A fighting unit (22:1-23)
David found a hiding place in the barren regions of Adullam. Here he was joined by his family, who had fled to escape the hate and revenge of Saul (22:1; see Ps 57; 63; 142). Knowing this hard life would be too much for his aged parents, he left them in the care of the king of Moab, and returned to his home territory of Judah. By now a crowd of four hundred, mainly outlaws and discontented people, had joined David, and he soon built these into a strong fighting unit (2-5; 1 Chron 11:10,15).
Among those who joined David were many experienced soldiers who had escaped from the eastern tribes, along with a number from Benjamin and Judah. David was careful at all times to make sure that he was not welcoming spies or others whom Saul might use to destroy him (1 Chron 12:8-18). Soon the force numbered six hundred (see 23:13). Throughout the time of Saul’s pursuit, David and his men remained within the tribal area of David’s tribe, Judah. However, they were gradually driven either farther south into the hotter and drier regions, or farther west into the regions controlled by the Philistines.
Meanwhile Saul was accusing his soldiers and officials of being disloyal to him and of supporting David. Saul reminded them that they could expect favours and gifts from him because they were from his tribe, Benjamin. They would get nothing from David, because he would obviously favour people from his own tribe, Judah (6-8).
When Saul discovered that Ahimelech had helped David, Ahimelech pointed out that he did so because of his loyalty to Saul. He understood that David was carrying out Saul’s business (9-15). Saul by now was furious beyond reason, and commanded that not only Ahimelech but all the priests of Nob be killed. Only Abiathar escaped, and he immediately went and joined David (16-23; see Ps 52).