Study Notes

1Samuel 20:1-22:23


Saul has become insanely jealous of David, attempting to kill him several times. Although David is on the run, Saul is pursuing him, bent on his destruction. Fortunately, the Lord intervened at Naw-VEETH in Raw-MAW, keeping David alive.

20:1-3 Jonathan's Disbelief

David comes to his friend Jonathan, and says, "Why is your dad trying to kill me? What have I done?"

But remember, the last thing Jonathan knew was that he'd talked his dad out of this terrible sin. His father had said,

1Sam. 19:6 ..."As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death."

So Jonathan is having a hard time believing what David is saying.

20:4 Jonathan's Friendship

Jonathan was a good friend to David. Although he was having trouble believing what David was saying, he extended his assistance and said, "whatever you say, I will do for you."

The proverb says,

Prov. 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

You know who your real friends are when times are tough. You find out who really loves you when you are experiencing something unbelievable.

20:5-23 David & Jonathan's Plan

The new moon marked the first day of the lunar month when a burnt offering was made to the Lord (Num 29:6). As Asaph wrote,

Ps. 81:3-5 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, At the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel, An ordinance of the God of Jacob. He established it for a testimony in Joseph, when he went throughout the land of Egypt...

Wherever you lived among the Jews, there would be feasts to celebrate the time. If David's family also used that month's new moon festival for a special yearly sacrifice, then it would not be out of the ordinary for him not to be at Saul's feast.

David wanted Jonathan to see Saul's reaction to his absence. This would prove to Jonathan that Saul had murderous intentions. David hid in the field by the stone EH-zel while Jonathan went to the feast. Jonathan would inform David of his father's reaction by a prearranged signal.

20:24-26 Not Clean

The law of God included many things that made a person unclean and unable to participate in religious feasts and festivals. It could be touching the carcass of a dead animal, giving birth, having a skin disease, etc. Most things that made a man unclean simply dictated that he would be unclean until evening.

And so, on the first day of the feast, Saul that David's absence meant that he had somehow defiled himself. He figured that David would attend the feast the next night.

20:27-34 Saul's Anger

Saul's angry reaction betrayed his intention to kill David, and further alienated his son. When Jonathan again tried to speak in David's defense, Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan as well.

There is a warning in this. When you come to the defense of the righteous, the same being thrown at them will begin to be thrown at you. The same accusations, the same threatenings, will be directed towards you as well. Jesus warned us,

John 15:19-20 "...Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you..."

Whether you are standing by a righteous man or standing for a righteous cause, the enemies of righteousness will immediately perceive you as a target as well.

20:35-42 Jonathan & David's Farewell

Jonathan's world is being rocked. His father has just tired to kill him, and he's having to send his best friend away to save his life. David was even more sorrowful than Jonathan. He was being unjustly persecuted, and the king of an entire nation had ordered his murder. That, combined with the separation from his best friend was tearing at David's soul.

21:1-6 David At Nob

It is doubtless that some of David's friends and servants insisted on leaving with him. When David came to Nob and saw Akh-ee-MEH-lek the priest, he asked for bread that he and his traveling companions might eat.

The only bread around was the consecrated bread. In Exodus 25, the Lord commanded Moses to have a table constructed for the tabernacle, saying,

Exod. 25:30 "And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before Me at all times."

The bread of the presence was consecrated bread. It was twelve loaves placed in two rows of six loaves on the table. Each sabbath day, fresh bread was brought in and the week-old bread be removed. This was done continually, which is why it is also called "the continual bread" (Num 4:7). It is also referred to as "showbread."

God commanded in Leviticus 24 that the week-old bread...

Lev. 24:9 "And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the LORD'S offerings by fire, {his} portion forever."

David is here violating this law. However, Jesus commented on this violation in the gospels.

Matt. 12:1-8 At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads {of grain} and eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he became hungry, he and his companions; how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent? But I say to you, that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

What Jesus was saying was that the Law was not given to bring men under unneccesary bondage. The Sabbath was given as a day of rest, not a day of starvation. The Sabbath was created to be a blessing to man, not a curse. When the consecrated bread was given to David and his men, God did not condemn him for it.

21:7 Doeg The Edomite

Do-AYG the Edomite, the chief of Saul's shepherds, happened to be there as well. You might picture him as the man with the black cape and thin mustache hiding in the shadows. In chapter 22, we'll see the terrible result of Do-AYG's witnessing this.

