1 Samuel 22:6-23 – Saul Kills the Priests


1 Samuel 22:6-23


Showing just how much Saul has become an enemy of God and of Israel, he orders the execution of God’s priests by a foreigner when no Israelite will lift their hand against the anointed leaders.


Saul knew that the people had turned against him, even those who still followed him physically. Saul accused the Israelites of not informing him of David’s movements, or when his son Jonathan made covenants with David. An Edomite named Doeg stepped forward to inform on David when no Israelites would. Doeg was probably only too happy to point out that the priests aided David against Saul, and thereby pointed King Saul’s fury at them.

Ahimelech the priest appears to have come before Saul with a relatively clean conscience. David was earlier the king’s trusted champion and son-in-law. Moreover, David had inquired of the LORD through the priests many times before. Why would Ahimelech not help David in every way he asked? 

Saul flew into a rage, however, and ordered those with him to strike down Ahimelech and all those with him. The Israelites flatly refused. Doeg the Edomite was pleased to comply with Saul’s murderous orders, however. Not only did he kill Ahimelech and all the priests, but he also killed all the women and children in their town, as well as all the animals. 

Ahimelech’s son, Abiathar, fled to David’s camp. Abiathar was to be the last full priest of Eli’s line. Abiathar’s son Jonathan would be known as “a priest’s son,” but was apparently not a priest in his own right. This is the end of the priestly line of Eli, fulfilling the grim prophecies from 1 Samuel 2 & 3.