Let us recap David’s regret for not trusting God when he should have trusted God with all his heart.
And may the story of God and His relationship with David become our relationship even more fully.
Remember David is about to die soon, and he is recounting his life story for us. David speaks:
Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith. When shadows encompass the soul, when we want light and guidance, we must look up; there is light beyond the darkness.
I ought not to have distrusted God for one moment. I had cause for trusting in Him: I was the Lord’s anointed, and in the midst of danger I had been protected by the angels of God; I had been armed with courage to do wonderful things; and if I had but removed from my mind distressing situation in which I was placed, and had thought of God’s power and majesty, I would have been at peace even in the midst of the shadows of death.
I could with confidence have repeated the promise of the Lord, “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed.” Isaiah 54:10.
Among the mountains of Judah, I sought refuge from the pursuit of Saul. I made good my escape to the cave of Adullam, a place that, with a small force, could be held against a large army. And now for a pleasant surprise.
Let me quote from my biographer concerning this event:
1Sa 22:1 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him.
1Sa 22:2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.
1Sa 22:3 Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.”
1Sa 22:4 So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.
1Sa 22:5 Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
My family could not feel secure, knowing that at any time the unreasonable suspicions of Saul might be directed against them on account of their relationship with me. They had now learned—what was coming to be generally known in Israel—that God had chosen me as the future ruler of His people. They believed that they would be safer with me, even though I was a fugitive in a lonely cave, than they could be while exposed to the insane madness of a jealous king.
In the cave of Adullam my family were united in sympathy and affection. The son of Jesse could make melody with voice and harp as I sang, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1.
I had tasted the bitterness of distrust on the part of my own brothers; and the harmony that had taken the place of discord brought joy to the exile’s heart. It was here that I composed the fifty-seventh psalm.
LET YOUR GLORY BE OVER ALL THE EARTH
Psa 57:1 To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” a Michtam of David When He Fled from Saul into the Cave. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.
Psa 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.
Psa 57:3 He shall send from heaven and save me; He reproaches the one who would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth.
Psa 57:4 My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men Who are set on fire, Whose teeth are spears and arrows, And their tongue a sharp sword.
Psa 57:5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.
Psa 57:6 They have prepared a net for my steps; My soul is bowed down; They have dug a pit before me; Into the midst of it they themselves have fallen. Selah
Psa 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise.
Psa 57:8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.
Psa 57:9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.
Psa 57:10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.
Psa 57:11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.
It was not long before my company was joined by others who desired to escape the exactions of the king. There were many who had lost confidence in the ruler of Israel, for they could see that he was no longer guided by the Spirit of the Lord.
“And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented,” came to me, “and I became a captain over them: and there were with me about four hundred men.”
But even in my retreat in the mountains I was far from feeling secure, for I received continual evidence that the king had not relinquished his murderous purpose.
I found a refuge for my parents with the king of Moab, and then, at a warning of danger from a prophet of the Lord, I fled from my hiding place to the forest of Hareth. The experience through which I was passing was not unnecessary or fruitless.
God was giving me a course of discipline to fit me to become a wise general as well as a just and merciful king. With my band of fugitives, I was gaining a preparation to take up the work that Saul, because of his murderous passion and blind indiscretion, was becoming wholly unfitted to do.
Men cannot depart from the counsel of God and still retain that calmness and wisdom which will enable them to act with justice and discretion. There is no insanity so dreadful, so hopeless, as that of following human wisdom, unguided by the wisdom of God.
Saul had been preparing to ensnare and capture me in the cave of Adullam, and when it was discovered that I had left this place of refuge, the king was greatly enraged. My flight was a mystery to Saul. He could account for it only by the belief that there had been traitors in his camp, who had informed the son of Jesse of his proximity and design.
He affirmed to his counsellors that a conspiracy had been formed against him, and with the offer of rich gifts and positions of honour he bribed them to reveal who among his people had befriended David.
Doeg the Edomite turned informer. Moved by ambition and avarice, and by hatred of the priest, who had reproved his sins, Doeg reported my visit to Ahimelech, representing the matter in such a light as to kindle Saul’s anger against the man of God.
The words of that mischievous tongue, set on fire of hell, stirred up the worst passions in Saul’s heart. Maddened with rage, he declared that the whole family of the priest should perish. And the terrible decree was executed. Not only Ahimelech, but the members of his father’s house—“four-score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod”—were slain at the king’s command, by the murderous hand of Doeg.
“And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep.” This is what Saul could do under the control of Satan.
When God had said that the iniquity of the Amalekites was full, and had commanded him to destroy them utterly, he thought himself too compassionate to execute the divine sentence, and he spared that which was devoted to destruction.
But now, without a command from God, under the guidance of Satan, he could slay the priests of the Lord and bring ruin upon the inhabitants of Nob. Such is the perversity of the human heart that has refused the guidance of God.
This deed filled all Israel with horror. It was the king whom they had chosen that had committed this outrage, and he had only done after the manner of the kings of other nations that feared not God. The ark was with them, but the priests of whom they had inquired were slain with the sword.
What would come next?
After Saul’s atrocious slaughter of the priests of the Lord, “one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled to me. And Abiathar told me that Saul had slain the Lord’s priests.
So David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house.
Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.”
Still hunted by the king, I found no place of rest or security. At Keilah my brave band saved the town from capture by the Philistines, but they were not safe, even among the people whom they had delivered. From Keilah we fled to the wilderness of Ziph.
At this time, when there were so few bright spots in my life, I was rejoiced to receive an unexpected visit from Jonathan, who had learned the place of his refuge. Precious were the moments which the two of us spent in each other’s presence.
We related our varied experiences, and Jonathan strengthened my heart, saying, “Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you; and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you; and that also Saul my father knows.”
As we talked of the wonderful dealings of God with me, I was greatly encouraged. “And we made a covenant before the Lord: and I abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.”
After the visit of Jonathan, I encouraged my soul with songs of praise, accompanying my voice with my harp as I sang:
THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE
Psa 11:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. In the LORD I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”?
Psa 11:2 For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
Psa 11:3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?
Psa 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
Psa 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
David spared Saul’s life