The Ziphites, into whose wild regions i went from Keilah, sent word to Saul in Gibeah that they knew where I was hiding, and that they would guide the king to my retreat. But I warned of their intentions, changed my position, seeking refuge in the mountains between Maon and the Dead Sea.
Again word was sent to Saul, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek me and my men upon the rocks of the wild goats.”
I had only six hundred men in my company, while Saul advanced against me with an army of three thousand. In a secluded cave I and my men waited for the guidance of God as to what should be done.
As Saul was pressing his way up the mountains, he turned aside, and entered, alone, the very cave +in which I and my band were hidden. When my men saw this they urged me to kill Saul. The fact that the king was now in our power was interpreted by them as certain evidence that God Himself had delivered the enemy into our hand, that we might destroy him.
I was tempted to agree. But the voice of conscience spoke to me, saying, “Touch not the anointed of the Lord.”
My men were still unwilling to leave Saul in peace, and they reminded me of the words of God, “Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it shall seem good to you. Then I arose and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe secretly. But my conscience smote me afterward, because I had even marred the garment of the king.
When you visit the beautiful surroundings of Engedi you can still hear the echoes of this story.
Saul rose up and went out of the cave to continue his search, when a voice fell upon his startled ears, saying, “My lord the king.” He turned to see who was addressing him, and lo! it was me, the son of Jesse, the man whom he had so long wanted to destroy.
I bowed Myself to the king, acknowledging him as my master. Then I addressed Saul in these words: g desired to have in his power that he might kill me.
1Sa 24:9 And David said to Saul: “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Indeed David seeks your harm’?
1Sa 24:10 Look, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and someone urged me to kill you. But my eye spared you, and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’
1Sa 24:11 Moreover, my father, see! Yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor rebellion in my hand, and I have not sinned against you. Yet you hunt my life to take it.
1Sa 24:12 Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you.
1Sa 24:13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you.
1Sa 24:14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea?
1Sa 24:15 Therefore let the LORD be judge, and judge between you and me, and see and plead my case, and deliver me out of your hand.”
1Sa 24:16 So it was, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.
1Sa 24:17 Then he said to David: “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil.
1Sa 24:18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt well with me; for when the LORD delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me.
1Sa 24:19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him get away safely? Therefore may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.
1Sa 24:20 And now I know indeed that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.
1Sa 24:21 Therefore swear now to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s house.”
1Sa 24:22 So David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
When Saul heard my words he was humbled, and could not but admit their truthfulness. His feelings were deeply moved as he realized how completely he had been in the power of the man whose life he sought.
I stood before him in conscious innocence. With a softened spirit, Saul exclaimed, “Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.”
So when Saul returned to his home I remained in the strongholds of the mountains.
The enmity that is cherished toward the servants of God by those who have yielded to the power of Satan changes at times to a feeling of reconciliation and favour, but the change does not always prove to be lasting.
After evil-minded men have engaged in doing and saying wicked things against the Lord’s servants, the conviction that they have been in the wrong sometimes takes deep hold upon their minds. The Spirit of the Lord strives with them, and they humble their hearts before God, and before those whose influence they have sought to destroy, and they may change their course toward them.
But as they again open the door to the suggestions of the evil one, the old doubts are revived, the old enmity is awakened, and they return to engage in the same work which they repented of, and for a time abandoned.
Again, they speak evil, accusing and condemning in the bitterest manner the very ones to whom they made most humble confession. Satan can use such souls with far greater power after such a course has been pursued than he could before, because they have sinned against greater light.
THE DEATH OF SAMUEL
“And Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.” The death of Samuel was regarded as an irreparable loss by the nation of Israel.
I shall never forget the time he came to our house to anoint one of my father’s sons. The Lord did not allow him to anoint one of my better-looking brothers. I remember how as was summoned before the holy man of God.
I can still see his smile of satisfaction when he poured the olive oil over my head. This was the moment when God came very close to me. He was my anchor. And the shocking news. Samuel passed away. I felt so utterly lonely.
The ruins of Shiloh will tell you that he was a great and good prophet and an eminent judge. My grief like many other mourners was deep and heartfelt. From his youth up Samuel had walked before Israel in the integrity of his heart.
Although Saul had been the acknowledged king, Samuel had wielded a more powerful influence than he, because his record was one of faithfulness, obedience, and devotion. We read that he judged Israel all the days of his life.
As the people contrasted the course of Saul with that of Samuel, they saw what a mistake they had made in desiring a king that they might not be different from the nations around them. Many looked with alarm at the condition of society, fast becoming leavened with irreligion and godlessness.
The example of their ruler was exerting a widespread influence, and well might Israel mourn that Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, was dead.
The nation had lost the founder and president of its sacred schools, but that was not all. It had lost him to whom the people had been accustomed to go with their great troubles—lost one who had constantly interceded with God on behalf of the best interests of its people.
The intercession of Samuel had given a feeling of security; for “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16. The people felt now that God was forsaking them. The king seemed little less than a madman. Justice was perverted, and order was turned to confusion.
It was when the nation was racked with internal strife, when the calm, God-fearing counsel of Samuel seemed to be most needed, that God gave His aged servant rest. Bitter were the reflections of the people as they looked upon his quiet resting place and remembered their folly in rejecting him as their ruler.
He had had so close a connection with Heaven that he seemed to bind all Israel to the throne of Jehovah. It was Samuel who had taught them to love and obey God; but now that he was dead, the people felt that they were left to the mercies of a king who was joined to Satan, and who would divorce the people from God and heaven.
I could not be present at the burial of Samuel, but I mourned for him as deeply and tenderly as a faithful son could mourn for a devoted father. I knew that Samuel’s death had broken another bond of restraint from the actions of Saul, and I felt less secure than when the prophet lived.
While the attention of Saul was engaged in mourning for the death of Samuel, I took the opportunity to seek a place of greater security, so I fled to the wilderness of Paran. It was here that I composed the one hundred and twentieth and twenty-first psalms. In these desolate wilds, realizing that the prophet was dead, and the king was his enemy, I sang:
DELIVER ME, O LORD
Psa 120:1 A Song of Ascents. In my distress I cried to the LORD, And He heard me.
Psa 120:2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips And from a deceitful tongue.
Psa 120:3 What shall be given to you, Or what shall be done to you, You false tongue?
Psa 120:4 Sharp arrows of the warrior, With coals of the broom tree!
Psa 120:5 Woe is me, that I dwell in Meshech, That I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
Psa 120:6 My soul has dwelt too long With one who hates peace.
Psa 120:7 I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war.
MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD
Psa 121:1 A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?
Psa 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
Psa 121:3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Psa 121:4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Psa 121:5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
Psa 121:6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.
Psa 121:7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
Psa 121:8 The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 121:2-8.
David is going to tell us what happened to him in the desert of Paran when he looked after the sheep of Nabal. Who was his wife and how did she prevent David form committing a serious crime?