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him, that he sent for the latter, and all the house of his father, Ahitub, and all the priests of Nob: when he thus addressed them : “Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait as at this day?” Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said ; “and who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son-in-law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? Did I then begin to inquire of God for him ? be it far from me : let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father ; for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.” And the king said, thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou and all thy father's house. And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, turn, and slay the priests of Jehovah; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of Jehovah. And the king said to Doeg, turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew, on that day, four score and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. 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, with the edge of the sword. And one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the priests of Jehovah. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg, the Edomite, was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house. Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life, seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard. *
* 1 Sam. xxii. 13–23. Burder, 0. C. 323.
The Philistines having approached the City of Keilah, in Judah,* and robbed their threshing floors, David inquired of Jehovah whether he should go and smite them, and received a command to do so; but his companions having expressed fear and apprehension at encountering a Philistine army with so small a number, David repeated his enquiry of Jehovah, when he condescended to answer yet more distinctly, “ arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand. So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah,"f
We cannot pass over this portion of the narrative without remarking how important it is to seek for the divine direction in every transaction of life. In the affair at Nob, David omitted to adopt this wholesome procedure, and consequently fell into sin, and drew upon himself and the inhabitants of that city many painful events; whereas, now that he applied to Jehovah for guidance, he succeeded almost miracnlously, and the whole matter proceeded satisfactorily.
As soon as Saul heard that David had entered into Keilah, a fenced city, he vainly imagined he was secure of his prey; and that he could easily encompass him with his army, although he had so recently# had such striking evidence how little his soldiers were to be depended upon; and had seen - how signally God bad interfered for the protection of his chosen servant.
David, aware that Saul was secretly practising mischief against him, directed Abiathar, the Priest, to bring the ephod; and said, 0 Jehovah, God of Israel, thy servant haih certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand ? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard ? 0
Jehovah, God of Israel, I beseech thee tell thy servant. And Jehovah said, he will come down. Then said David, will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul ? And Jehovah said, they will deliver thee up.*
Upon receiving this answer, David withdrew from Keilah with his companions, who had now encreased to the number of 600, and “ went wbithersoever they could go ;” that is wandered from place to place, uncertain where to fix their habitation. They first abode in the strong holds of a mountain, in the wilderness of Ziph ; and Saul pursued him from day to day, but God protected him.
It was whilst David remained concealed in a wood in the wilderness of Ziph, that Jonathan came to visit him, and when their last interview took place. And what was the errand of this faithful and affectionate friend? He went to David in the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, fear not, for the hand of Saul, my father, shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before Jehovah : and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.f
The next deliverance which David experienced, was from the treachery of the Ziphites, who gave information to Saul, thet David was in the holds of the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon; and offered to lay an ambush for him. The miserable monarch readily embraced their offer, and sent the Ziphites before him, declaring, that he would search David throughout all the thousands of Judah. David having received information of Saul's approach, came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon : and whilst Saul and his men approached towards one side of the mountain, David and his men kept on the
* 1 Sam. xxiii. 10–12.
other side, waiting for a favourable opportunity to escape, as Saul and his party compassed David and his party round about to take them.
Here again his servant's extremity was God's opportunity; for just at the moment when we may suppose David's faith was at the highest exercise, a messenger came to Saul, saying, haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Saul, therefore, immediately abandoned his pursuit of David, and went after the Philistines; whence they called that place Sela-hammah-lekoth. And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.*
Intent on the accomplishment of his wicked and murderous purpose, as soon as ever Saul had driven back the Philistines, he resumed his operations against David, with even more determined malice; for he took 3000 chosen men, and went after David, upon the rocks of the wild goats in the wilderness of Engedi. And as he passed by some sheep cotes, there was a cavet into which Saul entered, as it would seem, alone, and probably to refresh himself, and take a short sleep, whilst his men were traversing the wilderness in search of David; for so probably the expression of covering his feet; should be understood, although another idea has been occasionally supposed.
God had so provided, that in the sides of this cave, David and his armed band were at that very time actually concealed; and they were not a little rejoiced to see him, who had been so long thirsting for the blood of their master, thus providentially placed in their power, and exclaimed, “behold, the day of which Jehovah said unto thee, behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee." But not so David:
* I Sam, xxiii. 29. + Such a cave, and of ample dimensions, was seen by Pocock. Ad.
for moving cautiously out of his hiding place, whilst Saal no doubt was asleep, he privily cut off the skirt of the King's robe. And so tender was David's conscience of offering any disrespect towards the person of the anointed of Jehovah, that his heart immediately smote him, even for this trivial and wellmeant act; and he said unto his men, Jehovah forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the anointed of Jehovah, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord. So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul.*
Conscious of the rectitude of his own intentions, strong in faith upon the promises and protection of his God, and in the hope that, by this incident, he might be able to convince the judgment and soften the malice of Saul; instead of flying from his presence as formerly, David followed him immediately out of the cave, and, with the utmost humility and reverence, and bowing his face to the earth, he thus addressed him, “My lord the king! wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, behold, David seeketh thy hurt? Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that Jehovah hath delivered thee to-day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee: and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the anointed of Jehovah. Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it. Jehovah judge between me and thee, and Jehovah avenge me of thee; but mine hand shall not be upon thee. As saith the proverb of the ancients, wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. After whom is the King
* | Sam. xxiv. 6, 7.