Saul got word of the whereabouts of David and his men. He was sitting under the big oak on the hill at Gibeah at the time, spear in hand, holding court surrounded by his officials.
He said, "Listen here, you Benjaminites! Don't think for a minute that you have any future with the son of Jesse! Do you think he's going to hand over choice land, give you all influential jobs?
Think again. Here you are, conspiring against me, whispering behind my back - not one of you is man enough to tell me that my own son is making deals with the son of Jesse, not one of you who cares enough to tell me that my son has taken the side of this, this . . . outlaw!"
Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul's officials, spoke up: "I saw the son of Jesse meet with Ahimelech son of Ahitub, in Nob.
I saw Ahimelech pray with him for God's guidance, give him food, and arm him with the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
Saul sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub, along with the whole family of priests at Nob. They all came to the king.
Saul said, "You listen to me, son of Ahitub!" "Certainly, master," he said.
"Why have you ganged up against me with the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword, even praying with him for God's guidance, setting him up as an outlaw, out to get me?"
Ahimelech answered the king, "There's not an official in your administration as true to you as David, your own son-in-law and captain of your bodyguard. None more honorable either.
Do you think that was the first time I prayed with him for God's guidance? Hardly! But don't accuse me of any wrongdoing, me or my family. I have no idea what you're trying to get at with this 'outlaw' talk."
The king said, "Death, Ahimelech! You're going to die - you and everyone in your family!"
The king ordered his henchmen, "Surround and kill the priests of God! They're hand in glove with David. They knew he was running away from me and didn't tell me." But the king's men wouldn't do it. They refused to lay a hand on the priests of God.
Then the king told Doeg, "You do it - massacre the priests!" Doeg the Edomite led the attack and slaughtered the priests, the eighty-five men who wore the sacred robes.
He then carried the massacre into Nob, the city of priests, killing man and woman, child and baby, ox, donkey, and sheep - the works.
Only one son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub escaped: Abiathar. He got away and joined up with David.
Abiathar reported to David that Saul had murdered the priests of God.
David said to Abiathar, "I knew it - that day I saw Doeg the Edomite there, I knew he'd tell Saul. I'm to blame for the death of everyone in your father's family.
Stay here with me. Don't be afraid. The one out to kill you is out to kill me, too. Stick with me. I'll protect you."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)