A Pursued Prey David’s Persecution
Book of 1 Samuel Chapters 21-30
Last week we mentioned that Saul had ruled for nearly 30 years before these things with David had taken place. We also know that King Saul ruled for a total of 40 years:
Act 13:21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, [by the space of forty years].
Act 13:22 And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
History says that David began his rule in 1011 BC and that King Saul died in 1011 BC.
At the time of this lesson David will be around 20 years old and age to 30 years old.
King Saul spent the last 10 years of his life trying to make the life of David miserable, by trying to eliminate him from this earth.
Saul had tried to use his servants to kill David.
Saul had tried to use his daughters to kill David.
Saul had tried to use his son, Jonathan to kill David.
Saul had tried to use the Philistines to kill David.
Saul had thrown spears at David while David only played music to soothe him.
Saul will take matters in his own hands as the death of David has become a very personal thing to him.
Saul was in misery and Saul made David’s life miserable!
We should be able to see the hand of Satan in all these things!
*****1Sa 21:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?
Nob is a city of the tribe of Benjamin. This city is where King Saul had had the Tabernacle moved, though the Ark of the Covenant was never returned to the Tabernacle during the time of Saul.
This Nob was near and probably within sight of Jerusalem according to Isaiah:
Isa 10:32 As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.
Nob was also about 2 miles from the home town of King Saul which was Gibeah and where the Ark was kept.
Ahimelech, sometimes called Ahiah, was the great grandson of Eli who would have been in his 60’s by this time.
Why was Ahimelech afraid?
David had been in the King’s court for 10 years, we could ask ourselves how would we feel if someone in the counsel of our president, a non-believer, just happened to drop by our church without notice.
So he ask, Why are you alone?
After his meeting with Jonathan, David knew he could not return to the palace of Saul. He had to flee for his life. He was not in his usual attire nor in his armor and he would not normally be traveling the country side alone as he was a target of all the enemies of Israel.
*****1Sa 21:2 And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
David lies to the High Priests.
David did not know who he could trust at this time but he did know he could trust the Lord, "But" David began scheming instead of trusting.
If we would just trust God with every portion of our lives, we would find no need to lie about our
Ahimelech had no reason to doubt these things of David and he did not.
"You may try to lie to save your life but you can never lie and save your soul"!
The prophet Jonah cried out to the Lord while in the belly of that whale and he used these words:
Jon 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Jonah knew the mistakes he had made by not obeying God and he truly needed mercy just as David needed at this time!
David was actually joined later in the cave of Adullam with some men that stayed with him so this part could be true.
Like Jonah, David later regrets having lied to the High Priest:
1Sa 22:22 And David said unto Abiathar, I knew it that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul: I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father’s house.
It would be a good time to point out that as these things develop we will see this Doeg as a "type" of the Antichrist.
We know that the spirit of the Antichrist has lived in all generations:
1Jn 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; [and even now already is it in the world].
*****1Sa 21:3 Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.
This question simply means what food do you have? David requested 5 loaves of bread but then said whatever you have will be enough.
*****1Sa 21:4 And the priest answered David, and said, There is no "common bread" under mine hand, but there is "hallowed bread"; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.
David had presumably made arrangements for some of his own followers to meet him after he had escaped from King Saul, so he was not alone.
We can understand that anyone with David would also be considered an enemy of Saul and would have also left all their own possessions behind.
David had made a hasty escape.
What is hallowed bread?
God had given this command to Moses that concerned the Tabernacle:
Lev 24:5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
Lev 24:6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.
Lev 24:7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Lev 24:8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.
Lev 24:9 And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.
The only time this "hallowed bread" could be considered "common bread" would have been after it was replaced each Sabbath.
This bread was to be eaten by the Priest of the Tabernacle.
Jesus explains this when He was asked about it by the Pharisees:
Mat 12:3 But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
Mat 12:4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?
By the laws given to Moses it was unlawful for the common man to eat of this bread!
"But by God’s law of love", when the house of God which teaches eternal life cannot be used to sustain physical life then that would be the greater sin!
AND, Jesus adds:
Mat 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
It was to be clear to these young men and they needed to understood where this bread came from and it’s use.
It should also be clear to the Church!
The House of God’s single most important purpose is to reach out to the lost and we cannot do that by turning our back to them!
And the saved must keep in mind that Jesus Christ is our Lord seven days of each week not just on the days we worship!
*****1Sa 21:5 And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
We can see that David and this group of men had been alluding Saul already for 3 days and by the hand of God this was the time that was to be set aside by men to stand before the Lord.
Exo 19:15 And he said unto the people, "Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives".
Once that bread was removed from that Table that was built for that purpose, "it then became common bread"!
That bread that was intended to "shew a type of eternal life" became a bread that "sustained physical life"!
Joh 6:48 I am that bread of life.
When we studied the Tabernacle we learned these things:
1) The Table for the "shew bread" was in "type" Jesus Christ in the flesh.
2) Being completely over laid with gold reminds us of Jesus Christ continuing and everlasting "deity".
