The contrast between Saul and David cannot be greater than it is in this chapter. David constantly inquires of the Lord before taking an action whereas Saul operates based on the leading of his gut or advice of others. The text is obvious in its portrayal of David as a man seeking the Lord’s leading.
I was particularly drawn to the opening verses.
When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah (1-5).
What caught my attention was that David inquired of the Lord but when he told the men they questioned him. So he went back to the Lord to make sure he heard correctly the first time. This action of David’s plays in many directions.
One, it honors the men, allowing them to be heard rather than summarily dismissed. A good leader values the people with him/her.
Second, it serves as instruction for all the men. They may or may not have known that David had inquired from the Lord the first time. The text is silent on this point. But it is also clear that they all knew David inquired of the Lord the second time. So the men saw their leader checking in with the Lord before a significant campaign. They also knew it was God directing them, not merely David’s gut.
Third, David modeled humility. Maybe I miss-heard the Lord’s response the first time, so I will ask again. And the second ‘ask’ is not out of fear or reluctance to obey as with Gideon, rather it had a specific purpose, which I mentioned in numbers 1 & 2 above.
Four, when the second word directs them to battle they go immediately. At this point the concerns of the men are no longer in view, now obedience to the Lord is paramount.
David is a great leader and, more importantly for me, a godly man and I have much I can learn by studying this faith-filled man of God.
Oh, Lord, give me a heart that is steadfast after You. One that will follow You but do so in a manner that engenders loyalty from those who are with me. Help me to be humble like David but steadfast as well. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.