1 David escaped and went to the cave of Adullam. When they heard where he was his brothers and all the rest of his family went and joined him there. 2 Everyone who was in trouble or in debt or resentful also came to him and he became their leader. He had around four hundred men with him.
3 Then David went to Mizpeh in the country of Moab. He asked the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come and stay with you until I find out what God is planning for me.” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with the king all the time David lived in the stronghold.* “Stronghold”: probably referring to his camp at the cave of Adullam.
5 But then the prophet Gad told David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go back to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
6 Saul found out that David had returned and where he was. Saul was sitting under the tamarisk tree on the hill in Gibeah. He had his spear in his hand, with all his officials surrounding him.
7 Saul said to them, “Listen to me, you men of Benjamin! Is the son of Jesse going to give all of you fields and vineyards and make you commanders and officers in the army? 8 Is that why you've all plotted against me? Not a single one of you told me that my own son had made an agreement with Jesse's son. Not a single one of you has shown you cared about me, or explained to me that my son has encouraged him to try and kill me, which is what he's doing right now!”
9 Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul's officers, spoke up, saying, “I saw the son of Jesse visit Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, at Nob. 10 Ahimelech asked advice from the Lord for him and gave him food. He gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine as well.”
11 The king sent a message to summon Ahimelech the priest, son of Ahitub, and all his family, who were priests at Nob. They all came to the king.
12 “Now you listen, son of Ahitub,” the king shouted.
“What is it, my lord?” Ahimelech asked.
13 “Why have you and the son of Jesse plotted against me? You gave him bread and a sword, and asked advice from God for him so that he could rebel against me and try and kill me, which is what he's doing right now!”
14 “Who of all your officers is as trustworthy as David, the king's son-in-law? He is in charge of your bodyguard, and highly respected in your family!” Ahimelech responded. 15 “And was that day the first time he asked advice from God on his behalf? Of course not! The king should not accuse me your servant or any of my family, for I didn't know anything about any of this.”
16 “You're going to die for this!” the king declared. “You and all your family!”
17 Then the king turned to his bodyguards standing there and ordered them, “Kill these priests of the Lord, because they're on David's side! They knew he was a fugitive and yet they didn't tell me!” But the king's guards refused to attack the priests of the Lord.
18 So the king ordered Doeg, “You kill the priests!” Doeg the Edomite attacked and killed the priests, killing eighty-five men wearing the priestly ephod. 19 Then he went to Nob, the town of the priests, and slaughtered its men and women, children and infants, cattle, donkeys, and sheep.
20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, managed to escape. His name was Abiathar, and he ran away and joined David. 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 David told Abiathar, “I knew that day when Doeg the Edomite was there that he was going to tell Saul about it. It's my fault that all your family have died. 23 But you can stay with me and you don't need to be afraid, because the man who wants to kill you wants to kill me too. I'll take good care of you.”
*22:4 “Stronghold”: probably referring to his camp at the cave of Adullam.