3) When Jesus Christ became man, He also became "The Living Bread of Life".
4) Being made from fine flour speaks of "the perfection" of Jesus Christ.
5) This bread "was baked" which gave it life, we cannot live on flour and the baking of the bread shows us that our everlasting life came only after Christ death on the Cross.
6) This cake of bread would have been punctured just before the baking and we know that the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ was punctured 5 times on that cross.(5 the number for "Grace")
7) That bread was hallowed bread "reserved for the priests" but everyone that is filled with God’s Holy Spirit, is truly God’s priesthood.
David was filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit remained with him throughout his life.
When the Holy Spirit fills each believer he then becomes a priest:
1Pe 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up "a spiritual house, an holy priesthood", to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
It would have gone against the Word of God to deny David this "hallowed bread"!
Our "Hallowed God" came to this earth to save the "Common people"!
*****1Sa 21:6 So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.
David had not needed to lie!
That bread was given to David was to teach us that the preservation of life is more important than some ceremonial rules and regulations of any religion!
Our one and only job after salvation is the lead the lost to the Lord so that they can be saved!
The need for "Grace" will always replace the need for "Rituals"!
Rituals are laws or works!
God teaches us:
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 "Not of works, lest any man should boast".
There is not one part of the Old Testament that will not lead us to Jesus when we study it out!
But Satan always also has his servants in the house of God!
*****1Sa 21:7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul.
Now let’s watch Doeg:
Doeg was a servant of Saul, and Edomite, and was Saul’s head shepherd and a fake proselyte of Judaism!
We learn a lot about this man Doeg in this verse but let’s see how David described this man in a song written about him:
Psa 52:2 Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
Psa 52:3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.
Psa 52:4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.
Psa 52:5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.
Psa 52:6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:
Psa 52:7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
[Compare this to the description in Ezekiel 28]
*****1Sa 21:8 And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.
1Sa 21:9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me.
We must not interpret David’s haste to be away from Saul as an urgency to about the work of the Lord for we would be wrong in doing so!
David was running to save his own life and was making many mistakes while doing that. We should say that David was sometimes in a panic himself and in great despair.
David probably knew that the sword of Goliath was at the Tabernacle and he made up another lie.
Remember David kept the laws of God!
The High Priest pointed out that David knew of this sword.
It was kept in the Tabernacle as a monument to the defeat of Goliath, giving glory to David rather than to God who had given David this victory.
We Do Not Need Idols In Our Church!
We can never place any symbol of God in our house of worship that could cause that object to be worshipped.
Our only trophy is the Holy Spirit, that lives is inside our bodily Temple and can only come to us in the name of Jesus Christ.
David would show this same stress that resulted in great sin several more times in his life.
Every Christian makes mistakes and the Holy Spirit will lead us to repentance if we are truly saved!
*****1Sa 21:10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.
1Sa 21:11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?
1Sa 21:12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.
David does not make good sense at this time but he was disappointed with his nation!
David wrote the 34th Psalm later as he reflected back on this time.
One verse says this:
Psa 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Israel may not have accepted David as the new king but the Philistines were very aware that David would be the king of Israel.
David later wrote a Psalm about this incident and one of those verses has these words:
Psa 56:8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
David realized again that only the Lord could deliver him from the hands of Saul and from all his enemies:
Psa 56:13 For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?
*****1Sa 22:1 David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.
The cave Adullam is about 13 miles west from Bethlehem. It is located on a hill about 500 feet high and there are numerous caverns there.
This was a low point in the life of David and he wrote Psalm 142 of the time he spent in this cave:
Psa 142:6 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
We have now seen three times that much of the music of David was written at low points in his life "but he always knew who to turn too"!
We can also see that the attitude of David’s older brothers had changed, and all his family came in support of him.
Spiritually this makes us aware that as Christians who honor the Lord Jesus Christ we must also share in His rejection and in His suffering!
Luk 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.
Luk 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me".
As Christians we will suffer in this world but the Lord will be with us every step of the way!
*****1Sa 22:2 And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.
We should notice that these men were not lawless bandits, "they were all victims of King Saul’s oppression". Some of these first 400 became some of the 30 of David’s mighty men and this group of men became the backbone of David’s army.
David understood the battles that were coming and that he would have to defend himself but his parents were to old and they were now also targets of King Saul.
*****1Sa 22:3 And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and be with you, till I know what God will do for me.
We begin to see why the Bible was arranged in the order that these 66 books are when we see scriptures as this one.
The King of Moab was also an enemy of Saul and Israel.
David was the great-grandson of Ruth the Moabitess of which Jesse was the grandson. The Moabites at this point had no grounds to be against David as the word was spreading that he was also an enemy of Saul.
In fact it would be a good time to be on good terms with the future king of Israel.
David understood that he would one day be king of Israel but he did not yet know the time that would take place.
*****1Sa 22:4 And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.
The "hold" was probably the stronghold David used in Moab and near the border of Judah and was not the same as the cave of Adullam.
