1Samuel 19-21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

February 10, 2002


Saul had been the first king, but when he continued to disobey the things that God had asked him to do, God decided it was time to pick out a new king. God picked a young shepherd boy named David. The prophet Samuel anointed David with oil, and the Holy Spirit moved from being on Saul, to being on David. It was after this that David killed the Philistine giant Goliath, and brought a great victory for Israel. Jonathan, Saul’s son, had become very fond of David. After all, they were both brave, daring men who trusted in the Lord. When David returned from his victory over Goliath, the people wrote songs saying, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands”. When Saul heard this, he became angry, filled with jealousy. Saul began to secretly devise ways of having David killed, first by sending him out to fight more Philistines, then requiring that David kill more Philistines for the privilege of marrying Saul’s daughter Michal. Yet despite all these efforts to have David killed, David continued to prosper and only became more popular among the people.

1Samuel 19

:1 And Saul spake to Jonathan … that they should kill David.

Saul now openly commands that David be put to death. He’s not going to hide his hatred any more.

This gives us a little insight into the concept of what the Jews considered a king.

Nobody for the moment asks Saul for a reason. Nobody for the moment questions what Saul is asking. Saul doesn’t seem to be accountable to anyone. It seems that he has the ability to command that people be put to death.

This helps explain why the prophet Samuel had been reluctant to go and anoint David.

(1 Sam 16:2 KJV) And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me.

:3 what I see, that I will tell thee.

Jonathan promises to talk to his father and find out why Saul is wanting to kill David.

:5 wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?


Irrational jealousy

Jealousy is not very rational.
In reality, David hasn’t done a single thing for Saul to be afraid of. David had only done things that benefit Saul. He’s only helped Saul.
But Saul isn’t being very rational.

:7 Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.

God uses Jonathan, and Saul actually listens to reason. For the time being, there is peace.



Jesus said,
(Mat 5:9 KJV) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Paul wrote,
(Rom 12:18 KJV) If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

It is not always possible to be at peace with people, but we should be willing to do our part.

Though this “peace” would only last for a while, I think it was good that Jonathan pursued it.

:8 David went out, and fought with the Philistines


The enemy is a liar

When Goliath had made his challenge to Israel, he said,
(1 Sam 17:9 KJV) If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.

Yet after David defeated Goliath, did the Philistines become Israel’s servants? No. In fact, now they’re back at war again.

Satan will often say to us while we’re being tempted, “Just give in this one last time, and you’ll never be bothered again …” It’s a lie. We can even think that if we have a victory over a temptation, that we’ll never be bothered again. That too is a lie.

:9 And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul

As David has another victory, Saul’s jealousy rises up again.


The flesh opens a door to the enemy

Jealousy is not caused by a demon, but by our own sin nature, our “flesh”.
(Eph 4:26-27 KJV) Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: {27} Neither give place to the devil.
placetopos – place, any portion or space marked off, as it were from surrounding space; metaph. opportunity, power, occasion for acting.

:9 David played with his hand.

playednagan – to play or strike strings, play a stringed instrument. David played his harp.

:10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin


Only Jesus

In the past, David’s music has been a tool to bring soothing to Saul when he was troubled by this demon.
But this time (just like 1Sam. 18:10-11), the music doesn’t work.
There can be relief from the Devil by lots of different things. Today do all kinds of things to make themselves feel better. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
Only Jesus can set a person free.
(John 8:36 KJV) If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

:11 Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain.

Remember that David is married to Saul’s daughter, Michal. When she is aware of her father’s desire to have David killed, she tells him that he needs to leave before her daddy kills him. It’s her idea that David leave.

:13 And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats' hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.

an imaget@raphiym – idolatry, idols, image(s), teraphim, family idol; a kind of idol used in household shrine or worship

Why does David have a “teraphim” in his house? I think it’s possible that this “image” belongs to Michal.

bed – mittah – couch, bed, bier

pillowk@biyr – (something) netted, a quilt, fly net, pillow

This is the old “make them think he’s still in bed” trick.

:14 she said, He is sick.

She stalls the messengers and sends them away with an excuse to give David more time to get away.

:15 Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.

Saul commands the messengers to bring David with his whole bed if necessary. He just wants David dead.

:17 Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee?

She lies to her father. David hadn’t threatened her at all.

It is at this occasion that David writes a song.

(Psa 59 KJV) To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David; when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him. Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me. {2} Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. {3} For, lo, they lie in wait for my soul: the mighty are gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O LORD. {4} They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. {5} Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah.

David is crying out to God for help.

{6} They return at evening: they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. {7} Behold, they belch out with their mouth: swords are in their lips: for who, say they, doth hear? {8} But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision. {9} Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence. {10} The God of my mercy shall prevent me: God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies. {11} Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield. {12} For the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips let them even be taken in their pride: and for cursing and lying which they speak.

