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.
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.
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.