*****1Sa 22:5 And the prophet Gad said unto David, "Abide not in the hold"; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
1Sa 22:6 When Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men that were with him, (now Saul abode in Gibeah under a tree in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him;)
Gad is a prophet of God that joined with David while he was on the run and must have stayed close to him his remaining days.
Gad later wrote a book that may have even been called the "Acts of David".
1Ch 29:29 Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, "and in the book of Gad the seer",
1Ch 29:30 With all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries.
This is all we know of this book but if Ezra completed the books of Samuel, then he certainly knew these things of Gad.
Gad, along with the prophet Nathan, also assisted in arranging the music with David in God’s House and was known as the King’s Seer, referring to King David.
2Ch 29:25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, "and of Gad the king’s seer", and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
As a Seer, Gad had visions from God of what was going to happen and he advised David to return to Judah.
It would be hard for David to be a witness for the God of Israel if that God could not protect David in the land of Israel!
It was Judah that needed to know David and it was not fitting that the future king of Israel could not trust God’s ability to keep him safe in his own land!
We can see King Saul had nothing else on his mind but the destruction David and he was waiting for any knowledge of him with his spear in his hand ready to kill David himself.
Saul craved another opportunity to cast that javelin at David!
*****1Sa 22:7 Then Saul said unto his servants that stood about him, Hear now, ye Benjamites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds;
1Sa 22:8 That all of you have conspired against me, and there is none that sheweth me that my son hath made a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you that is sorry for me, or sheweth unto me that my son hath stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
As Saul got the word that David had again entered into Israel, this time with an army, he gave this challenge to his own tribe Benjamin from which he had chosen most all his national leaders.
Saul felt like all of Israel had conspired against him and he challenged his own tribe to prove their loyalty because he said, "I am still your king and David is a nobody who can do nothing for you".
This gives us another picture of how far King Saul had sunk into depression, nearing insanity.
Saul said the proof of these things is the fact than none of them had told him about his son Jonathan, who had conspired with David allowing him to escape.
Saul again shows his fear of David!
*****1Sa 22:9 Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was set over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub.
1Sa 22:10 And he enquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.
Doeg seizes on this opportunity to be more than just the head shepherd for King Saul. and now tells him how he had witnessed David with the High Priest.
Doeg makes it seem that the High Priests had also conspired against the King by not only providing weapons and food but had also inquired of God for David which did not happen.
Keep in mind that Saul had already been informed by Samuel that the Lord had rejected him as king as we follow what takes place.
*****1Sa 22:11 Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests that were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king.
1Sa 22:12 And Saul said, Hear now, thou son of Ahitub. And he answered, Here I am, my lord.
1Sa 22:13 And Saul said unto him, Why have ye conspired against me, thou and the son of Jesse, in that thou hast given him bread, and a sword, and hast enquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?
Saul repeats what Doeg has said about the High Priest.
We also need to keep in mind the phrase "all thy father’s house" is the house of Eli.
What did God say to Eli?
1Sa 3:12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
God said there would come a time that all of Eli’s family would be destroyed and there would be no more priests come from that family line.
We can see that God did not use Saul to do this evil but that God knew that this would happen.
God could have stopped these things from happening but He had already said He would not do so.
Ahimelech was innocent of these things that Doeg said and we can see his response:
*****1Sa 22:14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, And who is so faithful among all thy servants as David, which is the king’s son in law, and goeth at thy bidding, and is honourable in thine house?
1Sa 22:15 Did I then begin to enquire of God for him? be it far from me: let not the king impute any thing unto his servant, nor to all the house of my father: for thy servant knew nothing of all this, less or more.
The High Priest, like everyone else, had witnessed David how he had been faithful to the King.
Ahimelech reminded Saul that David was indeed still his son in law.
Ahimelech knew that whatever Saul had commanded David had obeyed.
Ahimelech says I had no reason not to believe what David had said and was not involved in any conspiracy against King Saul!
Ahimelech denies inquiring of the Lord for David and this had not been necessary as both David and Saul had already been informed of God’s Will.
So, What did King Saul do?
*****1Sa 22:17 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.
1Sa 22:18 And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.
The army of Saul knew this was wrong but Doeg murdered 85 members of the house of Eli, leaving only Abiathar left of the house of Eli.
Not only that but Saul destroyed the city of Nob!
If we see Doeg as a "type" of the "Anti-Christ" then we can see Ahimelech and those priests as a "type" of the Church.
Ahitub means "brother of goodness" but Ahimelech means "brother of the King"!
*****1Sa 22:19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.
King Saul had failed to obey God to destroy King Agag and the Amelikites but it seems Saul had no problem with all these that were of the Tabernacle of God, God’s House!
Sounds a whole lot like the world we live in now!
David spent the next 10 years evading King Saul and certain death!
It was a difficult and an uncertain life and the most important thing we need to realize as David eventually did himself was the fact that the Lord was with him during all this time!
David was on God’s training ground because it is God that sits on the throne in Heaven!
Jesus teaches us with these words:
Joh 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
And He adds for us to remember:
Psa 56:3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
David learned this and we need to learn this also!