1 Samuel 22:20
And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
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(20) Abiathar.—Of those who dwelt at Nob, only one single priest, Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son, seems to have escaped this general massacre. It has been suggested that when his father and the whole body of priests went to Gibeah, in accordance with the summons of King Saul, Abiathar remained behind to perform the necessary functions in the sanctuary, and when he heard of the death of his father and his brother priests, he made his escape, and eventually joined David. The exact period of his coming to the exiled band under David is uncertain; in many of the recitals in this Book no note of time is given. It is, therefore, probable that the meeting and interview with David—related in 1Samuel 22:20 and following verses—did not take place immediately after the massacre at Gibeah, nor even directly after the destruction of Nob. From the statement in 1Samuel 22:6 of 1 Samuel 23, it would appear that Abiathar only joined David at Keilah. From that time, however, Abiathar, who became after his father’s death high priest, occupies an important place in the story of David’s life. Throughout his reign he continued his faithful friend, and seems to have been a worthy holder of his important office. The close of his life, however, was a melancholy one. In the troubles which arose about the succession, in the last days of David’s reign, he espoused the side of Adonijah, and was in consequence deposed by the successful Solomon from the high priesthood, and sent into banishment to Anathoth. (See 1Kings 2:26.)

1 Samuel 22:20. Abiathar escaped and fled after David — He, by his father’s death, was now high-priest, and is the person referred to Mark 2:26, where we find him described by an office which he did not bear till after the event alluded to, Ahimelech, as we have seen, being high-priest when David took the show-bread.

In what has been just related we have a remarkable instance of God’s turning the worst devices of the wicked to the purposes of his providence; for in all this was fulfilled the threatening denounced by the Lord against the house of Eli; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not; see 1 Samuel 2:31; and 1 Samuel 3:13. 22:20-23 David greatly lamented the calamity. It is great trouble to a good man to find himself any way the cause of evil to others. He must have been much pained, when he considered that his falsehood was one cause of this fatal event. David speaks with assurance of his own safety, and promises that Abiathar should have his protection. With the Son of David, all who are his may be sure they shall be in safeguard, Ps 91:1. In the hurry and distraction David was continually in, he found time for communion with God, and found comfort in it.Abiathar - He may have remained at Nob to take care of the sanctuary when the other priests went to Saul, and so escaped. He continued David's faithful friend throughout his reign 1 Samuel 23:9; 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 15:24, 2 Samuel 15:29, 2 Samuel 15:35, but gave offence by taking Adonijah's part against Solomon 1 Kings 1:7, 1 Kings 1:19, 1 Kings 1:42, and in consequence was deprived of the high priesthood 1 Kings 2:26-27. In Mark 2:26, he is spoken of as the High Priest who gave the showbread to David. Perhaps he was the instigator of this act of kindness to David; and for this cause, as well as his constancy to David, is mentioned by our Lord instead of Ahimelech. It is also possible that, as sagan to his father, he may have performed most of the priestly functions, as Hophni and Phinehas did in the lifetime of Eli. Abiathar did not actually join David until he went to Keilah (marginal reference). 1Sa 22:20-23. Abiathar Escapes and Flees after David.

20-23. one of the sons of Ahimelech … escaped—This was Abiathar, who repaired to David in the forest of Hareth, rescuing, with his own life, the high priest's vestments (1Sa 23:6, 9). On hearing his sad tale, David declared that he had dreaded such a fatal result from the malice and intriguing ambition of Doeg; and, accusing himself as having been the occasion of all the disaster to Abiathar's family, David invited him to remain, because, firmly trusting himself in the accomplishment of the divine promise, David could guarantee protection to him.

Abiathar, by his father’s death, was now high priest,

Fled after David, to Keilah, 1 Samuel 23:6,7. And one of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped,.... Who very probably was left by his father to take care of the sanctuary, and the holy things in it, when he and the rest of the priests were summoned to appear before Saul; who having heard of his bloody execution of them, before his messengers could get to Nob, took, the ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, and made his escape, as appears from 1 Samuel 23:6; this man succeeded his father in the high priesthood, and continued in it until the times of Solomon:

and fled after David; who was now removed, or removing from the forest of Hareth to Keilah, whither Abiathar followed him, and came to him there, 1 Samuel 23:6, and with whom only he could be safe, and therefore it was right to flee unto him.

