David the Refugee: Episode #3David in Full Flight in the SouthI Samuel 21-22/ Psalm 34;52; 142
OUTLINEI. David flees to Nob—I Samuel 21:1-9II. David flees to Gath-I Samuel 21:10-15III. Wise counsel for the poor of heart—Ps 34 A. Thanksgiving for God’s goodness and justice (vv. 1-7) B. In praise of wisdom (vv. 9-22)
IV. David at the cave of Adullam (I Samuel 22:1-23) A. David wanders in the south (vv. 1-5) B. Slaughter of the priests of Nob (vv. 6-23)V. Psalm 52—David Responds to Treachery A. The Folly of Evil/David Accuses Doeg (vv. 1-4)B. God’s Complete Judgment/David Foretells Judgment (v. 5) B. Wisdom Derived from God’s Judgment (vv. 6-7) C. The Blessing of Righteousness (vv. 8-9)
VI. Psalm 142-David Prays in the Cave of Adullam A. Lament (vv. 1-2) B. Loneliness in suffering (vv. 3-7a) C. Public thanksgiving (v. 7b)
Chapters 21 and 22 of I Samuel essentially form one literary unit w/ three sections: -First and third section concern events at Nob in Benjamin. (21:1-9 and 22:6-23) -Sandwiched between we see David’s flight to Gath, then Adullam in Judah, and Mizpah in Moab.The events in these two chapters are later than those in 19-20, since by then David has gathered a sizeable body of menaround himself and become their leader.(Or, in chapter 21, Ahimelech assumes that David is still a leader in Saul’s army,---SCB).
I. David at Nob vv. 1-9 A. David is fleeing from Saul and needs help, so he stops at Nob. 1. about 2 ½ miles south of Gibeah of Saul and 1 ½ miles northeast of Jerusalem. 2. Note—this is in the tribe of Benjamin-Saul’s tribe. 3. It may have been a tabernacle site at one time. Site of a large contingent of priests.
B. David approaches Ahimelech, apparently one of the prominent priests at the site. (v. 2) 1. Ahimelech trembles (v. 1) -David’s reputation? -David’s authority? 2. Ahimelech asks two questions that sound the same, but David answers them separately (v. 2).
Ahimelech: “Why are you alone”?David: “I am on a secret mission for the king. No one is to know about it”.(One commentator suggests that the term “king” is meant by the narrator to mean the Lord. Ahimelech means “The King [God] is My Brother”. So this is a wordplay).Ahimelech: “Why is no one with you”?David: “My men are to meet me at a certain place”.“Certain place” is a rare idiomatic expression used when one either does not know a person or place or is deliberately trying to conceal it from the hearer. I.e. “such and such”
C. In v. 3 and 8 David now has two questions for Ahimelech. 1. Both questions use a rare idiom “what do you have under your hand/control”. 2. In v. 3 David asks for provisions—”Give me five loves of bread, or whatever you can find”Ahimelech must have wondered “Only 5 loaves? That’s not very much for a group of men. What’s really going on here”. Is David making up the story from whole cloth to protect Ahimelech from accusations of complicity?
3. Ahimelech answers “I don’t have ordinary bread, but I do have consecrated bread. But under Levitical law your men must be ceremonially clean to eat it. (Exodus 19:14-15). Have they had sexual relations with women”? David: “Whenever we are on a mission, I keep my men from women. Doesn’t matter if it is a holy mission or just a military mission. How much more so today!” (v. 5). (See Uriah). -Implied—”Oh, this is a very serious mission the king has sent me on”. Again, protecting Ahimelech. Remember, David is “prudent in speech”.
4. Satisfied with the answer, Ahimelech gives David the bread, which normally would have been reserved for consumption by the priests and their families. It was to be eaten in a “holy” place. (Leviticus 24:9). This begs the question, “If only the priests and their families are to consume this bread, how can Ahimelech give it to David in good conscience”? Answer: Ahimelech knew the purpose of the law was not merely as evidence of ceremonial obedience.
