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When You Have to Run 

There is a time to stay, and a time to run

First Samuel 21–22

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • January 18, In the year of our Lord, 2015

Scripture Reader and Reading: Dan Calvert – Ecclesiastes 3.1–8

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – No suggestions


  1. There is a time to stay, and a time to run. 
    1. When you have to run, what do you do?
    2. Where do you go?
  2. When you run, you find out 
    1. who your friends are and
    2. who your enemies are, and
      1. sometimes it turns out
        1. that the ones you thought were friends,
        2. were enemies, and
          1. the ones you thought were enemies
          2. were friends.
      2. David discovered these truths.
  3. He could have fought anyone, but 
    1. he did not fight unless it was necessary.
    2. Therefore, we will see when he had to run.


  1. First Samuel 21.1–6 – Expect Help from High Places 1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” 2 So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. 3 Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” 4 And the priest answered David and said, “There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women.” 5 Then David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.” 6 So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away.
    1. Ahimelech feared David being alone.
      1. Young men were with him, but
      2. no one with an official capacity.
        1. Imagine the priest of the Lord fearing David.
        2. The priest sensed that something was wrong.
    2. David explained the situation, requested food, and
      1. the priest gave the holy bread to David.
      2. Jesus referred to this incident when the Pharisees
        1. criticized His disciples for eating grain on the Sabbath.
        2. In Matthew 12, Jesus referred to the priest giving David the showbread,
          1. saying that it was not lawful for David to eat it, but
          2. the Law did not forbid emergency situations,
            1. which is what we have in First Samuel 21.
    3. Here is the thing:
      1. Do the Lord’s work.
      2. The Lord shall help you.
  2. First Samuel 21.7 – Watch Out for Opportunists

    7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord. And his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chief of the herdsmen who belonged to Saul.

    1. Doeg was detained before the Lord.
      1. Was there something good about Doeg?
      2. He may have rendered a service that pertained to the Lord, but
        1. we will find out later that he was an evil man.
        2. Yet, he had become part of Israel for some reason.
          1. He was an Edomite.
          2. He was over the herdsmen of Saul.
    2. Why did the Holy Spirit tell us about Doeg right here?
      1. Writers will introduce a person in a story,
      2. although we do not know if that person will help or hinder.
    3. Likewise, you will meet many people in life.
      1. Some of them will be off to the side.
      2. Yet, they can have huge impacts on the story of your life.
  3. First Samuel 21.8–9 – Have Your Sword

    8 And David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here on hand a spear or a sword? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” 9 So the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, there it is, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it. For there is no other except that one here.” And David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

    1. Reverting back to David’s haste, he asked for a spear or a sword.
    2. Ahimelech gave David the sword of Goliath.
      1. If David was a teenage boy,
      2. he could hardly wield the sword of Goliath.
        1. While David did not have the experience of warfare as Goliath did,
        2. the Bible referred to David as a man of war before he fought Goliath,

          18 Then one of the servants answered and said, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him” (1Sa 16.18).
    3. Even as David could not go out into his world without a sword,
      1. so we cannot go into our world without a sword.
      2. Either have
        1. in your head,
        2. on your electronic device,
        3. in your car,
        4. someplace close
          1. the sword of the Spirit,
          2. which is the word of God.
  4. First Samuel 21.10–11 – Beware of the Enemy

    10 Then David arose and fled that day from before Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying:
    ‘Saul has slain his thousands,
    And David his ten thousands’?”

    1. Saul’s foolishness reached its peak
      1. when David had to flee to the Philistines.
      2. Saul had become so full of himself,
        1. he did not realize what he had done.
        2. He had lost one of the greatest and most loyal warriors of all time.
    2. However, the king of Gath, the hometown of Goliath
      1. also feared David for good reason.
      2. Achish’s servants reminded him of what the women had said of David.
    3. Therefore, it was not safe in Israel or in Gath.
      1. It may confuse us that David went to Gath, but
      2. when you are desperate,
      3. you do things that you normally would not have done.
    4. Therefore, consult the Lord constantly about what to do in life.
  5. First Samuel 21.12–15 – Be Wise, But Harmless

    12 Now David took these words to heart, and was very much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? 15 Have I need of madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

    1. Then David feared Achish, because
      1. he would want David dead.
    2. David pretended madness.
      1. How many people pretend madness and
      2. get away with it?
  6. First Samuel 22.1–2 – Go to Our David

    1 David therefore departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. So when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him.