And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, {l} escaped, and fled after David.

(l) This was God's providence, who according to his promise preserved some of the house of Eli, 1Sa 2:33.

20–23. Abiathar’s escape to David

20. Abiathar] Possibly Abiathar had remained at Nob in charge of the Tabernacle, and got timely warning of the approach of Doeg’s ruffians. Henceforward he was the companion of David’s wanderings, and helped him by “inquiring of the Lord” for him (1 Samuel 23:9, 1 Samuel 30:7; 2 Samuel 2:1, &c.). He held the office of high-priest till the close of David’s reign, when by some strange infatuation, after remaining faithful through Absalom’s rebellion, and “being afflicted in all wherein David was afflicted,” he took part in Adonijah’s rebellion, and was in consequence deposed by Solomon (1 Kings 2:26-27).Verses 20-23. - Abiathar escaped. Probably he was left in charge of the sanctuary when Ahimelech and the rest were summoned into the king's presence, and on news being brought of Saul's violence, at once made his escape, Naturally, as representing a family who, though originally Saul's friends, had suffered so much for David, he was kindly received, and a friendship commenced which lasted all David's life; but, taking at last Adonijah's side, he was deprived by Solomon of the high priesthood, and sent into honourable banishment at Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26). On hearing of the terrible tragedy from which Abiathar had escaped, David, with characteristic tenderness of conscience, accuses himself of being the cause of all this bloodshed. Perhaps he felt that when he saw Doeg at Nob he ought at once to have gone away, without implicating Ahimelech in his cause; but he could never have imagined that Saul would have treated innocent men so barbarously, and may have supposed that their sacred character as well as their guiltlessness would have secured them from more than temporary displeasure. David now warmly promises Abiathar safety and friendship, and possibly the inversion of the natural order, he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life (where the my and thy are transposed by the Septuagint in one of its usual improvements of the Hebrew text), is meant to express this entire oneness and close union henceforward of the two friends. As to the question when and where Abiathar joined David, see on 1 Samuel 23:6.

On receiving this information, Saul immediately summoned the priest Ahimelech and "all his father's house," i.e., the whole priesthood, to Nob, to answer for what they had done. To Saul's appeal, "Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread?" Ahimelech, who was not conscious of any such crime, since David had come to him with a false pretext, and the priest had probably but very little knowledge of what took place at court, replied both calmly and worthily (1 Samuel 22:14): "And who of all thy servants is so faithful (proved, attested, as in Numbers 12:7) as David, and son-in-law of the king, and having access to thy private audience, and honoured in thy house?" The true explanation of אל־משׁמעתּך סר may be gathered from a comparison of 2 Samuel 23:23 and 1 Chronicles 11:25, where משׁמעת occurs again, as the context clearly shows, in the sense of a privy councillor of the king, who hears his personal revelations and converses with him about them, so that it corresponds to our "audience." סוּר, lit. to turn aside from the way, to go in to any one, or to look after anything (Exodus 3:3; Ruth 4:1, etc.); hence in the passage before us "to have access," to be attached to a person. This is the explanation given by Gesenius and most of the modern expositors, whereas the early translators entirely misunderstood the passage, though they have given the meaning correctly enough at 2 Samuel 23:23. But if this was the relation in which David stood to Saul, - and he had really done so for a long time, - there was nothing wrong in what the high priest had done for him; but he had acted according to the best of his knowledge, and quite conscientiously as a faithful subject of the king. Ahimelech then added still further (1 Samuel 22:15): "Did I then begin to inquire of God for him this day?" i.e., was it the first time that I had obtained the decision of God for David concerning important enterprises, which he had to carry out in the service of the king? "Far be from me," sc., any conspiracy against the king, like that of which I am accused. "Let not the king lay it as a burden upon thy servant, my whole father's house (the omission of the cop. ו before בּכל־כּית may be accounted for from the excitement of the speaker); for thy servant knows not the least of all this." בּכל־זאת, of all that Saul had charged him with.
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