Call to Worship September 26 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 23

William Tyndale encountered tenacious opposition while seeking to translate and transport English Bibles. He was most concerned with his English speaking people’s ability to read and know the biblical truth of God’s salvation through Christ alone, by faith alone. More than once Tyndale was turned in to English authorities or law enforcement in various mainland European cities, where he was exiled, for his translation and shipping of Bibles. Thomas More, a Lord Chancellor for the King of England and Roman Catholic apologist of his day, sought to publically ruin Tyndale’s character in order to thwart the tide of interest in his English translation of scripture. Thomas More was one of many Roman Catholic defenders at that time. They wanted Tyndale stopped, one way or the other. On October 9th, 1536 Tyndale was burned at the stake for his translation work, but the dream of English speaking bibles moved forward even into the present era.[1] Trouble may be all around, but the providence of God always works according to God’s promises and its essential consequences.  

Doeg, the dogged Edomite for Saul, thought he played the role of spoiler for David and gained power for himself. He slayed the family of Ahimelech, sending the priestly line and hope for David spiraling downward. How would David function as king without an attachment to the priestly line? Certainly this would put the fear of Saul in David and end this futile game of chase. But no! God used Doeg to fulfill judgement and further the kingdom of Israel God’s way. God prophesied that the house of Eli was put under a curse of judgment (1 Sam. 2:30-36). Hophni and Phinehas died earlier in fulfillment and Doeg was simply one tool of God’s judgement to further complete that curse. The final completion does not take place until Abiathar is banished by Solomon to Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26-27).

Doeg and Saul thwarted nothing! Abiathar, a son of Ahimilech, escaped and fled to David. David was more convinced of the evil work of Saul and promised Abiathar protection. Abiathar brought an ephod, a priestly garment, with him (1 Sam. 23:6, 9). David only increased in stature and purpose. He was not only the anointed king with a prophet (Gad in 22:5); He had the priestly vestment and line with him and his train of 600. Saul, according to Gordon Keddie, “was little more than a chapter waiting to be closed…This triad of prophet, priest and king constituted God’s stamp of authority upon David’s enterprise.”[2] Furthermore, David exemplified his kingly office as he dealt with the Philistines. He consulted the word of the Lord and trusted His word. Upon trusting the word of the Lord, David led his army to defeat the Philistines in Keilah (1-5). 

Doeg did his work, and Saul continued his relentless pursuit of David. Saul’s pursuit was dastardly and defective. He had no genuine communion with God.[3] The LORD was leading David by means of prophet and priest. Saul was working with pure selfish determination, which was blatantly in defiance of the LORD. Saul thought he could surround David and smother him in Keilah (vs. 7-8) and in the hill country (19-26). God had other plans. It was the LORD who informed David of how Keilah would turn him over to Saul. God sent Jonathan as a covenant reminder of David’s kingship (15-18). The LORD further providentially ordered the attack of the Philistines back home (27-29). Saul chased a balloon in the wind he would never catch. His desires and plans were thwarted by the one living covenant God.

Doeg and Saul were tools and David was a son. Many people are God’s tools and not his sons (Matt. 7:15-23). They live and act as they want to live and act, but their lives are ultimately ordered by God. His plan and providence were working in the time of David and William Tyndale. They are still at work today. Consider Thomas More, and others like him. They were nothing more than the ideological descendants of that lap dog Doeg. Not only did they not stop the translation and distribution of English bibles, but God further used their faulty legacies for the glory of His kingdom. Recently, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, was awarded over $800,000 dollars in a court settlement with the local and state government.[4] Dr. John MacArthur revealed, “Grace Community Church has been in litigation with the state of California, lawsuits for a year, we haven’t paid one dime because we are fully funded by the Thomas More Society.”[5] God’s plan and providence may be strange, but they never fail. So rest in the LORD Jesus King of all creation. Soli Deo Gloria!

[1] Steven J. Lawson, The Daring Mission of William Tyndale, (Sanford, Fl., Reformation Trust, 2015.), pgs. 7-26.

[2] Gordon Keddie, Dawn of a Kingdom: The Message of I Samuel, Welwyn Commentary Series, (England, Evangelical Press, 1988.), 216.

[3] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), 238.


[5] Stephen Nichols, Five Minutes in Church History; A Most Intriguing Event with John MacArthur, Podcast.