David’s Growing Confidence in The Lord
David, the shepherd boy whose confidence in the Lord enabled him to defeat Goliath, was also a fugitive on the run from King Saul. David’s faith in the Lord was at first superseded by his fear of Saul, and as a result of his fear, he made a number of mistakes. He went to Ahimelech, the priest at Nob, and lied to him. Then he left Ahimelech and fled to Achish, the king of Gath, in Philistine territory. But the events that followed led David to realize that in spite of his fear, the Lord was still sovereignly watching over him and protecting him. Thus, David’s confidence in the Lord began to grow again.
Read about his growing confidence in the Lord in 1 Samuel 22:1–23. The outline below shows us how to trust the Lord during difficult circumstances.
Three aspects regarding David’s Preparation (1 Samuel 22:1–5)
First, note the place of David’s preparation. Once David realized in Gath of Philistia that he was in trouble, he feigned madness. Achish, the king of Gath, did not want more madmen in his presence, so he let David leave him and Gath. David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. It was during this period of time that David’s confidence in the Lord began to grow again. He wrote two Psalms during this period, Psalm 57 and 142.
Second, look at the people during David’s preparation. After some time, David’s brothers and all his father’s house heard that he was in the cave of Adullam, so they went down there to him (22:1b). It is likely they feared that Saul would try to kill them too, since kings regularly killed family members of “rival” kings. In addition to David’s family, everyone who was in distress, or in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him (22:2a). These people were the dregs of Israel’s society and they were feeling the oppression of King Saul. They finally decided that they were no longer willing to live under Saul’s despotism. There were about 400 men and David became commander over them (22:2b). In his commentary on the book of 1 Samuel, Richard Phillips noted that Saul’s injustice toward David was why these 400 men saw the younger man as a leader for the faithful in Israel. Through God’s perfect wisdom, He used David’s suffering to raise up a leader for His people. David and the 400 men, along with their families, stayed in the cave of Adullam.
Third, observe the prophet during David’s preparation. While David was in the cave of Adullam, he wrote, “[The Lord] will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!” (Psalm 57:3). By His kind providence, the Lord sent a prophet named Gad to David. Gad told David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah” (22:5a). During his period of preparation, David’s confidence in the Lord grew. We know this because of David’s immediate obedience to the word of God from the prophet Gad. David departed the cave and went into the forest of Hereth (22:5b), which was back in Israel, in the land of Judah. The arrival of Gad in the cave of Adullam showed David a return of God’s favor to him. We should always treat God’s Word as the surest sign of His will for our blessing, so that we prize the Scriptures and eagerly believe and obey them.
David’s Predicament (1 Samuel 22:6–19)
Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him (22:6a). When he demanded to know what was going on with David, one servant named Doeg said, “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.” (22:9–10). However, this wasn’t true, and Doeg implied that Ahimelech conspired with David against Saul, when in fact Ahimelech did no such thing. So, Saul summoned Ahimelech and all the priests at Nob to come to him. Saul questioned Ahimelech, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, Ahimelech truthfully denied it all, but Saul ordered the guard to kill Ahimelech and all the priests. But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the Lord.” (22:17b). Saul ordered Doeg to strike the priests. Doeg was not an Israelite and had no commitment to the people of God, so he killed them and then travelled to Nob, the city of the priests, and killed men, women, children, and animals there (22:18-19).
The Sorrow of David (1 Samuel 22:20–23)
One of the sons of Ahimelech, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to David (22:20). Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. David said to Abiathar, “I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house.” (22:21–22). It is of interest to note that God had actually foreordained the death of the priests. When Eli was priest in Israel, he had two wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas. God said to Eli, “Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart [Abiathar was that man], and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men [that is, by Doeg].” (1 Samuel 2:31, 33). The Lord always carries out His purposes, sometimes using the sin of people to accomplish them. David’s sin accomplished God’s promise that He would punish the descendants of Eli with their destruction, save for one. Commentator John Woodhouse writes, “Whatever reasonable criticisms we might have of David’s conduct at Nob, we cannot miss the contrast between the way he here takes responsibility for what had happened (in the sense that he should have foreseen it and somehow dealt with Doeg) and the utter lack of responsibility we have seen in Saul. David now took responsibility for the safety of Abiathar.” David said to Abiathar, “Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping” (22:23).
In many ways, the life of David points us to his even greater descendant, Jesus. For example, the dregs of society in Israel left Saul and joined David, becoming the start of a great kingdom. In a similar way, Jesus gathered a band of followers that were described as the dregs of society. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s followers make a difference in the world regardless of their status in society.
Saul was vehemently opposed to David. He wanted him, and all those with him, destroyed. In a similar way, Satan is opposed to Christ. He wants Christ, and all those with Him, destroyed. However, for all those who turn to Christ, there is refuge in Him. With Christ we will be kept safe. David was concerned for all who came to him for safekeeping. He took care of his family as well as his followers. Similarly, Jesus is concerned for all who come to Him for safekeeping. We remember Jesus on the cross, taking care of His mother, when He said to his disciple John, “’Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (John 19:27). And regarding all those who come to Him, Jesus said, “Whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37b).
David was God’s chosen one, a precursor of Christ. Those who believed in him went to him; they left Saul and joined David, God’s chosen one, and were saved. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus is God’s anointed one, the Christ. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). So, by faith in Christ, FEAR NOT and trust the Lord in every difficult circumstance.