David has just taken Abiathar, the priest, under his wing. His whole company is running from bloody-handed Saul. In a logical, man-centered world, a leader with David’s responsibilities would have been training his army, drawing up battle plans, and staking out the best possible vantage point.
Perhaps David was doing those things. We’re not really told. What we are told is what was clearly most important to him. He provided, first and foremost, for his family (1 Samuel 22:3), he inquired of God and obeyed God’s prophet (1 Samuel 22:5), he cared for and included into his life a needy young man (1 Samuel 22:23), and, now, he’s concerning himself with Keilah – a neighboring town who is under enemy attack. Obviously, David places a far higher value on public safety than on self-protection. Saul does just the opposite.
Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.”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.” 3 But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. ~1 Samuel 23:1-5
David knows that the people of Keilah are in trouble. If the Philistines robbed the threshing floors as they had planned, the people would starve. As soon as David hears, he prays about whether he should go and fight for them. There are no excuses made. There is no whining about how much drama he already has in his life. David isn’t one much for bawl-babying. Instead, he sees people in desperate need, he cares about them deeply, and he seeks God about what he personally should do to help them.
Remember, God’s prophet sent David to Judah. It’s no coincidence that Keilah is right next door. Apparently, God cares about people outside our localities. He sent David to Judah because he knew David had a heart to save his people. Isn’t it amazing how a godly man, even when slighted, abused, misrepresented, and heavily pursued can still be used mightily for God? David was.
David prays. He hears God’s answer. God says, “Go…and save…”
Go and save?! God, have you seen David’s schedule lately? Have you reviewed how many blacklists he’s on right now? Do you have any idea how much stress he’s under? The wolves are standing at his door and you want him to throw rocks at a whole new pack of them? Really?
David doesn’t respond the way we all probably would, but his men do. They’re afraid of Saul and his men. Why on earth would they want to start a new fight? These are the weak, the tired, the oppressed, remember? (1 Samuel 22:2)
Considering their fear and hesitation, David prays again. He wants to be certain he heard God correctly. God assures David that if he goes, the enemy will lose.
It seems that David’s men must have trusted him a lot. How do I know? Because they went. They fought. They won. And, gloriously, they were rewarded.
Sometimes God sees fit to use our suffering and the evil done against us to move us to places where he can better use us to save his people. Many of our lives are already full of busyness and big problems, but we must not let it become an excuse to neglect the greater good. We have mighty big footsteps to follow in, after all. David, here, gives us a picture of Jesus Christ – our example.
Next time you feel overwhelmed with the circumstances of your life, think of David. Think of Jesus. They were other-centered rather than self-centered, even when times in their own lives were the toughest. They were more interested in public safety than self-protection. They obeyed God’s voice when every rational thought told them to obey man’s. They reach out to the helpless even when it meant extreme danger and bloody war for them personally. In everything, they prayed.
Go and save, friends. Trust your captain no matter what he tells you to do. Go, fight, win, and be rewarded.