27) and Elijah (1Ki 17:1) were of this tribe. It was carried into captivity at the same time as the other tribes of the northern kingdom by Tiglath-pileser (1Ch 5:26), and in the time of Jeremiah (49:1) their cities were inhabited by the Ammonites.

1 Samuel 23:15  Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:15 καὶ εἶδεν Δαυιδ ὅτι ἐξέρχεται Σαουλ τοῦ ζητεῖν τὸν Δαυιδ καὶ Δαυιδ ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ αὐχμώδει ἐν τῇ Καινῇ Ζιφ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:15 And David perceived that Saul went forth to seek David; and David was in the dry mountain in the New Ziph.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.

NET  1 Samuel 23:15 David realized that Saul had come out to seek his life; at that time David was in Horesh in the desert of Ziph.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:15 David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in Horesh when he saw that Saul had come out to take his life.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:15 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:15 David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that Saul had come out to seek his life.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:15 David was aware that Saul had mounted an expedition to take his life. David was then at Horesh in the desert of Ziph.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:15 David was apprehensive because Saul had come out to seek his life; but while he was at Horesh in the barrens near Ziph,

YLT  1 Samuel 23:15 And David seeth that Saul hath come out to seek his life, and David is in the wilderness of Ziph, in a forest.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:15 David was afraid because Saul had come to kill him at Horesh in the desert of Ziph.

DAVID REALIZES LIFE IN DANGER
IN WILDERNESS OF ZIPH

Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness (midbār; Lxx = eremos) of Ziph at Horesh - See map #11 for location of Ziph. NIV = "he learned that Saul had come out to take his life." How would this make you feel if you knew someone was on their way to kill you? Fearful. Discouraged. And a host of other emotions. And God knew how David felt which is why He sends Jonathan (1Sa 23:16). 

1 Samuel 23:16  And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:16 καὶ ἀνέστη Ιωναθαν υἱὸς Σαουλ καὶ ἐπορεύθη πρὸς Δαυιδ εἰς Καινὴν καὶ ἐκραταίωσεν τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ ἐν κυρίῳ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan son of Saul rose, and went to David to Caene, and strengthened his hands in the Lord.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.

NET  1 Samuel 23:16 Then Jonathan son of Saul left and went to David at Horesh. He encouraged him through God.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:16 Then Saul's son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God,

ESV  1 Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:16 And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:16 Saul's son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the LORD.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:16 Jonathan son of Saul set off and went to David at Horesh and encouraged him in the name of God.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:16 Saul's son, Jonathan, came down there to David and strengthened his resolve in the LORD.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan son of Saul riseth, and goeth unto David to the forest, and strengtheneth his hand in God,

GWN  1 Samuel 23:16 Saul's son Jonathan came to David at Horesh. He strengthened David's faith in the LORD.

  • encouraged (strengthened): De 3:28 Ne 2:18 Job 4:3,4 16:5 Pr 27:9,17 Ec 4:9-12 Isa 35:3,4 Eze 13:22 Lu 22:32,43 Eph 6:10 2Ti 2:1 Heb 12:12,13
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries 

JONATHAN ENCOURAGES DAVID
IN THE LORD

And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged (strengtheneth his hand in God,) him in God - God's provision is providentially, perfectly timed, for David needed some encouraging. And God provided it in sending his kindred spirit some 28 miles from his home in Gibeah! The ways of God are so much higher than our ways! I love the NIV rendering that Jonathan "helped him find strength in God." GWN says "He strengthened David's faith in the LORD." Literally it reads "strengthened (chazaq) his hand (yad) in God." The Septuagint has "strengthened (Lxx = krataioo) his hands (cheir - hand) in the Lord."

Winter points out, "Jonathan's strengthening of David was primarily in God. One might expect such encouragement to be the function of the prophet or the priest but the covenant between Jonathan and David had been a sacred vow. The flight of David was even worse than he had anticipated, and Jonathan's coming to him have him a great deal of reassurance. He was strengthened to know that Jonathan had not forgotten. This knowledge would be an immense boost to David's morale."

Laney points out, "These verses record the last meeting between David and his loyal friend Jonathan. There in the wilderness at Horesh Jonathan sought out and encouraged David, assuring him that he would be the next king over Israel. Jonathan exemplifies the attitude of servanthood Paul encourages in Philippians 2:3-11. Although he knew his position as Saul's heir to the throne, Jonathan was content to take second place to God's anointed king, David. Before parting, the two friends renewed the covenant that had been made earlier. In Proverbs Solomon says, 'There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.' Jonathan was that kind of a friend." (Borrow First and Second Samuel)

Here are some verses for strengthening us in the Lord - Isaiah 40:31 Philippians 4:13  Colossians 1:11  Psalm 27:14 Psalm 28:6, 7 Psalm 29:11 Psalm 46:1 Psalm 59:16 Psalm 105:3-5  Psalm 118:14  Psalm 138:3 Psalm 147:5 


Encouraged in God

Saul’s son Jonathan went to David . . . and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

Today's Scripture & Insight: 1 Samuel 23:15–24

In 1925, Langston Hughes, an aspiring writer working as a busboy at a hotel, discovered that a poet he admired (Vachel Lindsey) was staying there as a guest. Hughes shyly slipped Lindsey some of his own poetry, which Lindsey later praised enthusiastically at a public reading. Lindsey’s encouragement resulted in Hughes receiving a university scholarship, furthering him on his way to his own successful writing career.

A little encouragement can go a long way, especially when God is in it. Scripture tells of an incident when David was on the run from King Saul, who was trying “to take his life.” Saul’s son Jonathan sought David out “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’ ” (1 Samuel 23:15–17).

Jonathan was right. David would be king. The key to the effective encouragement Jonathan offered is found in the simple phrase “in God” (v. 16). Through Jesus, God gives us “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). As we humble ourselves before Him, He lifts us as no other can.

All around us are people who need the encouragement God gives. If we seek them out as Jonathan sought David and gently point them to God through a kind word or action, He’ll do the rest. Regardless of what this life may hold, a bright future in eternity awaits those who trust in Him. By:  James Banks (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

How did someone provide special encouragement to you in your faith journey? What can you do to strengthen someone’s faith today?

