David and the Holy Bread
21 Then David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.
Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen.
Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” And the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”
David Flees to Gath
And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,
‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
1 Samuel 21 Commentary
by Hank Workman
David the fugitive; David the man on the run; he resorts to lying to seek protection. It is the strangest story here as we see how he’s not quite been officially removed from Saul’s court. Yet, with a bounty on his head is treated as an outlaw and traitor from the throne.
The going gets tough for him and he makes some rash decisions. He lies about why he’s taking refuge among the priests of Nob; goes against God’s actual Word in regards to bread that is set aside at this priestly sanctuary and is given and eats it. Then on the run again, he lies to the actual enemy of Israel, as he takes refuge in a Philistine city. Both a bit of a head-scratcher moment.
I don’t want to demonize David here as I cannot imagine all he was thinking and going through. Simply consider the fact of what this being on the run in ancient times would be like. The struggle and trial David faces is unimaginable in this horror story. But, there is no excuse for his dishonesty in the situation he faces and actually according to Leviticus 19:11 is a sin. His lies will have severe consequences to the innocent as the next chapter reveals. What appeared to be harmless deceptions will lead to horrific tragedy and murder.
We all face our own struggles and trials at times. It feels as though they go in waves even. Gasping for breath, we want a reprieve. We want to see things change. This had to have been one of those moments. But when we choose to compromise the things of God, the ways of which He leads, the Word He has spoken, consequences usually do come. In essence on some levels, it’s not trusting Him in the middle of the struggle and trial. Taking things into our own hands, we feel as though we can make something change. It’s simply never a good idea.
Don’t compromise your beliefs and relationship in order to protect yourself. There’s always a price. Always.
1 Samuel 21 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
David has lost so much. He has gone from the beloved and admired son-in-law of King Saul to the forsaken fugitive, alone and rejected. We don’t know exactly why he would choose to lie in this situation, but we can at least understand his condition at the time. We’ve all been there. He was weakened and downcast. However, as Hank mentioned, his lies would come back to haunt him. He actually mentions regretting these lies in the next chapter.
The metaphor for David’s decisions can be seen in the receiving of Goliath’s sword. I wonder if he reflected back on that day the Lord enabled him to defeat the Philistine? He was empowered by his great faith, his character, and his trust. He stood boldly against the giant and did not fear him in the least, knowing that the God he served would protect him. In an uncharacteristic move for David, we find him doing the exact opposite in this situation.
Here, he is lying, sneaking around, and trying to take matters into his own hands. Even the most righteous men fell to the temptation of sin, and in the next chapter, we will see the consequences of his decision to manipulate his current circumstances.