Interlude: The Rock of Rescue | 1 Samuel 23:1-28

1 Samuel 23:1-2
One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. 2 David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?” “Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.

It’s interesting to see David’s willingness to protect the people of Keilah even when he himself was currently on the run from Saul.
For most of us, it is hard to see past our own problems.
Yet, David saw a need and asked God if he should act.

1 Samuel 23:3-4a
But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!” 4 So David asked the Lord again…


“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. -Luke 11:9-10

1 Samuel 23:4b
and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

NIV – “for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.”

God’s response to David’s repeated prayer wasn’t one of rebuke, but to strengthen David’s resolve.

1 Samuel 23:5-8
5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. 6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him. 7 Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” 8 So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

Saul has become his own authority on sin. Everything he does in his pursuit to kill David is “righteous.”
When we get ourselves wrapped up in sin we begin to do the same thing.
We justify our actions and convince ourselves that God is okay with it/us.

1 Samuel 23:9-12
9 But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the Lord what he should do. 10 Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him? And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the Lord said, “He will come.” 12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”

Betrayal is one of the hardest things we deal with in life.

Hurt people, hurt people.

1 Samuel 23:13-14
13 So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all. 14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.

“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” -James 4:6b

1 Samuel 23:15-18
15 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. 16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” 18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

How rare is it to see someone in a position to gain power, prestige, influence, wealth, and authority give it up to another?

  • One of the best ways to encourage yourself is to encourage others. 
  • I wonder what position you’ve taken at work? Or at home? With your spouse or kids?

Jonathan here also acknowledge what Saul refuses to vocalize… “my father, Saul, is well aware.”

  • Too often we can become blinded in our pursuit of sin and fail to listen to the wisdom and godly counsel of those around us.

1 Samuel 23:19-21
19 But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. “We know where David is hiding,” they said. “He is in the strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon. 20 Come down whenever you’re ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!” 21 “The Lord bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me! 

The word translated “concerned” is the Hebrew word “chamal”
It means, “to spare, pity, have compassion on."

“Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.” -1 Samuel 15:9
It was this act of pity that cost Saul his future and his throne. Now it is as though Saul remembers that costly act, as though he recognizes that his allies at Ziph have committed a similar costly act of rescue on his behalf. It is as though Saul refers to himself as the “spoil” not to be “utterly destroyed.”
— Walter Brueggemann

1 Samuel 23:22-26a
22 Go and check again to be sure of where he is staying and who has seen him there, for I know that he is very crafty. 23 Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I’ll go with you. And if he is in the area at all, I’ll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!” 24 So the men of Ziph returned home ahead of Saul. Meanwhile, David and his men had moved into the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah Valley south of Jeshimon. 25 When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock, and he remained there in the wilderness of Maon. But Saul kept after him in the wilderness. 26 Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. 

The picture you should have here is not one of a mountain blocking the path between David and Saul. Saul travels with thousands of soldiers–David only has 600. The reality is that Saul and his army have begun to surround David.

Psalm 54:1-3
Come with great power, O God, and rescue me! Defend me with your might. 2 Listen to my prayer, O God. Pay attention to my plea. 3 For strangers are attacking me; violent people are trying to kill me. They care nothing for God. Interlude.


An interlude signifies a break in the action. 
“an intervening or interruptive period, space, or event.”

A shift is about to take place. The tone is about to change. 

1 Samuel 23:26b-28
Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, 27 an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. 28 So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.

Psalm 54:4-7
But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive! 5 May the evil plans of my enemies be turned against them. Do as you promised and put an end to them. 6 I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good. 7 For you have rescued me from my troubles and helped me to triumph over my enemies.

The Rock of Escape

Starts with “Come with great power, O God, and rescue me.” Ends with “For you have rescued me…”

He is the Rock of Escape.
He’s the God of the Interlude.

He’s the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. But He’s also the God of the middle. The God of your gap.

Being confident of this, that he who BEGAN a good work in you will CARRY it on to COMPLETION until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6


Prayer has the power to elevate our perspective. It reminds us that the same God who rescued us from the lion, the bear, and the giant, will rescue us again. He’s the God of the interlude and He’s turning our troubles into triumph. He is our Rock of Escape.