1 Samuel
1-2 David in the Cave of Adullam 3-4 David Brings His Parents in Moab 5 David Must Go to Judah 6-8 Saul Calls David His Attacker 9-15 Achimelech Called to Account 16-19 The Verdict and the Execution 20-23 Abiathar Flees to David
David in the Cave of Adullam

1So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; and when his brothers and all his father’s household heard [of it], they went down there to him. 2Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Now there were about four hundred men with him.

David was chased back to his land by Achis. He is back in the land where he will be chased by Saul. He escapes all his persecutors by hiding in the cave of Adullam. In the list of heroes of faith and acts of faith in Hebrews 11, the way David goes and the place where he abides are recorded as proofs of faith (Heb 11:3838([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.). Also now, knowing that he was destined by the LORD and anointed to be king, he has no intention of ascending the throne by force. It seems as if everything is over for him. He can do nothing and go nowhere.

It is like with the apostle Paul. When he is in prison, his service seems to be over. But just in prison he writes some special letters that we now have in the Bible: the letter to the Ephesians, the letter to the Colossians and the letter to the Philippians. David has written in the cave some of the psalms we have in the Bible (Psalms 57:142). In it we hear his mood “when he was in the cave” (Psa 142:11Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.
I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD;
I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
). At the end of Psalm 142 he says: “The righteous will surround me” (Psa 142:77“Bring my soul out of prison,
So that I may give thanks to Your name;
The righteous will surround me,
For You will deal bountifully with me.”
). We see that happening here.

When he is alone in the cave and pours out his soul before the LORD about his loneliness (Psa 142:44Look to the right and see;
For there is no one who regards me;
There is no escape for me;
No one cares for my soul.
), we see here how hearts and legs move for him. People come to him. They later become the heroes of David who help him to become his kingdom and share in his glory. But here they are not yet. David is here a picture of the Lord Jesus to Whom all who also have no part on earth come.

First his brothers and his whole family come to him. They are also in danger of being persecuted by Saul. Then come everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented. They either have a personal need, a problem they cannot solve themselves, or someone who is on their heels to enslave them, or they are so bitter by injustice or incomprehension suffered that they have no choice but to go to David. They do that because they have nothing to lose. He is joined by about four hundred men.

So today, too, people come to the Lord who see in Him their last chance of survival (cf. Mk 5:25-2825A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years,26and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse—27after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind [Him] and touched His cloak.28For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.”). They develop into heroes. This development takes place in the school of God, there one is formed. David is their superior, it is also his school. Being with David means not only faith in his cause, but faith in himself. It also means that you no longer belong anywhere else.

So it is with the believer who has taken refuge in the Lord Jesus. He only does this when his need is so great, that he sees no other way out when he is a debtor with a debt he cannot pay or is so bitter that life no longer makes any sense to him.

David Brings His Parents in Moab

3And David went from there to Mizpah of Moab; and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother come [and stay] with you until I know what God will do for me.” 4Then he left them with the king of Moab; and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.

David seeks refuge for his parents in Moab. Moab is not directly known as a friend of Israel. The king of Moab, when Israel was stationed in his plains after the desert journey, tried to dissolve the people by means of Balaam (Num 22:1-71Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan [opposite] Jericho.2Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.3So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel.4Moab said to the elders of Midian, “Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.5So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, [in] the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, “Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me.6Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”7So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the [fees for] divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and repeated Balak’s words to him.). But there is also another side on Moab. Moab will be a land to which the remnant flees in the time of the great tribulation and will be purified by God. Therefore it says: “Moab is My washbowl” (Psa 60:88“Moab is My washbowl;
Over Edom I shall throw My shoe;
Shout loud, O Philistia, because of Me!”

David Must Go to Judah

5The prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

David is also in Moab, but he can’t stay there. That is what the prophet Gad tells him on behalf of God. God wants to bring David into the fire of trial, and that is in His land ruled by Saul. Gad becomes the seer of David and stayed with him. Through Gad David learns to know the will of God. He obeys the prophet and returns to Judah.

Saul Calls David His Attacker

6Then Saul heard that David and the men who were with him had been discovered. Now Saul was sitting in Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. 7Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, O Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse also give to all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? 8For all of you have conspired against me so that there is no one who discloses to me when my son makes [a covenant] with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me to lie in ambush, as [it is] this day.”

