Daily Notes & Observations: “The Slaughter of the Priests” (Excerpt)

April 14

The Slaughter of the Priests

Daily Notes & ObservationsThe reign of Saul provides a series of examples showing why it is dangerous to allow one man to hold such great power over a people. He went from being afraid to accept the throne to being willing to do anything to hold onto his power. The incident with the priests in Nob illustrates the degree of wickedness to which he had attained.

Saul said to [Ahimelech the priest], ‘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, so that he would rise up against me by lying in ambush as it is this day?’

Then Ahimelech answered the king and said, ‘…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.’

But the king said, ‘You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s household!’ And the king said to the guards who were attending him, ‘Turn around and put the priests of the Lord to death…’ But the servants of the king were not willing to put forth their hands to attack the priests of the Lord. Then the king said to Doeg, ‘You turn around and attack the priests.’ And Doeg the Edomite turned around at attacked the priests, and he killed that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. And he struck Nob the city of the priests with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and infants…” (1 Samuel 22:13-19).

Saul had no proof that Ahimelech did anything wrong, only a suspicion. But for one in a position of power who views himself as above the law and believes his highest priority is retaining power, mere suspicion was enough. He charged the innocent priest, tried him in his own mind, then executed his own perverted form of justice against him. Even when his servants were unwilling to carry out this order, they did not oppose the king. Saul then found someone who would punish the innocent priest. This punishment spilled over to the rest of the city and all the inhabitants were killed.

It’s amazing how one who was “hiding himself by the baggage” when he was set to be publicly announced as king (1 Samuel 10:22) could be so transformed after receiving such power.


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