Have you ever said about someone, “(s)he hears only what (s)he wants to hear!” Well, Saul certainly heard what he wanted to hear that day. What a pity for how it all played out. If only Saul had been reasonable, he would have been able to see clearly what was happening. Misunderstandings and lies were responsible for the death of many priests that day.
Can’t you just picture the faces of those priests while Saul starts his rant? Ahimelech tried to reason with Saul, reminding him it was trustworthy and loyal David he was talking about. This message and plea of innocence would fall on Saul’s deaf ears as the pronouncement of death was made.
If we wondered why we met Doeg in our last reading, it now makes perfect sense. Doeg’s message was the catalyst for Saul’s anger. Why should the king believe his herdsman? Because it was precisely the message Saul wanted to hear, that David and Ahimelech were conspiring against him. Based on the account, Saul’s paranoia led him to assume–conspiracy!
Why was Doeg trying to get the attention of King Saul in the first place? Wasn’t he just a herdsman? I suppose he felt like he had a “scoop” to share based on Saul’s belief that David was the bad guy. Doeg’s role as antagonist in the story ends up in brutality and death. Saul’s own men wouldn’t kill the priests on Saul’s order, but Doeg didn’t balk and almost seemed eager to obey the king. It was a very ugly day indeed.
As you can imagine, David feels totally responsible. It was his own carelessness that led to this slaughter. If only David had been truthful with Ahimelech. Afterall, we know that the priest was innocent of any conspiracy.
David knew if he had told Ahimelech he was running from the king, rather than on a mission for the king, it would have brought negative attention to Saul. David was loyal, despite his circumstance. He wanted to spare Saul any disrespect.
That’s really the message I want to carry forward here. David was loyal and trustworthy. Even while hiding, he attracted his own family as well as people who were looking for safety or refuge. We see a natural leader in David. We see a man of God who seeks counsel of priests and listens to prophets.
It’s hard for me to fathom that God would allow all those priests and families to be killed. We still see today horrendous things that are happening to faithful ones. Through it all, we need to cling to our faith and protect our sisters and brothers in the faith.
That’s what David was going to do. The only priest who escaped death, Abiathar, also ran to David. In true compassion David tells the grieving man, “Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.”
Who in your circle of influence needs to hear a word of encouragement today? Who needs a dose of faithfulness to ride out the storms of this life? Pray for them that they will feel comfort from the Lord, that they will feel empowered with the strength of the spirit to endure.
Let’s pray …
Lord, You have been faithful over the ages, and now you take care of me! I love you, Lord. It’s hard for me to read accounts like these of innocent killings happening to your faithful ones. Even Jesus’ death on the cross, the ultimate example of innocent death, brings me to my knees in humbleness and awe. Fill me to be your shining light in this dark world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.