Loving God, there’s nothing like the encouragement You give. Please give me opportunities to help others find new strength in You.


Friendship

A friend loves at all times. — Proverbs 17:17

Today's Scripture: 1 Samuel 23:14-18

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. True friends seek a special kind of good for their friends: the highest good, which is that they might know God and love Him with all of their heart, soul, and mind. German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “The aim of friendship is exclusively determined by what God’s will is for the other person.”

Jonathan, David’s friend, is a sterling example of true friendship. David was in exile, hiding in the Desert of Ziph, when he learned that “Saul had come out to seek his life” (1 Sam. 23:15). Jonathan went to Horesh to find David. The significance of this scene lies in Jonathan’s intent: He helped David find strength in God or, as the text puts it, he “strengthened his hand [grip] in God” (v.16).

That is the essence of Christian friendship. Beyond common interests, beyond affection, beyond wit and laughter is the ultimate aim of sowing in others the words of eternal life, leaving them with reminders of God’s wisdom, refreshing their spirit with words of His love, and strengthening their grip on God.

Pray for your friends and ask God to give you a word “in season” to help them find renewed strength in our God and His Word. By:  David H. Roper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Dear Lord, thank You for loving us. May Your love compel us to show love to others. Give us sensitivity to Your Spirit that we might know how to encourage them in their walk with You.

A true friend is a gift from God and one who points us back to Him.


My Friends And I

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. — 1 Samuel 18:3

Today's Scripture & Insight: 1 Samuel 18:1-4; 23:15-18

John Chrysostom (347–407), archbishop of Constantinople, said this about friendship: “Such is friendship, that through it we love places and seasons; for as . . . flowers drop their sweet leaves on the ground around them, so friends impart favor even to the places where they dwell.”

Jonathan and David illustrate the sweetness of a true friendship. The Bible records an intimate and immediate bond between them (1 Sam. 18:1). They kept their friendship alive by demonstrating their loyalty to each other (18:3; 20:16, 42; 23:18), as well as nurturing it by expressions of concern. Jonathan gave gifts to David (18:4) and watched out for him through many difficulties (19:1-2; 20:12-13).

In 1 Samuel 23:16, we see the highest moment of their friendship. When David was a fugitive on the run from Jonathan’s father, “Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.” Friends help you find strength in God during the low points of life.

In a world where most relationships are about what we can get, let us be the type of friends who focus on what we can give. Jesus, our perfect Friend, demonstrated for us that “greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). By:  Poh Fang Chia (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Thank You, Lord, for the friends You’ve given me to love me in spite of my failures and weaknesses. Let me treat them as You treated Your friends. Bind us together in You and enable us to help one another.

The glory of life is to love, not to be loved; to give, not to get; to serve, not to be served.

1 Samuel 23:17  Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:17 καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτόν μὴ φοβοῦ ὅτι οὐ μὴ εὕρῃ σε ἡ χεὶρ Σαουλ τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ σὺ βασιλεύσεις ἐπὶ Ισραηλ καὶ ἐγὼ ἔσομαί σοι εἰς δεύτερον καὶ Σαουλ ὁ πατήρ μου οἶδεν οὕτως

LXE  1 Samuel 23:17 And he said to him, Fear not, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be second to thee; and Saul my father knows it.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

NET  1 Samuel 23:17 He said to him, "Don't be afraid! For the hand of my father Saul cannot find you. You will rule over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul realizes this."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:17 saying, "Don't be afraid, for my father Saul will never lay a hand on you. You yourself will be king over Israel, and I'll be your second-in-command. Even my father Saul knows it is true."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:17 And he said to him, "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:17 "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."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:17 "Don't be afraid," Jonathan reassured him. "My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware."

NRS  1 Samuel 23:17 He said to him, "Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:17 'Do not be afraid,' he said, 'for my father Saul's hand will not reach you. You are to reign over Israel, and I shall be second to you. Saul my father is himself aware of this.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:17 He said to him: "Have no fear, my father Saul shall not lay a hand to you. You shall be king of Israel and I shall be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:17 and saith unto him, 'Fear not, for the hand of Saul my father doth not find thee, and thou dost reign over Israel, and I am to thee for second, and also so knoweth Saul my father.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:17 "Don't be afraid," he told David, "my father Saul won't find you. You will rule Israel, and I will be your second-in-command. Even my father Saul knows this."

  • Do not be afraid Isa 41:10,14 Heb 13:6 
  • will not: Job 5:11-15 Ps 27:1-3 46:1,2 91:1,2 Pr 14:26 Isa 54:17 
  • will be: Lu 12:32 
  • I will be: Pr 19:21 Ac 28:16 Ro 15:24 
  • Saul: 1Sa 20:31 24:20 Ac 5:39
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

FEAR NOT FOR 
YOU WILL BE KING

Thus he said to him, "Do not be afraid - He does not just say "buckle up, buttercup" get a grip, man up. He gives David real reasons to not be afraid. 

because the hand of Saul my father will not find you - First Jonathan functions like a prophet giving this promise that Saul would not find David. Now we know that later they did see each other, but Saul never found David in the sense that he might ambush him or kill him. 

and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you - Secondly, Jonathan, the crown prince, definitely states it is David who will be the king, again in the form of a prophetic promise. 

and Saul my father knows that also - Finally, Jonathan reassures that even the one seeking to kill him knows that it is David who will be the next king. 

William Blaikie points out, "In such circumstances the cheering words of his friend and the warmth of his embrace must have come on David with infinite satisfaction. They were to him what the loving words of the dying thief were to the Savior amid the babble and blasphemy of Calvary. Who indeed does not see in the David of this time persevering in his work, under such fearful discouragements, under the treachery of men with hearts like Judas Iscariot, experiencing the worst treatment from some who he had benefitted already and from others who he was to benefit still more. Who can fail to see the type of Christ patiently enduring the cross at the hands and in the stead of the very men whom by His suffering He was to save and bless." (1 Samuel 23)

1 Samuel 23:18  So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD; and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.

