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David goes to Gath, and afterwards to the cave of Adullam.
The compliance of Ahimelech with David's request would seem to have prepared the way for his placing himself more completely under the protection of the high priest, and remaining a longer time at Nob; but a circumstance occurred that urged him to seek still another place of refuge. He noticed at the tabernacle an Edomite, by the name of Doeg, the chief of Saul's herdsmen. Being, probably, a professed proselyte to the faith of the Israelites, having hoped in that way to ingratiate himself into the good opinion of the king, he had come to the sanctuary of the Lord to discharge a vow which he had made, or to take a part in some religious observances. His conduct afterwards, as we shall see, showed that he was strongly devoted to Saul's interests, and that David had good reason to fear him.
The occasion demanded despatch, for David knew not how expeditiously Doeg might take means to betray him to the king. Resolving to leave Nob that very day, he deemed it best to provide himself with some weapons of defence in case of emergency, and asked the high priest
if he could furnish him with them; adding that he had brought none," because the king's business required haste.”
"The sword of Goliath the Philistine," replied Ahimelech, "whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it : for there is no other save that here."
" There is none like that,” said David, "give it me.” He had wielded it once, in the strength of the Lord, when triumphing over his enemy, and, in the same strength, felt equal to trying again its massy power, should the occasion require it.
What counsel David sought of the high priest, or, through him, of the Lord, we are not told. Doeg, as we shall find, informed Saul afterwards that Ahimelech had inquired of the Lord in behalf of David. But this is all we know of the matter.
We next find David on his way to Gath, a city of the Philistines, of which Achish was the king. It is most probable that he went there, because he deemed it the safest course, at present, not to remain within reach of Saul's emissaries in any part of his dominions Yet it seems surprising, that he sought protection in the city of a formidable foe of the Israelites, and the late residence, too, of the boasted champion of the Phi. listines whom he had slain. David may have relied on the generous boldness of such an act, and hoped that it would meet with equal magnanimity on the part of a brave enerny. But whatever may have been the favorable feelings of Achish towards him, the attendants of the king soon endeavored to convince him that it would not be safe to entertain so dangerous a guest, as they regarded David. They reminded Achish that this was the individual who was to be king of Israel. They told him he was the one whose extraordinary prowess in the killing of Goliath, and the discomfiture of their hosts, had been celebrated in the triumphal dances and songs of his countrywomen, and that there could be no hope, (for possibly the king might have indulged it) of withdrawing him from the interests of the Israelites, or of securing his permanent friendship See Psalm 56.
David was aware of these things, and feared the result. He sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath," and, to escape out of his power, assumed the appearance of one bereft of reason. "He changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard."
The stratagem succeeded. The king regarded the suspicions and fears of his attendants as unfounded, and even reproved them for the course which they had taken. "Lo,” said he, "ye see
the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? Have I need of madmen, that ye have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence; shall this fellow come into my house?” See Psalm 34.
David lost no time in availing himself of this opportunity of escape, and leaving Gath, fled into the valley of Judah to a strong hold near the city of Adullam, a few miles southwest of Jeru. salem. It was a deep cave, where he hoped, for a season at least, and till some other expedient could be found, to be secure from the malice of Saul. His condition and feelings are strikingly delineated in the one hundred and forty-second Psalm, which it is thought he composed at this time, and to which the attention of the reader is invited.
Bethlehem was in the neighborhood of Adul. lam, and it was not long before Jesse and his family heard of the situation of David. Perceiv. ing that there was no hope of Saul's ever becoming reconciled to him, and that a portentous crisis had arrived in his affairs, they resolved to unite their destiny with his, and resorted imme. diately to the place of his concealment. It is most probable that the father at least had a firm . belief that his son would be king of Israel, and at no very distant period. He felt, too, how soon the vengeance of Saul might strive to wreak itself upon the whole family, and that every rea
son both of future advantage, and of present security, demanded their union with David. It may well be conceived, that it was to the latter a source of great encouragement thus to receive the countenance of his venerable parents, and his brethren.
Others, also, joined him in considerable rum. bers; those who were in distress, or in debt, or discontented with their condition,-so that he was soon at the head of a band of about four hundred men, with their wives and children. They may have hoped to lead a life of plunder and violence, or to commence a course of des. perate conspiracy against the king, thinking that David would rejoice, in this way, to gratify his revenge towards his persecutor. But if they were influenced by any such motives, they found themselves greatly mistaken. David soon let them see that his discipline was intended to produce strict order and correct conduct on their part, of which we shall find abundant proof as we advance in the history. He resolved to employ them for good and justifiable purposes; and doubtless his own example, as well as his authority, had a powerful effect in leading them to reform their lives, and to act as duty to their country and their God should require.
It seems, that by this time the news of David's situation, and of the posture of affairs between him and Saul, was spreading far and wide through