While running from King Saul, David continues to protect Israel. He hears that the city of Keilah is under attack from the Philistines and David takes his men to rescue the city. David and his men save the people of the city and it would be logical to think that they had found a place of safety. David seeks God’s guidance for every move he makes. Before Abiathar arrives, he converses directly with God. After Abiathar arrives with the ephod, including the Urim and Thummim, David asks specific yes or no questions of God through Abiathar.
11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? LORD, God of Israel, tell your servant.” And the LORD said, “He will.” 12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will.”1 Samuel 23:11,12 NIV
David rescues the city of Keilah and the people almost immediately determine to surrender him to King Saul. I can only imagine that their fear of Saul must have been great. Jonathan is not afraid of his father and comes to visit David. Jonathan recognizes that David will be the next king and anticipates that he will be David’s right hand man. Unfortunately, things do not work out that way.
And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. (1Sa 23:16 NIV)1 Samuel 23:16 NIV
While they are together, David and Jonathan renew their covenant while Saul continues to chase David. In this instance God rescues David by redirecting Saul to a larger threat. The chase will continue for some time with David always seeking God’s guidance and God constantly protecting David.
What About Us?
Everyone of us needs guidance. It would be very difficult to count the number of choices we make each day. Some choices make little difference while others could change either our lives or the lives of others. We do not have the benefit of a priest with decision stones to determine God’s will. We can and should pray and maybe the use of the Urim and Thummim provides a suggestion as to how to pray.
David asked Abiathar to enquire of God with a yes or no question. Rather than ask an open-ended question like, “What should I do?” it might be better to propose a direction and ask God for a yes or no. We might find it easier to discern a yes or no response from God than it would be to hear a direction we have never thought of. It is possible that the Holy Spirit will guide the formulation of our yes or no request. Regardless, this approach demonstrates that we are seriously seeking God’s direction. Our response also makes clear our willingness to obey, because yes is yes.
Last week I was sitting in an examining room waiting for the doctor to come in. In the quiet a suggestion came to mind that I ought to ask the doctor where he went to church. It would be a simple way to let him know of my faith and to find out if he shared it. Still, I hesitated. Then, I asked God a direct question, “Should I ask the doctor where he goes to church?” The answer came back as a resounding yes. My choice just changed from ask or not ask to obey or rebel. I chose to obey and discovered that the doctor does go to church and our time together ended on a very pleasant note.
Everyone needs encouragement. Times are difficult. We need to know that someone who knows and loves us also cares about us. The best encouragement comes through presence. We know that God is with us. His Holy Spirit lives within us, but there are times when each of us needs God’s presence to show up with skin on. Jonathan was that special person who came at just the right time to encourage David. Where can you show up and be an encouragement today? You might be surprised what God will do through your willingness to be present.