Our attention is again focused on Saul who is sitting under a tree again and has the spear in his hand again. In what he says, we hear what lives in his heart. He speaks to his tribesmen, the Benjamites. They are related to him, but he has also committed them to himself by buying them with gifts. Saul is a man who complains about himself, feels sorry for himself and sees himself as a victim of the circumstances. We hear no reaction from his servants. They are silent.

Saul does not mention the name of David. It is a hated name for him. He despicable speaks of him as “the son of Jesse”. Although he tries to win over his servants by the reward, he sees them as conspirators against him. Because they don’t speak as he does, he sees them as enemies. He even accuses his son Jonathan of inciting David to revolt against him. A jealous man comes to the most foolish conspiracy theories. He also turns the business upside down by calling David his attacker. It is not David who attacks him, but he attacks David.

Achimelech Called to Account

9Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing by the servants of Saul, said, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10He inquired of the LORD for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” 11Then the king sent someone to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s household, the priests who were in Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13Saul then said to him, “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as [it is] this day?” 14Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king’s son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? 15Did I [just] begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant [or] to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair.”

The servants may keep silence; there is one who does not keep silence, and that is the Edomite Doeg. He will show that he is doing well with Saul. Doeg tells Saul of which he was an eyewitness. In response to that, Saul lets Ahimelech come. Saul hears him, but not as it should be. The hearing is an accusation. The accusation is that Ahimelech helped a rebel to bread and a sword and also inquired of God for him. Then you are guilty of high treason, you are guilty of a coup d’état. Saul is already sure what he will do, he has already passed judgment.

Ahimelech puts himself on the side of Saul in his giving account. In his ignorance he defends David. He doesn’t care much about David, but he wants to be neutral. There is nothing that Saul can charge him with, so he means. Did he not know that David was fleeing from Saul? All he has heard about David is that he faithfully serves Saul, is in a close family relationship with Saul, and that he obediently does what Saul asks of him. Is David not honored in the house of Saul? Surely he can only see it as his duty to help David. By speaking of David in this way he gives a good testimony of him. But that is exactly what Saul hates so much. It only increases his anger.

The Verdict and the Execution

16But the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!” 17And the king said to the guards who were attending him, “Turn around and put the priests of the LORD to death, because their hand also is with David and because they knew that he was fleeing and did not reveal it to me.” But the servants of the king were not willing to put forth their hands to attack the priests of the LORD. 18Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn around and attack the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned around and attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants; also oxen, donkeys, and sheep [he struck] with the edge of the sword.

Saul is not willing to change his intention to kill Ahimelech. He himself pronounces the verdict. Ahimelech must die, together with his whole family (Ecc 3:1616Furthermore, I have seen under the sun [that] in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.).

Because the priest did not tell him that David had been with him, he therefore colluded with the enemy. Whoever is not inspired by the same blind hatred of David, is by definition on the side of David and must be killed. He orders his guards to kill the priesthood of whom he also says they are priests of the LORD. The guards don’t dare to do that. By such an order Saul has lost his authority among his subordinates.

Then he turns to Doeg and orders him to kill the priests. That man kills eighty-five men without hesitation and then kills the entire priest city of Nob. Doeg does on behalf of Saul what Saul should have done with Amalek and in which Saul himself has saved what he found valuable (1Sam 15:3-93Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”4Then Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah.5Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley.6Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.7So Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt.8He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.9But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.). By killing the whole family of Ahimelech the word spoken about the house of Eli is fulfilled (1Sam 3:1111The LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.), for Ahimelech is of the family of Eli.

Abiathar Flees to David

20But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. 22Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about [the death] of every person in your father’s household. 23Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life, for you are safe with me.”

Yet the priesthood is preserved, for a son of Ahimelech escapes. He flees to David and tells him what happened (cf. Mt 14:1212His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.). When David hears it, he takes the blame. He offers Abiathar his protection and guarantees him safety. With his life, which Saul hunts, he guarantees him.

David writes at this occasion Psalm 52 (Psa 52:1-21For the choir director. A Maskil of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul and said to him, “David has come to the house of Ahimelech.”
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The lovingkindness of God [endures] all day long.
2Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit.

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