1 Samuel 23:14
And David stayed in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
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(14) The wilderness of Ziph.—This wilderness probably lies between Hebron and En-gedi. Some of these “stations” in the wanderings of the future king are only doubtfully identified. Cowper’s musical—though perhaps, according to our recent canons of taste, old-fashioned—lines well describe the Psalmist-king’s weary wanderings during this portion of his chequered career:—

“See Judah’s promised king bereft of all,

Driven out an exile from the face of Saul.

To distant caves the lonely wanderer flies,

To seek that peace a tyrant’s frown denies.

His soul exults; hope animates his lays;

The sense of mercy kindles into praise;

And wilds familiar with the lion s roar

Ring with ecstatic sounds unheard before.”


Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him.—This is merely a general remark, and intended to cover a long period of time, including the remaining portion of Saul’s reign, during which David was perpetually exposed to Saul’s attempts to destroy him. It quietly mentions also that though Saul was armed with all the power of the king in Israel, he was powerless, for the invisible King of Israel declined to give this hated David into his hand.

23:14-18 David made no attempt against Saul; he kept God's way, waited God's time, and was content to secure himself in woods and wildernesses. Let it make us think the worse of this world, which often gives such bad treatment to its best men: let it make us long for that kingdom where goodness shall for ever be in glory, and holiness in honour. We find Jonathan comforting David. As a pious friend, he directed him to God, the Foundation of his comfort. As a self-denying friend, he takes pleasure in the prospect of David's advancement to the throne. As a constant friend, he renewed his friendship with him. Our covenant with God should be often renewed, and therein our communion with him kept up. If the converse of one friend, at one meeting, gives comfort and strengthens our hearts, what may not be expected from the continual supports and powerful love of the Saviour of sinners, the covenanted Friend of believers!Ziph is placed between Hebron and En-gedi (marginal references). (The "wood" 1 Samuel 23:15 is by Conder taken as a proper name, "Cheresh," and identified with Khoreisa.) 1Sa 23:14-18. David Escapes to Ziph.

14, 15. David abode in the wilderness … of Ziph—A mountainous and sequestered region was generally called a wilderness, and took its name from some large town in the district. Two miles southeast of Hebron, and in the midst of a level plain, is Tell-ziph, an isolated and conical hillock, about a hundred feet high, probably the acropolis [Van De Velde], or the ruins [Robinson] of the ancient city of Ziph, from which the surrounding wilderness was called. It seems, anciently, to have been covered by an extensive woods. The country has for centuries lost its woods and forests, owing to the devastations caused by man.

As Saul fondly persuaded himself he intended, 1 Samuel 23:7. And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds,.... In the wilderness of Ziph, in high and strong rocks there, as it seems to be explained by what follows:

and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph; which had its name from a city in the tribe of Judah, of which See Gill on Joshua 15:55,

and Saul sought him every day; for though he did not go forth from the place where he was to Keilah, yet hearing which way he went, and whereabout he lurked, he sought after him continually, if haply he might find him:

but God delivered him not into his hand: which suggests, that it was only the providence of God that secured him, or, in all probability, such was the diligence of Saul, that he would have found him out, and he must have fallen into his hands, as he expected.

And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God {e} delivered him not into his hand.

(e) No power nor policy can prevail against God's children, but when he appoints the time.

14. And David abode in the wilderness] David’s next resort was “the wilderness of Judah,” the wild uncultivated tract lying between the mountains of Judah and the Dead Sea. His chief abode was “the mountain (perhaps the hill of Hachilah, 1 Samuel 23:19) in the wilderness of Ziph,” a district S. E. of Hebron, where a rounded hill half way between Hebron and Carmel still bears the name Tell Zîf. Ziph is mentioned in Joshua 15:55, and was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:8).

every day] Continually: not that he literally spent all his time in the pursuit of David.Verses 14, 15. - Strong holds. Natural fortresses in the woods and mountains are meant, and places difficult of access. The wilderness of Ziph. This lay to the south of Hebron, upon the edge of the great desert of Judah (Joshua 15:55). Saul sought him every day. The pursuit was maintained constantly, with men always spying David's movements, and ready to report to Saul any opportunity of seizing him; but apparently there was no body of men at present perpetually in quest of him. In a wood. Many rightly regard this as a proper name, Horesh, and as the same place as the mountain mentioned in ver. 14; for, as Conder remarks ('Tent Work,' 2:89), "a moment's reflection will convince any traveller that, as the dry, porous formation of the plateau must be unchanged since David's time, no wood of trees can then have flourished over this unwatered and sun-scorched region ." He therefore called all the people (i.e., men of war) together to war, to go down to Keilah, and to besiege David and his men.
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