1 Samuel 22 Study Notes


22:1 Adullam was located east of Socoh (17:1), approximately ten miles into the Valley of Elah. David’s retreat thus moved him back into Saul’s territory. Probably David’s brothers and his father’s whole family met him in the cave because they feared Saul’s reprisal against them.

22:2 Discontentment with the status quo under Saul influenced many people to join forces with David. See 1Ch 12:16-18.

22:3 The exact location of Mizpeh of Moab is unknown, though the book of Ruth documents David’s ancestral connections there (Ru 4:17-22).

22:4 The king of Moab may have been gracious to David because of his ancestral connections (Ru 1:4; 4:17-22) and as a favor to another enemy of Saul. The stronghold probably designates Mizpeh of Moab (v. 3), since the next verse suggests it was not in Judah.

22:5 Gad had contact with David at key points in his life (2Sm 24:11-14; 1Ch 29:29). Land of Judah probably designates Judah’s hill country, since Adullam was also part of Judah.

22:6 P. Kyle McCarter notes that ancient Near Eastern narrative often finds “a ruler sitting in council under a sacred tree.” Note the parallel in 14:2. Saul was also buried under a tamarisk (31:13). He is also found with his spear in hand (a symbol of his authority) in 18:10; 19:9; and 20:33.

22:7 Saul’s rhetorical questions challenged his closest soldiers’ loyalty. They should not think that David, a member of the tribe of Judah, would reward them with positions of power and authority if he took the kingship.

22:8 The king’s words my son has stirred up my own servant to wait in ambush for me could not have been further from the truth; Jonathan, though he loved David, would later die fighting alongside his father (31:2).

22:9 Doeg the Edomite (21:7) now revealed he had seen David at Nob.

22:10 The earlier account of David and Ahimelech (21:1-9) does not say that Ahimelech inquired of the Lord for him, though v. 15 suggests he did.

22:11-13 Saul’s question assumed that Ahimelech was guilty of conspiracy. The king made no attempt to investigate the matter thoroughly.

22:14 Ahimelech’s rhetorical question to the king implied no one was as faithful as David, a suggestion Saul already had heard from Jonathan (19:4-5) and did not want to hear again.

22:15 David regularly inquired of God through his prophets and priests, while Saul did not. Ahimelech claimed he didn’t have any idea about David’s alleged conspiracy against the king (21:1-2,8). David withheld from Ahimelech the real purpose of his visit so the priest could claim ignorance.

22:16 Saul ignored Ahimelech’s words and passed the death sentence on the priest’s entire household, a decree that further revealed his obsession to kill David.

22:17 Even the king’s servants—probably his most trusted soldiers—would not . . . execute the priests because it was unclear if they were guilty of anything worthy of death.

22:18-19 Though Saul disobeyed God’s command to put the Amalekites under the ban (15:9), he effectively puts the Israelite priests at Nob under the ban. The sentence is carried out by a non-Israelite, Doeg the Edomite. Eighty-five priests died, along with every other living thing in Nob, because of Saul’s misguided wrath.

22:20 Abiathar may have caught up with David at Keilah (23:6). He would later serve as priest before David (2Sm 20:25), though he did support Adonijah, David’s oldest son, when Adonijah tried to take the throne without David’s blessing (1Kg 1:7; 2:26-27).

22:21-22 David suspected that Doeg would report to Saul about David’s visit to Nob, but he had failed to deal with Doeg when he had the opportunity.

22:23 David suggested that he and Abiathar could trust each other because they had a common enemy (Saul) from whom they needed to protect themselves. Thus David aligned himself with the priests of the Lord, even as Saul further alienated himself from God.