GT  1 Samuel 23:18 καὶ διέθεντο ἀμφότεροι διαθήκην ἐνώπιον κυρίου καὶ ἐκάθητο Δαυιδ ἐν Καινῇ καὶ Ιωναθαν ἀπῆλθεν εἰς οἶκον αὐτοῦ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:18 So they both made a covenant before the Lord; and David dwelt in Caene, and Jonathan went to his home.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

NET  1 Samuel 23:18 When the two of them had made a covenant before the LORD, David stayed on at Horesh, but Jonathan went to his house.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:18 Then the two of them made a covenant in the LORD's presence. Afterward, David remained in Horesh, while Jonathan went home.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:18 And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:18 The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the LORD. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:18 Then the two of them made a covenant before the LORD; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:18 And the two made a pact before Yahweh. David stayed at Horesh and Jonathan went home.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:18 They made a joint agreement before the LORD in Horesh, where David remained, while Jonathan returned to his home.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:18 And they make a covenant both of them before Jehovah; and David abideth in the forest, and Jonathan hath gone to his house.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:18 Both of them made a pledge in the LORD's presence. David stayed in Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

Related Passages:

1 Sa 18:3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.

1 Sa 20:16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD require it at the hands of David’s enemies.”

JONATHAN AND DAVID AGAIN
CUT COVENANT

So - So means "and for this reason" or "therefore." Jonathan is concluding his 3 reassuring statements (to encourage or strengthen the hand of David) in the previous passage with a "seal" of assurance that those statements are true. In the ancient world, the cutting of covenant was the most solemn, binding and intimate form of coming to agreement with another person. 

The two of them made (karath) a covenant (beriyth) before the LORD Jonathan renews the covenant in the presence of the Lord, thus reestablishing their relationship that will take precedence over every other tie or claim. Yes, Jonathan is Saul's son, but Jonathan attests through this solemn cutting of covenant that his loyalty is to David and not to Saul. 

Gulston says, "In a wood in the wilderness of Ziph Jonathan and David met for the last time. In the silence of a forest Jonathan poured out his words of reassurance. Brave prophetic words but some of the future was still veiled to Jonathan. He would not be there when triumph like a flood came in upon his friend. He would have played his matchless part in a unique drama, leaving his name to be forever synonymous with all that is loyal."

And David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house - In the Desert of Ziph there was a place named Horesh which is a word that means forest, wooded area, where David was secluded and not out in the open. 

Vos writes "The town of Ziph was about 3 or 4 miles southeast of Hebron and the wilderness of Ziph was that part of the wilderness of Judea to the east of the town between Ziph and the Dead Sea. In ancient times there was in that desert and area known as Horesh, meaning 'thicket.' Evidently, the area was overgrown with brush wood, although no trace of these scrub trees exists today. Saul went home while David was in Horesh, but Jonathan heard where David was, and at great personal risk, located his beloved friend. Jonathan strengthened his hand in God, strengthened David's heart by his assurances and renewal of the covenant. There is no certainty from what is said that either Jonathan or Saul knew anything of David's anointing. What a magnificent person Jonathan must have been, and how great must have been his victory over natural feelings and ambitions. With calm assurance he could talk of his dearest friend taking over the kingdom he should have inherited. And in loving self-denial, he could request the second place in the kingdom. He had certainly learned to bow before what he believed to be the sovereign will of God with complete peace of mind. Once more, the two renewed the covenant by solemn oath, and they parted, never to see each other again on earth." (Borrow 1, 2 Samuel : Bible Study Commentary)


Made (Cut [a covenant], cut off, destroy) (03772karath literally means to cut, to cut off or to sever an object from its source or cut into parts and implies a violent action. For example, Zipporah "cut off her son’s foreskin." (Ex 4:25) or the Jews "cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes." (Nu 13:2-24, cf Dt 19:5, 20:19-20, Jdg 9:48-49, 1Sa 5:4, 17:51, 24:4-5,11, 31:9, 2Sa 10:4, 2Sa 20:22) In another literal use as punishment to Israel for breaking the Mosaic covenant (cf Dt 29:25, 31:16), God says He will "cut down (karath) your incense altars" (Lev 26:30, cf Jdg 6:25-26, cf 1Sa 28:9). A sacrificial animal was not to be offered if it was "cut" (karath) (Lev 22:24). Karath means "chewed" (cutting food with teeth) in Nu 11:33.

Covenant (01285berit/berith/beriyth  means covenant, treaty, compact, agreement between two parties (first use in God's covenant with Noah - Ge 6:18, 9:9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). As discussed more below beriyth describes a compact made by passing between pieces of flesh. Covenant is a solemn, binding arrangement between two parties and entails a variety of responsibilities, benefits and penalties depending on the specific covenant which is being studied. OT covenants were made between God and man (eg, God with Noah - Ge 6:18, with Abram - Ge 15:18) or between men (Abraham and Abimelech - Ge 21:27, Isaac and Abimelech - Ge 26:28, Jacob and Laban - Ge 31:44) 

Covenant can be summarized as follows…

(1) Between two parties (sometimes equal, other times superior to inferior) -- (a) nations -- (peace) treaty, alliance of friendship (b) individuals -- a pledge or agreement with mutual obligations to each other (c) monarch and subjects (2Sa 3:21, 5:3, 1Chr 11:3) -- a constitution (d) God and man -- Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New Covenants. TWOT adds that…

Apart from blood ties the covenant was the way people of the ancient world formed wider relationships with each other The accounts of the relationship between David and Jonathan are the only unequivocal mention of a compact between two individuals in the Old Testament (1Sa 18:3; 20:8; 23:18). It is spoken of as “a covenant of the Lord” because the Lord witnessed the transaction and protected the legal order.

(2) Accompanied by (a) signs (also witnesses, memorials, shared meals) (b) sacrifices, (c) solemn, binding oaths -- sealing the relationship with promises of blessing for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking the covenant (d) Sometimes with written document on which the words of the covenant, its terms in the form of promises and stipulations were spelled out, witnessed to, signed and sealed. Behm (TDNT) notes that in ancient times

There is no firmer guarantee of legal security peace or personal loyalty than the covenant (e.g., Amos 1:9).

