King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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1 Samuel 23

David rescues Keilah. (1-6) God warns him to escape from Keilah. (7-13) Jonathan comforts David. (14-18) He is rescued from Saul by an invasion of the Philistines. (19-29)

1 Samuel 23 Audio:

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David rescues Keilah

1 Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.

2 Therefore David enquired 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.

3 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?

4 Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

5 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.

6 And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

God warns him to escape from Keilah

7 And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God hath delivered him into mine hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that hath gates and bars.

8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.

9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.

10 Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.

11 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.

12 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.

13 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.

Jonathan comforts David

14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

15 And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.

16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.

17 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.

18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

He is rescued from Saul by an invasion of the Philistines

19 Then came up the Ziphites to Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself with us in strong holds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of Jeshimon?

20 Now therefore, O king, come down according to all the desire of thy soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him into the king’s hand.

21 And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me.

22 Go, I pray you, prepare yet, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who hath seen him there: for it is told me that he dealeth very subtilly.

23 See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hideth himself, and come ye again to me with the certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall come to pass, if he be in the land, that I will search him out throughout all the thousands of Judah.

24 And they arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the plain on the south of Jeshimon.

25 Saul also and his men went to seek him. And they told David; wherefore he came down into a rock, and abode in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.

26 And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them.

27 But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have invaded the land.

28 Wherefore Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth.

29 And David went up from thence, and dwelt in strong holds at Engedi.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Barns. The floors were composed of earth and the dregs of oil, made into a sort of mortar, so that rain, mice, &c. could not hurt them. Cato 91 and 129. — Hither the people of Ceila had gathered their corn, and the enemy came to plunder, or to spoil, according to custom. Judg. v. 4. and xv. 5. C. — Ceila was about seven miles from Hebron, and as many from Eleutheropolis. S. Jerom.

Ver. 2. Lord, by the prophet Gad, (Salien. v. 6. M.) or by Abiathar, who brought the ephod along with him. David undertakes nothing without his advice.

Ver. 3. Judea, in the midst of the country, remote from the Philistines; and in a forest, where Saul cannot so easily attack us, as in a city.

Ver. 4. Again, in the presence of his soldiers. C. — Thus Gedeon requested a double miracle of the Lord, to encourage his men. M.

Ver. 6. An ephod, or the ephod. That is, the vestment of the high priest, with the Urim and Thummim, by which the Lord gave his oracles.

Ver. 7. Bars. This was what David’s men apprehended. Saul thinks this is a fit opportunity for taking them all prisoners; and he supposes that God was on his side, though, after his repeated crimes, he had little reason to flatter himself with hopes of this nature. The wicked, however, easily delude themselves. H.

Ver. 8. People, in the neighbourhood. It is hardly probable that all Israel should be put in motion to take a few men. C.

Ver. 9. Secretly. He might have pretended that the armament was against the Philistines. M. — Ephod. Some say that David put it on. But this was the privilege of the high priest, who gave the answer to David’s consultation, which he might perhaps repeat after him. C. — He put on the rational to consult God. Ex. xxviii. Lev. viii. W.

Ver. 12. Up. God had only answered the first question before. He now informs David, that it is the intention of the men of Ceila to deliver him into the hands of Saul, who was preparing to attack their city, and that he would inevitably fall into his hands, (C.) if he did not retire. W. — God sees contingent events with the same certainty as those which will really take place. H. — The people of Ceila could not have justly delivered up the innocent David, but they might have insisted that he should quit their city, to save it from destruction; or they might have forced him. Scholastic. T.

Ver. 14. Ziph, eight miles east of Hebron, (S. Jer.) towards the southern Carmel. Euseb. — Abdias (v. 3) takes notice of the clefts of the rocks of Edom. S. Jerom says, this mountain was “dark and cloudy.” M.

Ver. 16. In God exceedingly, reminding him of God’s promises. C. — He hoped to see David king, and himself next to him in power. H.

Ver. 17. Next, in dignity; thy helper and associate. See Eccli. iv. 8. 11. — This, our league, (C.) or the decree appointing David to be king. M.

Ver. 18. Lord, Gad or Abiathar being present. S. Jer. — This is the third time they had confirmed their alliance, to satisfy their love. M.

Ver. 19. Hand, to the south. D.

Ver. 22. Him, and therefore will be upon his guard. H. — Syriac, “because I am told he is crafty.” C. — Sept. “because Saul said, lest this crafty man should exert all his art;” or, “lest he should be very cunning.” H. — Saul foreboded that he would again elude his pursuit. Vatable.

Ver. 23. And if. Heb. “if he be in the land, I will.” — Thousands; the cities, or with all the troops. D.

Ver. 24. Maon, in Arabia Petrea, not far from Bersabee. C.

Ver. 26. Other side, to the south. — Despaired, without the divine assistance. Salien. — Heb. nechpaz, “feared, or (D.) made haste to flee.” Sept. “David was screened to depart.” He used all possible precautions not to fall into Saul’s hands, though he knew he should succeed him. He might still experience some fear of ill treatment. H.

Ver. 28. Division, as it alone had been between the two rivals. Saul was obliged to leave the place, though he and his men were in suspense what to do. C.