-Ahimelech rightly understood that “the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), and that it is always “lawful” to do good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4). -Ahimelech understood that “human needs take priority over ceremonial law” in God’s eyes. (F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus, Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1983).-It may be that the incident recorded here took place on a Sabbath day since there is a fresh supply of hot bread to replace what Ahimelech gives to David. According to the procedure set forth in Leviticus 24:5-9, the high priest is to arrange holy bread before the Lord “regularly”.
5. Lurking in the shadows is Doeg the Edomite. -mercenary working for Saul as a result of his wars against Edom (I Samuel 14:47)? Now Saul’s head shepherd. -”detained before the Lord” probably means for a ceremonial reason. Was he a proselyte to Judaism? 6. Having asked for bread, David now inquires about a weapon. (v. 8). Ahimelech supplies Goliath’s sword. “The only one here”. One commentator suggests that this speaks to the transfer of royal power for Saul to David. (v. 9)
II. David flees to Gath—vv. 10-15A. In the second half of the ninth century B.C.E., Gath was the largest of the five cities of the Philistines and perhaps the largest city in the Land of Israel during the Iron Age.http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical- artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/where-did-the- philistines-come-from/ 1. In 2011 archeologists uncovered a two- horned altar in Gath which may point to the origins of the Philistines.
2. The fact that the Tell es-Safi/Gath horned altar has only two horns may have to do with the cultural origins of the Philistines. The very motif of the horned altar in the Levant may have been influenced by earlier Minoan “horns of consecration,” symbolic representations of the horns of the sacred bull in Minoan culture. In fact, there is an altar from the Late Bronze Age site in Cyprus that also has only two horns. The unique horned altar from Tell es-Safi/Gath, the earliest stone altar ever found from the land of the Philistines, may be another indication of the Aegean influences on early Philistine culture and quite possibly a hint to their origins.http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/where-did-the-philistines-come-from/
3. You say, “Brown, why do I care about dusty old ruins and the origins of the Philistines? I thought this was a Bible study, not archaeology!” Cultural context—It helps us understand the clash of cultures that existed between the Philistines and the Israelites. -monotheism v. pagan polytheism -city-dwellers/sea-farers and commerce v. farmers and shepherds in Shephelah -advanced technologically/economically v. agragrarian/cosmopolitan v. rural
B. David leaves Nob (“That day” v. 10) with the sword of Goliath and went to Gath. 1. Irony-Goliath’s home town (17:4) 2. Why? Employment as a mercenary? 3. The king of Gath was Achish who probably ruled Gath for over 40 years. In Psalm 34 he is referred to as Abimelech, which is probably a royal or dynastic title, i.e. “Henry Tudor” or “Richard Plantagenet”. 4. Acish’s advisors are wary (v. 11), remembering the song about David.
Note-”king of the land” is probably a term intended to belittle, and reflects on the political situation in Israel from an outsiders view point. -”He is one of a number of local leaders/rulers. He is a local warlord. But what is he doing here of all places”! -the Philistines do not see the Israelites as a united threat at this point. They still see Israel in a tribal context.
5. Obviously, David is conspicuous. He killed the Philistine champion and is now walking directly into one of their capitol cities. -this is either extreme chutzpah or extreme desperation. 6. In order to escape danger, David feigns insanity, scratching on the gates of the city, foaming at the mouth, saliva dribbling into his beard—not a picture of a future king. David controls madness; Saul is controlled by madness. 7. Comic relief, v. 14—Achish yells “Don’t I have enough crazy men here already! Why are you bringing me another one”!
8. This is how low David has sunk. Even Israel’s sworn enemies don’t want him around! He gets thrown out on his ear. My guess is they roughed him up a little on the way out the gate—kicking, punching, etc. God has pulled the last crutch-self-respect-out from under David. -Position and prominence -wife -friend (Jonathon) -counselor (Samuel) David is starting to look a lot like Job.
