In Ecclesiastes 9:13-16, Solomon records how a wise man once saved a city from its enemies. However afterwards, nobody remembered that wise man. In other words, nobody cared about him. When he needed help, the citizens of that city would not help him.
David had a similar experience at Keilah. He had only just saved that town from Philistiaís army. However, Saul then heard that he was there. So he decided to come with an army, in order to arrest David.
If the inhabitants of Keilah were willing to protect David, he could have been safe there. The town had strong walls that surrounded it. Israelís soldiers would not want to attack one of their own towns.
Saul was bringing a large army in order to frighten Keilahís inhabitants. However, a large army cannot remain in the same place for a long time. If Keilahís inhabitants were willing to wait, perhaps both they and David would be safe. If Saulís army did not destroy Keilah, it would soon have to leave that place.
David could not trust Keilahís inhabitants, but he trusted God. As soon as he heard the reports about Saul, he began to pray. He asked God to show him what would happen. He asked God whether Saul was really coming with his army. He also asked whether Keilahís inhabitants would hand him over.
God answered David by means of two brief messages that he (God) gave to Abiathar the priest. David was not safe in Keilah. Saul really was coming; and David must not trust Keilahís inhabitants.
So, David left Keilah. The number of men with him had increased by this time from 400 to 600 (compare 1 Samuel 22:2 with 1 Samuel 23:13).
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© 2014, Keith Simons.