David's Wanderings in the Wilderness
1 Samuel 23:13, 14
Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go…

And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand (ver. 14). From the time of his leaving Gath till his return (1 Samuel 27:2) David dwelt in the following places successively -

1. The cave of Adullam.

2. Mizpeh of Moab.

3. The forest of Hareth.

4. Keilah.

5. The wilderness of Ziph (Hachilah, Horesh).

6. The wilderness of Maon.

7. En-gedi.

8. "The hold" (1 Samuel 24:22).

9. The wilderness of Paran (1 Samuel 25:2).

10. The wilderness of Ziph again.

The period over which his wanderings in these places extended is not stated, but it was probably upwards of five years; "and the time that David dwelt in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months" (1 Samuel 27:7). Like the journeyings of the people of Israel (the events of which "were written for our admonition"), they resemble, in some respects, the course of all God's servants through the present world to "the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" (Psalm 56:8). Regarded generally they were a scene of -

1. Bitter hostility. "Saul sought him every day." And so long as the servants of the great King are "in the world" they are objects of the hatred and opposition of "the prince of this world" and "the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2; Galatians 1:4), because "they are not of the world." The hostility which is directed against them is unreasonable and unrighteous, but real and deep; sometimes fierce and violent, and never ceases.

2. Outward distress. David was hunted like "a partridge on the mountains" (1 Samuel 26:20), "wandered in deserts and mountains and caves of the earth," sometimes (like the Son of man) "had not where to lay his head," suffered hunger and thirst and continual hardship, was separated from "lover and friend," and lived in the midst of extreme peril. Others are more highly favoured, but none can escape the ordinary sorrows of life; some are "greatly afflicted," and not a few suffer reproach and persecution for Christ's sake. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22).

3. Inward conflict, temptation, care, depression, grief, and fear, such as are described in the psalms which refer to David's wanderings, and are full of imagery derived therefrom. "His sanctified genius did not give forth its perfect fragrance till it was bruised in God's chastening hand. It was the storm of affliction that awoke the full harmonies of David's harp" (Binnie). And these are echoed in the experience of the servants of God in every age.

4. Divine protection and instruction, by means of providential occurrences, the prophetic word, and the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit. "God delivered him not into his hand." "Out of these great experiences in David's sorrowful life of the grace and power, wisdom and justice, mercy and goodness of God, was developed in him, and through him in his people, that intelligence of faith and theological knowledge which we see in the Psalms and the prophetical writings" (Erdmann). And still higher privileges than of old are near conferred on the people of God.

5. Sacred devotion. His harp was his constant companion in his wanderings, and mingling with its tones in every place, his voice rose up to God in prayer and praise, making every place a temple.

"Serene he sits and sweeps the golden lyre,
And blends the prophet's with the poet's fire.
See with what art he strikes the vocal strings,
The God, his theme, inspiring what he sings"

(Lowth) Whether it be the Divine excellences, or the deep-toned voice of penitence, or the longing of the soul after God, the rejoicing in the light of his countenance, or thanksgiving for his mercies, in short, every emotion of the renewed heart finds adequate expression in the Book of Psalms (J. Duncan). It is "the poetry of friendship between God and man" (Herder).

6. Active service. For during his wanderings he was called to render special service (ver. 2), and in the latter part of them continually afforded protection to his people (1 Samuel 25:16). "None of us liveth to himself." We are the Lord's servants, and must serve him in faithful and diligent labour on behalf of others.

7. Necessary preparation for future service, honour, and joy.

"Oh spread thy covering wings around,
Till all our wanderings cease,
And at our Father's loved abode
Our souls arrive in peace." = -D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.

WEB: Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go. It was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he gave up going there.

The Men of Keilah
Top of Page
Top of Page