TAKEAWAYS 1. Why is God removing David’s crutches? To force him to rely on God only and not be dependent on the crutches. 2. Crutches can become substitutes for God. God will strengthen us and hold us up, we are not to be anxious and fear (Isaiah 41:10). If we are leaning on something or someone other than God, we are not leaning on Him. 3. Crutches keep our focus horizontal rather than vertical. Human crutches paralyze the walk of faith.
4. Crutches offer only temporary relief. God offers permanent solutions.Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. . . . There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. .. . . The pronouns “my” and “mine” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. . . . The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil . . . .” A. W. Tozer, “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing”(Do we pray “Lord, pull out the weeds from my heart so you may be at the center?)
Example—thistles and their roots in the garden.III. Psalm 34—Interior view, reflective thinking A. This psalm is David looking back on his experience in Gath. It demonstrates the wisdom that David gained from the experience. 1. David recognizes that God removed the crutches for a reason. 2. How long after the experience was this written? How long did David reflect?
B. Individual and communal praise (vv. 1-3) 1. Notice that David boasts in what the Lord has done rather than pointing out his own achievements. (my soul makes its boast in the Lord) 2. The praise of God is continual (His praise shall be continually in my mouth) and God- centered , the product of a grateful heart. -the crutches and weeds have been removed from David’s heart, the work has been done. 3. David’s response to his adversity and deliverance is to encourage the “afflicted” and rejoice in the Lord.
TAKEAWAYS-David understands that one of the reasons for our testing and suffering is so that we can encourage others in their times of testing and suffering.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.II Corinthians 1:3-4-”The purpose of praise is not to makes God’s people feel good, but to acknowledge in a communal way the greatness of our God”. VanGemeren, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
C. Individual and Communal Experiences (vv. 4-7) 1. David understands that a wise teacher shares from their own experiences. -David knows fear, having experienced it first-hand (v. 4) -David has also seen how God’s people “radiate” confidence and joy. (v. 5) (Do we “radiate” so that others can see?) -this confidence is like a bright light, driving out fear.
2. In v. 6, do you suppose David is pointing at someone in the congregation when he says “this poor man”(or, “humble man”)—pointing to the experience of another. Or, is this pointing the finger at himself, saying “this poor man”? -Are there “amens!” from the congregation as David shares and others remember? -Either way, the idea is the same. Shared experience is a teacher. 3. David moves from the specific to the general in v. 7—the angel of the Lord protects “those who fear [reverence, not dread] him”
D. In Praise of Wisdom-Exhortation to Wisdom (vv. 8-14) 1. Here we see that we cannot experience God’s goodness w/o an accompanying godliness (blessed). 2. Three imperatives—”taste”, “see” and “fear” -How do we “taste” God’s goodness? By taking “refuge” in him (v. 8). “refuge”=submitting our way of life to Him. Result-we are blessed
3. So, David has learned the lessons of having his crutches removed—he “takes refuge” in God alone, not anything else, and he sees that as a result he is “blessed”. 4. Those who “fear” God are blessed because they will lack nothing (v. 10), unlike the “young lions”, a metaphor for “the rich” or “the strong” who rely on their riches and strength. -young lions are frequently hungry. -encouragement to seek the Lord, He provides for all our needs.
