– George Williams
And before you know it, we’re between two kings, and we’ve got some choices to make.
The first few lessons of this unit will explore the situation Israel found herself as she waited in limbo between her two kings: Saul and David. Both were anointed by God, but one had the gift of faith – and it was his most precious gift.
Also, in this unit, we’ll look at the significant parallels between Jesus Christ our King, and David, who was a “type” of Christ.
I can’t remember where I found this definition, but here is what I’m talking about when I say, “Type” or “Typology”: in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis, is a doctrine or theory concerning the predictive relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Events, persons or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types prefiguring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or His revelation described in the New Testament.
I like typology because I think it proves the continuity of our Scriptures—God is the same today as He was yesterday, as He will be tomorrow.
And in certain situations with King David, I believe, that it will give us a much deeper understanding of the Gospel of Christ – as well as His future reign in our Eternity.
Our first lesson leans more toward what it looks like for us to be between these two rival kingdoms – one is the Kingdom of God, and the other is the kingdom of the world.
In the Scripture below, David has spared Saul’s life (unbeknownst to Saul) and calls after him to let him know. David and Saul had been quite close at one time so David uses the opportunity to confront him.
14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. 18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you treated me today. 20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold. 1st Samuel 24:14-22 niv 2011
Saul appears truly sickened by his actions against David – and I believe that he was. For a moment the Spirit of God convicted him of his horrible behavior and he wept. Even more than that, Saul admits that he knows that David is on his way to the throne.
Because of Saul’s actions – he’s really beat the relationship to a pulp – David cannot return to a close association with him…and he and his men went up to the stronghold.
Now the stronghold here is one of David’s old haunts—amongst the Ziphites. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary notes:
From [the ruins of] Ziph a panorama of the whole surrounding district [can] be seen. [The] Ziphites saw David and his men passing to and fro in the mountains of [this area of] wilderness. Spying him at a distance when he ventured to show himself on the hill of Hachilah…
—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
David had had a run-in with the Ziphites before. He knew they were trouble-makers because they’d informed Saul about David’s whereabouts on a prior occasion. (1st Samuel 23)
The Ziphites are also of the tribe of Judah, and they’re located near the area of Carmel and Maon, where David has been coming and going frequently. Very recently David has been in the area guarding Nabal’s flocks and shepherds. Nabal’s shepherds said that David and his men “were a wall around [them],” (1st Samuel 25:16 niv 1984). Why did Nabal’s shepherds need a wall around them? Had David and his men been guarding those flocks and shepherds from the Ziphites? As well, Nabal’s widow, Abigail, has a hefty inheritance in this area, and David has now taken her for his wife. The Ziphites probably watched that whole thing unfold and think perhaps they have a stake to claim. (See…A Warrior and Her King Part 3)
David comes back into this same area, I think for two reasons. First of all, he’s fully convinced (at the end of 1st Samuel 24) that all is now well and the situation resolved between him and Saul. He will be safe. And, secondly, perhaps, David thought it was important to be near Abigail’s flocks and shepherds in order to keep them from harm. But, read on,
The Ziphites went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah, which faces Jeshimon?” 1st Samuel 26:1 niv 2011
Saul is at home in Gibeah – presumably minding his own business. All appearances indicate that Saul had decided to stop his relentless and wicked pursuit of Israel’s future king—until those Ziphites showed up.
2 So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph, with his three thousand select Israelite troops, to search there for David. 1st Samuel 26:2 niv 2011
Instantly, Saul is stirred up against David again. Things were quiet between them, and then a third party inserted themselves, opening Saul’s perceived old wounds, his jealousies, grudges and trouble.
It’s way too easy to stir up wickedness. Saul had never succeeded in the taking off of his old man. He struggled with it every day that he lived so it was easy for the Ziphites to insert themselves into a situation that had been resolved and bring it back to the place where Saul wanted to kill David again.
David and Saul were never enemies. At one time they’d fought together against their true enemy, the Philistines, keeping the community of Israel a safe place.
This is a powerful lesson for us right here in the present-day Church. Oftentimes, a couple of us will get into it, go our separate ways, but still continue to work on the common goal of bringing the Truth of Christ to a lost community. Then, the Ziphites come along, insert themselves and stir up trouble again.
The Ziphites here represent those folks who have an agenda other than winning souls for Christ. They may say that that’s their agenda, but winning souls for Christ is merely a disguise. Their true desires are for themselves. The Ziphites are the ones who are experts at taking selfies and posting them on every social media outlet they can find. Their concern revolves around how much attention they can get and they won’t hesitate to stir up a hornet’s nest if they’re given the opportunity.
James gave an apt warning about listening to those who appear to have wise information among us:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:13-16 niv 2011
The Ziphites were tattle-tales – and I think they had greedy motives. They wanted Abigail’s stuff. Their wisdom (or their knowledge of where David was living) was earthly, unspiritual and demonic. They came to Saul knowing full well that it would stir him up against David again. Telling Saul of David’s whereabouts will no doubt cause disorder. Their selfish ambition plunged them head-long into a coalition of premeditated attempted murder. At this point, their personal desires negated obedience to their own Law. They’re Israelites, of the tribe of Judah. What happened to thou shalt not kill? And they know that Saul wants to kill David. Their ambition appears very much to be getting rid of David so that they could have easy access to Abigail’s possessions. With David out of the way they could overcome her household of servants and take whatever they wanted.
Join us next week as we continue the account of Saul’s new pursuit of David, Between Two Kings Part 1B.
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© 2018, Ta`Mara Hanscom