1 Samuel 22:20 – 23:14


    The very sad story of Saul killing all the priests has one glimmer of hope, an escapee, Abiathar son of Ahitub, one of the sons of Ahimelech. He goes to David to warn him and inform him of all that has happened. David realizes that he has gotten all of the priests killed, and invites Abiathar to stay with him since Saul is seeking both their lives.

David receives word that the Philistines are attacking Keilah, a grain growing town. Remember that before his exile David was often the one sent out by Saul to take care of these Philistine invasions, so David jumps into action. He seeks the Lord, not once, but twice for clarity as to how to respond. God sends him to get rid of the Philistines and save Keilah. However, Saul hears that David is in Keilah and sets out to capture and kill him. David prays again, and God informs him that not only is Saul coming, but the town David just rescued from a Philistine invasion will turn him over to Saul. So David and his men flee to the wilderness and continue to move around hiding out from Saul. Hope continues as Saul seeks David but God never gives him over.


The sons of Ahimelech / the priests killed by Saul, Abiathar the son of Ahitub, David, Saul, Philistines, Keilah, the Lord, and David’s men.

Key Verse

2 “Therefore David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

14 “And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”

Cross References

1 Samuel 22:9-10 “Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, and he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

An excellent cross reference pointing out the difference in deference to God. When Doeg says that the Lord was sought, Saul doesn’t even blink before taking personal offense and having the priests killed. Whereas David seeks the Lord and takes what He says to heart.

Psalm 63 “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped.”

I feel this Psalm, which is a rare experience for me. David is sharing how hard it is to be on the outside of the community he has loved, to feel far from God, to have to draw upon the stores of faith and resilience inside of himself. Running around and hiding in the wilderness is physically and spiritually exhausting. Moving to and from Lebanon has felt this way for me as well. Here in the States I was attending Bible Study once a week, another one once a month, three groups for accountability and fellowship, church every weekend, and all in English-my heart language. In Lebanon we had no friends to start with, the church services were in Arabic and God did not give us peace about a specific church, and we were in a huge transition. Then we came back, but my pregnancy was exhausting and we were back and forth trying to see everyone. The community hadn’t changed but my ability to be a part of it was still not happening. When Louis and Davy left I continued the post pregnancy descent into depression. During this depression I have consistently been reading my Bible, have begun keeping a prayer journal again, and once Davy got back I got right back to reading him the Bible every night. But I am still depressed, in transition, and moving through a wilderness spiritually and physically. In addition, Satan is preying on me in this time of weakness and I have found myself believing old lies. This is a time of needing faith and resilience because I am not being filled nearly as fast as I am being drained. But, I know that this is a season and will pass. I know that my faith in God is well placed and that my time in the Word and in Prayer for others and myself is building and replenishing my stores of resilience. If you are in this type of season, you are not alone. If you have recently begun moving out of this type of season, remember to praise the Lord and give Him thanks. If you have had this type of season in the past, rejoice that you are in a different place now and take the time to fill yourself with the Word, Prayer, and Encouraging others around you. Next time you enter a wilderness period you will have even greater stores of resilience to draw upon. No matter what season you are in it is a good time to adjust your quiet time to include a focus on rejoicing in the Lord, thanking him, and seeking him intently.

Joshua 15:21a, 24a, 32b “The cities belonging to the tribe of Judah in the extreme south, toward the boundary of Edom, were […] Ziph […]: in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.”

I am reading Joshua to Davy right now each night. So, I am always excited to see cross references that overlap other parts of the Bible I am reading. This cross reference is meant to help understand the geography of David’s fleeing from Saul. When the Israelites entered the promised land it was split up amongst the 12 tribes and Ziph is within the territory of the tribe of Judah. This is a cross reference that might be easy to look at, shrug, and move on. You might struggle with the significance sometimes of cross references, or it may just be so much flipping around and it doesn’t connect for you. Reading the Bible is a lifelong process, you will continue to learn and grow in it all your life, so don’t be discouraged when you come across a cross reference that has no meaning to you YET. For me, this cross reference excites me because I get it, and because it is a recent thing for me to understand a cross reference like this. As I said, I am currently reading Joshua and just finished reading Exodus, so that specific background is fresh to me. I want you to be able to do this type of Bible Study on your own, and so I digress to share something that can become important in your life.


David must have been having some pretty mixed emotions at this point. But he clung to the Lord through it all. David’s wandering through the wilderness also reminds of Jesus’ own wanderings through the wilderness. Because so many people knew about him he had to retreat to the wilderness often to teach the multitudes who were following him. He also was being sought out for his life by the Pharisees. He had his men around him and expressed that many would be hurt because of His Name. Many are mistreated for serving the Lord, such as the priests who Saul killed, the martyrs after Jesus, and the Persecuted Church all over the world. In the midst of all of this, there is still work to be done, David still saved Keilah by fighting off the Philistines, Jesus still went to the temple to teach, Louis and I go to Lebanon to share Jesus with the refugees, and you are also called to go into your work, school, community, neighborhood, park, etc. to share the love of Jesus. David and Abiathar show us a moment of forgiveness. David just got all of Abiathar’s family killed and, instead of vengeance, Abiathar joins them and continues to inquire of the Lord for and with David.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“A mark of someone for whom God carries weight and who has experienced God’s forgiveness is the ability to honestly admit failings. When Abiathar, the son of the priest Ahimelech and the sole survivor from Nob, arrives in David’s camp, David readily admits that his own actions contributed to the massacre, and he offers Abiathar safe haven (22:22-23). By the end of this sextion, David has been joined by both the prophet Gad, who guides him (22:5), and the priest Abiathar who brought with him the priestly “ephod” (23:6), a further instrument of God’s guidance. Clearly, the Lord is providentially providing for David in the wilderness (cf. Psalm 63). Believers can be assured, even “in the wilderness,” that as they give God weight and seek his kingdom he will guide them and provide all they need (Matt. 6:31-33; cf. Phil. 4:19). For Jesus himself went through the wilderness, afflicted by the Enemy, so that all our wilderness experiences can be endured not as punishment but as the kind purposes of God to cultivate perseverance in his beloved children (Matt. 4:1-11; Rom. 5:3-5).

Matthew 6:31-34 “Therefore do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This has been really hard for me lately as well. I find myself very concerned about the future. This study was obviously meant for me today.

Philippians 4:19-20 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Matthew 4:1-11 “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Romans 5:1-6 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.

Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 23:15-29

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Author: Annie Liss

Currently a mother and a wife who loves reading. Formerly a middle school math teacher who kept too busy and stressed out to read. My husband and I are missionaries in Lebanon.

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