1 Samuel 22

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Read 1 Samuel 22

David at Adullam and Mizpah

1 David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Saul Kills the Priests of Nob

Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated, spear in hand, under the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, “I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitub at Nob. 10 Ahimelek inquired of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek son of Ahitub and all the men of his family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

“Yes, my lord,” he answered.

13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?”

14 Ahimelek answered the king, “Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? 15 Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.”

16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.”

17 Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwilling to raise a hand to strike the priests of the Lord.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. 19 He also put to the sword Nob, the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled to join David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

Go Deeper

Some of us are leaders and others are followers. God has lessons to share with both groups in today’s chapter. However, the chapter highlights the faithfulness of the followers. 

When this chapter begins, David is fleeing from Saul and enters a cave. David’s family and hundreds of others meet him there. Many of them are in distress, debt or discontent (v. 2). They come to David seeking rest and guidance. They submit and follow him not because he is a perfect leader, but because they know God is with him. God was working through David despite David’s weakness. The first lesson for followers of God? Followers of God are not expected to follow perfect leaders. There are none. Many, like David, have significant flaws and make sinful errors. That does not mean we should neglect discernment or discount sin. But it does mean that followers should evaluate leaders for more than their past mistakes. The followers in today’s chapter do just that. 

Saul’s servants are also in distress. Although they work for Saul, they ultimately answer to God. Because they fear God more than man, they protect and help David. Saul is enraged. Even though they feel pressure from Saul, Saul’s servants stay faithful to God. They know God is in control and has a plan. The second lesson for followers of God? Good followers remember God’s promises even in bad circumstances. They know that when their earthly boss (or any superior) forbids what God commands or commands what God forbids, then they are not bound to follow the orders of their boss. 

God uses followers as part of His plan. Faithful followers submit to God and His plan. David Guzik, a pastor and author, says “God works through those called to lead but He also calls others to stand up with them and support those people.” Followers support the leaders God puts in their lives, no matter how flawed or how difficult it may be at the moment. Submission to God is where we find our strength and freedom. When we follow our own interests, we find our weaknesses and limitations.


  1. Reflect on Saul’s time as king so far. How has his lack of faith led to his downfall? What is different about David’s approach to leadership?
  2. What can you learn about the role of “followers” from this passage?
  3. What does this chapter say about God? How does it affect the way we view Him?

By the Way

Psalm 57 and 142 were written while David was in the cave mentioned at the beginning of 1 Samuel 22.

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1 thought on “1 Samuel 22”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    Saul’s paranoia was talking louder than his reason. His “me, me, me” attitude will take him down a road of no return and lead to his demise. He has no fear of the Lord, and therefore no wisdom. Only the fool will follow after him as we see in Doeg the Edomite. As Ahimelech and 85 of the priests are murdered, I’m reminded that God always leaves a remnant. Abiathar escapes to warn David. Today, I want my heart and allegiance to be God’s alone. I will carefully examine who I’m following.

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