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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 22

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Verses 1-2

David in the Cave of Adullam

David was chased back to his land by Achis. He is back in the land where he will be chased by Saul. He escapes all his persecutors by hiding in the cave of Adullam. In the list of heroes of faith and acts of faith in Hebrews 11, the way David goes and the place where he abides are recorded as proofs of faith (Hebrews 11:38). Also now, knowing that he was destined by the LORD and anointed to be king, he has no intention of ascending the throne by force. It seems as if everything is over for him. He can do nothing and go nowhere.

It is like with the apostle Paul. When he is in prison, his service seems to be over. But just in prison he writes some special letters that we now have in the Bible: the letter to the Ephesians, the letter to the Colossians and the letter to the Philippians. David has written in the cave some of the psalms we have in the Bible (Psalms 57:142). In it we hear his mood “when he was in the cave” (Psalms 142:1). At the end of Psalm 142 he says: “The righteous will surround me” (Psalms 142:7). We see that happening here.

When he is alone in the cave and pours out his soul before the LORD about his loneliness (Psalms 142:4), we see here how hearts and legs move for him. People come to him. They later become the heroes of David who help him to become his kingdom and share in his glory. But here they are not yet. David is here a picture of the Lord Jesus to Whom all who also have no part on earth come.

First his brothers and his whole family come to him. They are also in danger of being persecuted by Saul. Then come everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented. They either have a personal need, a problem they cannot solve themselves, or someone who is on their heels to enslave them, or they are so bitter by injustice or incomprehension suffered that they have no choice but to go to David. They do that because they have nothing to lose. He is joined by about four hundred men.

So today, too, people come to the Lord who see in Him their last chance of survival (cf. Mark 5:25-Hosea :). They develop into heroes. This development takes place in the school of God, there one is formed. David is their superior, it is also his school. Being with David means not only faith in his cause, but faith in himself. It also means that you no longer belong anywhere else.

So it is with the believer who has taken refuge in the Lord Jesus. He only does this when his need is so great, that he sees no other way out when he is a debtor with a debt he cannot pay or is so bitter that life no longer makes any sense to him.

Verses 3-4

David Brings His Parents in Moab

David seeks refuge for his parents in Moab. Moab is not known as a friend of Israel. The king of Moab, when Israel was stationed in his plains after the wilderness journey, tried to dissolve the people by means of Balaam (Numbers 22:1-Judges :). But there is also another side on Moab. Moab will be a land to which the remnant flees in the time of the great tribulation and will be purified by God. Therefore it says: “Moab is My washbowl” (Psalms 60:8).

Verse 5

David Must Go to Judah

David is also in Moab, but he cannot stay there. That is what the prophet Gad tells him on behalf of God. God wants to bring David into the fire of trial, and that is in His land ruled by Saul. Gad becomes the seer of David and stayed with him. Through Gad David learns to know the will of God. He obeys the prophet and returns to Judah.

Verses 6-8

Saul Calls David His Attacker

Our attention is again focused on Saul who is sitting under a tree again and has the spear in his hand again. In what he says, we hear what lives in his heart. He speaks to his tribesmen, the Benjamites. They are related to him, but he has also committed them to himself by buying them with gifts. Saul is a man who complains about himself, feels sorry for himself and sees himself as a victim of the circumstances. We hear no reaction from his servants. They are silent.

Saul does not mention the name of David. It is a hated name for him. He despicable speaks of him as “the son of Jesse”. Although he tries to win over his servants by the reward, he sees them as conspirators against him. Because they do not speak as he does, he sees them as enemies. He even accuses his son Jonathan of inciting David to revolt against him. A jealous man comes to the most foolish conspiracy theories. He also turns the business upside down by calling David his attacker. It is not David who attacks him, but he attacks David.

Verses 9-15

Achimelech Called to Account

The servants may keep silence; there is one who does not keep silence, and that is the Edomite Doeg. He will show that he is doing well with Saul. Doeg tells Saul of which he was an eyewitness. In response to that, Saul lets Ahimelech come. Saul hears him, but not as it should be. The hearing is an accusation. The accusation is that Ahimelech helped a rebel to bread and a sword and also that he inquired of God for him. Then you are guilty of high treason, you are guilty of a coup d’état. Saul is already sure what he will do, he has already passed judgment.

Ahimelech puts himself on the side of Saul in his giving account. In his ignorance he defends David. He does not care much about David, but he wants to be neutral. There is nothing that Saul can charge him with, so he means. Did he not know that David was fleeing from Saul? All he has heard about David is that he faithfully serves Saul, is in a close family relationship with Saul, and that he obediently does what Saul asks of him. Is David not honored in the house of Saul? Surely, he can only see it as his duty to help David. By speaking of David in this way he gives a good testimony of him. But that is exactly what Saul hates so much. It only increases his anger.

Verses 16-19

The Verdict and the Execution

Saul is not willing to change his intention to kill Ahimelech. He himself pronounces the verdict. Ahimelech must die, together with his whole family (Ecclesiastes 3:16).

Because the priest did not tell him that David had been with him, he therefore colluded with the enemy. Whoever is not inspired by the same blind hatred of David, is on the side of David and must be killed. He orders his guards to kill the priesthood of whom he also says they are priests of the LORD. The guards do not dare to do that. By such an order Saul has lost his authority among his subordinates.

Then he turns to Doeg and orders him to kill the priests. That man kills eighty-five men without hesitation and then kills the entire priest city of Nob. Doeg does on behalf of Saul what Saul should have done with Amalek and in which Saul himself has saved what he found valuable (1 Samuel 15:3-:). By killing the whole family of Ahimelech, the word spoken about the house of Eli is fulfilled (1 Samuel 3:11), for Ahimelech is of the family of Eli.

Verses 20-23

Abiathar Flees to David

Yet the priesthood is preserved, for a son of Ahimelech escapes. He flees to David and tells him what happened (cf. Matthew 14:12). When David hears it, he takes the blame. He offers Abiathar his protection and guarantees him safety. With his life, which Saul hunts, he guarantees him.

David writes at this occasion Psalm 52 (Psalms 52:1-Exodus :).

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Samuel 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-samuel-22.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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