Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.CHAPTER 23
1. The victory over the Philistines at Keilah (1Samuel 23:1-13)
2. In the wilderness of Ziph (1Samuel 23:14-26)
3. Saul’s return (1Samuel 23:27-29)
Keilah was about six miles southeast of Adullam. David heard of the invasion of the Philistines that they were fighting against this walled city. And he inquired of the Lord, through Abiathar, who had an ephod (verse 6). David’s inquiry of the Lord shows the man of faith in his submission to the Lord. He had his lapses, but at heart he owned the Lord and wanted to glorify Him. Twice he asked the Lord; the second time evidently to quiet the fears of the six hundred men who were now with him. The Lord gave him the victory. Then poor, blinded Saul thought David was now shut up in Keilah and could not escape. He knew not the Lord and His power to protect His own. While Saul plotted, David prayed and depended on the Lord, who told him that Saul would come to Keilah and that the men of Keilah would deal treacherously with him and his men. In the wilderness of Ziph Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hands. And David learned by experience what the name of Ziph means; it means “refining.” In the refining process of suffering and endurance the shepherd-king was fitted for his coming exaltation. In this he is not a type of our Lord, but we can read our own experience here. For the last time Jonathan and David met. He came to strengthen David’s hand in God. This is the true purpose of the fellowship of the Saints. What a noble character was Jonathan!
“It is difficult to form an adequate conception of the courage, the spiritual faith, and the moral grandeur of this act. Never did man more completely clear himself from all complicity in guilt than Jonathan from that of his father. And yet not an undutiful word escaped the lips of this brave man. And how truly human is his fond hope that in the days to come, when David would be king, he should stand next to his throne, his trusted adviser, as in the days of sorrow he had been the true and steadfast friend of the outlaw! As we think of what it must have cost Jonathan to speak thus, or again of the sad fate which was so soon to overtake him, there is a deep pathos about this brief interview, almost unequalled in Holy Scripture, to which the ambitious hopes of the sons of Zebedee form not a parallel but a contrast” (A. Edersheim).
The Ziphites after Jonathan’s visit discovered David’s hiding place to Saul but Saul could not reach him nor touch the Lord’s anointed. But David at that time cried mightily to God, “Save me, O God”--”Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth”; these were some of his utterances recorded in Psalm 54, which was written at that time.