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David's distresses are still continued, and form the subject of this Chapter. He is constrained to leave Achish, and gets to the cave of Adullam. His relations now seek to him: many persons in desperate circumstances join him: Saul's rage against him breaks out with more and more violence: Doeg the Edomite, having informed Saul of Ahimelech the priest's kindness to David, Saul causeth the priests of Nob to be slain, and the city of Nob is destroyed by him. Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escapes, and flees to David. These are the principal matters contained in this Chapter.
1 Samuel 22:1
(1) ¶ David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
It is an observation that meets us at every part of David's history, and ought to be marked down by the Reader with a particular mark, that but for the many and multiplied troubles of David, the Church of the Lord would have wanted those precious things which his book of Psalms contains. It is indeed a Book of rich experiences. And the Holy Ghost hath furnished for the Church, from this man's history, a great variety to suit most cases of his people. The title of Psalms 142:0 marks this as the period, in David's life, when it was written. And a most precious Psalm it is. I beg the Reader to turn to if, in order to behold the workings of David's mind. But, while I do this, in order that the Reader may have the more lively idea of David's history, I beseech him to be always looking beyond David to behold him whom David so strikingly typified. One example in proof will be sufficient to justify this request, and may serve to throw light upon many others. In that Psalm David saith, I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me. Now the Reader cannot fail, I should hope, to recollect that Jesus was precisely in this state, when all the disciples forsook him and fled; when one denied him and another betrayed him.
(2) And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
Here surely, if any where, we may see the Lord Jesus strongly typified. Yes! thou dearest Lord! thy little army is composed of distressed souls; for none will make thee their Captain whose spiritual circumstances are not desperate. Until I found myself totally insolvent, and unable to satisfy the debt of God's law; until my soul felt distress from the sense of sin, the alarms of conscience, and the accusations of Satan; until discontent under a load of guilt, and the fear of the wrath to come, compelled me to seek redemption; never wast thou dear to me, nor did I desire to come under thy banner! But now, oh! thou chiefest among ten thousand; now art thou to me the altogether lovely, and the Captain of my salvation. They shall come, it is said, that are ready to perish: and I am also convinced that without thee I must, perish forever. Isaiah 27:13 .
(3) And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: 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. (4) And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.
I pass over the consideration of David's filial regard to his parents, sweet and profitable as the review of his affection to them would be, in the improvement it holds forth, in order to attend to a point in these verses infinitely more important; I mean, that patient waiting, and dependence upon God, until he knew what the Lord's will concerning him was; and how he should be disposed of. The highest marks of faith are those which eye God in everything, and cause the soul humbly to wait the Lord's pleasure. When we can pray over the dispensation, leave that dispensation with Him that ordereth all things in wisdom; and cheerfully abide by the result. This is faith in its best principles. Reader! may you and I thus love Christ, and then we shall truly glorify him. See another beautiful example of this kind in David's conduct on a similar occasion. 2 Samuel 15:25-26 .
(5) And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
I admire the conduct of David in thus taking counsel from the Prophet, and following his advice. He considered it as coming from the Lord. The prophet Malachi had it in commission in after ages to tell the Church, that God's servants are his messengers to give information to his people. Malachi 2:7 .
(6) ¶ When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;) (7) Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, 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; (8) That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
Reader! remark the progress of iniquity in this unhappy man. Not able to bring his son Jonathan over to his own persuasion, he now implicates him in the supposed treachery of David; and thus seeks a pretence in the counsel of the wicked for David's destruction. Doth not the Reader call to mind an higher instance of this turpitude, in the conduct of the High Priest towards the person of our adorable Redeemer. Answerest thou nothing? (said this pretended upright and conscientious High Priest) behold how many things they witness against thee. And when our dear Lord, agreeable to what had been predicted of him, standing, as a lamb before her shearers is dumb, and opened not his mouth, still remained silent. "I adjure thee (says he) by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God?" And when to this solemn demand, the Son of God, who came to bear witness to the truth, openly professed who he was: the High Priest rent his clothes, and pronounced it to be blasphemy. See Matthew 26:62-65 .
(9) Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. (10) And he enquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
Uniformly in all ages of the church the children of the bond-woman are enemies to the children of the free. Esau's race, the Edomites, and Jacob's seed, the true Israelites, are in different covenants. Reader! put it down as a certain truth, everyone belonging to Christ must and will suffer persecution. Galatians 4:29 .
(11) Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king. (12) And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord. (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? (14) Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house? (15) Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute anything unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
I never read the process of an unjust tribunal like this of Saul's, but I desire to have my thoughts directed, by the Holy Ghost to contemplate thy matchless humbleness and purity of soul, dearest Jesus, when, before Pontius Pilate, thou didst witness a good confession. The conscious rectitude of Ahimelech in the instance before us, lovely as it is, sinks to nothing in the comparison. Who is faithful among all the Lord's servants, as the servant whom Jehovah had chosen? And yet was not he accused of blasphemy? Oh! thou Lamb of God, who didst endure such a contradiction of sinners against thyself. Hebrews 12:3 .
(16) And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house. (17) And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD. (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. (19) And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
Observe, the awful height in iniquity to which Saul is now arrived! he calls Ahimelech and his companions Priests of the Lord: and yet dares to lay hands upon them. And observe, the awful character of Doeg: and in him mark the decided hatred in the hearts of all men, by nature, to the children of grace. This man is a lively type of it. But Reader! do not fail to remark, the fulfilment of God's threatened judgment upon the house of Eli, here visited on the children. See 1 Samuel 3:11-14 . I do not know anything more awful, than the consideration that the threatenings of the Lord, as well as his promises, must be fulfilled. Jehovah is as truly engaged to the performance of the one, as he is to the other. And what an alarming consideration is the thought, that the days shall come when the wicked shall be driven from the presence of the Lord, with everlasting destruction. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 .
(20) ¶ And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
The flight of Abiathar to David, should serve to teach every persecuted soul that Jesus, the Son of David, must be fled to in all seasons of distress. It is he which receiveth the sinner under the threatened pursuit of law and justice, and affords shelter in his righteousness against all their claims.
(21) And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD'S priests. (22) And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, 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. (23) Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.
Though David held forth such consolation to Abiathar, yet it appears, from his history, and the contents of Psalms 52:0 , which he wrote upon this occasion, that his mind was sharply exercised, though with steady faith. But do we not see a greater than David here? Is not our Almighty David shadowed forth, as brought into distresses, and bringing his followers, to similar situations like Ahimelech? But how sweet the relief to the mind, that our Almighty David hath anticipated the sure judgment, which must follow the persecutors of his people. Yes! the Lord will destroy, all the enemies of our salvation, and that forever. David hath marked Selah to this observation, when he prophesied that they should be rooted out of the land of the living. By which he meant that the Reader should mark it down as a thing so sure to be done as if it were done already. See Psalms 52:0 .
HERE, dearest Jesus, in the flight of David to the cave of Adullam, I would pause to contemplate thee. Thou art ever precious, ever lovely, ever endearing, in every possible point of view, in which my soul beholds thee; but when I see thee, as David is here represented, as becoming the Captain of every poor distressed, discontented, and wretched debtor: oh! how doth my soul long to come forever under thy banner, and hail thee the Captain of my salvation!
And in this glorious character, as the Leader and Commander of thy people, do I not behold thee as the gift of thy Father to this blessed purpose, to the fugitive, distressed band of poor, ruined, and undone sinners? Do I not view thee as becoming Captain over them, as well as Captain to them! For surely, when thou receivest them in the wilderness of their state by nature, thou regeneratest them by thy power, convertest them from the error of their way, and dost not only cancel the debt of the insolvent, and soften and remove the distress of the afflicted; but take away the very cause of discontent in those who have found but too much reason to he dissatisfied with the ruined state of their nature, and have fled to thee for peace and content, in thy finished righteousness, and blood-shedding atonement. Yes! thou blessed Jesus! thou Almighty Captain of our salvation! it is thine, with the sword of the Spirit, both to conquer for them, and conquer in them. Oh! let thy precious word bring with it convictions of our sin, and convictions of thy all-sufficient righteousness; that thy little army may become more than conquerors through thy grace leading them on; until all the Sauls of persecution and opposition, which hunt for their life, are destroyed; and thou shalt bring them into thy holy mountain, thy kingdom, where thou wilt make them kings and Priests to God and the Father, forevermore. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany