The soft night sky twinkled with stars and the wind had slowed to a warm, gentle breeze. David and his troop camped in the forests of Hereth that night. He sat against a wiry acacia tree and let his muscles relax.
It feels as though things are finally calming down, he thought as he began to doze off. But a shout from his men brought him back to the present . A young man stumbled into camp, demanding to see David. He had blood spattered on his clothing, a colorful ephod in his hands, and his eyes were wide—darting this way and that.
“Who are you?” David’s men demanded.
“I am Abiathar, son of Ahimelech. I’m from Nob, I need to see David immediately!”
David recognized the town and name. He stepped forward. When he saw the blood on Abiathar’s clothing, he felt uneasiness settle upon him. “Abiathar. You are welcome here. What happened?”
Until now, Abiathar would not let himself break. But tears in the young man’s eyes flowed freely over his anger-stricken face. “It was Saul! He killed my father, he killed all the priests! My whole family.” He slumped to his knees, holding the ephod close to his chest. “I am the only one who escaped.”
David felt his chest tighten. He kneeled down, placed a hand on Abiathar’s shoulder and tightly clenched his other hand. “Why did Saul do this?” But he already knew the answer.
“Doeg, that cursed Edomite, saw you in the temple and told the king. Saul brought the priests to him and said we had aided you in your mission to destroy him. But it was a lie! He destroyed my family over a lie!”
The gut in David’s stomach went from tight to nauseous. Oh, Ahimelech. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have hidden the truth from you. You were all innocent, and I could have warned you. He spoke. “I knew there would be trouble when I saw Doeg that day.” He took Abiathar’s shoulders and looked into his tearful eyes. “I am so sorry. I have caused the death of your entire family. Please forgive me. Stay with us. I will protect you with my life. Because the same person wants both of us killed.”
* * *
A few days later, David heard a town nearby, Keilah, was being robbed by the Philistines. He stopped and sought advice from the one friend who had been with him since his flight started.
“Lord, should I go and attack them?”
The answer came clearly: Yes, go and save Keilah.
He told his men the plan, and they were not thrilled. A man with tired eyes and a graying beard said, “Listen, we’re scared as it is in our own country. Do you think it’s wise to take on the entire Philistine army?” Others agreed.
“God has told me to go. But if you are afraid, I can ask him again,” David replied.
So he secluded himself and sought the Lord. Listening intently, he heard the same answer. Go down to Keliah. I will give the Philistine army to you. He shared the Lord’s words with his men and they prepared for battle.
It was just as God said. They drove away the hostile army, reclaimed the things that had been stolen, and rescued the people of Keliah. One of the rescued men held his wife close. “Thank you, David. This town will forever be in your debt.”
After they had driven the Philistines away, the man who had doubted approached David. He fidgeted with his sword and looked into David’s eyes. “Please forgive me for not believing you. I was wrong to question what your god said.”
David smiled. “Don’t worry. Everyone doubts at some point. But it’s not wrong to ask again to clarify. If anything, I think God is pleased when we double-check his words.”
It was another victory for David, but little did he know the people of Keliah were about to betray him.
To Be Continued…
Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.