1 Samuel 22:23 - Safekeeping
During the first week of our quarantine, the Women’s Bible Study went over 1 Samuel 22. Mostly to make sure that the technology was working, I jumped onto the videoconference for the Bible Study. But during the lesson, I was struck by the last line in chapter 22.
“Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping” (1 Sam. 22:23).
The context for the passage is that David has been on the run from Saul. Saul’s paranoia against David is increasing, and Saul is losing his grip on reality. He imagines that David is lying in wait to ambush him. Doeg the Edomite tells Saul that Ahimelech at Nob has provided for David. So Saul instructs Doeg to wipe out all the priests at Nob, and Doeg obliges. He kills man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey, and sheep by putting them to the sword (v. 19). Only Ahimelech’s son Abiathar escapes. He flees to David. Upon hearing this news, David is overcome with grief because he knew that Doeg would tell Saul. David feels responsible for the death of all the priests at Nob. In response David pledges to protect Abiathar. Stay with me. Do not be afraid. With me you shall be in safekeeping (v. 23).
David is confident that can protect Abiathar because he trusts in the Lord to protect himself. It was during this tumultuous period that David wrote Psalm 52. David speaks of the evil of Doeg, but that is contrasted with the steadfast love of God. Doeg will be broken down, snatched up, and uprooted (Ps 52:5). But David will be like “a green olive tree in the house of God” (v. 8). His trust and hope is in the Lord. And this is the trust and hope he offers to a very frightened Abiathar. He tells Abiathar to not fear because I will protect you. I will cover you with my wing of protection.
In this David is a type and shadow of Christ. Jesus is the greater Son of David who fulfills the promises made to David. And Jesus continues the work of protection to those under his wing. When Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem and lamented how the people had rejected him, he said, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a gathers her brood under her wings” (Matt 23:37). The Lord of heaven and earth longs to hold his children in the safety of the shadow of his wing. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty…He will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps. 91:1, 4).
Jesus offers us safekeeping. This is Good News! But it is important we understand what this does not mean. It does not mean that we will never suffer hardship or pain or even death. It does mean, however, that even in hardship, pain, or death we are kept safe under the wing of our protector. It does mean that even if death might touch us, we are not afraid because we echo Paul, who was echoing Hosea, in mocking death, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). The victory over death is realized in Christ’s resurrection from the grave. So, we can look at any trial or hardship or plague with confidence that we are kept safe. Do not be afraid, for with Jesus you shall be in safekeeping.