1 Samuel 21English Standard Version (ESV)
David and the Holy Bread
21 [a] 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?” 2 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. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” 4 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.” 5 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?” 6 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.
7 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.
8 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.”9 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.”
You may remember the last verse of the last chapter (go look it up). Imagine the scene for David. The last ditch effort of your best friend Jonathan failed. There was no more doubt. King Saul was determined to put you to death (20:34). David was officially a fugitive now. The world was a large place but it had suddenly shrunk to a very small place. Where could he hide from the hounds of the King? Jonathan said these haunting words, “Go in peace.” Wasn’t he saying these words to a person left for death? I can almost hear the chilly wind and feel the gloomy sunset as he departed.
David ran alone, with no friend, no wife, nothing … but a price on his head … two miles out to Nob. He had no food and no weapon. Although there were a few young men waiting by his side, what could they do against the army of the King? If you were Ahimelech, you can smell the desperation of David from a mile away. That was probably why Ahimelech came trembling to meet David. Perhaps he was not afraid of David. Rather, he did not wish to be seen associated with David now. He feared being accused of aiding a fugitive.
Ahimelech could not possibly believe David’s poor tale of a secret mission. Would a royal emissary need to ask for food? Would he lack a weapon? Who would be so foolish to provide for David? Who could David turn to now?
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)
Who else but the Lord God? He alone is my refuge. He is the Great Provider.
Because of the great and merciful God, David shall eat bread, not just some bread, but the Holy Bread. It was the Bread of the Presence that sustained David at his desperation. It was Goliath’s sword that reminded David that the Lord was with him. He is my shield. He is the rock of my salvation!
Suddenly, the sky wasn’t so gray. The clouds lifted a little. A ray of sun broke through. There was hope in the air.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, (Romans 5:2-5)
Praise the Lord. AMEN