Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

David's Flight

David had narrowly escaped death on several occasions, as we have seen, and now he did not dare return to the kingís palace. He therefore withdrew to a place near Ramah, where Saulís messengers soon came to take him prisoner. They did not dare do so, however; for on the way the spirit of the Lord came upon them, and forced them to prophesy against their will.

When Saul heard of the utter failure of this attempt to secure David, he himself went out in search of him; but being overcome on the way by the spirit of the Lord, he too dared do no harm, and merely invited his son-in-law to return to court.

David did not know whether he could trust to Saulís apparent friendship, so he had a secret interview with Jonathan. The kingís son gladly offered to find out whether it would be safe for David to return, and to give him timely warning should any immediate danger threaten him.

Jonathan, feeling sure from his fatherís actions that David was still viewed with dislike, soon went out into a field where he knew that David was hiding. As he did not dare seek his friend openly, he made believe to practice shooting; for he had agreed with David that his orders to the lad who picked up his arrows would be intended as information whether or not the king could be trusted.

David, therefore, listened attentively, and learned that he must fly; but after the lad had gone, Jonathan drew near the hiding place, to take a brief but affectionate farewell of his dearest friend.

In obedience to the advice which he had thus obtained from Jonathan, David quickly fled. As he was unarmed and without provisions, he made use of a stratagem to secure food and a sword. He entered the house of the high priest, and pretended that he was the bearer of a message from Saul, and that his servants were waiting for him nearby. Then he asked for and obtained the sword of Goliath, and five of the sacred loaves of shew-bread, which the priests alone were allowed to eat.

Thus armed and refreshed, David made his way to the court of a certain Philistine king, where a new danger threatened him, and where he escaped death only by pretending to be crazy.

From this place David soon passed on to the cave of Adullam, where he dwelt for some time. He was joined here by his brothers, and by a large force of Israelites, who, displeased with the actions of their king, now took sides against him.

To prevent Saulís harming his parents in any way, David secretly led them into the land of Moab, where he left them under the protection of the king. Then, fearing nothing for himself, he set out with four hundred men to wage war on his own account with his old enemies, the Philistines.

While he was thus an outcast and a wanderer, David met with many adventures, only a few of which are recorded in the Bible. For instance, three of his followers once cut their way through the Philistine camp, which surrounded them on all sides, merely to get some water to quench his thirst.

But David was too generous a man to enjoy a drink secured at the risk of his friends' lives; and, to prevent their ever venturing forth thus rashly again, he poured it all out on the ground, exclaiming reproachfully: "Shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy?"

While he was living in the cave of Adullam, David once received a visit from the prophet Gad, who bade him go into the land of Judah. But no sooner had David done so, than Saul came after him to make another attempt to kill him.

On the way, Saul heard for the first time that the high priest had seen David, and had helped him in his flight. In his anger at this news, Saul had the priest and eighty-five of his assistants slain, as well as all the citizens of the unfortunate town where they lived.

Only one of them, Abiathar, son of the high priest, managed to escape from the general massacre. Fleeing for his life, he joined David, who now bitterly repented of his deception, and mourned over the terrible consequences which had resulted from it.

Advised by Abiathar and Gad, the high priest and the prophet, David began to fight against the Philistines. He defeated them with great slaughter, and then remained at the city of Keilah until warned by God that the men of that place were about to betray him into Saulís hands.