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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

1 Samuel 22

Verse 1

THE CAVE OF ADULLAM

‘David escaped to the cave Adullam.’

1 Samuel 22:1

So well did David play his part that King Achish is deceived, and dismisses him, humorously remarking to his servants that he has enough mad men around him already, and does not care to increase their number.

Thus liberated, David flees to the cave of Adullam, not many miles from Gath; and as soon as it is known that he is again in the country, his father, his mother, and brethren join him, fearing, it may be, that Saul would kill them on suspicion, as he had the priests. Others also, who were in distress, or in debt, or discontented, gathered around David in this cave, until there was quite a company, about four hundred men, over whom he became captain.

I. David’s wild, rough soldiers were not freebooters, but seem to have acted as a kind of frontier guard against southern Bedouins and western Philistines for the sheep-farmers of the border, whom Saul’s government was too weak to protect. In this desultory warfare, and in eluding the pursuit of Saul, against whom it is to be observed David never employed any weapon but flight, several years were passed. The effect of such life on his spiritual nature was to deepen his unconditional dependence on God; by the alternations of heat and cold, fear and hope, danger and safety, to temper his soul and make it flexible, tough and bright as steel. It evolved the qualities of a leader of men; teaching him command and forbearance, promptitude and patience, valour and gentleness. It won for him a name as the defender of the nation, as Nabal’s servant said of him and his men, ‘They were a wall unto us, both by night and by day.’ And it gathered round him a force of men devoted to him by the enthusiastic attachment bred from long years of common dangers, and the hearty friendships of many a march by day, and nightly encampment round the glimmering watchfires, beneath the lucid stars.

II. Observe how tender and considerate David was of his mother and father.—Deeming the cave of Adullam not a very safe or comfortable place for the old couple, he makes the long journey to Mizpeh of Moab, away on the other side of the Dead Sea to interview the king of Moab, and obtain permission for his parents to remain under his protection until his own affairs should be more settled. One of David’s ancestors was the Moabitess, Ruth; hence he experiences no difficulty in getting the king to agree to this arrangement. David was in bitter straits himself, but he had provided for his father and mother. How this reminds us of our blessed Lord, Who, even while hanging on the cross, remembered to provide for His mother.

Illustrations

(1) ‘During the present age, Saul is on the throne, and the true David in hiding. But around him there is gathering in secret a host, before which the kingdoms of this world will be ultimately subdued. His recruits are drawn from those who are in distress and debt, bitter of soul. But He sends none of them away. He sympathises with their sorrows, pays their debts, and turns their bitterness to sweetness; and out of them raises an army of mighty men, all of whom are welded to Him by indissoluble ties. What the world counts as its dregs and riff-raff, its ne’er-do-wells, Jesus transmutes into saints, and his saints are all heroes.’

(2) ‘How sweetly David cared for his father and mother, and how tenderly God cared for him, yet nothing could avert the terrible results of his misdoings. As he had sown, so was he to reap. There is nothing to alleviate the lurid horror of this scene, except those encouraging words with which David welcomed Abiathar, when as a fugitive he fled to him for protection. Are they not addressed by the Lord Jesus to all who escape to Him? Abide with Me, may be rendered “abide in Me.” The binding the two lives into one bundle is so exactly the relationship between Him and us. Because He lives, we live also; indeed He is our life. With Him there is safeguard for us here and hereafter.’

(3) ‘These Adullamites formed the nucleus of the company which with David at their head established the greatest kingdom Israel ever knew. Meanwhile, in these years when his kingship was not acknowledged, and his followers were pilgrims enduring persecution and hardship, he was teaching them, and training them in patience, self-control, war, obedience, and faith. In the whole story of the setting up of David’s kingdom we see the analogy to the setting up of Christ’s kingdom. Satan, who was probably originally God’s appointed representative on the earth, has been (like Saul) rejected, but still holds the throne of the world. But his time is short. The King of God’s choosing, Christ, is soon to reign supreme. Satan has tried repeatedly to kill this rightful King, and all who would identify themselves with Him, although he knows he is fighting against God in so doing.’

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/1-samuel-22.html. 1876.