Summary: An exegetical approach to the narrative story of chapter 23 highlighting how Saul throws God’s name around while David simply inquires of God and the results are telling
ILL: When I was leading worship in Denver there were two sisters on the worship team. One day one of the sisters was in a car accident and suffered minor injuries like on a Thursday. She was a shaken up really bad and had looked death in the face and wrote a poem about the experience. Her sister brought the poem to me Sunday night about 5 minutes before the service saying, “God has told us that this poem needs to be read in the service tonight.” I asked to read the poem. To her credit there were some powerful things her sister wrote about God but there was also a fair amount of confusion. She wrote like someone who had powerful experience and a severe concussion. Things were profound and muddy. I took it to Brad, the pastor I was under, and we both felt that reading it that night wasn’t good timing but suggested reading it the following week once we could get a better understanding of what she wrote. That wasn’t what she wanted to hear. She kept saying, “God wants us to read this.” We just said, “We’re open to it but just not tonight.” So we started the service and she came up on stage and led a silent revolt. She sat down on the steps and I’m told stared daggers into my back. Everyone saw it. She just held the mic but never sang. Everyone was completely distracted. The pastor, myself and the young woman had a difficult conversation after that service and it revolved around her trying to trump the situation by throwing out God’s name.
That was my first experience in church leadership with the Christian trump card. See in the Christian life we have a trump card and it’s, “God told me”. God told me to… God’s will is… I heard God say… I remember at Moody hearing guys actually say to girls they were dating, “God told me you are the one.” And the girl said if not thought, “God aint telling me that.” Invoking the name of God can be the ultimate trump card in the church. Who can fight against it? What can you say to the person who says, “God told me?” God was wrong? There are times when God clearly leads and talks to us but I’m talking about the behavior of using God’s name for our own purposes just like what happens in this story today.
II. KEILAH: v1-7
Last week David ran from Israel alone and then returned with 400 soldiers and a priest who had joined David’s cause. So while David was hiding out a messenger came with some news. READ 1-7. Imagine David just trying to get his head around what was going on with his life. He has 400 men join him and soon to be 200 more with their families who are looking to him to be their king. You want to talk about an organizational and administrative nightmare. Who was going to feed and protect, and provide social structures for all these people? Meanwhile they are all living in fear of an impending attack from Saul. And a messenger comes bursting in saying “Help! Help! We’re under attack!” The city Keilah was populated by people from the tribe of Judah. These were his people. David’s first response was to inquire of God whether he should go and God said, “go”. He announced this to his men and they weren’t too keen on the idea. The text says they were afraid and that makes sense. This was a rag-tag army. They hadn’t trained and fought together. They were completely unprepared to fight any battles especially against the Philistines who were the far superior military force.
David’s response was interesting to me. He didn’t say, “God told me, and we’re doing it.” He went back to God. You don’t get the sense that David went back to God because he doubted God. I think he went back to God because his men’s lives were on the line and he was humble enough to think maybe he hadn’t heard God right. Twice he inquired of God and both times God confirmed his message for David to fight. Notice the men go with him, which says a lot about their trust in David and that God was indeed talking to him. The text says they won. It’s here that we see David acting as the true king of Israel. He’s protecting the borders and people of Israel as God’s anointed king. Don’t miss how God provides for David’s people by giving them the lifestock. His army probably didn’t see that coming as a result of obeying God but He’s kind of thrifty that way. The author adds one small comment. Abiathar brought the ephod with him. The ephod was a tool to determine the will of God that the high-priest carried. As this story goes on there is a sense that David is surrounding himself with people and tools that lead him to God. It’s as if in these first seven verses the author wants to make it very clear that David was moving towards God and God was moving towards David and this connections sets up the next section. READ v7-8.