1 Samuel 23:3
And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?
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(3) Here in Judah.—This does not imply that Keilah was out of the territory of Judah, but simply that the district in the neighbourhood round Keilah was at that time under Philistine domination. The open country in times of Philistine supremacy first fell under their control; their strong places, like Keilah, would resist for a much longer period.

1 Samuel 23:3-4. David’s men said, Behold, we are afraid here in Judah — “They had more than difficulty enough to defend themselves against Saul where they were; and could it be less than madness to provoke more and greater enemies? Doubtless Saul would send forces to beat off the Philistines, and then they should be pent in between two hostile armies. And yet, notwithstanding all this, David undertook and achieved the adventure; which it was impossible he should, against such fears, and such reasonings of his forces, from any motive other than the assurance of divine protection and aid. Which fully confirms the Scripture account of this matter, that he did not undertake it until he had, for the fuller satisfaction of his associates, again consulted, and was again assured of success by the divine oracle.”

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. Here in Judah, i. e. in this part of Judah, whereas yet we have no army to oppose us; for else Keilah also was in Judah.

If we come to Keilah; when we shall have a potent enemy before us, the Philistines, and, it may be, another behind us, even Saul, who probably will come forth, either to resist the Philistines, or to intercept us.

And David's men said unto him, behold, we be afraid here in Judah,.... Of Saul and his army falling upon them, and crushing them, though they were in the tribe of Judah, where they had many friends, and in the heart of that tribe:

how much more then if we come to Keilah; which, though in the same tribe, yet in the further parts of it, and on the borders of the Philistines: and there engage

against the armies of the Philistines? too numerous and powerful for them, and so by this means be driven out of their place of safety, the forest of Hareth, where they could hide themselves upon occasion; to be exposed not only to the Philistines, before them, on the edge of their country, from whence they could have re-enforcements easily, but to Saul and his army behind them; and so, being between two fires, would be in danger of being cut off.

And David's men said unto him, Behold, we be afraid here in {b} Judah: how much more then if we come to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?

(b) That is, in the midst of Judah, much more when we come to the borders against our enemies.

3. here in Judah] Keilah belonged to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:44): so that Judah must here be used in a limited sense of the highlands of Judah.

the armies of the Philistines] David’s men exaggerate the marauding bands of Philistines into a regular army.

1 Samuel 23:3But his men said to him, "Behold, here in Judah we are in fear (i.e., are not safe from Saul's pursuit); how shall we go to Keilah against the ranks of the Philistines?" In order, therefore, to infuse courage into them, he inquired of the Lord again, and received the assurance from God, "I will give the Philistines into thy hand." He then proceeded with his men, fought against the Philistines, drove off their cattle, inflicted a severe defeat upon them, and thus delivered the inhabitants of Keilah. In 1 Samuel 23:6 a supplementary remark is added in explanation of the expression "inquired of the Lord," to the effect that, when Abiathar fled to David to Keilah, the ephod had come to him. The words "to David to Keilah" are not to be understood as signifying that Abiathar did not come to David till he was in Keilah, but that when he fled after David (1 Samuel 22:20), he met with him as he was already preparing for the march of Keilah, and immediately proceeded with him thither. For whilst it is not stated in 1 Samuel 22:20 that Abiathar came to David in the wood of Hareth, but the place of meeting is left indefinite, the fact that David had already inquired of Jehovah (i.e., through the oracle of the high priest) with reference to the march to Keilah, compels us to assume that Abiathar had come to him before he left the mountains for Keilah. So that the brief expression "to David to Keilah," which is left indefinite because of its brevity, must be interpreted in accordance with this fact.
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