ON THE RUN
1 Samuel 21:1 – 24:22
David is on the run. With Saul in pursuit, he flees to Nob. There, he meets Ahimelech the priest. Afraid he may tell Saul where he is, David tells Ahimelech that he is on a mission for Saul and needs bread urgently for his men. Ahimelech gives him the bread, and also the sword of Goliath, before sending David on his way. Neither of them is aware that Doeg, one of Saul’s servants, has seen the whole exchange and reports it to the king.
David reaches Gath, a Philistine city; he hopes to hide here, out of Saul’s territory. But David is recognized as an enemy of the Philistines, and in a panic, David pretends to be insane, beating his head against the gate and spitting everywhere. The Philistines believe the act and let him go. David continues his flight and reaches a safe hiding place, the Cave of Adullam, and attracts a small army of outcast followers.
Meanwhile, Saul is livid that he cannot find David. Doeg tells him of his encounter in Nob, and Saul sends for Ahimelech. Ahimelech rejects Saul’s claim that David is an enemy and refuses to help Saul. In a rage, Saul orders the death of Ahimelech and all of his priests, which Doeg carries out. Only Abiathar escapes to tell David what has happened (he becomes important later).
The Philistines get aggressive again and attack a city, Keilah. Still loyal to the kingdom, David and his men set out to free Keilah. Saul and his army arrive as well, also to free the city. So David flees again, barely evading Saul’s agents, and after a lengthy search and chase, Saul gives up for now and focuses on fighting the Philistines. Jonathan sneaks away to see David, and they renew their bond of love. It’s the last time they will ever see each other alive.
Once the fighting is over, Saul resumes his search. During the search, he goes into a cave to use the bathroom—the exact cave that David and his men are hiding in. David’s men want to take the opportunity to kill Saul, but David instead creeps up and cuts a piece off Saul’s robe while he is otherwise preoccupied. After Saul leaves, David stands at the entrance to the cave and announces what he has done. Saul realizes that David could have killed him at any time and repents (for now). The two go back to their own fortresses to enjoy a brief moment of peace.
1. David uses lying to get away from Saul. He lies to Ahimelech about his reasons for running. He lies to the Philistines when he acts crazy to get away from them. He lies (as we find out later) when he tells Saul that he will not destroy Saul’s family. Can you blame him for these lies? What about the lie that he will not destroy Saul’s family? What is the place of lying in our world today?
2. David has grown from a little shepherd boy into a powerful leader who gathers followers wherever he goes. Yet he still remains loyal to his king, the same man who is trying to kill him. Imagine being David on the run, hiding in a cave. What would you do in his position?
3. “Ahimelech replied to the king, “Who among all your servants is faithful like David? He is the king’s son-in-law, the leader of your bodyguard, and honored in your house! Was it just today that I began to inquire of God on his behalf? Far be it from me! The king should not accuse his servant or any of my father’s house. For your servant is now aware of all this—not in whole or in part!” (1 Samuel 22:14-15). With these words, Ahimelech seals his fate. He stood up to Saul and spoke truly, becoming a martyr. Would you be able to do the same? Why or why not? Talk about some modern-day martyrs you know of.
4. David is constantly asking for God’s help when a decision needs to be made (1 Samuel 23:2, 4, 10-12). In the Biblical account, God answers directly and concisely—yes, no, do this, do that. It seems like God doesn’t give answers like this anymore. One of my Confirmation students once asked, after reading a miracle story, “Why doesn’t God interact with us now like he did back then?” Do you think God still speaks? If so, what form does it take?
5. “[David] said to his men, ‘May the LORD keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the LORD’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the LORD’s chosen one.’ David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul.” David had the perfect opportunity to end his trouble. No one would have blamed him—Saul was, after all, trying to kill him. Yet, he didn’t. What does that say about David? What would you have done?
6. God had chosen Saul to be king over Israel, but look at what Saul has become—a raving, paranoid man out to kill a man who has done him no wrong. God clearly states that Saul has been rejected, yet David still recognizes Saul’s place as the anointed king. Discuss what it means to be chosen by God.
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