Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him.
1Sa 22:1-8. David's Kindred and Others Resort to Him at Adullam.
1. David … escaped to the cave Adullam—supposed to be that now called Deir-Dubban, a number of pits or underground vaults, some nearly square, and all about fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides, in the soft limestone or chalky rocks. They are on the borders of the Philistine plain at the base of the Judea mountains, six miles southwest from Beth-lehem, and well adapted for concealing a number of refugees.
his brethren and all his father's house … went down—to escape the effects of Saul's rage, which seems to have extended to all David's family. From Beth-lehem to Deir-Dubban it is, indeed, a descent all the way.
And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
2. every one that was in distress—(See on Jud 11:3).
And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
3. David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab—"Mizpeh" signifies a watchtower, and it is evident that it must be taken in this sense here, for it is called "the hold" or fort (1Sa 22:4). The king of Moab was an enemy of Saul (1Sa 14:47), and the great-grandson of Ruth, of course, was related to the family of Jesse. David, therefore, had less anxiety in seeking an asylum within the dominions of this prince than those of Achish, because the Moabites had no grounds for entertaining vindictive feelings against him, and their enmity, to Saul rendered them the more willing to receive so illustrious a refugee from his court.
And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.
And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
5. the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold—This sound advice, no doubt, came from a higher source than Gad's own sagacity. It was right to appear publicly among the people of his own tribe, as one conscious of innocence and trusting in God; and it was expedient that, on the death of Saul, his friends might be encouraged to support his interest.
forest of Hareth—southwest of Jerusalem.
When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)
6. Saul abode … under a tree in Ramah—literally, "under a grove on a hill." Oriental princes frequently sit with their court under some shady canopy in the open air. A spear was the early scepter.
Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;
7, 8. Hear now, ye Benjamites—This was an appeal to stimulate the patriotism or jealousy of his own tribe, from which he insinuated it was the design of David to transfer the kingdom to another. This address seems to have been made on hearing of David's return with his four hundred men to Judah. A dark suspicion had risen in the jealous mind of the king that Jonathan was aware of this movement, which he dreaded as a conspiracy against the crown.
That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.
1Sa 22:9-16. Doeg Accuses Ahimelech.
9. Doeg … set over the servants—Septuagint, "the mules of Saul."
And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
10. he inquired of the Lord for him—Some suppose that this was a malicious fiction of Doeg to curry favor with the king, but Ahimelech seems to acknowledge the fact. The poor simple-minded high priest knew nothing of the existing family feud between Saul and David. The informer, if he knew it, said nothing of the cunning artifice by which David obtained the aid of Ahimelech. The facts looked against him, and the whole priesthood along with him were declared abettors of conspiracy [1Sa 22:16, 17].
Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.
And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord.
And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king's son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?
Did I then begin to inquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
And the king said, Thou shalt surely die, Ahimelech, thou, and all thy father's house.
And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.
1Sa 22:17-19. Saul Commands to Kill the Priests.
17, 18. the footmen that stood about him—his bodyguard, or his runners (1Sa 8:11; 2Sa 15:1; 1Ki 1:5; 1Ki 14:28), who held an important place at court (2Ch 12:10). But they chose rather to disobey the king than to offend God by imbruing their hands in the blood of his ministering servants. A foreigner alone (Ps 52:1-3) could be found willing to be the executioner of this bloody and sacrilegious sentence. Thus was the doom of the house of Eli fulfilled [1Sa 2:30-36].
And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.
And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
19. Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword—The barbarous atrocities perpetrated against this city seem to have been designed to terrify all the subjects of Saul from affording either aid or an asylum to David. But they proved ruinous to Saul's own interest, as they alienated the priesthood and disgusted all good men in the kingdom.
And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David.
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.
And Abiathar shewed David that Saul had slain the LORD'S priests.
And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house.
Abide thou with me, fear not: for he that seeketh my life seeketh thy life: but with me thou shalt be in safeguard.