1 Samuel 23:15-29

This morning Kyrie woke up early, so I am taking advantage of the fact that she likes to play by herself near me to read and continue this Bible Study.


We left David two and a half weeks ago after David had gone to fight against the Philistines to defend an Israelite town. He sought the Lord and was successful.

Now we read of his hideout in the wilderness of Ziph. Jonathan comes to him there and makes a covenant with him reminding him of God’s promises and encouraging him that even Saul knows that what God has spoken will come to pass.

The Ziphites go to Saul and tell him they will turn David over to Saul. Saul, of course, agrees and seeks specific directions to David’s location. David is in the place where the Ziphites have said and so Saul is able to come very close to capturing him. However, while chasing David the Philistines attack Saul’s land and Saul must go to fight the Philistines. The rock the men were near is then named the Rock of Escape and David moved on to Engedi.


David, Saul, Jonathan, God, the Ziphites, David’s men, a messenger, the Philistines

Key Verse

Verse 16-17 “And [Jonathan] said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.””

Verses 26-27 “Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.””

Cross References

1 Samuel 26:1 “Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?”

So, this happens again in three chapters. A different hill perhaps, but the same people are turning him over to Saul. How defeating that must feel to have no where to run, to be exposed at all times. But our God is stronger, wiser, and in charge, so David really had nothing to fear. God delivered him each time, just as he does with us, so that His promises will endure. That gives us strength as it did David.

Psalm 54 “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David, when the Ziphites went and told Saul, “Is not David hiding among us?”

‘O God, save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might. O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers have risen against me; ruthless men seek my life; they do not set God before themselves. Selah

‘Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. He will return the evil to my enemies; in your faithfulness put an end to them. With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good. For he has delivered me from every trouble, and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies.”

1 Samuel 24:20 “And now, behold, I [Saul] know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”

1 Samuel 20:31 “For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you [Jonathan] nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.””


    David must rely on the promises of God to get by each day. He obeys God even when it puts him in harm’s way like the first half of this chapter, and he also has faith in God even when Saul finds him and is in pursuit. It may seem to an outsider watching the situation like David has been caught, that he has no hope, but God already knew the Philistines were on the move and he knew Saul would have no choice but to leave. God uses the circumstances to His glory.

When the circumstances don’t work out it is easy to give into hopelessness, and I have to be honest that in my current situation I have been doing that lately. I can’t see the way that it is all going to work out, so I feel hopeless. Even the promise seems gray in my sadness and disappointment.

However, I have learned to hold onto the truths of God. I am not jumping up and down excited about them, but I know what God has told me and I have the Bible. I really have been able to have this steady Rock as I read to Davy each day, even in my saddest state. That is not something I could have said in the past, but through the habit of my Bible Reading Plan with built in Grace I have really changed my heart’s attitude. I don’t need the highest highs to praise God. I don’t need to feel happy or excited at all, in fact. I just need to read the Word and praise the Lord.

Psalm 54 is excellent for this time in my life as it was for David. It seems as though time is running out, but God already knew this would happen, too. He is not surprised. I am not ruining his plan, nor is Satan. I am right where God would have me, and while I will ask to be delivered and for justice to be done, I trust that God knows what He is doing and His promises to us will come true in His perfect timing.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“A true friend does not minimize or make light of the sorrow or difficulty another may be experiencing but, rather, helps the other find strength in God.”*

This is what is meant by “strengthening his hand in God” in verse 16. We need to encourage each other. Those people God has placed near to our hearts we need to be near in our spirits with prayer and encouragement. Our encouragement will help fill up the stores of resilience that are so essential to getting through the hard times.

Proverbs 27:9 “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”

“In the present episode, Jonathan encourages David by reminding him of God’s purpose to make David king (1 Sam. 23:17). How much grander is the Christian hope:”*

Hebrews 6:9b-20 “Beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have a strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8-11 “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

This is our calling.

Luke 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'”

And aren’t we glad that He is our friend?!

John 15:12-17 “”This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

We are friends of Jesus, which is why and how we are able to encourage and strengthen others.

*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 24-26

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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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