Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up. 1Samuel 23:12 KJV
Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.” 1Samuel 23:12 NASB
Betrayal by those we love or have helped is one of the bitterest experiences in life. Few of us have known it; God has graciously shielded us from it. David, who in so many ways prefigures for us the life of His Greater Son, knew several occasions of betrayal. He was not preserved from this.
David and his men had received a report of the Philistine invasion of Keilah; the threshing-floor was being robbed and the sustenance of the people was being taken. David, with his shepherd heart, inquired of the Lord if he should leave the safety and confines of the cave in Adullam, and venture out to save the people. His men, averse to the danger, caused him to ask again. The will of the Lord was clear. He was to go.
He risked his life and the life of his men to rescue the city from Philistine oppression, slaying them with “a great slaughter.” One would have expected victory parades and recognition by the city. But it was the opposite. David, hearing that Saul was aware of his whereabouts, inquired if the men of Keilah would deliver him up to Saul. When the reply from the Lord through Abiathar was given, it must have smote David’s heart. Those whom he had helped were only concerned with themselves and with currying the favor of Saul.
Immediately following this, the Ziphites conspire with Saul to deliver David. Only the hand of God delivered David from Saul on this occasion (1Samuel 23:27-29).
We can understand the feelings of David when betrayed. Perhaps a few readers can identify with the intense grief occasioned by betrayal. But all this must fade in comparison to the sorrows known by the Man of Sorrows. He had fed the 5,000, healed many, and blessed all. Yet He was unwanted. He had “supported” Judas, given him the honor of being the treasurer of the band, empowered him to perform miracles, and shown the full measure of grace and kindness to him that only the Savior could. Yet after years in His company, eating of His bread, hearing His words, and viewing His deeds of grace and power, Judas betrayed Him.
While the pictures of betrayal are similar, there is one huge contrast to consider. The Lord Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray Him (John 6:64). Yet, day by day, He sought to bless and provide for Judas; day by day He moved in the company of man who would eventually value Him for the price of a dead slave (Ex 21:32). That foreknowledge did not make the betrayal any less painful; it intensified it.
Notice how the two events mentioned above are sandwiched around the incident where Jonathan comes to strengthen David’s hands (vv 16-18). God gave David assurance in the midst of men plotting for his life.