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would not have used such a sinful shift as this, for his own preservation. It is written, not for our imitation, no, not in the greatest straits, but for our admonition. " Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall;" and let us all pray daily, Lord, “Lead us not into temptation." Let us all lake occasion from this to lament, the weakness and in. firmity of good men; the best are not perfect on this side beaven. It is possible there may be true grace, where yet there are many failings.
David being driven from Achish, returns into the land of Israel to be
hunted by Saul. 1. David sets up his standard in the cave of AdulJam, entertains his relations, ver. 1. Lists soldiers, ver. 2. but removes his aged parents to a more quiet settlement, ver, 3, 4. and has the prophet Gad, for his counsellor, ver. 5. 2. Saul resolves to pursne him, and find him ont, complains of his servants and Jonathan, ver, 6
--8. and finding by Doeg's information that Abimelech had been kind to David, he ordered him and all the preists that were with him, eighty-five in all, to be put to death, and all that belonged to them destroyed, rer. 9—19. from the barbarons execution of which sentence, Abiathar escaped to David, ver. 20--23.
VER. 2. “And he became a captain over them.”]Observe, that as David received the distressed, he was figurative of Christ, who receiveth all that are distressed about the state of their souls who are under a sense of their guilt, sin, and danger: “ Whosoever will, (saith Cbrist) lei him come;" likewise he receives all that are in debt, that owe more than " ten thousand talents” to the law of God in duty and penalty, and bave nothing to pay : Christ receives them freely, because he has paid a ransom for them with his own blood, and they are in distress about their state, and cannot rest till they know that their sins are pardoned through faith in the blessed Jesus, “ whose blood cleanseth froin all sin.”
Ver. 18. “ And slew on that day fourscore and five persons, that did wear a linen ephod.”]-Hence observe the great wickedness of Saul when the spirit of the Lord was departed from him. He that was so compassionate as to spare Agg and the cattle of the Amalekites, in disobedience to the command of God, could now, with unrelenting bowels, see the priests of the Lord murdered, and nothing spared of all that belonged to them. Though Saul was unrighteous in doing this, yet God was righteous in permitting it. Now God performed against Eli that, at which the ears of them that beard it must needs tingle, as he had told him, that he would “judge bis house for ever,” chap. iii. 11, 12, 13. No “ word of God shall fall to the ground." This may be considered as a great judgment upon Israel, and the just punishment of their desiring a king, before the time God intended them oue. How deplorable was the state of religion at this time in Israel! Though the ark had long been in obscurity, yet it was some comfort to them that ihey had the altar, and priests to serve at it; but now to see the priests weltering in their own blood, and the heirs of the priesthood too, and the city of the priests made a desola. tion; so that the attar of God must needs be neglected for want of attendants, and this by the unjust and cruel order of their own king, to satisfy his unjust rage; this could not but . go to the heart of all pious Israelites, and make them wish a thousand times, they had been satisfied in the government of Samuel, and his sons. The worst encmies of their nation could not have done them a greater miscbief.
Saul baving made himself drunk with the blood of the priests of the Lord,
is bere, in this chapter, seeking David's life, who appears here doing good, and suffering ill at the same time. Here is, 1. T'he good service he did to his king and country, in rescuing the city of Keilah out of the hands of the philistines, ver. 1-6. 2. The danger he was thereby brought into from the malice of the prince he served, and the treachery of the city lie saved; and his deliverance by divine direction from that danger, ver. 7-13. 3. David in a wood, and his friend Jonathan visitiug him there, and enconraging him, ver. 14-18. 4. The information which the Ziphites brought to waul of David's baunts, and the expedition Saul made in pursuit of him, ver. 19-25. 5. The narrow escape David had of falling iuto liis bands, ver. 26-29. " Diany are the troubles of tbe righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of them all.”
VER. 11. " O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant.”]-David consulting with God concerning his own preservation, knows, by the informations brought him, that Saul is plotting his ruin, ver. 9. and therefore applies hiniself to his great protector for direction. No sooner is the ephod brought him, but he makes
verwar and who those
Keilah pon every good
use of it, “bring hither the ephod.” We have the scriptures, those lively oracles, in our hands ; let us take advice from them in doubtful cases, bring hither the bible. David's address to God upon this occasion is, first, very solemn and reverent. Twice he calls God, the “ Lord God of Israel," and thrice calls himself his servant, ver. 10, 11. Those that address God must know their distance, and who they are speaking to. Secondly, very particular and express. His representation of the case is so, ver. 10. Thy servant has certainly heard by very good hands (for he would not call for the ephod upon every idle rumour) that Saul has a design upon Keilah, he doth not say, to destroy me, but to destroy the city (as he had lately done the city of Nob) for my sake. He seems more solicitous for their safety than for his own, and will expose himself any where, rather than they should be brought into trouble by his being among them. Generous souls are thus minded. His queries upon the case are likewise very particular. God allows us to be so in our addresses to him ; Lord direct me in this matter, about which I am now at a loss.
