Sunday, October 27, 2013

David on the Run

The Philistines were bearing down on the town of Keilah, pillaging and hurting the people. David got word of it and came to their rescue. He and his men defeated the Philistines in Keilah, but pretty soon Saul found out. His jealousy at David’s success continued, and he was determined to kill him. When David found out Saul was on his way to Keilah to kill him, he fled with his men. David had 600 warriors with him, and they went from place to place. They never stayed too long because any time Saul found out where they were, he would go there.

David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph when he found out Saul was after him again. Jonathan found him and comforted him. Jonathan said, “Don’t worry. My dad won’t hurt you. You’ll be king someday, and I’ll be second to you. Dad knows it.” They made a promise to each other, and Jonathan went home. The Ziphites betrayed David to Saul, but David got word of it and fled. David and Saul’s forces very nearly met, but Saul suddenly got word that the Philistines were attacking, and he realized that was more urgent. So Saul gave up chasing David for the moment and instead went in pursuit of the Philistines. David, meanwhile, went to the Desert of En Gedi. After Saul was done dealing with the Philistines, his murderous rage came back, and he went off in search of David again.

David and his men were in the back of a huge cave when they heard someone come in. They recognized Saul’s shape! He hadn’t noticed them, and he just needed to go to the bathroom. David’s men whispered to him, “This is it! God has given you a chance to get rid of Saul!” So David went into stealth mode. He took a sharp knife and crept up behind the King. Very, very quietly, David took out his knife… and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe! He crept back to his men. But then he realized that was really dumb. What had he done? He didn’t have a right to damage the King’s robe! He whispered to his men, “What were we thinking? Saul may not be the nicest guy ever, but he is the one God chose to be King! How dare we even do this much?” His men wanted to kill Saul, but David said, “No way! Don’t even think of harming God’s choice of King!”

Saul finished doing his thing and left. David knew he owed the King an apology, so he ran out of the cave and called, “My lord the king!” Saul turned around, shocked. David went on. “Why do you listen to the idiots who claim that I want to harm you? You can tell that I could have killed you just now. My men even wanted me to! But I refused to even harm you, because God chose you to be King! Look at this piece of robe I’m holding, Dad! I got that close to you, but didn’t kill you! You can tell that I have no intention of rebelling or even laying a hand on you, so why are you out to kill me? The Lord can do what He wants with you, but I will not hurt you!”

Saul said, “David, my son-in-law, is that your voice? You’re a better man than I. May God reward you for what you’ve done today! You could have killed me, and you would have had the right to do so! I know that you’ll be king after me, so please promise me that when you do, you won’t kill off my family.” Often in those times when someone who wasn’t the heir became King, he would kill off the family of the former king so nobody could challenge his role as King. David gladly promised to do nothing of the sort. As you may remember from last week, David had already made a similar promise to Jonathan. So Saul went home.

At this time, Samuel died. He was an old man, and it was his time. The whole nation of Israel mourned for him.

A bit later, the pesky Ziphites sent word to Saul again about where David was. Saul had forgotten how David meant him no harm. By this time, Saul was so jealous of David that he had given his daughter Michal to another man, and David had remarried. So much for being the King’s son-in-law! Saul led 3000 Israelite soldiers to attack David and his 600 men. It may have been overkill, but Saul was a bit overdramatic at times. Saul and his men camped at the hill of Hakilah, near where David was hiding, and David found out.

David and his friend Abishai went into stealth mode again, and they crept into Saul’s camp in the middle of the night. They found King Saul and Commander Abner sleeping, and Saul’s spear was stuck into the ground right near his head! Abishai whispered to David, “Let me stab Saul with his own spear! I’ll only have to do it once!”

But David whispered, “Are you crazy? Have I taught you nothing? Saul is God’s choice for King! Let God deal with Saul! We will not be murdering anyone tonight! Just grab Saul’s spear and water jug, and let’s go!” So, with Saul’s spear and water jug, they tiptoed out and climbed the nearby hill. When they were a safe distance away, David yelled, “Hey, Abner!”

Abner awoke with a start and responded, “Who’s calling?”

David replied, “What were you thinking? You should be guarding the King, and what do you do? You’re sound asleep! What if someone had tiptoed in and done something horrible to Saul? You’ve failed him, Abner! Saul is God’s choice for King, and you should be taking care of him, not sleeping like a log! Now look around! Where are the King’s spear and water jug?”

Saul recognized that voice. “Is that you, David, my son?” he said.

“Yes, Dad! It’s me!” David cried. “Why are you still chasing me? What have I done? You’ve come after someone who is no threat to you! You might as well be hunting a flea! What am I, a partridge for you to hunt in the mountains?”

Saul replied, “I have sinned. David, my son, come back! Since you value my life so much, I won’t try to chase you again. I was stupid, and I am so sorry!”

David called back, “Here’s your spear and water! Have someone come get them! God rewards everyone for being faithful. He gave me another chance to get you, and your life was too important to harm you. As I have valued your life, may God value mine and deliver me from harm!”

Saul said, “David, my son, you will go far in life. May you be blessed!”

So after Saul got his spear and water back, he went home and David moved on. He couldn’t trust Saul’s word, so he decided to leave Israel. He went to Gath and made friends with their King Achish. David and his soldiers lived in Gath for a year and four months, and Achish was very impressed with his talent in battle.

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