1 Samuel 22


‘David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, ‘Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?’ So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold. But the prophet Gad said to David, ‘Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.’ So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.’ 1 Samuel 22:1-5

David At Adullam And Mizpah

After David’s encounter with Achish, the king of Gath, 1 Samuel 21:10-15, he left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. It wasn’t long before those who were in need, around 400 men, came to join him, this number would grow to 600 men a little later, 1 Samuel 23:13.

It’s possible that these men fled because of Saul’s mental condition and couldn’t handle his fits of rage. It’s also possible that some fled because they supported David and anyone who was supporting him was seen as Saul’s enemy.

David’s father was the grandson of Ruth who was from Moab, Ruth 1:22 / Ruth 2:2 / Ruth 2:6 / Ruth 2:21 / Ruth 4:5 / Ruth 4:10. It’s possible that David found some relatives in Moab with whom he could place his father and mother.

This is the first mention of ‘the prophet Gad’ in the Scriptures and Samuel may have commanded him to join David. In fact, the whole prophetic community of Israel automatically became allies of David following the tragic slaughter of the priests by Saul.

Later, Gad became the king’s seer after David was king, 2 Samuel 24:11, and he rebuked David for the sin of numbering Israel. After David’s death, he wrote a history of that monarch’s reign, 1 Chronicles 29:29 and he appears to have been concerned with arranging the temple services, 2 Chronicles 29:25.

Notice that Gad told him not to stay in the stronghold, that is Mizpeh. He encourages David not to be intimidated by Saul but to go and live in the land of Judah, in other words, God wanted David in the land of Judah, probably to protect the people who lived there.

Saul Kills The Priests Of Nob

‘Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. He said to them, ‘Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.’ But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, ‘I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitub at Nob. Ahimelek inquired of the LORD for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.’ Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek son of Ahitub and all the men of his family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all came to the king. Saul said, ‘Listen now, son of Ahitub.’ ‘Yes, my lord,’ he answered. Saul said to him, ‘Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?’ Ahimelek answered the king, ‘Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.’ But the king said, ‘You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.’ Then the king ordered the guards at his side: ‘Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.’ But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the LORD. The king then ordered Doeg, ‘You turn and strike down the priests.’ So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.’ 1 Samuel 22:6-19

These verses show us just how far Saul had fallen as the king of Israel, he knows no moral boundaries, he’s totally out of control and has no relationship with God. He doesn’t care about the preciousness of life and shows no remorse for killing God’s priests.

We also see the true character of Doeg the Edomite, 1 Samuel 21:1-9, he tells Saul a complete lie. He tells him that Ahimelek appeared to be helping David when he was fleeing from Saul but the truth was, David had actually told Ahimelek that he was on a mission from the king, 1 Samuel 21:2.

Saul thought that Ahimelek was rebelling against him by giving David the showbread, but he wasn’t, he acted out of ignorance, 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Ahimelek wasn’t acting in rebellion but helping David, as far as he was concerned, he thought if he helped David, he was indirectly helping Saul with David’s secret mission.

Saul goes ahead and orders that the Ahimelek and all the priests be killed. This shows us just how deranged his thinking had become, notice he even calls them ‘priests of the Lord’. He didn’t care about the preciousness of life, he didn’t care about the Lord, 1 Samuel 2:27-36.

Saul wasn’t brave enough to do this murderous deed by himself, he asks a foreigner, an Edomite, to do the murder for him. On this day, eighty-five priests were murdered and the city of Nob, with all its inhabitants, was totally destroyed.

Saul’s paranoia was so great, that he thought that every priest, from Samuel to these priests here, was conspiring against him. This act shows us how much of a dictator Saul had become, he ruled by instilling fear into people and if anyone conspired against him, then death was the penalty.

It’s difficult to understand why God would allow such a murderous act to happen in the first place but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that Saul’s time is coming, 1 Samuel 31:1-6 / Revelation 6:10.

We must always remember that God is preparing Israel for a new king and He sees the bigger picture, the longer goal. Israel would eventually see how deranged Saul would become which would pave the way for David to become their king and lead them in God’s ways.

‘But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. Then David said to Abiathar, ‘That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.’ 1 Samuel 22:20-23

Abiathar, who was one of Ahimelek’s sons and managed to escape and notice David’s reaction when he was informed of what Saul had done to all those who lived in Nob, David showed great sorrow because of the report. He took it personally, he thought it was all his fault for convincing Ahimelek to give him some bread in the first place, 1 Samuel 21:1-6.

David encourages Abiathar to stay with him for protection, it’s interesting because later when David does become king, he will become one of Israel’s high priests, 1 Samuel 23:9 / 1 Samuel 30:7 / 2 Samuel 14:24.

Go To 1 Samuel 23