David, who would eventually become king after the death of Saul, of whom God said had a heart after His own, was also responsible for making some deadly bad choices. I need to take this to heart and remember that my decisions can affect others adversely. “It’s all about choices in life”, a certain man in my life is fond of saying.
King Saul had become angry with David, to the point of wanting him dead. Why?
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah. Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:13-14
Saul may not have heard of this private anointing of David as future king, but he did recognize that God had left him yet was “mightily upon David”. And God allowed an evil spirit to terrorize Saul, which drove him near madness.
David also had much success on the battlefield.
“So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. And it happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. And the women sang as they played, and said, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, ‘They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?’ And Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.” ~ 1 Samuel 18:5-9
The people loved David, Saul’s servants loved David, even Saul’s children loved David.
“When Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, then Saul was even more afraid of David. Thus Saul was David’s enemy continually…
Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David.” ~ 1 Samuel 18:28-29, 19:1
Eventually, David fled and hid from Saul.
“Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, ‘Why are you alone and no one with you?’ And David said to Ahimelech the priest, ‘The king has commissioned me with a matter, and has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter on which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you; and I have directed the young men to a certain place’.'” ~ 1 Samuel 21:1-2
What a whopper of a tale David told to the priest! Ahimelech gave him bread and the sword of Goliath, after David asked him: “‘Now is there not a spear or a sword on hand? For I brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s matter was urgent.'” ~ 1 Samuel 21:8. Another lie.
Why didn’t David trust God in this dangerous situation instead? Hmm, why don’t we? So often we panic and decide to take care of things ourselves. What a disaster that can be.
Saul found out about this aid given to David by the priests of Nob, and they were all summoned to him.
“Saul then said to him, ‘Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?’ Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, ‘And who among all your servants is as faithful as David, even the king’s son-in-law, who is captain over your guard, and is honored in your house? Did I just begin to inquire of God for him today? Far be it from me! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any of the household of my father, for your servant knows nothing at all of this whole affair.'” ~ 1 Samuel 22:13-15
Ahimelech had been innocently caught in the middle. David lied to him and endangered his life by seeking aid from him, but Saul also was to blame, for he distrusted David to the point of believing that even the priests were conspiring against him. Saul ordered all 85 of the priests attacked and killed, and in the city of Nob all the living, people and creatures, were “struck with the edge of the sword” (1 Samuel 22:19).
“But one son of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the LORD. Then David said to Abiathar, ‘I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have brought about the death of every person in your father’s household.'” ~ 1 Samuel 22:20-22
David took full responsibility for the consequences of his actions. He also pledged protection for the one survivor, Abiathar (vs. 23). And we read in 1 Samuel 23 that he asked God for direction.
We all make bad choices from time to time, although hopefully nothing resulting in the deaths of an entire city! May we also take full responsibility, like David, and turn back to seeking God’s will.