The full force of Saul’s wrath is poured out on the priest of Nob. Saul can’t hear anything the priests have to say, and even though in 1 Samuel 22:17 “the servants of the king were not willing to raise their hand to attack the priests of Yahweh”. Saul pressed on until eighty-five were dead simply because they had given hospitality to David. David risks himself and his men to help the people of Keilah defend themselves from the Philistines, but they have no allegiance to David when they hear Saul is on his way. So, in 1 Samuel 23:29 David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi. Saul walks into the very cave they are hiding in and David spares Saul’s life and quietly takes the hem of his garment, proof that David is not conspiring to kill him. David then openly declares in 1 Samuel 24:11 Now, my father, see, yes, see, the hem of your robe in my hand! For when I cut the hem of your robe I did not kill you. Know and realize that there is no evil or rebellion in my hand”. Even so, Saul soon takes up the pursuit of David again.
You Must Certainly Die
1 Samuel 22:12–23
The priest Ahimelech greets Saul with honor and Saul, caught up his delusion of conspiracy pours out accusations against the priests in
1 Samuel 22:13 Then Saul said to him, “Why did you conspire against me, you and the son of Jesse, when you gave to him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him so that he might arise against me to ambush me as has been done this day?”
Ahimelech is surprised by the kings words and replies back with a glowing report of a David, the faithful servant of the king in
1 Samuel 22:14 But Ahimelech answered the king and said, “And who among all your servants is as faithful as David? He is the son-in-law of the king who moves quickly to safeguard you and is honored in your house.
Saul is hard set and replies in
1 Samuel 22:16 Then the king said, “You must certainly die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!”
but even Saul’s servants refused to raise a sword against the priests in
1 Samuel 22:17 But the servants of the king were not willing to raise their hand to attack the priests of Yahweh.
so Saul reaches out to the one that informed on David and Doeg pulled out his sword in
1 Samuel 22:18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and attack the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests himself, and on that day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod.
Shall I Go
Will the Rulers Deliver Me
1 Samuel 23:6–13
David had just rescued these people from the Philistines and thought he might have allies among them. So, when he hears that in
1 Samuel 23:8 Saul then summoned all of the army for the battle, to go down to Keilah to lay a siege against David and his men.
David calls for the priest, the only one we know of that remains from Saul’s slaughter of the priests in the city of Nob. And David asks Abiathar to “bring the ephod here” in 1 Samuel 23:9.
“Like Samuel, and unlike Saul, David always seeks divine counsel in his decision making; in this case, he seeks it through the ephod”.1
David asks two questions, first, “will Saul come down” in 1 Samuel 23:11 and the second was in
1 Samuel 23:12 Then David said, “Will the rulers of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And Yahweh said, “They will deliver you.”
When it came time to stand with David against Saul, the people of Keilah were not willing to risk their own slaughter as had happened to the priests in Nob in 1 Samuel 22:18.
Make Certain Again
1 Samuel 23:14–22
Hurry and Come
I Am Giving Your Enemy Into Your Hand
1 Samuel 24:1–11
David and his men leave Keilah and have been on the run from Saul for some time. Now, in
1 Samuel 23:29 David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.
This was “an area with many caves along the high cliffs. The whole region between the Dead Sea and the hill country of Judea consisted of steep valleys and gorges cut by the streams and wadis that flowed into the Dead Sea. It was a natural area for mountain goats, but outlaws also made good use of the rugged terrain. En-gedi means “spring of the goats” because of the excellent water source located there”.2
Saul does not relent, in
1 Samuel 24:2 So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and he and his men went to search for David in the direction of the Rocks of the Mountain Goats.
While Saul and his men could not find David, as it happens, in
1 Samuel 24:3 “He (Saul) came to the sheep pens beside the road, and a cave was there. Then Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost part of the cave”.
When David’s men saw what was happening in
1 Samuel 24:4 And David’s men said to him, “Look, today is the day about which Yahweh said to you, ‘See, I am giving your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems good to you.’ ” So David got up and secretly cut the hem of Saul’s robe.
David could easily have killed Saul at that moment or had any of his men kill Saul, but while David was the enemy of Saul, it was not reciprocal. Saul was not the enemy of David. But David has not been able to convince Saul that he has not conspired against Saul. David refuses to take Saul’s life. Instead, David takes this opportunity to demonstrate his heart to Saul. David stands up for all to see and shows the piece of Saul’s garment in
1 Samuel 24:11 Now, my father, see, yes, see, the hem of your robe in my hand! For when I cut the hem of your robe I did not kill you. Know and realize that there is no evil or rebellion in my hand. I did not sin against you, but you are hunting down my life to take it.
- 1 Samuel 22:12–23 You Must Certainly Die
- 1 Samuel 23:6–13 Will the Rulers Deliver Me
- 1 Samuel 24:1–11 I Am Giving Your Enemy Into Your Hand
- 1 Samuel 22:12-23
- 1 Samuel 23:1-29
- 1 Samuel 24:1-11
- 1. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Sa 23:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
- 2. Wolf, H. M. (1995). 1-2 Samuel. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, pp. 208–209). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.