Saul ordered the death, not only of Israelís chief priest, but also of 85 other priests. It was a very cruel punishment; they had done nothing wrong.
Saul intended by this punishment to make his officials afraid. He wanted them to be too afraid to support David. He wanted them to be so afraid that they would obey him (Saul) completely.
However, on this occasion, Saul was unable to force his officials to obey him. They refused to obey because a priest carries out his work on behalf of God. That fact makes the priest holy, even if the priest himself has done evil things. If Saulís officials attacked a priest, they would be fighting against God. They believed that God could punish them very severely for such an action.
Probably many of Saulís officials were wicked men. Saul controlled them in a powerful manner; they were willing to kill or even to murder someone for him (19:11). They had fought many battles for him and they had killed many people. However, they were still more afraid of God than they were of Saul. They knew that they were responsible to God for their actions. They had done many evil things for Saul; but they did not dare to kill Godís priests.
Those officials respected God because they belonged to Israel. They knew from Israelís history that God had often acted to save his people from evil people (12:9-11). Even during Saulís rule, it was God who had saved their nation (11:6-11; 14:6; 17:45-47). So those officials knew that it is very foolish for any man to fight against God.
Next part: Doeg kills the priests (1 Samuel 22:18-19)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.