Loyalty is normally an admirable trait, but not if it means devotedly carrying out the wicked orders of a man gone mad with jealousy. But such was the twisted character of Doeg the Edomite, King Saul’s head shepherd.
Soon after David had been anointed to be the next king and grew in popularity, Saul grew jealous and began to threaten David’s life. David fled, stopping first at Nob, where many of the priests and their families lived. A priest named Ahimelech gave David and his men some of the sacred bread that was there, as well as the sword of Goliath. Doeg the Edomite happened to be there and saw David and his men.
Later, when Saul was accusing his officials of conspiring with David, Doeg stepped forward and volunteered the information he had about David and his men stopping at Nob. So Saul and his men went to Nob, but Ahimelech denied that he was guilty of any wrong. When Saul ordered his men to kill all the priests, his men refused—so Saul gave the order to Doeg, who murdered eighty-five priests and their families (1 Samuel 21–22).
We can only speculate why Doeg was willing to betray David and to kill eighty-five priests and their families. Perhaps he saw it as his chance to gain favor with the king and rise above his lowly role as head shepherd. It is also possible Doeg’s heritage as an Edomite fostered a hatred of Israelites in general, because Saul had fought against the Edomites earlier in his reign as king of Israel (1 Samuel 14:47).