In 1 Samuel 22:1, David left Gath. He traveled ten miles east of Gath to the cave of Adullam in Judahite territory. “When David’s brothers and his father’s whole family heard, they went down and joined him there” (1 Samuel 22:1) You can be certain that they were motivated to do this not only because of their great love of David but because of their fear of Saul.
In 1 Samuel 22:2, an odd group of others joined David too. In addition to his family, “about four hundred” people who lived on the ragged edge of society came to David’s outpost. Included among this group were “every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader.” These were individuals who, for various reasons, had failed to integrate into the fabric of society. They may have thought to find in David a leader who could understand them and who would help them create a society separate from those from whom they were alienated. They may have thought David would help them get revenge on the society they had left.
In 1 Samuel 22:3–5 David and his group of discontents didn’t stay in Judah but instead “went to Mizpeh of Moab.” “Mizpeh of Moab” is located somewhere east of the Dead Sea. Mizpah, whose name literally means “watchtower,” was apparently the fortified city of residence at the time for “the king of Moab.” In a personal audience with the Moabite king, David requested that his father and mother be granted sanctuary in Moab until “until I know what God will do for me.”
The king granted David’s request, perhaps for two reasons:
- First, because he was honoring the ancient practice of providing sanctuary for adversaries of enemies (1 Samuel 27:4–5; 1 Kings 11:17–18; 12:2; 2 Kings 25:26)
- Second, because David had a Moabite great-grandmother (Ruth 4:13–17). David’s family would be protected “as long as David was in the stronghold.” God was providing for David years before through a redeemer named Boaz.