Ver. 16." And strengthened his hand in God." Jonathan comforted him, as his faithful and constant friend. True lovers will find out means to get together; David, it is likely, appointed time and place for this interview, and Jonathan observed it, though he exposed himself by it to his father's displeasure, and, had it been discovered, might have cost him his life. True friendship will not stick at danger, but can easily venture; will not stick at condescension, but can easily stoop, and exchange a palace for a wood to serve a friend. The very sight of Jonathan was reviying to David; but besides that, he said that to him which was very encouraging.
As a pious friend he directed him to God the foundation of bis confidence, and the fountain of his comfort. He 66 strengthened his hand in God.” David, though a strong believer, needed the help of his friends for the perfecting of what was lacking in his faith; and herein Jonathan was belpful to him, by minding him of the promise of God, the holy oil wherewith he was anointed, the presence of God with him bitherto, and the many experiences he had bad of God's goodness to him. Thus be strengthened his hands for action, by encouraging his heart, not in the creature, but in God. Jonathan was not in a capacity of doing any thing to strengthen bin, but he assured him God would.
Ver. 26. “ For Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about, to take them.”]-Observe the great peril that David was now brought into. Upon intel. ligence that the Zipbites had betrayed him, he retired from the hill of Hachilab to the wilderness of Maon, ver. 24. and at this time he penned the fifty-fourth psalın, as appears by the title, wherein he calls the Ziphites strangers, though they were Israelites, because they used him barbarously; but puts himself under the divine protection, “ behold, God is my helper,” and then all shall be well. Saul, having got the scent of him, pursued him closely, ver. 25. till he came so near him that there was but a mountain between tbem, ver. 26. David and his men on one side of the mountain flying, and Saul and his men on the other side pursuing; David in fear, and Saul in hope; but this mountain was an emblem of the divine providence coming between David and the destroyer, like the pillar of cloud between the Israelites and the Egyptians; David was con. cealed by this mountain, and Saul confounded by it: David now flees “as a bird to bis mountain,” Psalm xi. l. and finds God to him as a “shadow of a great rock.” Saul hoped, with his numerous forces to inclose David, and compass bim in, and his men; but the ground did not prove convenient for his design, and so it failed. A new name was given to the place in remembrance of this, ver. 28. Sela hammablekoth, the rock of division, because it divided between Saul and David.
Observe, when the philistines invaded the land, they were far from intending any kindness to David by it, yet the over-ruling providence of God, which orders all events, and the times of them, made it very serviceable to him. The wisdom of God is never at a loss for ways and means to preserve his people. As this Saul here was diverted, so another Saul was converted, just then, when he was “ breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the saints of the Lord,” Acts ix. 1.
We have hitherto had Saul seeking an opportunity to destroy David, and to
his shaine he could never find it. In this chapter David had a fair opportunity to destroy Saul, and to his honour he did not make use of
it; and his sparing Saul's life was as great an instance of God's grace in him, as the preserving of his own life was of God's providence over him. Observe, 1. How maliciously Saul sought David's life, ver. 1, 2. 2. How generously David saved Saul's life, when he had him at an advantage, and only cut off the skirt of his robe, ver. 3–8. 3. How pathetically he reasoned with Saul, upon this, to bring him to a better temper towards him, ver. 9-15. 4. The good impression this made upon Saul for the present, ver. 16--22.
men but only sof in otheti alone, spirin
e rest being by, turned him to be limbing wit
VER. 3. " And David and his men remained in the sides of the cave."]—That is, round about the sides of the caye, where providence brings Saul alone into the same care wherein David and his men had hid themselves, ver. 3. In those countries there were very large caves in the sides of the rocks or mountains, partly natural, but, probably, much enlarged by art, for the sheltering of sheep from the heat of the sun; hence we read of places where the flocks did rest at noon, Cant. i, 7. and this cave seems to be spoken of as one of the sheep-cotes. In the sides of this cave David and his men remained, perhaps not all his men, the whole six bundred, but only some few of his particular friends, the rest being disposed of in other the like retire. ments. Saul passing by, turned in himself alone, not in search of David, (for supposing him to be an aspiring, ambitious man, he thought to find him rather climbing with the wild goats upon the rocks, than retiring with the sheep into a cave) but thither he turned aside to " cover bis feet, that is, to sleep awhile, it being a cool and quiet place, and very refreshing in the heat of the day ; probably he ordered his attendants to march before, reserving only a very few to wait for him at the mouth of the cave.
Ver. 10. “ And it came to pass when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David ? and Saul lift up his voice and wept.”]-Here we have David's great kindness to Saul, bis moving and melting address to bim, and Saul's penitent reply to David's speech. It was strange he had patience to bear bim out, considering how outrageous he was against him, and bow cutting David's discourse was; but God restrained 'bim and 'bis men; and we may suppose Saul struck with amazement at the oddness of the accident, and much more when lie found how much he had lain at David's mercy. His heart must have been harder than a stone if this had not affected him.
He melted into tears, and we will not suppose them to be counterfeit, but real expressions of his present concern, at the sight of his own iniquity, so plainly proved upon