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David a Fugitive in Judah and Moab
v. 1. David, therefore, because he could find no refuge in the land of the Philistines, departed thence and escaped to the cave Adullam, in the foothills of the Judean mountains, about sixteen miles southwest of Jerusalem; and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him, all his nearest relatives joined him, evidently because they feared the revenge of Saul upon their entire family; for it was nothing unusual for an Oriental prince to destroy a whole family for the fault of one person.
v. 2. And everyone that was in distress, feeling that the government of Saul was an arbitrary misrule, and everyone that was in debt, oppressed by his creditors and having failed to receive from the government that protection against the violation of the law of loan and interest which he might expect, Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36; Deuteronomy 23:19, and everyone that was discontented, bitter or embittered of soul, whose anxiety of soul over the condition of the kingdom, as it grew worse from day to day, drove them to a leader from whom they might, for the future, hope for better things, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them, their leader; and there were with him about four hundred men, the number afterward rising to six hundred, 1 Samuel 23:13. It was not a wild and lawless band, hut a well organized company, who were here trained in warfare, so that many of them afterwards became heroes in the nation.
v. 3. And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab, southeast of the Dead Sea, the country of his great-grandmother; and he said unto the king of: Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me. He wanted his aged parents to have some protection, to live in some degree of security, until the present uncertain period. of his own life would come to an end.
v. 4. And he brought them before the king of Moab, to remain under the latter's protection; and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold, in his fortified position, in his mountain fastness near Mizpeh.
v. 5. And the Prophet Gad said unto David, in a direct message which shows the loving care of God, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. The Prophet Gad may have been one of the band which lived near Ramah, where David became acquainted with him, 1 Samuel 19:18. Then David departed, out of the land of Moab, and came into the forest of Hareth, an unknown region, probably in the southwestern part of the territory of Judah. Like David, his great descendant, Jesus, accompanied by only a small band of faithful men, befriended by publicans and sinners, journeyed about in this country, in Palestine, entering into His glory through suffering and persecution.
Saul takes Revenge upon the Priests of Nob
v. 6. When Saul heard that David was discovered, when the place of his concealment was known at court, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, under the tamarisk on the height, where this session took place, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him,)
v. 7. then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, it was a full assembly of all the members of the court, Hear now, ye Benjamites, will the son of Jesse give everyone of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, the intimation being that David had given them rich promises in order to bribe them,
v. 8. that all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that showeth me that my son, namely, Jonathan, hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, showing the sympathy which true loyalty demands, or showeth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant, David, against me, to lie in wait, as an enemy seeking the king's life, as at this day? Both suspicions, that David was intriguing to take his throne And life, and that Jonathan was stirring up David to this conduct, were false. "Saul fancies himself in the meshes of a conspiracy against his person and kingdom organized by his own son, and accuses his courtiers of knowledge thereof and active participation therein. To such a pitch had the darkening And wasting of his inner life grown through hate and suspicion. " (Lange. )
v. 9. Then answered Doeg, the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, 1 Samuel 21:7, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub.
v. 10. And he enquired of the Lord for him, and gave him victuals, food on the way, and gave him the sword of Goliath, the Philistine. Doeg was actuated by wickedness, falsehood, calumny, and deceit, as Psalms 52:2-5 shows.
v. 11. Then the king sent to call Ahimelech, the priest, the son of Ahltub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob, for they all belonged to the one family of Aaron; and they came all of them to the king.
v. 12. And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub, a formal and solemn address, to impress upon Ahimelech the greatness of his supposed transgression. And he, possessed, as he was, of a good conscience, answered, Here I am, my lord.
v. 13. And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread and a sword, and hast enquired of God for him that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day? The same false and unjust suspicions and accusations are here repeated by Saul, who assumed at once that Ahimelech was guilty of conspiracy and treason.
v. 14. Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, And who is so faithful, in whom so much confidence has always been reposed, among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son-in-law, and goeth at thy bidding, having access to the inner council of the king as one of his privy counselors, and is honorable in thine house? These three facts surely justified any person in considering David a true friend of the king.
v. 15. Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? That day had not been the first time that he had obtained the divine answer for David, for that had often occurred before. Be it far from me, namely, any conspiracy or treason against the king; let not the king impute anything unto his servant nor to all the house of my father, they were not guilty of any wrong-doing; for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more, he was absolutely unaware of any conspiracy against the king and had not been guilty of any act of treason.
v. 16. And the king, insane with suspicions which caused him to mistrust all men, said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou and all thy father's house.
v. 17. And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, the runners, the members of the guard, who acted also as executioners, Turn, and slay the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, he considered them as taking the part of David against the rightful authority, and because they knew when he fled, and did not show it to me, made no immediate report of the matter. But the servants of the king, possessing more sanity and also more reverence for the servants of the Lord than Saul, would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the Lord. Their refusal makes the heinousness. of Saul's sin all the more conspicuous.
v. 18. And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod, a white cape like shoulder-dress patterned after the fine ephod of the high priest. It was a cold-blooded, bloodthirsty deed, a murderous slaughter.
v. 19. And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, in an insane fury of destruction, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword, his action indicating that he considered the whole city under the ban of Jehovah for harboring David.
v. 20. And one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David, he came to David, the fugitive.
v. 21. And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slain the Lord's priests, in a most cruel and bloody revenge.
v. 22. And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, he had felt it, he had had a premonition, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house. He was very strict in his self-judgment and self-condemnation on account of his heedlessness.
v. 23. Abide thou with me, fear not; for he that seeketh my life, chiefly Saul and his henchmen, seeketh thy life; but with me thou shalt be in safeguard. While a fugitive from the insane wrath of Saul, David felt that he stood under the protection of Jehovah, and that Abiathar, therefore, sought by Saul in the same manner, could cheerfully and safely cast his lot with the king's son-in-law. Saul's horrible deed merely indicated that his obduracy had reached a point from which there would be no return. So the high priest of God and the Urim and Thummim were now with David. In like manner the small, persecuted band of Christians has the best protection and consolation, the Word and truth of God, in its midst.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany