1 Samuel 23:2
Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.
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(2) David enquired of the Lord.—The enquiry was not made of the priest wearing the ephod, by means of the Urim and Thummim, for, according to 1Samuel 23:6, Abiathar, the high priest who succeeded the murdered Ahimelech, only joined David at Keilah, the citizens of which place were then asking for his aid against their foes. But Gad the prophet was with David, and the enquiry was made, no doubt, through him. We know that such enquiries were made through prophets, for we possess a detailed account of such an enquiry being made by Jehoshaphat of the prophet Micaiah (1Kings 22:5; 1Kings 22:7-8), in which passage the same formula is used as in this case. The Talmud too, when discussing the enquiries made through the Urim and Thummim, whilst dwelling on the greater weight of the decision pronounced by the sacred stones, assumes that questions were also asked through the prophets. “The decree pronounced by a prophet is revocable, but the decision of the Urim and Thummim is irrevocable.”—Treatise Yoma, fol. 73 Colossians 1.

1 Samuel 23:2. David inquired of the Lord — In what way he made inquiry is not certain, as it seems from 1 Samuel 23:6 that Abiathar had not yet brought to David the sacred ephod, with all things belonging to it that were made use of in consulting God. Shall I go and smite these Philistines? — We have here a remarkable instance of David’s love to his country; unto which he did not become an enemy when he was banished from it. On the contrary, he hasted to its assistance unsolicited. This action of David’s, in going to the relief of Keilah, is one of the most extraordinary ones recorded in history. “Another man, in David’s place, would have rejoiced at this invasion, and perhaps encouraged it; and this both from self-preservation and policy; first, because he had nothing to fear for himself, while Saul had such an enemy upon his hands; and secondly, because the distress of his country was the likeliest means to bring Saul to reason, and force him to recall, and be reconciled to, his best champion. But David was governed by other than these narrow views; nor safety nor honour was desirable to him, purchased by the distress of his country and his friends. His bosom beat with an eager desire to relieve Keilah; but it was not an adventure to be unadvisedly undertaken; and therefore he inquired of God, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? This is one of those passages of Scripture that give evidence of their own truth. None but a hero could put the question; and none but God could resolve it: And the Lord said unto David. Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.” — Delaney.

23:1-6 When princes persecute God's people, let them expect vexation on all sides. The way for any country to be quiet, is to let God's church be quiet in it: if Saul fight against David, the Philistines fight against his country. David considered himself the protector of the land. Thus did the Saviour Jesus, and left us an example. Those are unlike David, who sullenly decline to do good, if they are not rewarded for services.If Gad was with David at the forest of Hareth 1 Samuel 22:5, and there inquired for him of the Lord 1 Samuel 23:2,1 Samuel 23:4, but did not accompany him to Keilah, and if Abiathar's flight occurred at the time of David's being at Keilah, we have an additional striking instance of God's watchful providential care of David in thus sending Abiathar to supply the place of Gad at so critical a moment. 2-5. David inquired of the Lord—most probably through Gad (2Sa 24:11; 1Ch 21:9), who was present in David's camp (1Sa 22:5), probably by the recommendation of Samuel. To repel unprovoked assaults on unoffending people who were engaged in their harvest operations, was a humane and benevolent service. But it was doubtful how far it was David's duty to go against a public enemy without the royal commission; and on that account he asked, and obtained, the divine counsel. A demur on the part of his men led David to renew the consultation for their satisfaction; after which, being fully assured of his duty, he encountered the aggressors and, by a signal victory, delivered the people of Keilah from further molestation. David inquired of the Lord; either by Abiathar; or rather, by Gad, who was a prophet, 2 Samuel 24:11, and David’s seer, 1 Chronicles 21:9, and was now with David, 1 Samuel 22:5; for Abiathar was not yet come to him, 1 Samuel 23:6.

Shall I go and smite these Philistines? for the case was both doubtful and new, he having not yet made any attempt upon the Philistines, but by Saul’s commission; and dangerous, because of the small number of his forces.

Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, shall I go and smite these Philistines?.... For though David was well disposed to serve his country, and was desirous of freeing them from their enemies the Philistines, he might have some doubts in his mind whether it would be right for him to engage with them now; partly because he could not act under a commission from his prince, Saul the king; and partly because he had such a small number of forces with him, that it might be hazardous for him to attack the armies of the Philistines with them, and attempt to raise the siege of Keilah; and therefore he thought it advisable, as doubtless it was, to inquire of the Lord what was his mind and will in this matter: how and by what means he inquired it is not said, very probably it was by the prophet Gad, who was with him, 1 Samuel 22:5; for as for Abiathar, he was not yet come with the ephod, the Urim and Thummim, to inquire by them, 1 Samuel 23:6; though some think that is observed there to show in what way David did inquire, namely, by Urim and Thummim; and so Kimchi and Abarbinel understand it; and it is supposed that he came to David when he was about Keilah, and near unto it, and so before he came thither, and time enough for him to inquire by him whether he should go thither or not:

and the Lord said unto David, go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah; which was not only giving him leave to go, and signifying it was his mind and will he should; but that he should be successful, and rout the Philistines, and raise the siege of Keilah, and save the city from falling into their hands.

Therefore David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the LORD said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines, and save Keilah.
2. inquired of the Lord] Through the high-priest Abiathar. See on 1 Samuel 23:6.

Verses 2-5. - David enquired of Jehovah. This seems to show that Abiathar was already with David, as the prophet Gad had no ephod, and at this time, and for a considerable period subsequently, the usual way of consulting God was by the Urim and Thummim (see ver. 6). Though the answer was a command to go, yet David's men hesitated; not that they had any doubt of the immediate result, but, regarding Saul as their most dangerous enemy, they were unwilling to embroil themselves also with the Philistines. They argue, We be afraid here in Judah: why then should we close the Philistine territory against us by attacking their armies! Hebrew, "ranks," men disciplined and drawn up in array (see 1 Samuel 17:22). In order to remove these prudential doubts, David again consults God, and being a second time encouraged to undertake the rescue of Keilah, proceeds thither with his men. This attack, being unexpected, was entirely successful. The Philistines were driven back with great slaughter, and David brought away their cattle. The word signifies "small cattle," such as sheep and goats. Besides robbing the threshing floors, the Philistines apparently had been driving off the flocks from the neighbouring pastures. Both Hareth, where David and his men had lain hid in the thickets (1 Samuel 22:5), and Keilah were in the tribe of Judah, in the southern portion of the Shephelah (Joshua 15:44). 1 Samuel 23:2After receiving this information, David inquired of the Lord (through the Urim and Thummim of the high priest) whether he should go and smite these Philistines, and received an affirmative answer.
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