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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 22

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

Verse 1

1. Departed thence, and escaped Whether he was thrust out of the land or escaped by stealth we are not here told, but from the title of Psalms 34:0 we infer that he was driven away. Having thus effected his escape, his joyful heart gives vent to its feelings in that inimitable psalm.

The cave Adullam A city Adullam was situate in or near the plain of Philistia, (Joshua 15:35;) but there is no passage of Scripture that necessarily connects the cave of Adullam with the city of that name. There appears, therefore, no sufficient reason to disturb the tradition of seven hundred years, which fixes this cave about six miles southeast of Bethlehem, in the side of the wild gorge el-Kureitun. It has been visited by many travellers, who all describe it as an immense natural cavern in the side of the cliff, and very difficult of access. Dr. J.P. Newman, who explored it in 1861, thus writes: “Entering the cave through a passage way six feet high, four wide, and thirty long, but which soon contracted to such dimensions as to compel us first to stoop and then to creep, we at length found ourselves in the hiding place of David. Owing to the curve in the entrance, no sunlight ever penetrates this dismal abode. Lighting our candles, we began to explore.

We found the interior divided into chambers, halls, galleries, and dungeons, connected by intricate passageways. The chief hall is one hundred and twenty feet long, and fifty wide; the ceiling is high and arched, ornamented with pendants resembling stalactites; and from the walls extend sharp projections, on which the ancient warriors hung their arms. The effect was grand as our tapers revealed each irregular arch, graceful pendant, and sharp projection, giving the whole the appearance of a grand Gothic hall. Lateral passages radiate in every direction from this chamber, but ultimately converge in a central room. The darkness and silence were oppressive, and the seclusion and intricacies of the cave would have baffled any attempt of Saul to capture the object of his pursuit. From the side of the first chamber we reached a pit ten feet deep, and from it a low, narrow alley, two hundred and ten feet long, leads to another hall, the inner sanctum, where David held his secret counsels.” David probably became familiar with this cave in his childhood, when he kept his father’s flocks near Beth-lehem.

His brethren and all his father’s house… went down thither Because, on account of Saul’s rage, their lives were no longer safe at Bethlehem.

Verses 1-2


David has now found that neither the privacy of his own house, nor the sanctity of Samuel, nor the love of Jonathan, nor the favour of the high priest, avails to save him from the persecutions of Saul. Nor will he dare again trust himself alone in the hands of a heathen king. He now resolved to act, for the time, the part of a Jephthah, and gather around himself a band of warriors, in whom he may find at least a powerful body-guard.

Verses 1-23

DAVID’S FLIGHT TO RAMAH, AND SAUL’S PURSUIT, 1 Samuel 19:18 to 1 Samuel 24:18.

David fled… to Samuel Whither could he better go for help and counsel at a time like this? Surely, he thinks, Samuel will defend me against Saul.

He and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth Naioth is not to be regarded as a proper name. The word means habitations, dwelling places, and refers to the dwellings of the band of prophets over whom Samuel presided. The plural is used because of the number of cells or huts in this locality. The Targum renders the word house of instruction, and Ewald defines it as studium, or school. Here these disciples of Samuel dwelt, and disciplined themselves in holy exercises. How long David enjoyed this society of Samuel and these prophets before Saul ascertained whither he had fled we cannot determine, but probably not long.

Verse 2

2. Every one… in distress Suffering from want, or in difficulty with their neighbours.

In debt Hebrew, had a creditor; and who, having no means of meeting their obligations, were likely to be sold to their creditors. Leviticus 25:39.

Discontented Dissatisfied with the government of Saul.

About four hundred men A band of outlaws, who, however, under David’s wise management, became a band of mighty heroes. A catalogue of the bravest is given in 2Sa 23:8-39 ; 1 Chronicles 11:10-47. How long David remained in the cave of Adullam before his flight to Moab we are nowhere told.

Verse 3

DAVID IN MIZPEH OF MOAB, 1 Samuel 22:3-4.

3. Mizpeh of Moab The name of this place does not occur again, and we are left in uncertainty as to its situation. Some have supposed that the place was identical with Kir-Moab, the modern Kerak; but greater plausibility attaches to the supposition that this Mizpeh was some commanding eminence on the east of the Jordan, like Nebo or Pisgah, at that time in the possession of the Moabites. David had reason to expect a kind reception among the Moabites, on the ground that his great grandmother, Ruth, was a Moabitess.

Let my father and my mother… be with you He regarded their age and feebleness as too great to endure the anxieties and hardships of his wild mode of life, and the cave of Adullam was for them too dark and cheerless an asylum.

Till I know what God will do for me He knew that he was innocent, and the victim of a wicked persecution, but he cherished a strong hope that in the end his cause would be vindicated.

