David found himself quickly gaining more men. Rescuing the city made him the hero of Keliah. He lowered himself to the dusty ground near the city gate and glanced to azure sky. Lord, you’ve been faithful. I— David’s thoughts were cut off when a scout ran to him, his face beaded with sweat, and his eyes wide.
“Saul knows you’re here! He’s bringing his entire army to destroy the city to get to you!”
David’s heart began to race. Keliah had a wall and could keep out most attackers, but with the recent invasion, this city was in poor defensive shape. David jumped to his feet. “Where is Abiathar?” The people of Keliah who heard the news were milling around anxiously.
The young priest was quickly located. “Abiathar,” David said, “Saul is coming here to kill us. Please seek God’s guidance! And quickly!” David secluded himself and poured out his heart. “Lord, will Saul actually come here? God, what should I do? Please tell me!”
The Lord answered. If Saul comes here, the people will hand you and your men over to him. David’s heart ceased racing and froze instead. “They will betray me? After we rescued them?” His men were quickly assembled and they fled Keliah before Saul arrived.
* * *
Once they had gone a considerable distance, they stopped for camp. Hundreds of little campfires lit the cold wilderness of Horesh. David gazed into the fire; an ember sputtered from the flames and flickered out.
Suddenly, a hand grasped his shoulder. “David?”
David looked, but couldn’t believe his eyes, “Jonathan!” His best friend had tracked David down to encourage him. He sat himself across from the fire, the orange light painting his regal features. “My father will never find you, David. God will keep protecting you. I know you’re meant to be king. Don’t give up.”
* * *
The next morning, the two men parted, both feeling encouraged. David and his men went south near Maon, and Jonathan went back home to Jerusalem. David heard Saul was still seeking him and went deeper into the wilderness of Maon.
But one fateful morning, Saul drew too close for David and his men to escape.
The troop of 600 carefully made their way through the gritty, sun-scorched wasteland of Maon. The few bare trees were stripped of any leaves, and no sound could be heard except for the lonely, dry wind.
David called for a much-needed break, and they sat. One of his men, the one with the graying beard sat next to him. “You wouldn’t happen to have any extra water, would you?”
“Sure, you can have mine,” David offered.
“Thank you. Mine began leaking yesterday, and this weather can drain a man of life—”
But David wasn’t listening; he was fixed on the cloud of dust rising from the horizon. He looked closer, and saw his worst nightmare. “Saul’s army!” he cried.
All his men were thrown into a panic. The enemy had seen them now, and the army charged. David and his men made a break for a small mountain in an attempt to hide in the crevices and caves.
David waited until his men were on the other side of the mountain. He looked back and was startled by how close the enemy was. He heard their thunderous marching and their blood-thirsty cries.He looked into the mass of men and his eye fell on Saul. The man had been hounding him for what seemed like months. They saw each other for the first time since this chaos began. The cold victory that burned in Saul’s eyes made David’s knees give way.
He let his body sink to the ground as he slipped behind a boulder. Oh God, he prayed while tensing his body against the rock. There’s nowhere to run. He’s going to kill all of us.
Saul and his men began closing around the mountain like a noose.
Just as David heard Saul’s men clamoring up the other side, he heard another noise. A horn? Suddenly the war cries and marching stopped. David mustered enough courage to peer over the boulder. Saul’s leaving? He stood. David later learned that the Philistines had raided Israel and scouts had come to call Saul away to fight.
As David’s men watched, they cheered and praised God. David saw Saul turn and look toward him. Hatred radiated from his glare and he turned away with his army.
David only slid to his knees—glad to be alive. But he knew Saul would be back.
To Be Continued…
Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.