5. In vv. 11-14 we see an address to younger members of the community w/ 3 lessons. “children”=students a. First-”I will teach you the fear of the Lord”=submission b. Second-v. 13, “fear of the Lord” is expressed by obedience. -integrity of language -honesty -seek peace c. Third-the reward for submission comes in this life, for those who seek him. (v.12,15-16) -”see many good days”-God is good
E. In Praise of Wisdom—the Rewards of Wisdom(vv. 15-22) 1. The list of rewards for “fearing” the Lord, or submitting to him, continues: -God looks on those who fear him w/ favor (v. 15) -God protects (v. 20) and cares for those who fear him (v. 15)—notice they still have troubles (v. 19) -God hears the prayers of those who fear him (v. 15, 17) and delivers them from trouble (vv. 18-19). -God comforts the brokenhearted and “crushed” in spirit. (v. 18) in ways the world cannot understand (Philippians 4:7)
Note—Those who fear God are not free from troubles, they do not escape trouble, but they are not overcome by trouble. Therefore, they do not need to be afraid of trouble, because they are not alone. (David now realizes he was not alone next to the rock waiting for Jonathon, or in the city of Gath).Protection of “the bones” is a metaphor for God’s care. 2. Conversely, the wicked will be overcome by their evil (v. 21), and they will perish. But, the godly find God faithful and will not perish (v. 22)
TAKEAWAYS1. The “fear of the Lord” does not insure a trouble-free life. David missed out on the message of the “prosperity gospel” somehow. He knew trouble. He also knew that fearing the Lord means we don’t fear trouble, because we know that God is in control of the trouble. Romans 8:282. Those who fear the Lord are fully aware of their own self-limitations. Why? Because God has used their circumstances to force them to rely on Him. David had no one else to turn to after he left Gath. He has hit rock bottom. Psalm 34 shows us that David learned the lessons of relying on God that Saul had never learned.
IV. David in the cave of Adullam (I Samuel 22:1-23) A. Wandering in the south. (vv. 1-5). David has now bottomed out—no security, no food, no one to talk to, no promise to cling to, no hope.1. He leaves Gath and “escapes”, presumably from Saul, to a cave in Adullam. It was in the western foothills of Judah, about 10 miles SE of Gath. 2. David’s family joins him in the cave, probably out of fear of reprisals by Saul if they remain in Bethlehem. (v. 1) -Can you imagine the guilt David feels?
3. What do you think David thought about this? -Did he want his family there with him? -Would he rather just have them leave him alone? Is he at a point in life where he would rather have no others around? -Ever been there? You don’t want to admit it publicly, and you usually don’t. -”Yes, I’m here in the cave, now leave me alone”! -”I’m not worth anything to myself .. . .or you”!
3. Remember, not too long before David’s family didn’t think too highly of him. -He was an afterthought for Jesse when parading his sons before Samuel. -Eliab at Elah—”Why have you come down here in the first place. I know you are just trying to get some undeserved credit for the battle”! David probably didn’t want his family there, but they came anyway. God brought them along and they crawled into the cave with David.
4. But, David’s family aren’t the only ones who join him. (v. 2) a. Not clear who came first family or malcontents. b. “everyone who was in distress”-zuk=under pressure/under stress c. “everyone who was in debt”-probably poor tenant farmers. Nashah= to have a number of creditors, at interest. So, deeply in debt. d. “everyone who was bitter in soul”—as a result of an injustice/wronged (by Saul the king as Samuel had warned?)
“Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people.A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.” Proverbs 28:15-16.A description of Saul? Look at how he treats David, who is one of his most devoted servants. How did he treat everyone else? We are going to see later.
So, every malcontent in the area is coming to join you. Great. “I just want to be left alone. This bunch can’t get along with anyone”. -They are angry. -They are depressed. -They feel victimized. -They feel marginalized. -They don’t want to be around people. -They have given up hope. -They are unmotivated. -Some are wallowing in self-pity -Some may even be sociopathicWHAT A GREAT LABORATORY IN WHICH TO LEARN LEADERSHIP SKILLS! If David can lead this bunch, he can lead anyone!
d. What was it like leading this bunch? David gives us some idea in Psalm 57, which was written when David was in the cave.Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge;in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by (v. 1) My soul is in the midst of lions I lie down amid fiery beasts-the children of men whose teeth are spears and arrowswhose tongues are sharp swords. (v. 4)