“The Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem,” while Saul and his forces encamped but a few miles distant at the foot of Mount Gilboa. Saul felt alone and defenseless, because God had forsaken him. As he looked abroad upon the Philistine host, “he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.”
Saul had expected that the son of Jesse would take this opportunity to revenge the wrongs he had suffered. The king was in sore distress. His own unreasoning passion to destroy the chosen of God had involved the nation in great peril. While pursuing David, he had neglected the defense of his kingdom. The Philistines, taking advantage of its unguarded condition, had penetrated into the very heart of the country. While Satan had been urging Saul to destroy David, the same malignant spirit inspired the Philistines to work Saul’s ruin. How often the archenemy moves upon some unconsecrated heart to kindle strife in the church, and then, taking advantage of the divided condition of God’s people, he stirs up his agents to work their ruin.
On the morrow Saul must engage the Philistines in battle. Shadows of impending doom gathered dark about him. He longed for guidance; in vain he sought counsel from God. “The Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”
The Lord never turned away a soul that came to Him in sincerity. Why did He turn Saul away unanswered?