David at the Cave of Adullam
22 David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
Saul Kills the Priests at Nob
Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day.” Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, and he inquired of the LORD for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king. And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” And 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, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over your bodyguard, and honored in your house? Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.” And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the LORD. Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.
But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”
1 Samuel 22 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The disgruntled and discontent join together; the ruthless ever-growing paranoid behavior acts out in murder; the innocent are slaughtered. Oh, the intentions and strong consequences of acting in human sinful nature are seen throughout this chapter.
David lives in a cave. The marginalized, dissatisfied men of society find him hidden and join alongside. These will eventually become David’s Mighty Men of Valor who fight for him. Ironically, these men are able to find him but Saul cannot!
In ever-increasing paranoia, Saul’s pursuit of David leads him to the city of Nob. The priests who had no reason not to believe David when he visited are called into an ad-hock court. Suspecting a conspiracy between David, Jonathan and these priests, he demands their death. 85 priests are murdered that day. The entire city of Nob ranging from the women and children to the flocks and animals are destroyed. The lies of David bring a horrific wake of bloodshed.
This chapter is an overview of what takes place when we operate in our human nature. Godly movement is replaced by human reason. Lives are destroyed. We operate in fear rather than trust. It’s almost like tumbling off a cliff with nothing to grasp hold of or plant our feet upon. Our conscious becomes seared. Although David admits it was his fault for their death, upon the report there is no remorse spoken of. Saul’s murder of the priests is justified in his thinking.
When we give into our human nature, decisions hold terrible outcomes. To me, the scariest thing is our thinking becomes so skewed, our behavior becomes justified, and we slip further from the conviction the Holy Spirit can bring us.
1 Samuel 22 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
There’s no doubt that David felt completely isolated. Living in a cave, he was completely humiliated. It’s hard to imagine how he managed to get through this time. But God was at work. David hides in the cave of Adullam, which literally means “refuge.” Soon, his family would join him there, along with about 400 men in total. He was no longer alone and isolated – a true gift from the Lord.
However, his peace would be devastated when Saul discovers his position and eventually proceeds to execute the priests David visited in the previous chapter.
In my opinion, it’s safe to say that in the state of mind Saul was in, Ahimelech was a dead man no matter what. If David had not lied to him, he would have known of the conflict firsthand, and Saul undoubtedly would have made him choose a side. Observing Ahimelech’s character, and how much he respected David, it’s very likely he could have sided with him, and died with honor.
This would have been slightly better than being framed for a conspiracy he knew nothing about, but the point is, it was Saul’s maniacal approach that ultimately led to this slaughter. In Saul’s paranoia, he had already made his mind up there was some kind of rebel alliance forming against him. He didn’t even question Ahimelech, but rather, accused him immediately of conspiring against him because of Doeg’s whispering in his ear.
With that being said, David is far from innocent. David’s lying made matters much worse than they had to be, and he knew he was guilty. Both here, and in Psalm 52 (which he penned specifically about this event) he regrets how he handled the situation. His immediate response to Abiathar is, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household.” David took responsibility.
Most often, our first response is to look for someone else to blame or give a half-hearted apology. David was not perfect, but he did admit his fault. He knew the character of Doeg, and yet, did not act as he should have to correct the situation. David does all he can do at this point. He offers to protect Abiathar in the horrible aftermath, and surprisingly, through all the chaos, manages to spend time with the Lord penning Psalm 52.