David has always made it his habit to trust in God for protection and security. Now once again he is in danger: he and his 400 followers have come out of hiding in order to protect the border town of Keilah from Philistine attack, and Saul has seen his chance to trap and destroy them (I Samuel 23:1-7). The people of Keilah, grateful for what David has done for them, are offering him protection. But David puts his life completely in God’s hands, and prays that he will not be disappointed:
“In You, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.” (Psalm 31:1)
Difficult decisions have to be made – but amongst his band of warriors is Abiathar the priest, who has with him the ephod containing the two sacred stones (the Urim and Thummim). These are effectively a ‘hotline’ to God, enabling David to ask questions and get direct answers. “For the sake of Your name, lead and guide me” (Psalm 31:3), he prays. And God warns him not to stay in Keilah, but to make his escape while he can (I Samuel 23:9-12).
David’s faith in God was unwavering – yet even he often had moments of doubt and fear (Psalm 31:22). Human beings are fickle in their affections; the citizens of Keilah supported David enthusiastically so long as Saul was at a distance, but God knew that they would disown him as soon as they felt their own lives to be under threat. David’s ability to make a safe getaway was due entirely to God’s help.
To Saul, it must have seemed as though David had a charmed life! But David knew better: God had a plan for his life (to make him king of Israel), and he simply trusted God to bring it about.
“I trust in You, LORD;
I say, ‘You are my God.’
My times are in Your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.” (Psalm 31:14,15)
And since we are the children of a loving heavenly Father, we also know that our lives are not at the mercy of chance or fate, but are under His personal care – whatever happens to us.
This incident was typical of David’s life story, which was one of almost unbroken success.
“Praise be to the LORD,
for He showed me the wonders of His love
when I was in a city under siege.” (Psalm 31:21)
No two stories are the same, of course: Jesus was captured by His enemies and put to death, and this was God’s will for Him. But David’s words from this psalm (verse 5) were on His lips as He died: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” (Luke 23:46) For whether we live or die, we are in God’s hands – and are kept safe there.