So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and other relatives joined him there.
Then others began coming -- men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented -- until David was the leader of about four hundred men.
Later David went to Mizpeh in Moab, where he asked the king, "Would you let my father and mother live here under royal protection until I know what God is going to do for me?"
The king agreed, and David's parents stayed in Moab while David was living in his stronghold.
One day the prophet Gad told David, "Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah." So David went to the forest of Hereth.
The news of his arrival in Judah soon reached Saul. At the time, the king was sitting beneath a tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, holding his spear and surrounded by his officers.
"Listen here, you men of Benjamin!" Saul shouted when he heard the news. "Has David promised you fields and vineyards? Has he promised to make you commanders in his army?
Is that why you have conspired against me? For not one of you has ever told me that my own son is on David's side. You're not even sorry for me. Think of it! My own son -- encouraging David to try and kill me!"
Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul's men, spoke up. "When I was at Nob," he said, "I saw David talking to Ahimelech the priest.
Ahimelech consulted the LORD to find out what David should do. Then he gave David food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
King Saul immediately sent for Ahimelech and all his family, who served as priests at Nob.
When they arrived, Saul shouted at him, "Listen to me, you son of Ahitub!" "What is it, my king?" Ahimelech asked.
"Why have you and David conspired against me?" Saul demanded. "Why did you give him food and a sword? Why have you inquired of God for him? Why did you encourage him to revolt against me and to come here and attack me?"
"But sir," Ahimelech replied, "is there anyone among all your servants who is as faithful as David, your son-in-law? Why, he is the captain of your bodyguard and a highly honored member of your household!
This was certainly not the first time I had consulted God for him! Please don't accuse me and my family in this matter, for I knew nothing of any plot against you."
"You will surely die, Ahimelech, along with your entire family!" the king shouted.
And he ordered his bodyguards, "Kill these priests of the LORD, for they are allies and conspirators with David! They knew he was running away from me, but they didn't tell me!" But Saul's men refused to kill the LORD's priests.
Then the king said to Doeg, "You do it." So Doeg turned on them and killed them, eighty-five priests in all, all still wearing their priestly tunics.
Then he went to Nob, the city of the priests, and killed the priests' families -- men and women, children and babies, and all the cattle, donkeys, and sheep.
Only Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David.
When he told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD,
David exclaimed, "I knew it! When I saw Doeg there that day, I knew he would tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father's family.
Stay here with me, and I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both."