A Dirty Doeg

Doeg was an ambitious man who wanted status and power in the kingdom.

We may find ourselves in circumstances that are vastly different from those in which Doeg found himself—and yet, we must recognize that we have the propensity to be just like Doeg. We, no less than Doeg, descended from Adam. The propensity of all those descended from Adam is to seek first our own kingdom.


“With which person in the Bible do you most identify?” This is a question I have often asked others in the church over the years. Most of us lack even enough self-awareness to able to answer the question. Others among us have a propensity to appeal to the best characters in Scripture. I’ve never heard anyone answer that question by suggesting that he or she most resembles Cain, Lot’s wife, Esau, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Delilah, Saul, the Witch of Endor, Nabal, Shemei, Ahithophel, Absalom, Ahab, Jezebel, Athaliah, Mannaseh, Herod, Herodias, Pilate, Judas, Annanias, Sapphira, Alexander the Coppersmith, Hymenaus or Philetus. All of these notoriously wicked men and women lived in space and time and all played a significant role in relation to the godliest people in the Church. All of them were either members of the visible church, married to a believer or lived in the closest possible proximity to the people of God. Yet, most of us like to convince ourselves that we are nothing like them or that we have never met them in the church.

As I have recently been reading through the life of King David, I have come to realize that there is one figure in particular who doesn’t get much airtime for his notorious wickedness–yet who played a significant role in the life of David. This was Doeg the Edomite. All of us like to think that we look like King David in his better moments yet never stop to ask whether or not we look like Doeg the Edomite. Doeg is high on the list of disreputable individuals based on his actions against David and the priests in Nob. But, who was this despicable man, and how can we learn to examine ourselves to see whether we resemble him in any way?

While David was fleeing from Saul in Nob (a sanctuary city a few miles from Israel’s capital), Doeg the Edomite was tagging along with King Saul and his posse. Ahimelech the priest had mercifully received David and his men, given them the showbread to eat and Goliath’s sword. Doeg had been present that day in Nob when Ahimelech gave David the bread and the sword. David moved on the land of the Philestines and then to the caves of Adulam. Doeg went back to Saul. Doeg told Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, and he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” Doeg’s willingness to serve as an informant against David led on to his ruthless murdering of 70 of God’s priests. Doeg was willing to do Saul’s dirty work. But, why? What was it about this descendant of Esau that fueled his actions?

Saul had promised those he recruited positions in his government. He sought to manipulate those with him with bribes if they would simply be willing to help him catch and destroy David. He intimidated them when they did not help him destroy David. Dale Ralph Davis write,

“[Saul] addresses his inner circle of Benjaminite henchmen, asking them if they think the ‘son of Jesse’ will pass out government jobs and perks to them as he, Saul, has done. He is speaking to all his select circle, for three times he refers to ‘all of you’ (vv. 7–8). And they have, he alleges, all entered a conspiracy of silence, callously withholding from him intelligence about his own son’s subversive support for the ‘son of Jesse’ (v. 8).”

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