The news of his arrival in Judah soon reached Saul. At the time, the king was sitting beneath the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, holding his spear and surrounded by his officers.
“Listen here, you men of Benjamin!” Saul shouted to his officers when he heard the news. “Has that son of Jesse promised every one of you fields and vineyards? Has he promised to make you all generals and captains in his army?
Is that why you have conspired against me? For not one of you told me when my own son made a solemn pact with the son of Jesse. You’re not even sorry for me. Think of it! My own son—encouraging him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day!”
Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul’s men, spoke up. “When I was at Nob,” he said, “I saw the son of Jesse talking to the priest, Ahimelech son of Ahitub.
Ahimelech consulted the LORD for him. Then he gave him 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 the son of Jesse conspired against me?” Saul demanded. “Why did you give him food and a sword? Why have you consulted God for him? Why have you encouraged him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day?”
“But sir,” Ahimelech replied, “is anyone among all your servants 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! May the king not accuse me and my family in this matter, for I knew nothing at all 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 the Edomite turned on them and killed them that day, eighty-five priests in all, still wearing their priestly garments.
Then he went to Nob, the town of the priests, and killed the priests’ families—men and women, children and babies—and all the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats.
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 the Edomite there that day, I knew he was sure to tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family.
Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.”