(3) Is depicted in the idiomatic phrase "make (cut) a covenant" in which there is was a blood sacrifice as part of the covenant ritual.

1 Samuel 23:19  Then Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?

BGT  1 Samuel 23:19 καὶ ἀνέβησαν οἱ Ζιφαῖοι ἐκ τῆς αὐχμώδους πρὸς Σαουλ ἐπὶ τὸν βουνὸν λέγοντες οὐκ ἰδοὺ Δαυιδ κέκρυπται παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἐν Μεσσαρα ἐν τοῖς στενοῖς ἐν τῇ Καινῇ ἐν τῷ βουνῷ τοῦ Εχελα τοῦ ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Ιεσσαιμουν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:19 And the Ziphites came up out of the dry country to Saul to the hill, saying, Behold, is not David hidden with us in Messara, in the narrows in Caene in the hill of Echela, which is on the right of Jessaemon?

KJV  1 Samuel 23:19 Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?

NET  1 Samuel 23:19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, "Isn't David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon?

CSB  1 Samuel 23:19 Some Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah and said, "David is hiding among us in the strongholds in Horesh on the hill of Hachilah south of Jeshimon.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon?

NIV  1 Samuel 23:19 The Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, "Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon?

NLT  1 Samuel 23:19 But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. "We know where David is hiding," they said. "He is in the strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:19 Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, "David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:19 Some men from Ziph then went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, 'Look, David is hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the Hill of Hachilah to the south of the wastelands.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:19 Some of the Ziphites went up to Saul in Gibeah and said, "David is hiding among us, now in the refuges, and again at Horesh, or on the hill of Hachilah, south of the wasteland.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:19 And the Ziphites go up unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, 'Is not David hiding himself with us in fortresses, in the forest, in the height of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desolate place?

GWN  1 Samuel 23:19 Then the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah. They said, "David is hiding with us in fortified camps at Horesh on the hills of Hachilah, south of Jeshimon.

  • the Ziphites: 1Sa 22:7,8 26:1 Ps 54:1 *title Ps 54:3,4 Pr 29:12 
  • Hachilah: Calmet states, that Hachilah was a mountain about ten miles south of Jericho, where Jonathan Maccabeus built the castle of Massada, west of the Dead Sea, and not far from En-gedi. 1Sa 26:1,3 
  • on the south: Heb. on the right hand
  • Jeshimon: or, the wilderness, Eusebius places Jeshimon ten miles south of Jericho, near the Dead Sea; which agrees extremely well with the position of Hachilah, as stated by Calmet.
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Related Passages:

Psalm 54:1-7 For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites came and said to Saul (ALSO A SECOND TIME - 1Sa 26:1-5) , “Is not David hiding himself among us?” Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your power.  2 Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth.  3 For strangers have risen against me And violent men have sought my life; They have not set God before them. Selah.  4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.  5 He will recompense the evil to my foes; Destroy them in Your faithfulness.  6 Willingly I will sacrifice to You; I will give thanks to Your name, O LORD, for it is good.  7 For He has delivered me from all trouble, And my eye has looked with satisfaction upon my enemies.

ZIPHITES' TREACHERY INFORMING
SAUL OF DAVID'S LOCATION

Then Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is David not hiding with us in the strongholds (metsadat Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon (means waste, wilderness, desert) - See Ps 57 above, which is David's psalm when the Ziphites betrayed him, Ps 57:1-3 reflecting his petitions for deliverance and Ps 57:4-7 thanking God for His answer. In these verses David is betrayed once again, and now it is worse than before because he is betrayed by his own tribe. The people of Ziph reveal David’s hideout to Saul, but David still escaped.

Jeshimon - The sterile plateau to which David went in fleeing from Saul. It was near Ziph and Maon, SE of Hebron. It refers to the eastern section of the Judean hills, which stretch toward the Dead Sea. For most of the year it is bare of vegetation. Its chalky hills have always been the home of outlaws (1 Sam 23:19, 24; 26:1, 3). (New Bible Dictionary)

“In the OT the wilderness of Judea is called the Jeshimon, a word meaning devastation, and no term can better suit its haggard and crumbling appearance. It covers some thirty-five miles by fifteen … short bushes, thorns, and succulent creepers were all that relieved the brown and yellow barrenness of the sand, the crumbling limestone, and scattered shingle. Such is Jeshimon, the wilderness of Judea. It carries the violence and desolation of the Dead Sea Valley right up to the heart of the country, to the roots of the Mount of Olives, to within two hours of the gates of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem” (Smith, Hist. Geog.). (Borrow The new Unger's Bible dictionary )

Cyril Barber - Barber points out, "Shakespeare may have had the words of James 1:2-8, our Lord's brother, in mind when he wrote, 'Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like a toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in its head. And this your life exempt from public haunt finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.' Yet most of us treat trials as unwelcome guests because we must all face the many and varied problems of life. We should take courage. The problems that beset us are designed to help us grow spiritually. The difficulties we face insure that we neither become complacent nor unproductive. By responding positively to hardships, we develop steadfastness of purpose, and the grace of God can be seen in our lives. David was prepared for service as Israel's king by working through the adversity he encountered. As with the Lord Jesus, he came to full maturity as a result of the things he suffered." (Books of Samuel - The Sovereignty of God)

1 Samuel 23:20  "Now then, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to do so; and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:20 καὶ νῦν πᾶν τὸ πρὸς ψυχὴν τοῦ βασιλέως εἰς κατάβασιν καταβαινέτω πρὸς ἡμᾶς κεκλείκασιν αὐτὸν εἰς τὰς χεῖρας τοῦ βασιλέως

LXE  1 Samuel 23:20 And now according to all the king's desire to come down, let him come down to us; they have shut him up into the hands of the king.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:20 Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king's hand.

NET  1 Samuel 23:20 Now at your own discretion, O king, come down. Delivering him into the king's hand will be our responsibility."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:20 Now, whenever the king wants to come down, let him come down. Our part will be to hand him over to the king."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:20 Now come down, O king, according to all your heart's desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:20 Now, O king, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for handing him over to the king."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:20 Come down whenever you're ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!"