    1. David found a huge cave for himself, his men, and his family to join him.
    2. Who were those who joined him?
      1. Those in distress.
      2. Those in debt.
      3. Those discontented.
    3. David became their captain, for
      1. in him they found a way out of their troubles,
      2. even as we find the same in Christ.
  7. First Samuel 22.3–4 – Wait for God

    3 Then David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come here with you, till I know what God will do for me.” 4 So he brought them before the king of Moab, and they dwelt with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

    1. David was involved in warfare and
      1. did not want his parents there.
      2. He feared for their safety.
    2. Apparently, the king of Moab agreed to this arrangement.
    3. David wanted to see what God would do.
      1. David was a brilliant man, but
      2. he was brilliant, because
        1. he relied upon the Lord, and
        2. not himself.
  8. First Samuel 22.5 – Keep Running

    5 Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

    1. There is
      1. a time to stay, and
      2. a time to run.
    2. This was a time to run.
      1. David could have fought the forces of Saul, but
      2. David never would have thought of doing such a thing.
        1. They were the armies of the living God.
        2. He fought for them when he fought Goliath.
  9. First Samuel 22.6–8 – Do Not Feel Sorry for Yourself

    6 When Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered—now Saul was staying in Gibeah under a tamarisk tree in Ramah, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants standing about him— 7 then Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? 8 All of you have conspired against me, and there is no one who reveals to me that my son has made a covenant with the son of Jesse; and there is not one of you who is sorry for me or reveals to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day.”

    1. What a difference in attitude between Saul and David.
      1. David waited to see what God would do.
      2. Saul waited to see who would feel sorry for him.
    2. Which one do you imitate?
  10. First Samuel 22.9–10 – Opportunists Will Strike

    9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who was set over the servants of Saul, and said, “I saw the son of Jesse going to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10 And he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

    1. Doeg saw the opportunity to make good for himself.
    2. While what he spoke was true,
      1. he left out Ahimelech’s ignorance of what was going on, and
      2. David’s explanation to Ahimelech.
    3. Doeg accused the priest of three things, which made him look treasonous:
      1. Inquiring of the Lord for David,
      2. Giving David provisions,
      3. Giving David the sword of Goliath.
  11. First Samuel 22.11–19 – Be of the Spirit

    11 So the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob. And they all came to the king. 12 And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub!” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Then Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as it is this day?” 14 So Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, who goes at your bidding, and is honorable in your house? 15 Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me! Let not the king impute anything to his servant, or to any in the house of my father. For your servant knew nothing of all this, little or much.” 16 And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house!” 17 Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.” But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the Lord. 18 And the king said to Doeg, “You turn and kill the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod. 19 Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword.

    1. Ahimelech first defended David, not himself.
    2. Ahimelech denied beginning that day to make inquiry of the Lord for David.
      1. The priest knew the kind of David was, and
      2. so prayed for his success, for
        1. in David’s success,
        2. Israel would have success.
    3. Ahimelech denied knowing of a conspiracy.
    4. The guards refused to kill the priests of the Lord, but
      1. Doeg did not hesitate.
      2. Not only did Doeg kill eighty-five priests, but
        1. he killed everyone, women and children, in the city of the priests.
        2. What did this get him?
          1. We do not hear anymore about him.
          2. He gained nothing and lost everything.
  12. First Samuel 22.20–23 – Team Up with Others

    20 Now one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests. 22 So David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have caused the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23 Stay with me; do not fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.”

    1. David was focused when he was with the priest, but
      1. he was also perceptive and
      2. noticed Doeg,
        1. knowing his potential for evil.
        2. Yet, David could not move against him.
    2. David confessed that he was the occasion for the death of Abiathar’s father.
    3. Therefore, David promised to protect him.


  1. When you have to run, run to the Lord. 
    1. When you have to run, follow the Lord.
    2. When you have to run, find the like-minded.
  2. Run to those who can pray for you.