21:8-9 The Sword Of Goliath

David had killed Goliath in the valley of Ay-LAW and taken his sword. It is thought that sometime later, David brought the sword to the priests as an offering to the Lord. Now, it is the only weapon available to him.

21:10-15 David In Gath

David had to leave the kingdom of Israel, so he traveled into the Philistine territory of Gath, where Aw-KEESH was king. When he heard that people were reminding King Aw-KEESH of the many Philistines that he'd killed, he began to be afraid. He pretended to be insane so that they would not hold him liable for his actions against their countrymen.

People have often wondered if this was sin or a wise move. I believe it was sin, but not for the obvious deception. I believe it was sin because David's motivation was fear.

Prov. 29:25 The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

I honestly believe that if David had not been afraid, God would have taken care of his deliverance.

22:1-2 Men Gather To David

Then David ran to the cave of Ad-ool-LAWM. When word got out that David was on the run, more people started gathering to him. Not only his family, but

1Sam. 22:2 ...everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented...

The distressed, the indebted, and the discontented - these are the people that gathered to David. This is much the same kind of group that have gathered around Jesus Christ at Calvary Chapel. It is rare for us to attract people that "have it all together." People that gather here tend to be those that are distressed, those that are in debt, those that are discontent with what the world has delivered them. We're one big, disfunctional family! And I think that's great. Jesus taught,

Luke 5:32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Jesus came to call the distressed, the indebted, and the discontented. But notice this: When these guys spent time with David, they became more like David. Soon, these same people will become known as "David's mighty men." They will be the most fearsome fighters around - a top-notch military unit. The same is true for us: the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we become like Him.

22:3-4 David Cares For His Parents

David then traveled with his men from the cave of Ad-ool-LAWM to Mits-PAW of Moab. He was finding a place of refuge for his parents. Why would he think that the Moabites would welcome his parents? Probably two reasons: First, remember that David's great-grandmother was Ruth, a Moabitess. Second, when Saul had become king, he waged war against the Moabites (1Sam 14:47). It is reasonable to assume that he would think that any enemy of Saul's was a friend of his.

22:5 The Prophet Gad

Word had gotten to Saul about David's location, so the prophet Gad warned David not to stay in the stronghold, but to go into the land of Judah. As a result, they went into the forest of KHEH-reth.

Gad will continue to prophesy for David, being the prophet that God spoke to after David sinned in 2Sam 24 when he numbered the people.

22:6-8 Saul's Paranoia

Saul was in Ghib-AW, sitting under a tree as his servants stood around him. He began to accuse them all of conspiring against him. Every whispered conversation was to him treachery. Every knowing look that someone gave something else must have certainly been about him. Of course, he had no proof, but was so distant from God that he become delusional.

22:9-10 Doeg's Report

Enter the second bad guy of our story. Do-AYG the Edomite takes this opportunity to volunteer the information he had seen - that Akh-ee-MEH-lek, the son of Akh-ee-TOOB had assisted David.

22:11-15 Saul Accuses Ahimelech

When Akh-ee-MEH-lek was brought to Saul, he said, "Of course I helped David. Why wouldn't I? He's your most faithful servant, your son-in-law, and captain over your guard."

22:16-19 Saul Kills The Priests Of Nob

Saul was insane with hatred of David. He commanded that the priests be killed. When his guards refused to kill the priests of God, Do-AYG the Edomite did it, killing 85 of them, as well as destroying everyone and everything in the city of Nob.

22:20-23 David Gives Abiathar Safety


Psalm 52 was written by David at this time,

Ps. 52:0 ...when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said to him, "David has come to the house of Ahimelech."

The Psalm shows David's heart, talking about the judgment that will come upon wicked men and the trust that the righteous man has in God.

Ps. 52:1-9 WHY do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endures all day long. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, O worker of deceit. You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah. You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. But God will break you down forever; He will snatch you up, and tear you away from your tent, and uproot you from the land of the living. Selah. And the righteous will see and fear, and will laugh at him, saying, "Behold, the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and was strong in his evil desire." But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. I will give Thee thanks forever, because Thou hast done it, and I will wait on Thy name, for it is good, in the presence of Thy godly ones.

Tonight, is your faith where David's was in the midst of terrible tragedy? Can you look at something that the devil seems to have gained the victory in and say, "I'm going to give God thanks, I'm going to wait on Him"?

Go to next study

Go to previous study