NRS  1 Samuel 23:20 Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king's hand."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:20 Now whenever you wish to go down, my lord king, do so; we shall make it our task to hand him over to the king.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:20 Therefore, whenever the king wishes to come down, let him do so. It will be our task to deliver him into the king's grasp."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:20 And, now, by all the desire of thy soul, O king, to come down, come down, and ours is to shut him up into the hand of the king.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:20 Come, Your Majesty, whenever you want. We will hand him over to you."

  • desire: De 18:6 2Sa 3:21 Ps 112:10 Pr 11:23 
  • our part: 1Ki 21:11-14 2Ki 10:5-7 Ps 54:3 Pr 29:26 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

ZIPHITES CONFIDENTLY PROMISE
DELIVERY OF DAVID TO SAUL

Now then, O king, come down according to all the desire of your soul to do so; and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand - Their addressing him as "O king" would assure Saul they were loyal to him. NET - Now at your own discretion, O king, come down. Delivering him into the king's hand will be our responsibility." NIV = "Now, O king, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for handing him over to the king." The Ziphites are doubly treacherous not only giving Saul the location of David's hideout, but even promising to bind him up like a present to be placed in Saul's hand (power). 

1 Samuel 23:21  Saul said, "May you be blessed of the LORD, for you have had compassion on me.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:21 καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Σαουλ εὐλογημένοι ὑμεῖς τῷ κυρίῳ ὅτι ἐπονέσατε περὶ ἐμοῦ

LXE  1 Samuel 23:21 And Saul said to them, Blessed be ye of the Lord, for ye have been grieved on my account.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:21 And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul replied, "May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:21 "May you be blessed by the LORD," replied Saul, "for you have taken pity on me.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:21 And Saul said, "May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul replied, "The LORD bless you for your concern for me.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:21 "The LORD bless you," Saul said. "At last someone is concerned about me!

NRS  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul said, "May you be blessed by the LORD for showing me compassion!

NJB  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul replied, 'May you be blessed by Yahweh for sympathising with me.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul replied: "The LORD bless you for your sympathy toward me.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:21 And Saul saith, 'Blessed are ye of Jehovah, for ye have pity on me;

GWN  1 Samuel 23:21 Saul responded, "The LORD bless you for feeling sorry for me!

  • 1Sa 22:8 Jdg 17:2 Ps 10:3 Isa 66:5 Mic 3:11 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

AN IMPIOUS EMPTY
BENEDICTION

Saul said, "May you be blessed of the LORD - Saul's words are pathetic and powerless. Saul had rejected God's Word and God had rejected him so one would hardly expect God to hear his prayer for a blessing upon anyone! Not to mention he had slaughtered God's priests, and yet still dares to use the LORD's great Name in a blessing! This has to the depth of dark hearted hypocrisy!

For you have had compassion on me - NLT - "At last someone is concerned about me!" Saul is having a "pity party."\

Wiersbe - Saul was still manipulating people by making them feel sorry for him (1Sa 23:21; 22:8), and this combination of building personal pity and wielding ruthless power seemed to be working. But Saul's character was deteriorating very quickly, while the Lord was molding David into a courageous man of God. (Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament)

1 Samuel 23:22  "Go now, make more sure, and investigate and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:22 πορεύθητε δὴ καὶ ἑτοιμάσατε ἔτι καὶ γνῶτε τὸν τόπον αὐτοῦ οὗ ἔσται ὁ ποὺς αὐτοῦ ἐν τάχει ἐκεῖ οὗ εἴπατε μήποτε πανουργεύσηται

LXE  1 Samuel 23:22 Go, I pray you, and make preparations yet, and notice his place where his foot shall be, quickly, in that place which ye spoke of, lest by any means he should deal craftily.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:22 Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and make further arrangements. Determine precisely where he is and who has seen him there, for I am told that he is extremely cunning.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and check again. Investigate and watch carefully where he goes and who has seen him there; they tell me he is extremely cunning.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:22 Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and make further preparation. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and check again to be sure of where he is staying and who has seen him there, for I know that he is very crafty.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:22 Go and make doubly sure, find out exactly what place he frequents, for I have been told that he is very cunning.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:22 Go now and make sure once more! Take note of the place where he sets foot" (for he thought, perhaps they are playing some trick on me).

YLT  1 Samuel 23:22 go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his foot is; who hath seen him there? for one hath said unto me, He is very subtile.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:22 Please make more plans, and watch where he goes. Who has seen him there? I'm told he's very clever.

SAUL'S INSTRUCTION TO THE
TREACHEROUS ZIPHITES

Go now, make more sure, and investigate and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning (clever, crafty) - NIV - "Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there." Saul issues 4 commands which essentially is calling the Ziphites to act like a criminal casing a house before the house is vandalized. They are to case out David's hideout. 

1 Samuel 23:23  "So look, and learn about all the hiding places where he hides himself and return to me with certainty, and I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:23 καὶ ἴδετε καὶ γνῶτε καὶ πορευσόμεθα μεθ᾽ ὑμῶν καὶ ἔσται εἰ ἔστιν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐξερευνήσω αὐτὸν ἐν πάσαις χιλιάσιν Ιουδα

LXE  1 Samuel 23:23 Take notice, then, and learn, and I will go with you; and it shall come to pass that if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Juda.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:23 Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information. Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will find him among all the thousands of Judah."

CSB  1 Samuel 23:23 Look and find out all the places where he hides. Then come back to me with accurate information, and I'll go with you. If it turns out he really is in the region, I'll search for him among all the clans of Judah."

ESV  1 Samuel 23:23 See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you. And if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will track him down among all the clans of Judah."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:23 Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I'll go with you. And if he is in the area at all, I'll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!"

NRS  1 Samuel 23:23 Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:23 Take careful note of all the hiding places where he lurks, and come back to me when you are certain. I shall then come with you and, if he is in the country, I shall track him down through every clan in Judah!'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:23 "Look around and learn in which of all the various hiding places he is holding out. Then come back to me with sure information, and I will go with you. If he is in the region, I will search him out among all the families of Judah."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:23 And see and know of all the hiding-places where he hideth himself, and ye have turned back unto me prepared, and I have gone with you, and it hath been, if he is in the land, that I have searched him out through all the thousands of Judah.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:23 Watch and learn about all the hiding places where he may be hiding, and come back to me with the facts. Then I'll go with you, and if he's in the country, I'll search for him among all the families of Judah."

