Bible Notes Online - 1-Samuel 22 - ESV
Commentary

v1: David's family came to him, doubtless to seek safety from Saul.

v2: David built an army from those who came to him;

  • Those in distress, troubled, in anguish;
  • Those in debt, subject to the authority of others, under condemnation;
  • And those who were discontented, unhappy, dissatisfied.
  • Not many mighty are chosen; contrast 14.52, where Saul took the mighty men for himself. But David turned the weak into the mighty; in him they found a captain and a friend. To identify with David meant to reject Saul; there was therefore a real risk for these people, Heb 13.3; John 15.18-20; in the same way, true Christians identify with Christ, even though that brings cost.
  • Here David wrote Psalm 57, expressing personal devotion and trust in God. David endured "these calamities" (Ps 57.1); men "prepared a net" (Ps 57.6) in which to trap him, but David found his security in God. Even here we see Christ, full of mercy and truth, Ps 57.10.

v3-4: David had a concern for his parents. He sent them to Moab, perhaps because of the link through Ruth the Moabitess, but he put his loved ones in the hands of the ungodly. Again, there was no place of safety amongst the people of God.

How sad when a Christian feels it necessary to leave the company of God's people to seek solace in the world.

v5: David had a prophet with him; it was essential that he stay in touch with God.

v6-8: Saul's attitude towards his own leaders, and to David, is disturbing. He did not use David's name, calling him the "son of Jesse". Saul was almost paranoid, fearing that his own leaders had conspired against him. He also lied about David, saying that David planned to kill him.

v9-10: Doeg the Edomite, one of Saul's leaders, a cruel man (Obad 10-11). Doeg just happened to see David go to the priest. This indicates the truth that time and chance happen to us all (Eccl 9.11). Circumstances can turn against us. We have to learn to respond in faith. Later, he alone of Saul's men was willing to kill the priests.

v11-12: Saul ordered the priests to attend him, bringing them from Nob.

v13-15: Saul brought his accusation against Abimelech. Abimelech had acted in innocence, knowing David to be a faithful servant of Saul, he did not know of the conflict that had grown between Saul and David. He knew nothing of David's alleged plan to kill Saul.

v16: Saul's decision was quick, that the priests must die. It seems that Saul had made up his mind before hearing Abimelech's explanation.

v17: "Kill the priests"; another indication of Saul's departure from God. To their credit, Saul's servants would not obey him here. Whether they could have actually saved the priests is another matter, after all, Saul was the king.

v18-19: Doeg was a ruthless man. He killed everyone in the city. Psalm 52 refers to Doeg, a man who live devil rather than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness (Ps 52.3). Presumably, Doeg had men with him, such that he could put to the sword the whole town of Nob.

v20-21: Abiathar, alone of the priests' family escaped to David, to bring the news. Abiathar arrived when David was at Keilah (23.6).

v22-23: David felt his responsibility. His carelessness cost the lives of many.