Apparently these guys weren’t just out to kill David, but they were out to slander him as well. They were out to destroy David’s reputation.

{13} Consume them in wrath, consume them, that they may not be: and let them know that God ruleth in Jacob unto the ends of the earth. Selah. {14} And at evening let them return; and let them make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. {15} Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied. {16} But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble. {17} Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.

I’m curious if this tune came to David sometime that night, or whether it came afterwards.
Even though God is his defense, David still ran away from the murderers.

:18-24 David in Naioth

:18 So David fled, and escaped, and came to Samuel to Ramah

Ramahsee map. If David has been in Gibeah with Saul, then Ramah is only about 2 miles away.

I think this is neat. I wonder if David has this sense that Samuel is in some sense partly responsible for getting him in the mess that he is in this day. So David runs to Samuel for help.

:18 And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth.

NaiothNaviyth – “habitations”. This appears to be a place in Ramah (vs.19). It seems that Samuel has established a “school of the prophets” here. He has been raising up another generation of prophets (vs.20). One of the Jewish Targums (paraphrase) has “house of instruction” here. see map


Songs from life

Some of you are songwriters. Let God use the things in your life to sing to the world.
Spurgeon has suggested that David might have possibly been the writer of Psalm 119, and if so, some of what he wrote may have been related to this incident at Naioth.
(Psa 119:23 KJV) Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
(Psa 119:51 KJV) The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
This Psalm also includes:
(Psa 119:50 NASB) This is my comfort in my affliction, That Thy word has revived me.
(Psa 119:71 KJV) It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
(Psa 119:92 KJV) Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
(Psa 119:95 KJV) The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.


Run to the Lord

When David is running to Samuel, he is running to the Lord.
There are a lots of David’s songs that talk about trusting in the Lord. I wonder if he could have written something like this during this time in his life –
(Psa 62 KJV) To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David. Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. {2} He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. {3} How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. {4} They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. {5} My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. {6} He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. {7} In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. {8} Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. {9} Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity. {10} Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. {11} God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. {12} Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
Also, see Psalm 4, 11

:20 the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them

This gives us the idea that Samuel had a sort of “school of the prophets”. The Jewish Targum says they were “praising”.

:20 the spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.

prophesiednaba’ – to prophesy; under influence of divine spirit; or, of false prophets. The exact derivation of this word has apparently been the subject of much discussion.

Some have suggested that it the main idea is to “speak for”. With this idea, the Spirit comes on the prophet and he becomes the spokesman for God (or, a demon with a false prophet).

Others (Gesenius) have suggested that the word comes from a word (naba) meaning “bubble up” or “pour out”. With this idea, the sense is that the Spirit (or demonic spirit) would come on a prophet and the words would “bubble up” from him.

During one of Saul’s times of being troubled by the demonic spirit, he “prophesied” at that time also –

(1 Sam 18:10 KJV) And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house…

Here’s the picture – these armed guards are coming to capture David, but as they get close, God’s Spirit comes upon them and they find themselves bubbling up with praise to God.

David wrote,

(Psa 62:6 KJV) He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
I love this. These men aren’t destroyed, but they are blessed.

:22 Then went he also to Ramah

Saul gets to thinking that he can’t trust any of his servants. Good help is hard to find. He’ll have to go himself.

:22 a great well that is in Sechu

SechuSekuw – “the watch-tower”

:23 the spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied

This isn’t the first time this has happened to Saul.

In perhaps the very same place, at the beginning of his career, Samuel had told him,

(1 Sam 10:5-6 KJV) After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: {6} And the spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
(1 Sam 10:10 KJV) And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.

:24 And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night.

stripped offpashat – to strip, invade, strip off, make a dash, raid, spread out

clothesbeged – covering; treachery, deceit; (CLBL) garment, clothing (used indiscriminately)

naked‘arowm – naked, bare

(1 Sam 19:24 NIV) He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence.

:24 Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?

This is what the people said the last time that Saul was struck by the Spirit of God.

(1 Sam 10:11 KJV) …then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?

1Samuel 20

David is now beginning to have some serious problems with Saul (ch. 19). Each time that David is threatened, God delivers him in a different way.

The first time that Saul tells his servants to kill David, Jonathan is able to talk to his father and get Saul to make peace with David.

The second time that Saul tries to kill him, David has to escape with the help of his wife Michal.

Then when Saul tracks down David at Samuel’s School for Prophets at Naioth, God once again helps David, but this time God’s Spirit simply touches everyone who comes to take David, and they all end up prophesying with the prophets.

:1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah

When Saul finally shows up in Naioth, David realizes it’s time to leave. Even though Saul has been slowed by the Spirit of God, I think that David in concerned that it’s only a matter of time before Saul goes back to his old ways of throwing spears.

