1 Samuel Chapter 22
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Go to Bible: 1 Samuel 22
“David left there and escaped.” That David “escaped” from Gath is good evidence of God’s protection and grace being on David at this time. It seems like the Philistines, especially the Philistines in Gath, the hometown of Goliath, would have killed David, especially when he showed up there alone and with Goliath's sword. After all, David had killed Goliath and many other Philistines as well. Also, there is no explanation in the text as to why David would have chosen to go to Gath instead of another Philistine city or even just another city to the east or south, after all, he took his parents to Moab (1 Sam. 22:3). One possibility that has been suggested is that of the five capital cities of the Philistines, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gaza, and Gath, Gath was the closest to Bethlehem, but in actuality, we do not know why David went to Gath.
[For the details of David’s journeys once he started running from Saul, see commentary on 1 Sam. 19:18.]
“the cave of Adullam.” Adullam was a Canaanite town now identified with the unexcavated Tell esh Sheikh Madhkur, about midway between Jerusalem and Lachish, and not far from the Valley of Elah. Adullam was in the tribal area assigned to Judah and was in the Shephelah, the rolling hill country of western Judah, and it controlled one of the principal passes from the northern Shephelah into the hill country of Judah. It was important enough to be fortified by King Rehoboam of Judah (2 Chron. 11:7). Biblically, Adullam is best known for a cave close to it, “the cave of Adullam,” where David hid after he fled from Achish, King of Gath (1 Sam. 22:1). At this time in Israel’s history it was in a kind of a no-man’s-land, close to the hill country of Saul to the east and the territory of the Philistines to the west.(top)
“who was in debt.” The Hebrew is more literally, “everyone who had a creditor,” that is, they were in debt.(top)
“come out.” That is, come out of Judea.(top)
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“conspired.” Or, “banded together.”
“there is none of you who is sorry for me.” The Hebrew word translated “sorry” is challah (#02470 חָלָה), and its meanings include to be or become weak, sick, diseased, sorry, or grieved. In this context, “sorry” fits the context and scope of Saul’s life. Here in 1 Samuel 22:8 we see another aspect of Saul’s emotionally out-of-control life. We have seen him make rash decisions, such as when he made the rash vow that kept his army from eating and so they were weak and faint and could not fight the Philistines with the vigor they should have had (1 Sam. 14:24-31). We have seen Saul be overly religious, such as when he was going to execute his son Jonathan for breaking a vow that he did not even know about (1 Sam. 14:37-45). We have seen Saul be stubborn, disobedient, and rebellious against God, such as when he did not obey God and kill the Amalekites and then made things worse by making a number of excuses to cover his sin (1 Sam. 15:1-26). We have seen Saul tormented in various ways by evil spirits that his weak mind and ungodly behavior allowed to enter his life (1 Sam. 16:14, 23). We have seen Saul have terrible outbursts of anger that could have easily resulted in murdering another person, even his own son (1 Sam. 18:8-11; 19:9-10; 20:30-33). We have seen Saul have irrational fear (1 Sam. 18:12-15). Now here in 1 Samuel 22:7-8 we see another side of Saul, paranoia and self-pity. Instead of being his usual self, the angry, stubborn king, Saul is now feeling all alone with everyone against him, whining and wallowing in self-pity. People with no control over their emotions go from one extreme to the other and usually cause trouble for themselves and others, just as Saul did.
Saul was a pitiful man, but we learn some important lessons from his life. One of them is that the human heart is always changing; something the Bible says in quite a few places. It can change for the better, from ungodly to godly, or it can change for the worse as we see with King Saul. Wise Christians take the commands in the Bible very seriously, and when the Bible says to do things like forgive others or put away anger, they make a diligent effort to obey, which changes their heart for the better. The record of Saul also shows us that we have to be careful and watchful when we deal with people who are weak-willed, disobedient to God, and overly emotional, and particularly so if we know they have had problems with demons. They can be your best friend one minute and turn against you the next, so wise Christians do what they can to help those needy people but in a way that still affords them some personal protection. Far too many people in society run their lives based on how they feel at the moment, rather than using wisdom to guide them, but the Bible says that wisdom is the principal thing, and to be wise (Prov. 4:7).
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“and all his father’s house who were in Nob.” So all the priests who came to Saul from Nob were from the house of Ahitub, and were under the curse spoken over Eli (1 Sam. 2:30-34; 3:12-14)(top)
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“commander over your bodyguard.” There is disagreement among scholars as to the phrase in the Hebrew text, and what the letters and vowel points should be, and thus what the text is saying. The result is that the Hebrew can read quite like the REV (cp. BBE; CSB; ESV; NAB; NASB; NET; NIV; NJB; NLT; RSV) or whether it means something more like the NKJV, “who goes at your bidding” (cp. CEB; CJB; JPS; KJV; NRSV).(top)
“Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him?” Ahimelech picked up on the fact that Saul was accusing him of inquiring of God for David, and was astounded at the accusation. According to what he said, he had inquired of God for David many times before, which makes sense because David seems to have enquired of God before he went into battle. So from Ahimelech’s standpoint, the fact he inquired of God for David was common, but from Saul’s paranoid perspective it was a betrayal of trust.
“Be it far from me.” The Hebrew is an idiom: “Far from me.”(top)
“die, yes, die.” The verb die is repeated in the Hebrew text for emphasis, and is the figure of speech polyptoton, see commentary on Genesis 2:16.(top)
“guards.” The Hebrew word “guards” is more literally “runners,” but it was used of guards, which is its meaning here.(top)
“So Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests.” Being an Edomite, Doeg would likely have had no particular feelings for the priests. Doeg likely thought that the whole “Yahweh thing” was just made-up religion. In fact, being an Edomite he may have even relished in the chance to help dismantle the religious system of Israel.
The enormity of Saul’s sin in killing the priests is hard to even calculate, and shows how evil a person can become. A man had to be born a priest to be one; he had to be born a lineal descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel. The fact that Doeg killed the priests of Yahweh (he was almost certainly helped by others), including women and children (1 Sam. 22:19), would have had an impact on what God wanted to accomplish through the priests for many generations to come.(top)
“the mouth of the sword.” Used to show great destruction, as if the sword was eating its victims (see commentary on Josh. 6:21).(top)
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