  • learn about all the hiding places: Mk 14:1,10,11  Joh 18:2,3 
  • I will search: 2Sa 17:11-13 1Ki 18:10 Pr 1:16 Ro 3:15,16 
  • the thousands: Nu 10:36 Mic 5:2 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

LOOK AND LEARN 
WHERE DAVID HIDES

So look, and learn about all the hiding places where he hides himself and return to me with certainty, and I will go with you - NLT = "Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I'll go with you" NET = "Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information" Saul gives his final instructions to the Ziphites in preparation for his trip but wants to make sure they are absolutely sure of where David is hiding. 

and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah - CSB = "If it turns out he really is in the region, I'll search for him among all the clans of Judah" NIV = "I will track him down among all the clans of Judah" Saul was determined to find David and confident that he would succeed. 

1 Samuel 23:24  Then they arose and went to Ziph before Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:24 καὶ ἀνέστησαν οἱ Ζιφαῖοι καὶ ἐπορεύθησαν ἔμπροσθεν Σαουλ καὶ Δαυιδ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τῇ Μααν καθ᾽ ἑσπέραν ἐκ δεξιῶν τοῦ Ιεσσαιμουν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:24 And the Ziphites arose, and went before Saul: and David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, westward, to the right of Jessaemon.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:24 And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:24 So they left and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:24 So they went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness near Maon in the Arabah south of Jeshimon,

ESV  1 Samuel 23:24 And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:24 So the men of Ziph returned home ahead of Saul.Meanwhile, David and his men had moved into the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah Valley south of Jeshimon.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:24 Setting off they went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Meanwhile, David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the plain to the south of the wastelands.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:24 So they went off to Ziph ahead of Saul. At this time David and his men were in the desert below Maon, in the Arabah south of the wasteland.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:24 And they rise and go to Ziph before Saul, and David and his men are in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain, at the south of the desolate place.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:24 They left for Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the plains south of Jeshimon.

  • Maon: 1Sa 25:2 Jos 15:55 
  • the south: 1Sa 23:19 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

The hill at Tell Maon

ZIPHITES RETURN HOME FROM SAUL
DAVID HEADS FOR MAON

Then they arose and went to Ziph before Saul - Ziphites return home after conferring and conspiring with King Saul against David.

Now David and his men were in the wilderness (midbār; Lxx = eremos) of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon (waste, wilderness, desert, desolate place) - See #12 on the map above for location of wilderness of Maon. which is about 6-8 miles south of Ziph.


Maon  (habitation) = a town in the tribe of Judah, about 7 miles south of Hebron, which gave its name to the wilderness, the district round the conical hill on which the town stood. Here David hid from Saul, and here Nabal had his possessions and his home (1Sa 23:24, 25; 25:2). "Only some small foundations of hewn stone, a square enclosure, and several cisterns are now to be seen at Maon. Are they the remains of Nabal's great establishment?" The hill is now called Tell Maon. The name of Maon still exists in Main , a lofty conical hill (shown in picture above), south of and about seven miles distant from Hebron. In this district, the wilderness of Maon, David was hiding when his whereabouts was betrayed to Saul by the men of Ziph (1 Sam 23:24 f), and only a timely raid by the Philistines delivered him out of that monarch's hands (1Sa23:27 ff). Maon, from which the adjoining mountainous district derived its name, was city in the most southern parts of the tribe of Judah, and a neighbouring town to Carmel.  Hence Nabal (1Sa 25:2) is described as a man of Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and though he might dwell generally in Maon, yet he is styled Nabal the Carmelite, from the place where his estate lay.

Wikipedia (see gallery at bottom of page for multiple pictures of Maon) Tell Maon (ArabicKhirbet Ma'in[1][2]) was a biblical town in the Hebron Hills, formerly known simply as Maon (Hebrew: מעון), rising 863 metres (2,831 ft) above sea level. The town, now a ruin, is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 15:55 and the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 25:2). It is located about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) southeast of Yatta.

1 Samuel 23:25  When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told David, and he came down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:25 καὶ ἐπορεύθη Σαουλ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ ζητεῖν αὐτόν καὶ ἀπήγγειλαν τῷ Δαυιδ καὶ κατέβη εἰς τὴν πέτραν τὴν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Μααν καὶ ἤκουσεν Σαουλ καὶ κατεδίωξεν ὀπίσω Δαυιδ εἰς τὴν ἔρημον Μααν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:25 And Saul and his men went to seek him: and they brought word to David, and he went down to the rock that was in the wilderness of Maon: and Saul heard, and followed after David to the wilderness of Maon.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:25 Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David: wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon

NET  1 Samuel 23:25 Saul and his men went to look for him. But David was informed and went down to the rock and stayed in the desert of Maon. When Saul heard about it, he pursued David in the desert of Maon.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:25 and Saul and his men went to look for him. When David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. Saul heard of this and pursued David there.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:25 And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:25 When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock, and he remained there in the wilderness of Maon. But Saul kept after him in the wilderness.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:25 Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:25 When Saul and his men set out in search, David was told and went down to the gorge running through the desert of Maon.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:25 When Saul and his men came looking for him, David got word of it and went down to the gorge in the desert below Maon. Saul heard of this and pursued David into the desert below Maon.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:25 And Saul and his men go to seek, and they declare to David, and he goeth down the rock, and abideth in the wilderness of Maon; and Saul heareth, and pursueth after David to the wilderness of Maon.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:25 When Saul and his men came to look for him, David was told the news. So he went to his mountain stronghold in the desert of Maon. Saul heard about it and pursued David into the desert of Maon.

DAVID INFORMED OF 
SAUL'S SEEKING

When Saul and his men went to seek him, they told (informed) David, and he came down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon - See #12 on the map above. David comes to the rock which would soon receive the name "Slippery Rock" (See 1Sa 23:28). 

And when Saul heard it, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon - Saul is hot on his trail and obviously has superior numbers to David's men. 

