1 Samuel 22 (NRSV)
David and His Followers at Adullam
David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam;
David’s options were limited! He could not go to his parents’ home, he could not go back to the palace, he could not go to Jonathan or Samuel, he could not go to the house of the Lord, he could not go to the enemies of Israel —
when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. 2Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.
This could be a beginning of a rebel army; David could go up against Saul. But David never did. He waited for the Lord to bring the crown to him, rather than taking the crown for himself from Saul.
These men came to David in distress, in debt, and discontented, but they didn’t stay that way. David made them into the kind of men described in 1 Chronicles 12:8: Mighty men of valor, men trained for battle, who could handle the shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as gazelles on the mountains.
3David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come to you, until I know what God will do for me.” 4He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.
Family connections! David’s great-grandmother, Ruth, had come from Moab.
5Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.” So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth.
Saul Slaughters the Priests
6Saul heard that David and those who were with him had been located. Saul was sitting at Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. 7Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, you Benjaminites; 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? 8Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league 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 he is doing today.”
Hear Saul, paranoid and whiny — “It’s all about me!”
9Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech son of Ahitub; 10he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
11The king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and for all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”
He answered, “Here I am, my lord.”
13Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today?”
14Then Ahimelech answered the king, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, and is quick to do your bidding, and is honored in your house. 15Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? By no means! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any member of my father’s house; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.”
16The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.”
Saul kills Ahimelech the priest for telling the truth.
17The king said to the guard who stood around him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.”
But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord.
18Then the king said to Doeg, “You, Doeg, turn and attack the priests.”
Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod. 19Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword.
“This is one of the worst acts in the life of Saul; his malice was implacable, and his wrath was cruel, and there is no motive of justice or policy by which such a barbarous act can be justified.”
20But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible for the lives of all your father’s house.
Now David see the price of his lies to the priest, who was therefore unaware of the enmity between Saul and David, and got caught in the crossfire.
23Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.”
I am inspired to imitate David in this regard: no matter how dire his situation, he rejoices in the Lord! This song uses David’s words from Psalm 36:5-6 — Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. HERE Third Day sings “Your Love, O Lord.”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.