Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David's men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. (1 Samuel 23:1-5)
1. There may be something to the Philistines robbing Keilah of "Cain's offering" and David capturing "Abel's offering" in return, but since nothing is written about it, it will remain something to mediate on.
2. The main significance of this passage is the prayer. David asks the Lord if he should attack. Of course, in David's situation, his army is not a formidable force. It is only composed of fellow desperate people. Even though the Lord responds (probably through the prophet Gad) that he should attack, the men are sorely afraid, so David asks again. The Lord responds that he will, indeed, give the Philistines over into David's hand, and so David proceeds with the attack. David saves Keilah.
3. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus brings his disciples and has them wait near him, so he can pray. He takes with him Peter, James, and John, and he begins to be afraid. His divinity is minimized at this point, and his humanity is coming to the forefront. He possesses a great heaviness, which he tells the three apostles about. He describes his heaviness as the approach of death. He then tells them to wait where they are and watch.
4. Going forward a little, Jesus falls to the ground and pleads from his humanity that the Lord might take his impeding sacrifice away. But he submits himself fully to the father's will in perfect obedience.
5. The watchers fail three times. Peter, James, and John are unable to stay awake each time. The third time Jesus returns he tells them, "Sleep hence forth and take your rest. The hour has come." Christ means that, even though their watchfulness was weak, it was enough. Their task is over, and Christ has passed the final test of human doubt. Christ saves the world.
6. As Romans 8:26-27 reads, God's Spirit helps us in our infirmities, because we do not know how to pray or what to pray for. But God's spirit prays through us, giving expression to what we are unable to express. God searches through all hearts and knows what is in them. He not only stirs up hearts to pray but shows the heart to whom to pray and how. Our prayers are to be for saints and potential saints, and the prayers themselves are to be according to the will of God.
7. So, even though the three apostles "failed" and fell asleep, through their infirmities God succeeded in the keeping watch. What was the watch for? Not, it seems, for the people that were coming to capture Jesus but for his humanity's faith in the task at hand to be restored.
8. We must stay awake now, though, for we do not know at what hour the end will come, and we must be prepared. The incarnation of Christ is a warning to all the world to turn from our sin and live. When Christ comes again, anyone who did not heed his message will have to pay for his own sins for eternity. All who did heed Christ will have placed their full trust and faith in him for the forgiveness of their sins and have everlasting life. When we keep watch, we are to be on watch for the best interests of the saints and potential saints. Sharing the gospel of forgiveness of sins would be in the best interests of our people. Being a watchman is sharing the gospel.
9. David trusted God and fought the Philistines, but God was the one who won the battle. All David needed was to trust in the Lord. God works through even our doubt and weakness. We cry out, "I believe! Help my unbelief!" when we hear that God has forgiven our sins through the shedding of Christ's blood. The Spirit of God does just that. We are saved through faith alone, and the rest of our earthly life is the Spirit helping our unbelief. Your sins have been forgiven! Believe!