1 Samuel 23:26  Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain; and David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:26 καὶ πορεύονται Σαουλ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ ἐκ μέρους τοῦ ὄρους τούτου καὶ ἦν Δαυιδ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ ἐκ μέρους τοῦ ὄρους τούτου καὶ ἦν Δαυιδ σκεπαζόμενος πορεύεσθαι ἀπὸ προσώπου Σαουλ καὶ Σαουλ καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ παρενέβαλον ἐπὶ Δαυιδ καὶ τοὺς ἄνδρας αὐτοῦ συλλαβεῖν αὐτούς

LXE  1 Samuel 23:26 And Saul and his men go on one side of the mountain, and David and his men are on the other side of the mountain: and David was hiding himself to escape from Saul: and Saul and his men encamped against David and his men, in order to take them.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:26 And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.

NET  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, while David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, but Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men so they could capture them.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul went along one side of the mountain and David and his men went along the other side. Even though David was hurrying to get away from Saul, Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them,

NIV  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them,

NLT  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men,

NRS  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul and his men proceeded along one side of the mountain, David and his men along the other. David was hurrying to escape from Saul, while Saul and his men were trying to cross over to David and his men's side, to capture them,

NAB  1 Samuel 23:26 As Saul moved along one rim of the gorge, David and his men took to the other. David was in anxious flight to escape Saul, and Saul and his men were attempting to outflank David and his men in order to capture them,

YLT  1 Samuel 23:26 And Saul goeth on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain, and David is hastened to go from the face of Saul, and Saul and his men are compassing David and his men, to catch them.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, and Saul and his men were going around the mountain toward David and his men, trying to capture them.

  • David was hurrying: 1Sa 19:12 20:38 2Sa 15:14 17:21,22 Ps 31:22 
  • to get away: 2Ch 20:12 Ps 17:9,11 22:12,16 118:11-13 140:1-9 2Co 1:8 Rev 20:9 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A VERY CLOSE
CALL AT THE MOUNTAIN

Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain - David and Saul were separated by a mountain. Who created that mountain? Once again even before David was born, God had prepared a place of separation and protection! 

And David was hurrying to get away from Saul, for Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men to seize them - NAB = "David was in anxious flight to escape Saul, and Saul and his men were attempting to outflank David and his men in order to capture them." 

1 Samuel 23:27  But a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land."

BGT  1 Samuel 23:27 καὶ ἄγγελος πρὸς Σαουλ ἦλθεν λέγων σπεῦδε καὶ δεῦρο ὅτι ἐπέθεντο οἱ ἀλλόφυλοι ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν

LXE  1 Samuel 23:27 And there came a messenger to Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come hither, for the Philistines have invaded the land.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:27 But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.

NET  1 Samuel 23:27 But a messenger came to Saul saying, "Come quickly, for the Philistines have raided the land!"

CSB  1 Samuel 23:27 Then a messenger came to Saul saying, "Come quickly, because the Philistines have raided the land!"

ESV  1 Samuel 23:27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land."

NIV  1 Samuel 23:27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land."

NLT  1 Samuel 23:27 an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:27 Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land."

NJB  1 Samuel 23:27 when a messenger came to Saul and said, 'Come at once, the Philistines have invaded the country.'

NAB  1 Samuel 23:27 when a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly, because the Philistines have invaded the land."

YLT  1 Samuel 23:27 And a messenger hath come in unto Saul, saying, 'Haste, and come, for the Philistines have pushed against the land.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:27 Then a messenger came to Saul and said, "Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the country."

  • there came: Ge 22:14 De 32:36 2Ki 19:9 Ps 116:3 
  • the Philistines: 2Ki 19:9 Rev 12:16 
  • invaded: Heb. spread themselves upon, 1Ch 14:13 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

A STRATEGIC TERM OF
CONTRAST! 

But - (term of contrast - marks a change of direction) - This but is one of those little "hinge" words that opened a big door. In this case but marked a literal change of direction for Saul's army which was in process of surrounding David's small army. This is a "but" that would change the history of Israel and for that matter the history of the entire world for out of the loins of David, would eventually come the "Son of David," the Messiah and Savior of the world. 

a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land - The messenger saved the day for David. But why did he come to Saul? Because God providentially timed a Philistine raid to distract Saul and cause him to make a change of plans. God had said David would be the next king and God's prophecies are always perfectly fulfilled, in this case clearly with providential provision of Philistine pressure on Saul! 

1 Samuel 23:28  So Saul returned from pursuing David and went to meet the Philistines; therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape.

BGT  1 Samuel 23:28 καὶ ἀνέστρεψεν Σαουλ μὴ καταδιώκειν ὀπίσω Δαυιδ καὶ ἐπορεύθη εἰς συνάντησιν τῶν ἀλλοφύλων διὰ τοῦτο ἐπεκλήθη ὁ τόπος ἐκεῖνος Πέτρα ἡ μερισθεῖσα

LXE  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul returned from following after David, and went to meet the Philistines: therefore that place was called The divided Rock.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:28 Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. Therefore that place is called Sela Hammahlekoth.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to engage the Philistines. Therefore, that place was named the Rock of Separation.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape.

NJB  1 Samuel 23:28 So Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to oppose the Philistines. That is why the place is called the Gorge of Separations.

NAB  1 Samuel 23:28 Saul interrupted his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. This is how that place came to be called the Gorge of Divisions.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:28 And Saul turneth back from pursuing after David, and goeth to meet the Philistines, therefore they have called that place 'The Rock of Divisions.'

GWN  1 Samuel 23:28 Saul gave up pursuing David and went to fight the Philistines. So that place was called Slippery Rock.

  • Rock of Escape:  Here Saul was obliged to separate himself from David, in order to go and oppose the invading Philistines; which deliverance of David was of such a nature as made the Divine interposition fully visible. 1Sa 23:28 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

SAUL MAKES A COURSE
CORRECTION AT "SLIPPERY ROCK"

So - So means "for this reason," or "therefore." Based on the urgent news of a Philistine raid (the reason) Saul made a course correction so to speak. 

Saul returned from pursuing David and went to meet the Philistines - Saul was headed to kill David, but events necessitated he must head to kill Philistines. 

