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Poole on 1 Samuel 23:1-6: Deliverance of Keilah

Verse 1:[1] Then they told David, saying, Behold, the Philistines fight against (Josh. 15:44) Keilah, and they rob the threshingfloors.

Then they told David; or, Now they had told David, to wit, before he heard of the slaughter of the priests.

[The Philistines besiege Keilah] They had done this, because they now knew that David had departed from Saul (Sanchez). Keilah was a city of Judah; as it is evident from 1 Samuel 22:5; Joshua 15:44 (Piscator, thus Vatablus, Menochius, Lapide out of Jerome).

Keilah; a city in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:44, not far from the forest of Hareth, where David now was, 1 Samuel 22:5.

[They plunder the threshingfloors] That is, the harvest and the crops on the threshingfloors, and stored in barns (Lapide, similarly Junius). Moreover, they were having threshingfloors outside the city. See Judges 6:11 (Piscator). Among this people it was common to destroy crops. See Judges 6; 15; 2 Samuel 14:30 (Sanchez).

The threshingfloors usually were without the cities, in places open to the wind. See Judges 6:11; Ruth 3:2, etc.

Verse 2:[2] Therefore David (1 Sam. 23:4, 6, 9; 30:8; 2 Sam. 5:19, 23) enquired 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.

[He consulted the Lord] Either, 1. By Abiathar, having fled to himself, as it is evident from verse 6 (Lapide out of Lyra). But he had not yet come, as it is evident out of verse 6 (Menochius, similarly Junius). Or, 2. By a Prophet (Josephus in Menochius), by Gad, whom he had in his company, 1 Samuel 22:5 (Malvenda out of Junius). David had both sort of ministry, ordinary and extraordinary; and so he was at that time able to be certain concerning the kingdom. And this is the first war that David had waged under his own auspices (Martyr). Great is the love of the fatherland in David, who, although declared a national enemy by the King, nevertheless is not hurtful to the fatherland, but is even profitable, living off the enemy (Grotius). As if forgetful of his own danger, he was anxious over his fellow tribesmen (Osiander).

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.

Verse 3:[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?

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

[How much more if we come to Keilah (similarly Jonathan, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus)] How much more, understand, will fear be justified. If we should have enemies before and behind us (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda). For the armies of Saul will arrive to defend the city (Tirinus). You will say that Keilah is in the tribe of Judah. Response: It was, but on the borders of Judah. Whence places are not here opposed as situated in diverse tribes, but as exposed to diverse dangers. That is to say, Here, placed in the midst of Judah, at a distance from Saul, at a distance from the Philistines, we are fearful of both. How much more so, if we should approach places closer to either (Tirinus). וְאַף֙ כִּֽי־נֵלֵ֣ךְ וגו״, how is it possible that we are departing unto Keilah? (Arabic, Syriac). How will it be if we go, etc.? (Septuagint).

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.

Verse 4:[4] Then David enquired of the LORD yet again. And the LORD answered him and said, Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into thine hand.

[He consulted again, etc.] Not for his own, but for his soldiers’ sake (Junius, Piscator, Malvenda, similarly Vatablus); so that he might remove fear from his men. Thus Gideon of old, Judges 7 (Menochius). Lest they should refuse the expedition (Malvenda).

David inquired of the Lord yet again; not for his own, but for his soldiers’ satisfaction and encouragement, as Gideon did, Judges 7.

[I will deliver] Hebrew: I am giving.[5] The present in the place of the future (Vatablus). Rather, the present tense signifies that God is going to deliver immediately, that is, before Saul is able to attack him (Piscator out of Junius).

Verse 5:[6] So David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their cattle, and smote them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.

[And he drove away their cattle, which they had brought to carry the goods of the Hebrews into their own land (Lyra), וַיִּנְהַג֙ אֶת־מִקְנֵיהֶ֔ם] And he carried off (or drove away [Vatablus]) the cattle (flocks [Vatablus out of Jonathan]) of them (Pagnine). Question: Were cattle in the battle? Responses: 1. David and his men pursued the fleeing Philistines into their own land, from which they led away their cattle (Munster, similarly Vatablus). Or, 2. the Philistines had brough their cattle with them, so that they might nourish the army (Vatablus).

And brought away their cattle: The Philistines had either brought their cattle out of their land, or had taken from the Israelites in their march, for the sustenance of their army.

