The Signs of the Times


October 5, 1888

David's Flight from Keilah


After the slaughter of the priests, “one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slain the Lord's priests. 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.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 1

Saul had cut himself off from every means whereby the Lord could work in his behalf to save him from himself. In the facts of sacred history, there are lessons showing what a dangerous thing it is to cherish a jealous, revengeful spirit. It is impossible to determine to what length this spirit will lead its possessor if it is not overcome. When an evil report is circulated concerning the character of those who are striving to serve God, a power from beneath seems to move the minds of those who cherish enmity. He who has prided himself on possessing a high sense of honor, by taking this path of enmity will often fall into error, and will say and do things of which he deemed himself incapable. If a prophet of God should portray before him the course he would be led to pursue by cherishing such a spirit, he would indignantly inquire as did Hazael, “Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?” But let him turn from the straight path of right, and follow where the promptings of Satan would lead him, and he will manifest the spirit of his captain until truth, honor, and justice are sacrificed through the lusts of passion. ST October 5, 1888, par. 2

Christ declared to the Pharisees, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” When men take the first step after the suggestion of Satan, they do not think that they will take another and another; but it will become easier and easier to follow, and finally they break away from all the bounds of honor and conscience, and do the work of the enemy, under a pretense of doing the work of righteousness. The plainest evidences of the truth and purity of the character of him who they wish to defame, are misconstrued. The most positive assurances of his faithfulness and nobility have no weight or power to control their slanderous reports. The most innocent works of conscience and charity are looked upon as actuated by selfish motives and unholy desires. The only safety for him who is thus assailed is to trust fully in God, not seeking to vindicate his own cause, but when falsely accused to his face to state only the plain facts of the case, and then leave the result with God. The Judge of all the earth will do right. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 3

While David was in his refuge in the forests of Hareth, he was informed that the Philistines were warring against the men of Keilah, and that the people were in great distress, for their enemies were robbing the threshing-floors. “Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah. And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines.” The men who had cast in their lot with David, looked at their small force,—only a few hundred men,—and they were filled with dread at the thought of an encounter with the superior numbers of their enemies. They were also afraid that Saul would attack them, and that between the two armies they would be overwhelmed. ST October 5, 1888, par. 4

David again sought the Lord. It was the manifest fear and reluctance of his men that led him again to inquire of the Lord. He had been anointed as king, and he thought that some measure of responsibility rested upon him for the protection of his people. If he could but have the positive assurance that he was moving in the path of duty, he would start out with his limited forces, and stand faithfully at his post whatever might be the consequences. David was well aware that while Saul was occupied almost entirely with planning and with executing his plans for his discovery and capture, he could not be strengthening his kingdom, or promoting the good of his subjects. ST October 5, 1888, par. 5

The people of Keilah were being grievously oppressed, for, while their enemies were encamped without their walls, they were being robbed of the necessities of life. In answer to the inquiry of David, the Lord said, “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.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 6

“And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah.” When the king heard the part that the son of Jesse had acted in the siege of Keliah, instead of being grateful that a champion had been raised up to defeat the enemies of Israel he was filled with a more determined enmity toward David. He thought that the action of David brought his own inaction into an unfavorable light before the people, and placed him in the discreditable position of one who was negligent of his duty as the ruler and protector of Israel. He could not but see that this was the truth of the matter; but he was angry with David because his works were righteous and his own were evil. The additional evidence that God was favoring David, in the fact that he had with only a handful of men gained a complete victory over a large force, served to make him the more furious. If his heart had not been poisoned with envy and jealousy, the manifestation of God's favor to David would have had a convincing power upon his mind, and would have led him to change his course. ST October 5, 1888, par. 7

The king anticipated the speedy destruction of him whom he hated. He intended to inclose the city with his troops, and demand that the inhabitants of Keilah give up the son of Jesse as his captive and prey. Saul was elated with the thought of successfully achieving his plans in securing David. He was so blinded by the great deceiver that he exclaimed, “God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars. And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 8

Although a great deliverance had been wrought for Keilah, and the men of the city were very grateful to David and his men for the preservation of their lives, yet so fiendish had become the soul of the God-forsaken Saul, that he could demand from the men of Keilah that they yield up their deliverer to certain and unmerited death. Saul had determined that if they should offer any resistance they would suffer the bitter consequences of opposing the command of their king. The long-desired opportunity seemed to have come, and he determined to leave nothing undone in securing the arrest of his rival. ST October 5, 1888, par. 9

After the defeat of the Philistines, David felt that at last he had found a place in which he could be secure from danger without seeking to the caves and dens of the earth. If the people who appeared to be so grateful for their deliverance, would but be true to him and his interest, they could hold the city against Saul and his army. But he remembered the destruction of Nob and the massacre of the priests because one of them had shown him favor, and he became alarmed for himself and for the inhabitants of Keilah, lest they should all suffer in a similar manner. He dared not confide in their earnest assurances of fidelity, fearing that when driven by circumstances they would purchase peace and safety for themselves by delivering him over to his enemies. He could no longer feel secure in a city inclosed by gates and bars. ST October 5, 1888, par. 10

David went to the Lord for counsel. He made his supplication before God, saying, “O Lord God of Israel, thy servant hath 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? O Lord God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the Lord said, He will come down. Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the Lord said, They will deliver thee up.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 11

David could feel no sense of security in remaining at Keilah, even in the midst of the people who owed their lives to his efforts in their behalf. The inhabitants of the city did not for a moment think themselves capable of such an act of ingratitude and treachery; but David knew, from the light that God had given him, that they could not be trusted, that in the hour of need they would fail. ST October 5, 1888, par. 12

“Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth. And David abode in the wilderness in strongholds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.” ST October 5, 1888, par. 13