The neo-paganism that crops up all around us would have a world in which there are no priests. Now this is an imaginary world. For you can desire a world in which there are no priests. But you cannot actually make a world in which there are no priests. Jesus will not take off his high priestly garments simply because an unbeliever wants him to. He is the high priest who remains and cannot be cut down. Nevertheless, a world without priests is precisely what many want. And it is what King Saul wanted in Israel’s day.
A Summary of the Text:
In 1 Samuel 22 we hear the story of Saul cutting down Israel’s priests. David was on the run and four hundered men gathered to him in the cave of Adullam. Saul was playing the victim, whinning about his men not feeling sorry for him (v. 8). Doeg the Edomite was there, and you will remember he was in Nob when David came through. Doeg saw Ahimelech give David provisions. And he took this opportunity to curry favor with King Saul.
King Saul called Ahimelech and did not believe Ahimelech’s claim that he was innocent in the matter with David. Saul then commanded his servants to strike down the priests (v. 17). But they would not. So Saul commanded Doeg to strike down the priests. And Doeg did. He murdered eighty-five priests and struck Nob, the city of the priests. Saul murdered the men, women, children, and nursing infants in Nob, along with the oxen, donkeys, and sheep.
Saul was a man of the earth. Better yet, he was a man only of the earth. We should enjoy the earth. God made it. And he made it good. But we should live on earth through the mediator, through the one who connects us to the God of heaven. Saul left off heaven and operated like a cutthroat politician.
The good news is that God has his priests in the world. And no matter how hard the spirit of Saul would try to cut them all down, it simply cannot be done. This hope is signaled to us in verse 20. It tells us that Saul failed to kill one of the sons of Ahimelech. This son was named Abiathar and he escaped and fled after David. The priests remain.
And the same is true today. Not only is Christ our great high priest. But the church of God is a royal priesthood on earth (1 Peter 2:9). We witness to a world that is cut off from their Crerator that there is a God in heaven. And our declaration to that world is, “Be reconciled to God.”