Therefore they called that place the Rock of Escape - “Sela Hammahlekoth,” “rock of parting”. YLT = 'The Rock of Divisions.' GWN = "Slippery Rock" CSB = "Rock of Separation." This region would be where David would have an encounter with Nabal and Abigail (1Sa 25:1-3).

Warren Wiersbe - To commemorate this great escape, the Jews called the place "Sela Hammahlekoth," which means "the rock of parting." The Hebrew carries the idea of "a smooth rock" and therefore "a slippery rock," in other words, "the rock of slipping away." David quickly moved from Maon to Engedi, next to the Dead Sea, a place of safety with an ample water supply. (Bible Exposition Commentary - Old Testament)

NET NOTE - The name הַמַּחְלְקוֹת סֶלַע (Sela Hammakhleqoth) probably means “Rock of Divisions” in Hebrew, in the sense that Saul and David parted company there (cf. NAB “Gorge of Divisions”; TEV “Separation Hill”). This etymology assumes that the word derives from the Hebrew root II חלק (khlq, “to divide”; HALOT 322 s.v. II חלק). However, there is another root I חלק, which means “to be smooth or slippery” (HALOT 322 s.v. I חלק). If the word is taken from this root, the expression would mean “Slippery Rock.”

TSK on Sela Hammahlekoth (NIV) - That is, the rock of divisions, because, says the Targum, "the heart of the king was divided to go hither and thither."

1 Samuel 23:29  David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of Engedi.

BGT  1 Samuel 24:1 καὶ ἀνέβη Δαυιδ ἐκεῖθεν καὶ ἐκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς στενοῖς Εγγαδδι

LXE  1 Samuel 23:29 And David rose up from thence, and dwelt in the narrow passes of Engaddi.

KJV  1 Samuel 23:29 And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi. 

NET  1 Samuel 23:29 Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.

CSB  1 Samuel 23:29 From there David went up and stayed in the strongholds of En-gedi.

ESV  1 Samuel 23:29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.

NIV  1 Samuel 23:29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

NLT  1 Samuel 23:29 David then went to live in the strongholds of En-gedi.

NRS  1 Samuel 23:29 David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.

NJB  1 Samuel 24:1 From there David went up and installed himself in the strongholds of En-Gedi.

NAB  1 Samuel 24:1 David then went up from there and stayed in the refuges behind Engedi.

YLT  1 Samuel 23:29 And David goeth up thence, and abideth in fortresses at En-gedi.

GWN  1 Samuel 23:29 From there David went to stay in the fortified camps of En Gedi.

  • 1Sa 24:1 Ge 14:7 Jos 15:62 2Ch 20:2 Song 1:14 Eze 47:10 
  • 1 Samuel 23 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

David Falls at En-Gedi

DAVID DEPARTS
FOR ENGEDI

David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds (metsadof Engedi ("spring of a kid") - See #13 on the map above and lies about 12 miles to the northeast from Maon on the shores of the Dead Sea.

TSK - The district around En-gedi, near the western coast of the Dead Sea, is reported by travellers to be a mountainous territory, filled with caverns; and consequently, proper for David in his present circumstances.  Dr. Lightfoot thinks this was the wilderness of Judah, in which David was when he penned the 63rd Psalm, which breathes as much pious and devout affection as almost any of his Psalms; for in all places and in all conditions he still kept up his communion with God.--If Christians knew their privileges better, and acted up thereto, there would be less murmuring at the dark dispensations of Divine Providence.

TECHNICAL NOTE - NET NOTE - Beginning with 1Sa 23:29, the verse numbers through 24:22 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 23:29 ET = 24:1 HT, 24:1 ET = 24:2 HT, 24:2 ET = 24:3 HT, etc., through 24:22 ET = 24:23 HT. With 25:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

Don Anderson summarizes this chapter - There are three things that really stand out in this particular chapter

1. GOD'S ABUNDANT PROVISION FOR OUR NEEDS

2. THE BLESSING OF STEADFAST FRIENDS

3. GOD'S GOOD PROVIDENCES


Howard Vos -  ENGE´DI (en-geʹdi; “fountain of the wild goat”). A town, also called the city of palm trees (i.e., Hazazon-tamar, Gen. 14:7; 2 Chron. 20:2), and wilderness situated about thirty miles SE of Jerusalem, on the W shore of the Dead Sea. It is full of rocks and caves (1 Sam. 23:29; Ezek. 47:10). The source of the spring from which it derives its name is on the side of the mountain about six hundred feet above the sea.

(ED Note - all 6 uses - Jos. 15:62; 1 Sam. 23:29; 1 Sam. 24:1; 2 Chr. 20:2; Song. 1:14; Ezek. 47:10)

It is a fertile place and most suitable for refuge. The strongholds of David (23:29; 24:22) must have been situated by the water, and the cave is described as being below them.

It was immediately after an assault upon the “Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar,” that the five Mesopotamian kings were attacked by the rulers of the plain of Sodom (Gen. 14:7; cf. 2 Chron. 20:2). Saul was told that David was in the “wilderness of Engedi,” and he took “three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats” (1 Sam. 24:1–4). At a later period Engedi was the gathering place of the Moabites and Ammonites who went up against Jerusalem and fell in the valley of Beracah (2 Chron. 20:2, 26). The vineyards of Engedi were celebrated by Solomon (Song of Sol. 1:14), its balsam by Josephus, and its palms by Pliny.

At Tell el-Jurn, just S of the springs of Engedi, Benjamin Mazar led a Hebrew University and Israel Exploration Society dig from 1961 to 1965. He found no evidence of occupation in the time of David, but that is not surprising because the area probably was quite wild when David and his band hid there. Five periods of occupation were uncovered on the tell, dating from the last days of the Judean kingdom to the Roman-Byzantine period. A large fort stood in the middle of the city during the Hasmonean (Maccabean) period (Stratum III) and again in Herodian-Roman days (Stratum II). This latter city and fort were burned about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The place was again occupied during the Roman-Byzantine period. Mazar also excavated a Chalcolithic worship center (c. 3500 B.C.) just N of the spring of Engedi. (Borrow The new Unger's Bible dictionary )

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