1 Samuel chapters 23 and 24
Civil war. The last time there was open conflict between rival Israelites, there had been no king in Israel. Things were supposed to be different now – the Israelites had sought as much when they had demanded a king. Remember, it was the succession difficulties of Samuel’s sons, which had followed those of Eli, that would instigate Israel’s demand to be “like the nations.”
Now they were reaping the whirlwind. Saul had not only recruited the sons of Israel into his army, he had tried to employ them in executing the LORD’s priests, and was now leading them throughout Israel in jealous pursuit of his son-in-law. David had also acquired a following, a ragtag group of the disenchanted, whose integrity has yet to be tested.
The narrative opens with David returning to southeast Judah to defend the town of Keilah from the Philistines. Notice that David inquires of the LORD about taking action in a very Moses/Joshua way, being ready to heed His word both to fight and to flee. Saul pursues; the people of Keilah take sides. This war leaves few untouched.
Saul’s son Jonathan has chosen sides as well. He goes to Horesh alone to meet David and make a covenant before the LORD, assuring David, “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.”
The narrative drives toward a crescendo in chapter 24. David has a chance to strike a lethal blow, to end a war he did not start, to become king. Saul’s army would surely rally to him, the aggrieved party, and nonetheless he had an army of his own. But David, at least here, would not take the kingdom “like the nations.”
After sparing Saul’s life, David attempts to pierce his heart: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’”
Our verse for this week is Isaiah 40:28: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
1 Samuel 23 and 24. Now let’s read it!
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.