Updated: Jul 26, 2020
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INTRODUCTION. After David and Jonathan made their second covenant, David
became a fugitive and outlaw, running from Saul for most of the remainder of Saul's
life. David first fled to Nob, a town in the territory of Benjamin called, "the city of the
priests" (I Sam. 22:19). There the priest Ahimelech gave him some provisions and
Goliath's sword, for David was unarmed and without any weapons (I Sam. 21:1-9).
David next went to Achish, the king of the Philistine city of Gath, but he was not welcome
there among the Philistines (I Sam. 21:10-15). He escaped then to the cave
of Adullam, a large cave in the lowlands of Judah. His father's family joined him
there as well as a fighting force of 400 men who were discontented, distressed, and
in debt. David removed his family to Moab for safety, then returned to Judah at the
advice of the prophet Gad (I Sam. 22:1-5).
Meanwhile an Edomite named Doeg informed Saul that the priest Ahimelech had
aided David. Saul called for Ahimelech and all the priests at Nob and commanded
his servants to slay them. The servants of the king refused to strike the priests of
the Lord, so Saul told Doeg, the Edomite, to kill them. Doeg killed eighty-five priests
that day then attacked Nob, killing all in the city. Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech,
managed to escape and fled to David (I Sam. 22:6-23).
As David moved from place to place constantly trying to elude Saul and his men, his
force of followers increased to 600. David and his 600 men next delivered the city of
Keilah, located in the southern lowlands of Judah, from an attack by the Philistines.
When Saul heard that David was in Keilah, he sent his army to besiege the city and
trap David. However, David was warned by God, and he and his men fled to the
wilderness of Ziph. It was at this time while David was in the hill country of Judah in
the wilderness of Ziph that Jonathan came to him, and they renewed their covenant
for the third time (I Sam. 23:1-18).
After a while the Ziphites betrayed David to Saul, so David and his men moved a little
farther south in the wilderness. Saul continued to seek David, but receiving a
message that the Philistines were invading his territory, he left his pursuit of David
and turned against the Philistines (I Sam. 23:19-29).
David then went to Engedi at the edge of the wilderness on the western shore of the
Dead Sea. This was an oasis watered by a hot spring that gushed forth hundreds of
feet above the base of a large cliff, and the rocky gorges in the area offered many
hideouts. When Saul returned from his encounters with the Philistines, he continued
his pursuit of David with 3000 men. Saul went into one of the many caves in the
area to rest unaware that David and his men were in the innermost part of the same
cave (I Sam. 24).