Wednesday, March 01, 2006

1 Samuel 22

David's family probably lived in fear of Saul's madness and rage. Having been rejected by both Saul and the Philistines, David flees to the cave of Adullam. Adullam means "refuge" ( and is on a hill 12 miles southwest of Bethlehem.

A small army, comprised of his brothers and of malcontents gathers around him. They move to Mizpah in Moab, but the prophet Gad tells David to return to leave "the stronghold" and return to Israelite territory. So David and his men hide out in a forest which is simply known as "The Forest" (Hereth).

Meanwhile, Saul exacts his revenge not against David but against the priesthood of Israel. But Saul is so isolated that he must lean on family loyalties and beg assistance from a servant who isn't even an Israelite. He tells his own tribe of
Benjamin that David, who is of Judah, will not reward them. A foreigner from the land of Esau (Edom), Doeg, tells us that the priests inquired of the Lord on David's behalf and that the Lord apparently answered. So the murder of the priests ordered by Saul and committed by Doeg is plainly contemptuous of God.

Three questions remain unanswered:
1. What servant is lying in wait for Saul (1 Sam. 22:8)? If this refers to David, the statement seems rampantly paranoid.
2. Why did Ahimelech give Goliath's sword to David? The sword is not described in detail, and we know that David was able to handle it even as a boy (to cut off Goliath's head). Still, it seems odd to arm David with a national trophy.
3. How did Doeg succeed in killing 85 priests? Why did only Abiathar, son of Ahimelech escape? Didn't anyone else run? Or did Doeg have help?

There is an interesting difference of translation between the NIV and the KJV. The KJV says that Saul issued his orders to the tribe of Benjamin from "under a tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah," while the KJV says that Saul "abode in Gibeah
under a tree in Ramah." Ramah means "to be high," and there were several Ramahs. One is between Schechem and Hebron, well to the north of Jerusalem, but this is clearly not it. As shown on this map, one is southeast of Gibeon (probably the village of "Djib" or "Gib"), but there is also a Gibeah
(or Geba; Hebrew "hill") a few miles to the east of Gibeon. Gibeah was known for its wickedness (Judges 19-21, Hosea 9-10). For a full discussion, consult, which says:

Both Kirjath-Jearim and Geba formed but one continuous town. Kirjath-Jearim was at the south, and Geba at the north, and the boundary line ran through both; so that it is still visible at this day, namely, because the boundary line ran along the road which leads to Jaffa. Geba was thus a city of Benjamin, whilst Kirjath-Jearim is assigned to both Benjamin and Judah.

Ramah had been Samuel's home and he may well have been living at the time of this incident. Certainly David had fled to him not long earlier (1 Sam. 19:18). It was also the town in which Saul had been secretly anointed king. Ramah was a virtuous place. Gibeah was a place of evil. Therefore, while there is ambiguity, the NIV translation makes slightly more sense.

According to Strong's the root for the word Hereth is "engrave," and occurs only once, in Exodus 32:19. There, it refers to the engraving of the Ten Commandments). So, David can be thought of as returning to the Commandments, and this is probably the key insight of the chapter.

The image of the evil shepherd, recurs throughout the scriptures. Jesus, of course, is The Good Shepherd. Doeg, The Bad Shepherd, slaughters God's representatives.


Post a Comment

<< Home