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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 22

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

Verses 1-2

1 Samuel 22:1-2

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave of Adullam.

David at the cave of Adullam

David had strangled a lion, slain a giant, and overcome two hundred Philistines; but he is himself overcome by his needless fear. The fear that terrified David arose as much from his own sin as from Saul’s fury. Had David been truthful to the priest at Nob he would not have had to dissemble before the king of Gath, and hide like a traitor in the cave of Adullam. One misstep leads to another. The troubles of life frequently spring from our own folly.

David’s escape to the cave of Adullam.

1. It was a place of perfect safety.

2. It was a place of comparative seclusion. David needed rest and quiet. The tremendous excitement through which he had passed had exhausted both body and mind.

3. It was a place of earnest supplication. If David sinned at Nob, he sincerely repented at Adullam. David sought for forgiveness for his sin. David sought protection from his enemies. David sought deliverance from his prison. There is a cave of Adullam in every life. Doubt may be such a cave. Persecution may be such a cave. Sickness may be such a cave. Bereavement may be such a cave. There is no cave deep and dark enough to shut out God.

David’s associates in the cave of Adullam. Notice three things respecting David’s followers:

1. It was an affectionate association. In time of trouble God will raise up friends to comfort His believing children.

2. It was a mixed association.

3. It was a faithful association. These men proved both their courage and constancy. When David longed for water from Bethlehem they imperilled their lives to gratify his desire. David’s experience agrees in some points with Christ’s. David was concealed in a cave, Christ was laid in a manger. David was an outlaw, Christ was despised and rejected of men. David was sustained by men in distress, Christ selected for His disciples men who were poor and unknown. David was made a captain over four hundred, Christ is the Captain and Saviour of all who are in distress. If any man is weary of Satan’s service, he may become a soldier of the cross.

David’s thoughtfulness in the cave of Adullam. David was therefore deeply concerned for their safety, and his ardent attachment manifested itself in three ways:

1. By his dangerous journey to promote the comfort of his parents. “David went thence to Moab.” This was not a long journey, but it was difficult, to accomplish.

2. By his earnest intercession to obtain protection for his parents.

3. By his special endeavour to secure respect for his parents. “He brought them before the king:” This was a prudent introduction. “And they dwelt with him”: This was gracious reception. “All the while that David was in the hold:” This was generous hospitality. We cannot too highly commend David’s devotion to his parents. He was willing to sacrifice his life and liberty for their safety.

David’s departure from the cave of Adullam. We may learn three things from David’s departure from the cave of Adullam.

1. Good men receive timely direction from God. “Abide not in the hold.” God will not disappoint those who wait for his guidance. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

2. Good men receive minute direction from God. “Get thee into the land of Judah.” All the agencies of life--seen and unseen--known and unknown--are regulated by God.

3. Good men promptly obey the direction of God. “Then David departed.” Whether God call us to serve or suffer, we must cheerfully obey. We dare not resist, the leadings of Divine providence. There is a time coming when we must all depart. (J. T. Woodhouse.)

Verse 2

1 Samuel 22:2

And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him.

A refuge for the distressed

At the period of which the text speaks, David was leading the life of an outcast and an outlaw. Being expelled from Israel and Philistia, nothing remained for him to do but to gather around him a band of equally unfortunate men and defend himself with his sword. Cannot we see in David collecting around him all who were in distress, in debt, or for any reason discontented, a foreshadow of the Friend of publicans and sinners, of Him who said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Again a man’s religion may be concealed in his heart, and may not do the good it ought to do as an example till distress come upon him and cause it to be seen in all its power. In many a true believer piety is like a drum, which nobody hears of unless it be beaten. The cave of Adullam was a refuge for debtors, and so is the Church of Christ. The third class of people who came to David at the cave of Adullam were those who were discontented. So, too, there is a “Divine discontent” which brings people to Christ. Are you dissatisfied? Then go to Christ and fill up the hollowness of your soul with Him. This is the truth which is contained in the common saying, that when people become disappointed with the world, it is the last resource to turn saint. The last thing we note about the miserable men who came for refuge to David is that they were taught by him to live good lives. They were a rough, lawless set of men, yet they could be kept in check by the influence of their beloved captain, David. So useful and helpful to their neighbours did these soldiers become, that the servants of Nabal could not help acknowledging as much. “But the men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we anything, as long as we were conversant with them.” Now surely if men’s lives were made good by coming to David, the effect which coming to Christ should have upon our characters is infinitely more beneficial. (E. J. Hardy, M. A.)

