Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 23

The Ziphites offer to hand David over to Saul

1 Samuel 23:19-20

David wrote Psalm 54 either on this occasion or on the occasion that 1 Samuel 26:1 describes. In that Psalm, he asks God to save him from the cruel men who were attacking him. He describes them as strangers who did not respect God. Probably in those words he is describing the inhabitants of Ziph, called Ziphites.

Although the Ziphites did not even know David, they already hated him. They hated him so much that they were eager to hand him over to Saul. Saul, of course, was trying to kill David; the Ziphites clearly knew that fact. David was a stranger in that region; he had done nothing that might upset the Ziphites. In fact, Davidís men tried hard to help the local people in every region where they went (for example, 1 Samuel 23:5; 1 Samuel 25:15-16). So we may ask why the Ziphites hated David so much.

A likely answer is simply that they wanted a reward. Saul was very desperate to find David, so he would pay them well for their information. As the nationís king, Saul had enough wealth to make them rich.

That answer matches the description of them in Psalm 54 well.

(1) They were cruel men. David was innocent and he did not deserve to die. The Ziphites, therefore, cared more about their own reward than they cared about Davidís life.

(2) They did not respect God. People who do not respect God will not obey his commands. Often they are not even afraid of his judgements. The Ziphites were not afraid to hand over David, an innocent man, to die, although that is against Godís law (Numbers 35:33). They did not care that Godís judgement would be against them.

Next part: Saul tries to bless the Ziphites (1 Samuel 23:21-25)

 

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© 2014, Keith Simons.