1 Samuel 22:5-23 Walking In Step with God’s Directives
1 Samuel 22:5-23
5 One day the prophet Gad told David, “Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah.” So David went to the forest of Hereth. 6 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.
7 “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? 8 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!” 9 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. 10 Ahimelech consulted the LORD for him. Then he gave him food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
11 King Saul immediately sent for Ahimelech and all his family, who served as priests at Nob. 12 When they arrived, Saul shouted at him, “Listen to me, you son of Ahitub!” “What is it, my king?” Ahimelech asked. 13 “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?”
14 “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! 15 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.”
16 “You will surely die, Ahimelech, along with your entire family!” the king shouted. 17 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.
18 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. 19 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.
20 Only Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David. 21 When he told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD, 22 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. 23 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.”
David resorts to the cave of Adullam where he seeks divine directives and consolidates his position and leadership. At the right time, God calls him out of his stronghold back to Judah where he will begin a long process of establishing his house in Israel. While Saul catches up with Ahimelech and culls the community of priest at Nob, David learns never to act out of haste but of divine directive. Today, we learn about the importance of walking in step with God’s directives and how Christ’s forgiveness has freed us from the retributions that come from our forefathers.
Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah – David has now learned the importance of living by God’s directives alone. Now, the directive comes by way of Gad, the prophet to leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah. The news of David’s arrival at Judah came to Saul and triggered a hunt for the sympathizers of David. Saul has shown himself a very self-centered man, he plays the victim as one whose own son is not in agreement with him: You’re not even sorry for me. In his bid to capture David, he addressed his officers not as a man of kingly virtues and integrity, but as a tyrant whose behavior is outlined in the warning of Samuel (see 1 Samuel 8:11-18).
I saw the son of Jesse talking to the priest, Ahimelech son of Ahitub – Doeg takes occasion to ingratiate himself to Saul using the incriminating evidence at hand. Doeg was present with Ahimelech perhaps to consult God through the priestly ministry when David came. Saul, so consumed with the zeal to wipe out all sympathizers of David could not get past his fixation on a widespread conspiracy theory to put David on the throne. Saul immediately ordered the execution of the priests despite a guileless reply from Ahimelech who in assisting David believed himself to be serving the cause of the king. None of the bodyguards of Saul would dare to lay a hand on the priest, which Doeg again took occasion without hesitation to slaughter all the 85 priests while they were still on duty. This slaughter however marks the fulfillment of a judgment spoken by a man of God against Eli the high priest: The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men (1 Samuel 2:33). As fulfilled, the only one – Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David. However, Saul, by killing the priests has deprived himself of priestly service.
I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both – David feels that he is at some level responsible for the death of the priestly community and will do all to protect the surviving priest. However, he has now in possess Abiathar’s priestly services and, not least, the oracular ephod (see 1 Samuel 23:6).
- Living by God’s directives involves keeping in step with His timing. In God’s scheme of things, timing is every bit important as direction. The believer must act only when God gives the go ahead even though he may have every reason to act on his own. For many who place their confidence in their own rational, waiting and dependence on God remains the most challenging. David, having learned to wait upon God’s directives through two costly mistakes that caused the death of the priestly family and almost got himself killed returns to Judah to engage in the affairs of Israel. Man analyzes and plans his move according to information available to him at the point in time. But God predestines the course of history and appoint us to the appropriate place and time. Because man’s mode is largely reactive, whereas God’s mode is predestinative, naturally man will not comprehend God’s ways. By depending and waiting on God’s directive, believers walk on the optimum path towards fulfilling their calling; the path of abundance and glory.
- As Christ has taken upon Himself the judgment that is spoken against humanity believers can now live their lives free of the fear of retribution and sudden disasters. As every sin carries a corresponding judgment that requires a punishment, a judgment of condemnation and death is spoken against every man and woman. However, Christ has taken the judgment of humanity’s sin upon Himself. The tragic killing of Ahimelech and the priests and their families at Nob is the result of a judgment spoken against Eli and his descendants by a man of God (1 Samuel 2:33). Therefore, the judgment spoken against Adam must necessary incur the condemnation of every man that ever lived. However, the condemnation that man deserves is now placed upon Christ on the cross. Therefore, believers can now live their lives free of the fear of retribution and sudden disasters.
- We have to be aware that our decisions will affect the lives of others especially our children. By making a rash visit to Ahimelech, David becomes instrumental to the execution of the curse that was earlier directed at Eli and his descendants. Although the fate of the priests was predetermined, David is indirectly responsible: Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family. Thus, certain decisions like marriage relationship, business partnership, election of governors and migration carry far-reaching and wide-ranging effects, and they require divine counsel and directives.
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking and yet not getting any closer to the solution of your problem? Perhaps, for a change you should spend time listening to what God has to say rather than what you have to say. God’s directives are most of the time incomprehensible, because it involves events that have not yet occurred. But the peace and assurance of the Spirit will be the guide.
- Do you carry the fear of retributions of sins committed in the past? 2 Chronicles 7:14 say, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” Repentance leads to forgiveness and repentance involves letting God have full purview of our lives.
Dear Lord, forgive me for the sins that I have committed, the promises broken, and the wrong decisions made in haste. I will turn back from the attitudes of unbelief and disobedience. Give me clarity and understanding in hearing your directives so that I may walk in the path of prosperity and abundance. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.