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David wrotePsalms 34:1-22; Psalms 34:1-22 at this time, which shows that he was truly restored to the Lord. Verse 4 of that Psalm is particularly significant, "I sought the Lord and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." His painful experience was evidently profitable for him in that it drove him to the Lord. It seems therefore that the Lord guided him to escape to the cave Adullam. He did not have to remain lonely there for long. His reputation before the people could not but influence some to seek his leadership. His brothers (who were all older than he -- ch.16:11) and others of his father's house were attracted to take part with him in his exile.
Three other classes of people are mentioned as coming to him also: those who were in distress, those who were in debt and those who were discontented. This was not an elite gathering, but it illustrates the fact that necessity is often a large factor in people being drawn to take a stand for Christ when He is rejected, as in the present dispensation of the grace of God. Though it is true that we should not be guided by circumstances, yet God often orders our circumstances in such a way that we are driven by these people just as the Lord Jesus holds the place of leadership over His redeemed saints today. About 400 men were included in this company.
The history that follows proves that this group was not formed with any intention of opposing Saul, but rather because of their being attracted by respect for David. Believers today also must remember that our business is not to fight against established government, though it may be guilty of corrupt and unjust practices but rather to follow the Lord Jesus in personal devotion to Himself and to the truth of His word. David's parents being no longer young, would find exile with David a rigorous experience, and David was likely apprehensive that his parents would be in danger of persecution by Saul if they were in their own home. Therefore he took them to Moab (v.3), asking the king of Moab to keep them under his protection until David's circumstances were stabilized. This was not the resource of faith, but of natural expediency.
God intended David to learn by suffering: therefore the prophet Gad told David not to dwell in "the hold," the cave Adullam, but go into Judah, there to be more exposed to danger (v.5).
David with his 400 men could certainly not remain hidden. Saul hears of him at a time when Saul's servants are with him (v.6). Evidently he was suspicious that his own men might be induced to follow David, so he appeals to their natural greed. Would David give them fields and vineyards and make them captains of thousands and of hundreds? He accuses them of conspiring against him because they have not taken sides against Jonathan, his own son, whom he claims has been guilty of stirring up David against Saul. His language sounds like that of a petulant child, displeased because his men have not shown themselves sorry for him! It was not David who was stirred up against Saul, but Saul who had stirred himself up against David. But such is the twisted reasoning of self-centered men.
This gives occasion to Doeg the Edomite to deceitfully seek Saul's favor. Nor only did he inform Saul of David's visit to Ahimelech the priest, but embellished his account by adding the falsehood that Ahimelech had enquired of God for David (v.10). The fact that Saul employed an Edomite in a responsible position indicates a serious lack of discernment on Saul's part, and he ought to have known better than to accept his word without question. But Saul's unreasonable prejudice against David outweighed any sensible consideration of simple facts.
He summoned not only Ahimelech, but all his relatives, the priests who were at Nob, not to enquire if Doeg's words were true, but to unjustly accuse them all of conspiracy together with David against Saul. This was totally false, as was his assumption that what Ahimelech had done for David was with the motive of having David raise insurrection against Saul (v.13). Neither David nor Ahimelech had any such motives.
Ahimelech's answer (vs.14-15) was straightforward and honorable. He reminded the king that David had established a reputation of being a faithful servant of Saul, willingly taking orders from him. This was reason enough that Ahimelech should give him bread and a sword. However, he denied that he had even begun to enquire of God for David, for this was not true. Nor did he know anything of any friction existing between Saul and David. On the very face of things Ahimelech was thoroughly innocent.
However, the truth had no effect on Saul's cold blooded arrogance. He sentenced Ahimelech and all the priests to an immediate death, only because of his unreasoning fear and hatred of David. The soldiers, being ordered to kill the priests were sensible enough to disobey Saul's foolish command, particularly so because these men were priests of the Lord (v.17). The soldiers at least realized they would have to answer to the Lord for such an atrocious action: they were engaged to fight ENEMIES, not their own people Israel.
This does not bother the conscience of Doeg the Edomite, however. When Saul orders him to kill the priests, he gladly indulges in this cowardly slaughter, for none had a weapon to withstand him, and it is likely that he would as soon kill Israelite priests as anyone else. Yet, who can doubt that Saul's own conscience would afterward painfully accuse him for the awful guilt of the murder of 85 priests of the Lord?
However, it was not only this: Doeg's thirst for blood did not abate until he had gone through Nob, the city of the priests, killing both men and women, little children and domesticated animals (v.19). What honorable person in Israel would not be appalled at this indiscriminate wicked rampage of cold blooded murder? Being ordered by the king only increased the horror of it.
One son of Ahimelech escaped, however, and went to David, the only possible refuge at the time. When he gave the report to David of all that had transpired, David felt himself responsible for occasioning the death of the priests, for, as he said, he knew that Doeg would be an informer when he saw him at Nob (v.22). One wonders what David could have done to protect the priests, but no doubt he did not expect so great a slaughter as took place. The comforting words of David to Abiathar remind us of the Lord's care for those who take a place of rejection with Him: "Stay with me, do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life: for you are safe with me" (v.23).
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 22". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany