1 Samuel 22:16–19
And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house!” Then the king said to the guards who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the LORD, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled and did not tell it to me.” But the servants of the king would not lift their hands to strike the priests of the LORD. And the king said to Doeg, “You turn and kill the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod. Also Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing infants, oxen and donkeys and sheep—with the edge of the sword.
Saul’s servants show great character in refusing to lift their hands to strike the priests of the LORD. They are disobeying a direct order from the king. The punishment for that is presumably death, yet they refuse.
And here’s the kicker; they’re not the ones who know that Ahimelech is totally innocent. Only Doeg knows that.
They are standing their ground purely on principle.
Thus, this sequence of events sets up a faith test. Had Saul’s servants known all the facts, things would be different. We might conclude that they refused to kill the priests because they knew they were innocent.
But, no. Their refusal to break the sixth commandment, especially by killing a priest, is on religious grounds.
They risked their necks for righteousness.
So, the only person willing to slaughter the priests is the only one who knows that they’re innocent. That seems uniquely evil.
But maybe not. Maybe this is just an example of a slippery slope in action. Back in 1 Samuel 21:7, when Doeg overheard the conversation between David and Ahimelech, he’s described as the chief of Saul’s herdsmen. It’s the top position in a low category. The Hebrew word translated as herdsmen (רֹעִ֖ים, ro-eem) is the same word as shepherds—the dregs of society. Doeg is at the top of the bottom, with no room for advancement.
But when he overhears David’s conversation with Ahimelech, he has an opportunity to carry important information to his king. A messenger (or a spy) is a much higher position. He delivers the news and the king quickly rallies his troops in pursuit. Doeg is suddenly much more than a shepherd.
Now he’s in the presence of the king’s servants refusing to obey an order. He has another chance to be significant, and he jumps on it. Doeg’s transformation is complete. He was just a nobody (albeit the chief nobody). Now he’s the king’s confidant and a mighty warrior, the slayer of many.
Never underestimate the power of sin to change people.
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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to the DEEP click here: https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.