Verses 5-23

1 Samuel 22:5-23

And the prophet Gad said unto David.

A friend and a foe

The visit of Gad the seer. David had been brought very low through his own mistakes. God proved him in the hold. Then He sent to him. Wherever you are, wait for a message from God before you move,

Saul’s appeal to his servants. No one answered it but the alien Doeg. Notice, Herod was an Edomite. The race always conspicuous for hatred to Israel. What circumspection is necessary in God’s children! Always a Doeg looking on! (Exodus 23:13; 1Pe 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15-16.) False witness, often nearly true. “A lie that is half a truth is ever the worst of lies” (Mark 14:55-59; Matthew 26:61). Built on supposition (Acts 21:27-29).

“God fulfils Himself in many ways.” The massacre of Nob, though unjustifiable in Saul, was God’s sentence on Eli’s house (1 Samuel 3:12-14; Isaiah 5:7, etc.)

Security with david (1 Samuel 22:23). This was beautiful faith. The outcast promising protection because the Lord was with him. He was willing to protect him with his life. So was Jesus. He was not only willing, but He did it (1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:16). (R. E. Faulkner.)

Verse 14

1 Samuel 22:14

And Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David.

In defence of the king

Now, it was for acts of kindness to David, the outcast and fugitive, that Ahimelech the high priest was confronted by the infuriated king. Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, the king’s son-in-law, who goes at thy bidding and is honourable in thine house? Did I pray for him as against thee? That were far from me. Let not the king accuse me falsely; for as to trouble between Saul and David I knew nothing, less or more.” Brave words, O priest! Never did martyr witness more magnificently for the truth, and never with less hope of pardon. The gigantic figure of the king, clad in armour and terrible in wrath, towered before the white-robed priest. It is a vary beautiful, even if it be a very costly, thing to live a righteous life. The whole spirit and range of heroism is to be found in that order of piety which this high priest illustrated and adorned. Analyse this great high priestly life.

It was a life often up in defence of the king’s better nature against his worse nature. He aimed to rescue Saul from Saul. It is as if he had said, “Why do you so unking yourself as to injure a man who would not injure you? David is your friend. Jealousy demeans you. Jealousy and not David is your real foe.”

Again, it was a life given up in defence of Ahimelech’s own better nature against his lower nature. Doubtless this high priestly life was of value to him who had it. But he made no plea foe it. He pleaded only for the life of the outcast and fugitive.

It was a life given up in defence of the innocent fugitive. Ahimelech, friend of the king, dared to defend the outcast David.

Now consider that this defence--three fold--is worth whatever it costs. The defence of my neighbour’s better nature against his worse nature; of my own better nature against my worse nature, and of Christ against the world, is worth whatever it may cost. First, because a man’s soul, or immortal nature, is of more value to him than any imaginable physical safety or comfort. Second, because my neighbour’s better nature is of more value to the world and to me, than anything else I can give to the world, or the world can give me. This world has enough of everything but goodness. It does not need that I give it anything, unless I can give it goodness. Let me help a man to conquer himself and I am a philanthropist. Third, it is worth all it costs because, in defending the outcast against the king, we may be defending the king against the outcast. In the councils of heaven Saul the king is the outcast and David the outcast is the king. This striking reversal of the real and the apparent is one of the most ordinary of processes when heaven looks at earth. Things are not what they seem. However little the evidence of it, Righteousness is the one true monarch over men. (Edward Braislin, D. D.)


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Samuel 22". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tbi/1-samuel-22.html. 1905-1909. New York.
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