As news spread throughout Israel of young David’s forced exile in the Judean Desert, not a few Israelites settled their minds to join him there. Among that number—understandably—were David’s relatives, whose very lives were in peril from the malice of Saul. Likewise, others—including debtors, malcontents, and political outcasts—gladly threw in their lot with this dashing young renegade in the desert. Rather quickly their number grew from 400 (1 Sam. 22:1–2) to 600 (23:13), whom their new leader formed into a scrappy and efficient guerilla force.
Because of the high adventure involved in his exile, David especially attracted the bold and saucy, the natural risk-takers, men able to sneak up quietly, hit hard, and get away fast. His loyal companions during the years of hardship, these warriors would later confer on David’s 40-year reign its energetic and conquering spirit. Some of them grew to be men of renown: Joash, Ahiezer, Ishmaiah, and others (1 Chr. 12:1–16).
Two of David’s associates during this time supplied gifts of another sort; these were Abiathar the priest and Gad the prophet. These two ministries—priest and prophet—would prove important to David, not only during his time as a fugitive but also during his four decades on the throne of Israel (2 Sam. 8:17; 2 Chr. 29:25).
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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