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Saul Murders the Priests of God (1 Samuel 22:6-23; Psalm 52) November 8

Saul has become a coercive, wrathful man full of curses for his son and his soldiers—essentially calling them a bunch of dirty double-crossers (verses 7-8). His paranoia indicates that he is losing his grip on reality. Such paranoia often accompanies demonic influence. His jealous and unreasonable anger toward those in his high command reminds one of the aberrations of Hitler and other corrupt rulers of history.

Doeg the Edomite, seeking to ingratiate himself with Saul, tells the king what he had witnessed—that the high priest Ahimelech had helped David (verses 9; 21:7).

Ahimelech explains that he considered David to be a faithful servant of Saul (verse 14). Nevertheless, Saul orders that Ahimelech be put to death along with all of the priests! It is such a heinous order that, to their credit, Saul's men refuse to carry it out (verse 17). But Doeg is up to the gruesome task. He puts to the sword 85 priests, their wives, children and animals.

It is interesting to consider here that, although Doeg's actions were inexcusable, God apparently used him to carry out part of the curse He had placed on Eli (compare 1 Samuel 2:27-36). These priests and their families were probably all Eli's descendants. Only Abiathar escapes—and he will eventually be deposed by Solomon. God often uses unrighteous men and circumstances in carrying out His will (see our article "Twist of Fate" at

Still, Saul proves himself an evil tyrant by this wholesale slaughter. He has done in anger to the many priests of God and their families what he was unwilling to do, at God's command, to Israel's enemy King Agag of the Edomite Amalekites (see 1 Samuel 15). And Saul has committed this atrocity by the hand of an Edomite. He is clearly becoming more and more deranged.

But it is David who will feel the burden of responsibility in the matter and suffer the pain of guilt. He laments to Abiathar, the one escapee of Saul's carnage, "It's all my fault. I've caused the death of all your relatives" (compare verse 22). In Psalm 52 we see how David brings this unbearable burden to God in prayer, asking God's vengeance on Doeg along with all those who love evil, and to avenge those who love righteousness. David ends his Psalm with the sure faith that God will come through—we have only to wait on Him.

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