Today's passage: I Samuel 22
I have always loved the story of Robin Hood. I've watched movies, cartoons, TV shows about the noble turned outlaw who brings justice to England by stealing from Prince John and showering the peasants with riches. I'm not endorsing this kind of behavior, but it makes for a fun story.
The next several chapters in Samuel seem to be the beginning of David's "Robin Hood" days. Maybe Robin Hood was loosely based on David's life. Can you see the similarities? David lives in forests and caves, think Sherwood Forest. David is surrounded by mighty instead of merry men. They flee from town to town to escape the king who is after them. The only thing missing is the "rob from the rich to give to the poor" theme.
God had already prepared David for roaming the countryside. When David was a shepherd, he would have led his sheep to many pastures, to many streams. David would have been very familiar with the land, because as a shepherd, he had to be. David had no idea this was knowledge he was going to need in the future, but it was. He knew where enemies resided, he knew the borders, he knew the landscape. I wonder if David felt a little like Moses in the wilderness. I wonder if David thought about Moses and his ancestors as they wandered the length of Israel, not being yet able to settle in the Promised Land. When he started to feel discouraged, maybe he remembered that he was not the only Israelite who had a season of wandering.
David secures the safety of his family in Bethlehem. He asks the king of Moab to shelter them until he is no longer in danger. David probably figures that Saul would have no qualms harming his family, taking them as hostages, to coax David out of his hiding place. The king of Moab agrees, not at all concerned about angering Israel's king. An enemy of Saul's was a friend of his. David uses this to his advantage. Unfortunately, as we saw in last chapter he also used his celebrity and his relationship as son-in-law to the king to his advantage as well. Ahimelech is discovered to have helped David (thanks to Doeg the Edomite). Saul requests a conference with him, and Ahimelech is surprised to learn that David had lied to him. Completely. Ahimelech cannot convince Saul that he had no knowledge that David was a fugitive. Saul believes him to be in league with David. Ahimelech and all the priests of Nob are executed. Only Abiathar, Ahimelech's grandson (I think) escapes. Doeg the Edomite (who would not care at all what God's Word said about how to treat a priest) is the only man who will lay a hand on God's men. No other of Saul's servants will do this dastardly deed.
Abiathar locates David. He reports to David what has happened in Nob. I'm sure David is greatly affected by this news. "And David said unto Abiathar,...I have occasioned the death of all the persons of thy father's house." Really there is no excuse I can offer for David. He was responsible, he was the reason. Ahimelech may have elected to help David anyway had he known the truth about why David had come to him. But that should have been Ahimelech's choice. He should have been able to choose for himself whether he was going to defy the king and help the outlaw, not be deceived into it. Was it right for Ahimelech to aid and abet David? Absolutely. God was with David. But Ahimelech was tricked. I'm sure David felt the full weight of responsibility for the outcome. Would it change David's future behavior? We shall see.
Robin Hood may have been a legend. David was real. David's actions brought real consequences. Our choices in life affect others. I'm sure if David could take back these actions, he would have. If he could have seen the forest for the trees, he may have behaved differently. Nothing I do in this life affects only me. My choices affect others around me. My sin will taint other lives, whether I choose to believe that or not. My good choices will produce good results and will be a good influence. My poor choices will bring about bad results and bad influences. Abiathar had no where else to go. Now he had no choice but to run with David, because to do otherwise would mean death. Saul would never be convinced that Abiathar was not involved in a conspiracy against him. David is still God's man. He failed, as we all fail. He will fail again, as we all will fail again. Still God is merciful to us and gives us chance upon chance to do better.
Although I love the story of Robin Hood, I can't say that I approve of his methods. Stealing is never right, no matter how it is fashioned. Deceit is wrong whether you are a fugitive storybook hero, or the king's fugitive son-in-law. And the results do not bring about a happy ending.