God-Hearted #9 — 1 Samuel 23 — Hearing God's Voice

God, who is infinite, reveals himself to humanity, who is finite. But how does a complex, perfect, timeless, and eternal being communicate Himself to His creation? We will consider this question today.

David was a man who sought God. On the run, it had become a life or death proposition for David to hear the voice of the Lord.

Theme: With humility, use every instrument God has supplied, including godly people, to hear His voice, expecting His reply.

Seek Confirmation — David Humbly Listened Again (1 Samuel 23:1-5)

1 Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the LORD said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

3 But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 Then David inquired of the LORD again. And the LORD answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

  • 1 They told David: Back in Judah, David would now fight for God’s people, becoming the servant of Keilah, a city near the Philistine border in the lowlands of Judah, about three miles from the cave of Adullam.
    • Noteworthy: They did not go to Saul, but David.
      • David would not have heard this request had he stayed in Moab, preserving his own life.
  • 1 The Philistines were robbing the threshing floors, which is typical of the attack of the enemy.
    • He always goes after our source of nutrition.
  • 2 Therefore David inquired of the LORD: Not every opportunity is from God, so we must ask Him, just as David did.
  • 3 David’s men responded with less than excitement. They were afraid of the exposure to Saul that would come in public battle.
  • 4 David inquired of the LORD again: He was willing to go back to the LORD.
    • Rather than ridicule their lack of faith or love, he servant-led his men.
    • God confirmed His original desire.
  • 5 David saved the inhabitants of Keilah, driving away the livestock the Philistines brought to carry away their spoils from Keilah.
  • David was willing to listen again.
    • He was willing to seek confirmation.

Paths for confirmation:

  • 1 Internal witness — you.
    • Philippians 2:13 (ESV) — 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
  • 2 People’s witness — good counsel.
    • Proverbs 24:6 (ESV) — 5 A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, 6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
  • 3 The Church’s witness — leadership.
    • Paul, concerning Epaphras — Colossians 4:13 (ESV) — 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.
  • 4 The Sprit’s witness.
    • Uncommon ways: visions, dreams, prophecies.
    • Giftings — Proverbs 22:29 (ESV) — 29 Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
    • The Word — Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) — 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    • Impressions — Romans 8:16 (ESV) — 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…
      • So He will ask you to behave as His child…
      • When you feel an impression to do good, act on it.

Use God’s Channels — David Used The Resources Of His Biblical Era (1 Samuel 23:6-13)

6 When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. 7 Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8 And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. 9 David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.”

10 Then David said, “O LORD, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O LORD, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.

  • 7 Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah: The very thing David’s men feared came to pass.
    • Saul interpreted the intelligence he’d received as God delivering David into his hand.
  • 8 Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah. Victory, he thought, was certain.
  • 9 But David knew that Saul was plotting, so he asked Abiather, who was spoken of earlier, to bring the ephod so they could seek the LORD.
    • More on the ephod in a moment.
  • 10-11 David then asked the LORD if Saul would come down to pursue him in Keilah. “Yes,” said God, “He will come down.”
  • 12 David asked again if the men of Keilah would surrender him to Saul. “Yes,” God said, ”They will surrender you.”
    • Keilah appears ungrateful. We should consider, however, the plight they were in. Saul’s wrath could be worse than that of the Philistines.
  • 13 Arose / Departed / Escaped: David escaped.
    • Note: By now, he has about six hundred men, so the group has grown from the four hundred of 22:2.
  • David had Abiathar the priest, along with the ephod, with which to seek the LORD’s guidance.
    • The ephod was part of the high priestly garment, and included the breastplate of judgement. It had something called the Urim and Thummim (meaning light and perfection, Exodus 28:30) in it, by which they could determine the will of God.
    • How it worked is conjecture.

Modern believers might wish they had an ephod with Urim and Thummim, but we live in a better era. We have a Father, who gave us His Son, and deposited His Spirit in us, that we might have fellowship with Him, especially in His Word.

  • 1 We have the Bible.
    • The authority of Scripture: All the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.[^Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology, p. 73]
      • 2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) — 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    • The clarity of Scripture: The Bible is written in such a way that its teachings are able to be understood by all who will read it seeking God’s help and being willing to follow it.[^Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology, p. 108]
      • Implied — Deuteronomy 6:6–7 (ESV) — 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
    • The necessity of Scripture: The Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life, and for knowing God’s will, but is not necessary for knowing that God exists or for knowing something about God’s character and moral laws.[^Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology, p. 116]
      • Romans 10:13–17 (ESV) — 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    • The sufficiency of Scripture: Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly.[^Grudem, Wayne: Systematic Theology, p. 127]
      • God has spoken, so we can learn.
      • We are to add nothing and consider no writings on this level.
      • No modern revelations are to be put on a level equal to Scripture.
      • Nothing is sin that is not forbidden in the Bible; and nothing is required of us not found in the Bible.
  • 2 We have the Spirit.
    • John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    • John 3:5 (ESV) — 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own…
    • How to let Him lead you:
      • Be quiet before Him.
      • Humbly ask for help.
      • Be willing to obey.
      • Look to the Bible.
      • Expect His guidance.
      • Wait for His response.
  • 3 We have the cross.
    • So we have access.
      • The veil has been torn in two, from top to bottom, and access has been granted to the believer (Mark 15:38).
    • Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) — 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Be Cautious — David Listened To The Right People (1 Samuel 23:14-23)

14 And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.

15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? 20 Now come down, O king, according to all your heart’s desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king’s hand.” 21 And Saul said, “May you be blessed by the LORD, for you have had compassion on me. 22 Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. 23 See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you. And if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.”

  • 14 David fled into the strongholds in the wilderness, especially in the wilderness of Ziph.
    • Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand, for deliverance comes from the LORD.
  • 16 Jonathan, upon hearing where David was, rose and went and strengthened David’s hand in God.
    • Jonathan told David not to fear, assuring David he would one day be king over Israel.
    • They reaffirmed their covenant with one another.
      • Sometimes our hands hang low and our hearts melt. It is these times we need to borrow the faith of another.
  • 19-20 The Ziphites, at around the same time, went up to Saul and told him David was hiding among them. They assured Saul they would surrender (David) into (Saul’s) hand.
  • 21-23 Saul thanked them for their compassion, warning them to take careful note where the ”cunning” David would slip to.
  • Wrong people:
    • Cultural philosophers
    • Musicians
    • Editorialists
  • Right people: Right Now Media subscription, EnduringWord.com, calvary.com, nateholdridge.com, etc.

See Circumstances — David Waited For God’s Intervention (1 Samuel 23:24-29)

24 And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25 And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. 26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” 28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.

  • 24-26 A massive hunt took place, almost cartoonish in nature, from Ziph to Maon in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon, down to the rock, in the wilderness, and, finally, centered around a mountain (think large hill).
  • 26 Closing in on David: They were about to capture them.
  • 27 A messenger came to Saul. ”Hurry and come,” they said, ”for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.”
  • 28 Saul returned and the place was called the Rock of Escape.
  • 29 David then fled from there to the strongholds of Engedi.
    • David’s Shepherd used His sling to protect his man.
    • This was last-second deliverance.
  • Even I can figure this one out! God has made his voice clear in the way in which He’s delivered David!
  • Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) — 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.