1 Samuel 21:1-22:23 – David Grows in Military Might


1 Samuel 21:1-22:23


In this section, David’s military support grows in addition to the success he enjoys with all who meet him.


In chapters 21-22, David is depicted as a “captain” (22:2) in charge of a number of “men” (21:2, 4-5; 22:6). The three incidents recorded here (21:1-9; 21:10-22:5; 22:6-23) are arranged in such a way that the first and last, dealing with the priests at Nob in Benjamin, frame the second, which deals with David’s escape to three different locales:

1. Gath in Philistia: Goliath’s hometown (17:4), where David feigned prophetic madness in order to preserve his life in the face of Achish, the king. The story speaks to David’s widening fame and belittles the Philistines who cannot discern true prophets from the insane (21:10-15).

2. Adullam in Judah: outside Bethlehem, David’s hometown (16:1), where David set up his headquarters and swelled his forces with the marginalized who fled to him, increasing his guerilla band (22:1-2).

3. Mizpeh in Moab: the home of David’s family (Ruth 1:4; 4:13, 16-17), where David demonstrates his care and concern for his parents and is warned by God through the prophet Gad  (22:3-5).