David couldn't stay long with the Philistines pretending to have lost his mind, so he continues on to Gath and stays there in a cave. Many of the discontented Israelites begin to meet him there and join forces with him in escaping the hostilities of Saul. Saul, however, berates his men wanting to know why he was kept out of the loop when Jonathan his son conspired to keep David safe. After hearing how Saul interpreted silence of the men as a betrayal, Doeg the head shepherd spoke up. He had seen David at Nob with the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech had provided bread, a spear and inquired of God on his behalf. This made Saul even angrier that the priests of God were acting to protect David and not favoring Saul, so he sent for Ahimelech and all of his father's family (since they were all priests).
When Saul ordered his men to slay the priests, they refused. But Doeg being weak of character complied with the king's request and slayed 85 priests and their families - even the women and children. Ahimelech had not betrayed the king, his involvement in the protection of David made sense based on David's lie to him. Yet, perhaps hundreds of innocents were killed that day because of Ahimelech's association with David. In one encouraging note of hope, Ahimelech's son, Abiathar, escaped to find David and let him know of the terrible atrocity.
The family of Ahimelech paid the price of their life for innocently providing David food and protection. Even those who were not present and not involved were killed because of their relationship to Ahimelech. This was pure evil being inflicted on the innocent, yet God records this in his written word for us. Why? I think it is so that we can know that being in God's service and doing the right thing may not prevent the evil of this world from finding its way to you. I feel there is a special place in Heaven for these that were slain.
It is hard for us to understand all of God's ways. He didn't kill or inflict evil on the priests and their families, but He didn't intervene to save them either. The children had their potential here on earth taken from them. They may have been future priests in service to the Lord, but that was wiped out in just one day. God had another plan for these that were taken. They were taken to glory early to enjoy fellowship with the Lord forevermore. God had a message for David; the threat is real and Saul will stop at nothing until he overcomes David.
When we are confronted with evil in this world, we need to cling to our faith even tighter than we ever thought possible. We may be mistreated or even struck down with illness or hatred, but can we trust that even in this God is continuing to write his story? Can we trust that there is an even greater glory awaiting us? As I consider the evil in this world, I see that God is greater than any foe and can save his people and make a name for himself, but He may use my life to secure for Himself a greater glory. My life is completely in the hands of God and whether it be accident, illness or hostile acts that should threaten to take my life, I can know that my eternity is secure with Him who paid the price for me.
Can evil be stopped? Only in God's perfect timing and in God's plan. Can we trust Him even in the midst of threats and anger? Our faith in God's lovingkindness is demonstrated as we walk through the valleys of life trusting and obeying.
May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.