1 Samuel 22

Listen to 1 Samuel 22

David at the Cave of Adullam

1 David departed from there and escaped to 1the cave of 2Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him.
2 3And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul,[a] gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him 4about four hundred men.
3 And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, "Please let my father and my mother stay[b] with you, till I know what God will do for me."
4 And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold.
5 Then the prophet 5Gad said to David, "Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah." So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Kills the Priests at Nob

6 Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under 6the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him.
7 And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, "Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse 7give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds,
8 that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me 8when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you 9is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, 10to lie in wait, as at this day."
9 Then answered 11Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, "I saw the son of Jesse 12coming to Nob, to 13Ahimelech the son of Ahitub,
10 14and he inquired of the LORD for him and 15gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
11 Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king.
12 And Saul said, "Hear now, son of Ahitub." And he answered, "Here I am, my lord."
13 And Saul said to him, "Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword and 16have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, 17to lie in wait, as at this day?"
14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, "And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law, and captain over[c] your bodyguard, and honored in your house?
15 Is today the first time 18that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, 19much or little."
16 And the king said, "You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house."
17 And the king said to 20the guard who stood about him, "Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me." But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the LORD.
18 Then the king said to Doeg, "You turn and strike the priests." And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, 21and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod.
19 And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; 22both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.
20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named 23Abiathar, escaped and fled after David.
21 And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD.
22 And David said to Abiathar, "I knew on that day, 24when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house.
23 25Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping."

1 Samuel 22 Commentary

Chapter 22

David at Adullam, Many resort to him. (1-5) Saul destroys the priests of Nob. (6-19) Abiathar escapes to David. (20-23)

Verses 1-5 See what weak instruments God sometimes uses, to bring about his own purposes. The Son of David is ready to receive distressed souls, who will be commanded by him. He receives all who come unto Him, however vile and miserable; he changes them into a holy people, and employs them in his service: those who would reign with him must be contented first to suffer with and for him. Observe with what tender concern David provided for his aged parents. The first thing he does is to find them a quiet habitation, whatever became of himself. Let children learn to honour their parents, in every thing consulting their ease and satisfaction. Though highly preferred, and much employed, let them not forget their aged parents. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And the Lord will preserve his people for their appointed work, however they may be hated and exposed.

Verses 6-19 See the nature of jealous malice and its pitiful arts. Saul looks upon all about him as his enemies, because they do not just say as he says. In Ahimelech's answer to Saul we have the language of conscious innocence. But what wickedness will not the evil spirit hurry men to when he gets the dominion! Saul alleges that which was utterly false and unproved. But the most bloody tyrants have found instruments of their cruelty as barbarous as themselves. Doeg, having murdered the priests, went to the city, Nob, and put all to the sword there. Nothing so vile but those may do it, who have provoked God to give them up to their hearts' lusts. Yet this was the accomplishment of the threatenings against the house of Eli. Though Saul was unrighteous in doing this, yet God was righteous in permitting it. No word of God shall fall to the ground.

Verses 20-23 David greatly lamented the calamity. It is great trouble to a good man to find himself any way the cause of evil to others. He must have been much pained, when he considered that his falsehood was one cause of this fatal event. David speaks with assurance of his own safety, and promises that Abiathar should have his protection. With the Son of David, all who are his may be sure they shall be in safeguard, ( Psalms 91:1 ) . In the hurry and distraction David was continually in, he found time for communion with God, and found comfort in it.

Cross References 25

  • 1. See Psalms 57; Psalms 142
  • 2. 2 Samuel 23:13; 1 Chronicles 11:15
  • 3. [Judges 9:4; Judges 11:3]
  • 4. [1 Samuel 23:13; 1 Samuel 25:13]
  • 5. 2 Sam. 24:11, 18, 19; 1 Chr. 21:9, 11, 13, 18, 19; 1 Chronicles 29:29; 2 Chronicles 29:25
  • 6. [1 Samuel 31:13; Genesis 21:33]
  • 7. [1 Samuel 8:14]
  • 8. 1 Samuel 18:3
  • 9. [1 Samuel 23:21]
  • 10. ver. 13
  • 11. 1 Samuel 21:7; See Psalms 52
  • 12. 1 Samuel 21:1
  • 13. [1 Samuel 14:3]
  • 14. 1 Samuel 23:2, 4; 1 Samuel 30:8; 2 Samuel 5:19, 23; [Numbers 27:21]
  • 15. 1 Samuel 21:6, 9
  • 16. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 17. ver. 8
  • 18. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 19. 1 Samuel 25:36
  • 20. [2 Kings 10:25; 2 Kings 11:4, 6; 2 Chronicles 12:10]
  • 21. [1 Samuel 2:31]
  • 22. [1 Samuel 15:3]
  • 23. 1 Samuel 23:6, 9
  • 24. 1 Samuel 21:7
  • 25. [1 Kings 2:26]

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or discontented
  • [b]. Syriac, Vulgate; Hebrew go out
  • [c]. Septuagint, Targum; Hebrew and has turned aside to

Chapter Summary


This chapter gives us an account of the flight of David from place to place, from Gath to the cave of Adullam, where his relations came to him; from thence to Mizpeh in Moab, where he got leave of the king of Moab for his father and mother to dwell there; and from thence, by the advice of Gad the prophet, departed into the land of Judah, and came to the forest of Hareth, 1Sa 21:1-5; and of the complaint of Saul to his servants of their unfaithfulness to him, and indolence and unconcern at the behaviour of Jonathan and David to him, 1Sa 22:6-8; when Doeg the Edomite informed him of David being seen by him at Nob, and of his receiving food and a sword from Ahimelech the priest, who inquired of the Lord for him, 1Sa 22:9,10; upon which Saul sent for Ahimelech and all the priests at Nob, and charged them with a conspiracy against him; and notwithstanding the defence the priest made, Saul ordered him and the rest of the priests to be slain by his guards; which they refusing, Doeg became the executioner of them, and of all the inhabitants of the city of Nob, and the cattle in it, 1Sa 22:11-19; only Abiathar a son of Ahimelech escaped and fled to David with the sorrowful news; which greatly affected David, looking upon himself to be the occasion of this sad disaster, and he took Abiathar under his protection, and promised him safety, 1Sa 22:20-23.

1 Samuel 22 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.