“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.” 1 Samuel 22.16-23
Some portions of the Biblical text I’d rather just skip. Portions that are too tragic and too terrible to tell. But through all of God’s word we find truth, lessons for life, and the hand of the Lord at work.
David just left the priest Ahimelek at Nob and the town of the priests. This town aided and abetted David and sent him on his way. Not knowing that Saul wanted to kill David, they assisted him and sent him away fed and armed.
When Saul shows up he is beyond angry. He accuses Ahimelek of helping David and conspiring against him. Ahimelek argues that he did not know Saul wanted David dead but Saul refuses to listen and instead tells Ahimelek that he and his family will all die today. Tragic.
Saul commands his guards to “turn and kill the priests of the Lord” but they refused to do so. Then he ordered Doeg the Edomite, a foreigner, who had little faith and no regard for the priests to kill them. That day Doeg killed eight five priests as well the whole town of priests, “its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.” One of the sons of the priest Ahimelek escaped to join David and tell him all that had happened.
The highlight of this text shows the depravity to which Saul has fallen in order to kill his enemy David. He who was once chosen by the Lord, even though not in the best circumstances, is now killing priests, women and children to feed his own insatiable desire for power and to combat jealousy. Sin had a hold on Saul. The tragic events that occurred in Nob are evident of that.
Once we go down a slope toward sin and embrace evil, there is no chance of redemption without repentance. And Saul was not about to repent and turn from his ways. The judgement of that sin from the Lord is terrible. But we who are born sinners do not have to remain in our sin. We, unlike Saul, can turn from our wickedness and toward the light of the Lord.
Why not turn to God today? Leave your sin behind you. It may not be as tragic as Saul’s but it’s still sin nonetheless. Allow Jesus to wash you, heal you and cleanse you so that you might be forgiven of your sin and walk in the way that leads to life eternal.
“O Lord God, you are faithful. Even when I turn away from you, you are just. You love me and pursue me with your unfailing grace. You consider my sinful ways wretched but provided the answer to redeem my sin. Come now, Holy Spirit, fall upon your people. Heal your nation. Restore your land. Help us know that you are the God who forgives. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen