I want you to take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to Psalm 54. Psalm 54.
I’m going to cover the events of 1 Samuel 22 this morning, but rather than reading that passage, I want us to start in this Psalm. The title of the Psalm says
A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?
In other words, this Psalm goes along with 1 Samuel 22. So let’s read it.
Save me, O God, by thy name, and judge me by thy strength. Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth. I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies. (Psalm 54:1-7, KJV)
Two verses really stand out to me in this Psalm. The first is verse 3:
For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul.
At this point in David’s life he felt like the world was against him, because, well, the world was against him. We are going to see in this passage that David was doing everything right, He was following God, but he was still in a mess.
The second phrase in this Psalm that jumps out to me is verse 6:
I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.
David could say “I’m in the biggest mess of my life. The most powerful people I know are trying to eradicate me for no reason. I’m separated from my wife. I’ve lost everything. I’m hiding in caves and in the desert just to stay alive, people are betraying me...but I’m still going to worship God, because God is always good.
Let’s pray and we’ll get into our message.
Turn with me to 1 Samuel 23. What I want to do this morning is give you an outline of the events of this chapter and then talk about the three themes of this chapter. I know it’s hot outside so I’m going to try to move quickly.
David is in the middle of his wilderness years here. He is a fugitive. He’s got a small band of followers - a band of misfits - but they are all running from their life, hiding in caves and desert places because if they make one wrong move, Saul is going to come and kill them.
There are three stories in this chapter. The first story is in the first 15 verses, and it is where:
So David is on the run and he hears that the Philistines are oppressing people in a nearby town called Keliah. Apparently, the people of Keliah had asked for David’s help.
Now, David doesn’t have an army at this point. He only has a few hundred misfits following him. And it isn’t David’s job to protect these people, it’s Saul’s job. But Saul isn’t doing his job, all Saul can think about is killing David.
Also, if David does this, it’s going to make him vulnerable to Saul.
So what does David do? He prays about it and seeks God’s wisdom. He feels like God wants him to go and deliver these people. But when he tells his men, they are very much against it. “David, the Philistines have armies. We have a few hundred guys.” So David prays again and seeks God’s direction and God promises David they will win.
They go and fight and defeat the Philistines and deliver the town as God said they would.
When Saul hears about this, He gets excited. Not because his people had been liberated from oppressors, but because now David is out in the open.
So David goes to the high priest (who is with him) and they ask God what they should do and God directs them to move on and go on the run again.
What’s the lesson here? I think it’s this:
David was doing everything right. He was following God’s will and actively seeking God’s direction. He was acting selflessly, putting himself in harms way for people he had no responsibility to help. Yet He was still in the wilderness.
Listen, this wilderness phase for David, it didn’t last days, it didn’t last weeks, it lasted years - probably 5-10 years of David’s life he was a fugitive running from Saul.
Sometimes we go through a tough stage in life and it isn’t because we are doing anything wrong. Just because you are struggling, it doesn’t mean God isn’t with you. It doesn’t mean you are out of God’s will.
In David’s case, God used this period to orchestrate David’s way to the throne and used it to strengthen David’s faith. He was following God through the hardship.
The preachers who tell you that if you are living for God and in God’s will - then you aren’t going to have any problems - those guys aren’t reading their bibles. The Bible teaches that we will have hardships. We will suffer. There will be trials. Just keep following God and He’ll lead you through them.
That’s the first story. The second story is in verses 16-18 and it’s really awesome.
Jonathan somehow meets up with David. This will be the last time they see each other.
I want to read these verses:
And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. 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. And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house. (1 Samuel 23:16-18, KJV)
Notice what Jonathan did there: He “strengthened David’s hand in God.” Jonathan didn’t try to fix the problem. Jonathan didn’t tell David how awesome David was. Jonathan strengthened David’s faith in God.
What a great example of true Christian friendship!
Let me tell you something - there are so many times when I don’t know what to say to people who are going through a hard time in their life. What do you say to someone when they’ve suddenly lost someone, or their kids are living like the devil, or someone they care deeply about is sick and not getting better? Do you think I have some kind of magic wisdom? Of course I don’t.
Sometimes the only appropriate thing we can do is to remind people that God is good - even if our circumstances are bad and that God is in control, even if everything seems out of control. People don’t need to be puffed and they don’t need corny maxims - if they are truly believers they need to have their hands strengthened in God.
Maybe it was because of Jonathan’s encouragement that David could write in the middle of this trial:
I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good.
Thank God for faithful people who are Jonathans when we are going through the wilderness. Who can encourage us and point us to the Lord.
The last story here is in verses 19-29 and it is where
David goes to this place called the “winderness of Ziph” - its a wilderness region in Judaea where David can hide out in the woods.
But there is a problem here. The people who live there betray David. They go to Saul and say “David is hiding out in Ziph.”
So do you know what Saul does? He raises an army. A whole national army - not to fight the Philistines. (Remember David had to do that himself). But to capture and kill David.
And the only thing that saves David from being captured by Saul in this last story is that at the last minute, the Philistines invade and Saul has to take his army and fight off the invading Philistines.
So this chapter is all about David in the wilderness. David is following God, David is protecting God’s people. But David is rejected and betrayed by some of those same people. He puts himself out there to deliver the people in Keliah - but even they will turn on him. He goes to hide in Ziph, but the Ziphites reject and betray him.
Let me make one more point and then I’ll be done...
David was the anointed one. Do you know what the Hebrew word for “anointed one” is? It’s Messiah. The New Testament word for Messiah is “Christ”.
Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name, Christ is a title. It means “messiah” or “anointed one.”
Despite the fact that David is the anointed one, David doesn’t have a home or any position. And thousands of years later, Jesus wouldn’t have a home or a place to lay his head. Jesus wouldn’t have a title on this earth besides teacher.
David is the anointed one, but he is being betrayed and rejected by God’s people, He goes to Ziph, people in his own tribe, and they betray him- and that points to Jesus, who would come to his own and his own would receive Him not. Jesus came to the Jews and they wanted nothing to do with him. They conspired with the Romans to put Him on the cross.
David is the anointed one and he is going into battle to deliver his people from the oppressors - and Jesus, the true anointed one, went to the cross to deliver us from the greatest oppressor, from sin.
Isaiah 53:4-6 says:
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and our iniquities. God layed the iniquity of us all, all of our sin and all of our punishment on His holy shoulders so we could have peace with God and a home in heaven.
It’s great to know the story of David - but it’s better to know the Son of David, the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. If you’ve never trusted Christ as your savior, why not do that today.
Let’s stand together and close in prayer.