Verse 6:[7] And it came to pass, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech (1 Sam. 22:20) fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

[He had gone down, having the ephod with him, אֵפ֖וֹד יָרַ֥ד בְּיָדֽוֹ׃] The Ephod he went down (he caused to go down [Jonathan], he brought down with him [Arabic, Munster], he carried [Kimchi in Munster], he went down with the Ephod [Junius and Tremellius, Dutch, English]) in his hand (Montanus). The Ephod fell into his hand (Syriac, Pagnine), that is, perhaps by chance, and without attention, he had brought it, and had placed it among his bundles (Vatablus, similarly Munster). A mantle came into his hand, that is, while he, hastening, grabbed his garments (Piscator). He went down, having the Ephod in his hand (Mariana). That is to say, he went, not himself clothed in the Ephod, but carrying it in his hand (Malvenda).

With an ephod: Or, with the ephod, to wit, the high priest’s ephod, in which were the Urim and Thummim, Exodus 28:30, which when Ahimelech and the rest of the priests went to Saul, were probably left in his hand, and to his care; which gave him the opportunity both of escaping, whilst Doeg the butcher was killing his brethren, and of bringing away the ephod, which Saul had oft grossly neglected, and now was justly deprived of it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּגִּ֥דוּ לְדָוִ֖ד לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֵּ֤ה פְלִשְׁתִּים֙ נִלְחָמִ֣ים בִּקְעִילָ֔ה וְהֵ֖מָּה שֹׁסִ֥ים אֶת־הַגֳּרָנֽוֹת׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁאַ֙ל דָּוִ֤ד בַּֽיהוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הַאֵלֵ֣ךְ וְהִכֵּ֔יתִי בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה ס וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־דָּוִ֗ד לֵ֚ךְ וְהִכִּ֣יתָ בַפְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים וְהוֹשַׁעְתָּ֖ אֶת־קְעִילָֽה׃ [3] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמְר֜וּ אַנְשֵׁ֤י דָוִד֙ אֵלָ֔יו הִנֵּ֙ה אֲנַ֥חְנוּ פֹ֛ה בִּֽיהוּדָ֖ה יְרֵאִ֑ים וְאַף֙ כִּֽי־נֵלֵ֣ךְ קְעִלָ֔ה אֶל־מַֽעַרְכ֖וֹת פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃ [4] Hebrew: וַיּ֙וֹסֶף ע֤וֹד דָּוִד֙ לִשְׁאֹ֣ל בַּֽיהוָ֔ה ס וַֽיַּעֲנֵ֖הוּ יְהוָ֑ה וַיֹּ֗אמֶר ק֚וּם רֵ֣ד קְעִילָ֔ה כִּֽי־אֲנִ֥י נֹתֵ֛ן אֶת־פְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים בְּיָדֶֽךָ׃ [5] Hebrew: נֹתֵן. [6] Hebrew: וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ דָּוִד֩ וַאֲנָשָׁ֙ו קְעִילָ֜ה וַיִּלָּ֣חֶם בַּפְּלִשְׁתִּ֗ים וַיִּנְהַג֙ אֶת־מִקְנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיַּ֥ךְ בָּהֶ֖ם מַכָּ֣ה גְדוֹלָ֑ה וַיֹּ֣שַׁע דָּוִ֔ד אֵ֖ת יֹשְׁבֵ֥י קְעִילָֽה׃ [7] Hebrew: וַיְהִ֗י בִּ֠בְרֹחַ אֶבְיָתָ֧ר בֶּן־אֲחִימֶ֛לֶךְ אֶל־דָּוִ֖ד קְעִילָ֑ה אֵפ֖וֹד יָרַ֥ד בְּיָדֽוֹ׃

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Matthew Henry: 'Now we find why the prophet Gad (by divine direction, no doubt) ordered David to go into the land of Judah, 1 Samuel 22:5. It was that, since Saul neglected the public safety, he might take care of it, notwithstanding the ill treatment that was given him; for he must render good for evil, and therein be a type of him who not only ventured his life, but laid down his life, for those that were his enemies.

I. Tidings are brought to David, as to the patron and protector of his country's liberties, that the Philistines had made a descent upon the city of Keilah and plundered the country thereabouts, 1 Samuel 23:1. Probably it was the…


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Study 1 Samuel in detail with the Illustrious Matthew Poole!

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