Saul was searching for David because he wanted to kill David. On several occasions, Saul almost succeeded. However, God was protecting David. Each time, David managed to escape from Saul. David was very skilful; however, it was not by human skill that David escaped. David knew that God had saved him; and David was very grateful to God (see for example, Psalm 35).
On this particular occasion, Saulís men were actually chasing Davidís men. It seemed that they would catch David. Then one of Saulís officials ran to Saul with an urgent message. Groups of men from Philistia (called the Philistines) had entered Israel to rob from it.
That was not an unusual event during Saulís rule. The two nations (Israel and Philistia) were constantly at war. Men from Philistia often robbed Israel. However, Saul seems to have brought all his best soldiers away from the border of Philistia, in order to chase David. Israelís farm workers would all try to defend their towns, but there was nobody to command them.
Saul made the immediate decision that he had to stop his search for David. Saul hated David very much - but it was more important for Saul to lead his men against the Philistines. The most important duty in Saulís life was to rescue Israel from the Philistines (9:16). Even in this situation, Saul would not neglect that task.
So at once, Saul took his men across Israel in order to fight against the Philistines. They had to leave the region completely; the border was about 30 miles (50 kilometres) away.
David escaped and he went even further into the desert, to En Gedi.
Next part: David at En Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1-2)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.