Verse 4

4. The hold מצודה , a stronghold, a fortress, or citadel. The reference is to some fortified place at Mizpeh, where David and his company abode during their stay in the land of Moab. See note on next verse. This is the last we hear of David’s father and mother; but an old Jewish tradition has it, that after David returned to the land of Judah his parents and brothers were put to death by the king of Moab.

Verse 5


5. The prophet Gad With much plausibility supposed to have been a member of Samuel’s school of prophets. Having made David’s acquaintance at Ramah, (1 Samuel 19:18,) he now joins his company at Mizpeh of Moab, and advises him to return to his native land. Whether he remained with David during the period of his wanderings we know not; but at a later day we find him attached to the royal household, and spoken of as David’s seer. 1 Samuel 29:11. He was also the author of a book of the acts of David. 1 Chronicles 29:29.

Abide not in the hold Dwell no longer in this fortress at Mizpeh.

Get thee into the land of Judah A long sojourn away from his fatherland might have a tendency to alienate from him the affections of the people of Israel. These words show that when David received the message of Gad he was not in the land of Judah, and therefore the hold in which he was no longer to abide could not have been the cave of Adullam, as many have supposed, nor any other stronghold in the land of Judah. Hence our reason for regarding this hold as some fortified place in the land of Moab.

The forest of Hareth Some wooded part of the wilderness of Judah, whose exact locality is no longer known. Here it seems Abiathar joined him. 1 Samuel 22:20.

Verse 6


6. Saul heard that David was discovered That is, Saul received information that David had gathered around him a band of men. This fact became generally known, and the events of this section probably took place while David was in the forest of Hareth.

Under a tree in Ramah Rather, Under the tree on the height, referring to some well known tree at Gibeah, perhaps the pomegranate mentioned 1 Samuel 14:2.

All his servants were standing about him As an assembly called together for a council of war.

Verse 7

7. Benjamites From this address Keil infers that Saul had chosen his immediate attendants from his own tribe.

Verse 8

8. All of you have conspired against me The monarch’s suspicions carry him very far beyond the actual facts.

My son hath stirred up my servant against me Perhaps he had learned something of Jonathan’s last interview with David, (chap. 20,) and surmised that even his son was in conspiracy against him.

Verse 9

9. Doeg the Edomite Already introduced to us by anticipation in chap.

1 Samuel 21:7. He was evidently a dark-hearted man, having no sympathy for injured innocence, and a ready instrument to execute Saul’s bloody purposes. He readily embraces this opportunity to ingratiate himself with his king; and even goes so far as to stain his hands with the blood of the priests, and of all the inhabitants of Nob. 1 Samuel 22:18-19.

Verse 10

10. He inquired of the Lord for him We have no account of this in the narrative of David’s interview with Ahimelech, (1 Samuel 21:1-9;) and Doeg’s statement was probably only the bold utterance of his own suspicions; but the priest’s words in 1 Samuel 22:15 imply that he was in the habit of inquiring of the Lord for David. This was not the first time that he sought by urim to obtain Divine counsel for this most faithful of all the royal servants.

Verse 14

14. Goeth at thy bidding Rather, approaches into thy privy council; that is, has access to thy private audience, and is one of thy confidential advisers.

Verse 15

15. Did I then begin to inquire It was not the first time I inquired for David respecting important enterprises; I had often done the same thing before: nor in doing this did I ever suspect myself of treason against the king.

Verse 17

17. The footmen Runners; halberdiers; members of the king’s body guard, who ran or walked before him to guard his way.

The servants of the king would not An act so sacrilegious they shuddered at the thought of doing. Perhaps they regarded the order as another freak of the king’s madness.

Verse 18

18. Doeg fell upon the priests Assisted, no doubt, by many of the herdsmen of whom he had the command. 1 Samuel 21:7. Not only the priests, but the entire city of Nob was given over to destruction.

Verse 20

ABIATHAR’S ESCAPE, 1 Samuel 22:20-23.

20. Escaped and fled after David This occurred probably at the time David was in the forest of Hareth. Abiathar continued with David during all his wanderings, received divine communications for him, (1 Samuel 23:2; 1Sa 30:8 ; 2 Samuel 2:1,) and remained in honour until deposed by Solomon. 1 Kings 2:26.

Verse 22

22. I have occasioned David now remembers with regret the falsehoods by which he had deceived Ahimelech and acknowledges his guilt. But the rash and bloody deed of Saul convinces him that the king is God-forsaken, and he strengthens himself in view of this, and utters the feelings of his heart in an inimitable psalm. See Psalm lii, which is not so much against Doeg as against Saul, and at the conclusion of which David expresses his own hope and trust in the mercy of God.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-samuel-22.html. 1874-1909.
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