1 Samuel chapter 23

David saves the city of Keilah. David eludes Saul. UPDATED.





VERSE 1. David was told, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.”

Keilah. This city was just south of Adullam, on the border of Philistine territory.


VERSE 2. Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and strike these Philistines?” The LORD said to David, “Go strike the Philistines, and save Keilah.”

The LORD said to David. In those days, people sought the will of the LORD God by means of the Urim and Thummim. They were sacred dice.

The priest would retrieve the sacred dice from his Ephod and throw them. The results would be interpreted as the will of the LORD God.

Whatever the dice “said” was considered to be the LORD God “saying” his will to them.


VERSE 3. 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?”


VERSE 4. Then David inquired of the LORD yet again. The LORD answered him, and said, “Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

The LORD answered him, and said. We discuss how this happened in verse 2 above.


VERSE 5. David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their livestock, and killed them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.


VERSE 6. When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand.


VERSE 7. Saul was told that David had come to Keilah. Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand; for he is shut in by entering into a town that has gates and bars.”

Saul was told that David had come to Keilah. Somebody ratted David out.


VERSE 8. Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.


VERSE 9. David knew that Saul was devising mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.”

Abiathar the priest. He had the ephod, containing the Urim and Thummim (the sacred dice).


VERSE 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 for my sake.


VERSE 11. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? LORD, the God of Israel, I beg you, tell your servant.” The LORD said, “He will come down.”

The LORD said. We discuss how this happened in verse 2 above.


VERSE 12. Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” The LORD said, “They will deliver you up.”

The LORD said. We discuss how this happened in verse 2 above.


VERSE 13. Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go. Saul was told that David was escaped from Keilah; and he gave up going there.

David and his men … arose and departed. They acted on the perceived will of the LORD God.

We need to ACT upon God’s will.

Ultimately, it is not merely a matter of having the right attitudes. Nor merely the right heart. Ultimately, we need to act.

We Christians say salvation is by faith. Yet the New Testament calls us to put our faith into action. Otherwise our faith is worthless. Read more »

about six hundred. In the previous chapter, we saw that a rag-tag band of rejects were gathering around David. Now there are 600 of them. They will go on to do mighty things, become great leaders and epic heroes of the faith.




VERSE 14. David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God didn’t deliver him into his hand.

God didn’t deliver him. David did his best to hide. But it was then LORD God who made David’s efforts successful.


VERSE 15. David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph in the wood.


VERSE 16. Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose, and went to David into the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.


VERSE 17. He said to him, “Don’t be afraid; for the hand of Saul my father won’t find you; and you will be king over Israel, and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.”

the hand of Saul my father won’t find you; and you will be king over Israel. Jonathan speaks the mind of the LORD God for the future. How did he do this?

  • Perhaps Jonathan only hoped this would come true.
  • Perhaps it was given to Jonathan by divine revelation.
  • Maybe Jonathan made a leap of faith.

By speaking it aloud, Jonathan set things in motion, as much as Joshua did by commanding the sun and moon to stop:

Joshua 10:12. Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel. He said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still on Gibeon! You, moon, stop in the valley of Aijalon!

In our own lives, do we merely wish for things to happen? Or do we speak them aloud?

Have you ever foretold what will happen?


VERSE 18. They both made a covenant before the LORD. Then David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his house.


VERSE 19. Then the Ziphites came up to Saul to Gibeah, saying, “Doesn’t David hide himself with us in the strongholds in the woods, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desert?


VERSE 20. Now therefore, O king, come down. According to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part will be to deliver him up into the king’s hand.”


VERSE 21. Saul said, “You are blessed by the LORD; for you have had compassion on me.


VERSE 22. Please go make yet more sure, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there; for I have been told that he is very cunning.


VERSE 23. See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides himself, and come again to me with certainty, and I will go with you. It shall happen, if he is in the land, that I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.”


VERSE 24. They arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah on the south of the desert.


VERSE 25. Saul and his men went to seek 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 in the wilderness of Maon.


VERSE 26. Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain; and David hurried to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men surrounded David and his men to take them.


VERSE 27. But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land!”


VERSE 28. So Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines. Therefore they called that place Sela Hammahlekoth.

Sela Hammahlekoth. This means “rock of parting.”


VERSE 29. David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.