:2 my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will show it me

Jonathan is under the impression that he knows everything that his father is thinking. Last he heard, his father had made peace with David. He’s wrong.

:3 I have found grace in thine eyes

gracechen – favour, grace, charm; acceptance

:4 Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.

Jonathan is willing to do whatever David asks.

:5 Behold, to morrow is the new moon … unto the third day at even

new moon – the beginning of the month was a time for a feast. The head of the family would expect everyone to be present. David is now a part of Saul’s family by marriage, and as a military leader. It was to be celebrated with burnt offerings and peace offerings.

Nu 10:10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I [am] the LORD your God.

the third day – I believe this has to do with the nature of the feast they would be celebrating. Peace offerings were the sacrifices where the family would offer part of the sacrifice to God, and then the family would feast on the rest. There were rules for the peace offering – you were supposed to eat all the meat in the first two days. Anything left over on the third day was to be burnt.

(Lev 7:17-18 KJV) But the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burnt with fire. {18} And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.

In other words, David is going to hide out in the field for the two day feast, and expect to hear back from Jonathan after the party has broken up, on the evening of the third day.

:6 run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.

This may not be an outright lie. Bethlehem is 11 miles away from Gibeah, and it’s possible that David might very well have gone to Bethlehem during those two days. see map

:7 but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.

Jonathan was to get a feeling of how Saul was feeling by seeing how Saul felt that David had not shown up at his feast. If Saul didn’t mind, then Jonathan would know that things were not bad. If Saul were to be angry, then Jonathan would realize that what David was saying was true.

:8 thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee

Jonathan and David had promised to be friends forever. (1Sam. 18:1-4)

:9 would not I tell it thee?

Jonathan is promising David that if he knew there was trouble, then he’d tell David about it.

:10 Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?

David is worried that if Jonathan finds out there is trouble, that David might not ever find out, or at least he might be in trouble if Saul starts to follow Jonathan.

:12 O LORD God of Israel

Jonathan is swearing an oath to David. The promise he is making is being made before God.

:13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan

If Jonathan forgets to tell David that everything is okay, may the Lord do more to Jonathan than what David was afraid of Saul doing to him.

:15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.


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Jonathan is an incredible man of faith.
Jonathan seems to have this notion that God has chosen David. He seems to believe that God is going to protect David and that David will someday be king. And when that day comes, Jonathan is pleading with David to be merciful with his family.
Saul is the king, and has armies at his command with which to use to protect his government. David is only a poor shepherd boy. Yet Jonathan is talking as if it is inevitable that David will one day be king.
I find it amazing that Jonathan is only more than willing to hand over what some could consider his “birthright”, and even support David in becoming king.
To Jonathan, God’s kingdom is more important than Jonathan’s kingdom.

:16 Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.

The idea is that should David or any of his descendants ever cause harm to any of Jonathan’s descendants, then may the Lord cause the enemies of David to defeat him.

This covenant will come into play later on when David does indeed become king. David will send his servants out to search for any living relatives of Jonathan’s. When he finds Mephibosheth, while another king might have eliminated all others who might have a claim to the throne, David welcomes him.

(2 Sam 9:7 KJV) And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

:17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him

Jonathan and David renew their friendship covenant.


Keep friendship fresh.

I think that it’s a good thing in all our relationships to keep our love fresh. I think it’s a good thing to remind your spouse that you love her. It’s good to tell your friends you love them.

:19 shalt remain by the stone Ezel.

Ezel‘ezel – “departure” see map

:20 And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.

Jonathan will pretend to be going out for some target practice.

:22 But if I say … Behold, the arrows are beyond thee…

The idea is that just in case Jonathan is being followed and he can’t risk exposing David to danger, there would be a special signal between the two of them.

If Jonathan tells his servant that he’s “gone too far” to get the arrows, then David is safe.

If he tells the servant that he hasn’t “gone far enough”, then this means that David is in danger. Perhaps if this would be the case, David himself hasn’t “gone far enough”.

:24 So David hid himself in the field

David might have gone to Bethlehem first, then came back and hid in the field.

:25 Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.

Abner is Saul’s top general, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

:26 Something hath befallen him, he is not clean

Saul is thinking that David surely wouldn’t miss this event. There were a variety of ways that a person could become “unclean”, but the point is that when a person was “unclean”, they couldn’t participate in sacrifices until they were cleansed.

:27 Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse

Saul has this idea that if anyone knows where David was, it would be Jonathan. Their friendship wasn’t a secret.

:30 Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman,

Saul can tell that Jonathan is covering somehow for David.

He slanders Jonathan by slandering Jonathan’s mother (Saul’s wife). Somehow, it’s always the “woman’s fault”. Don’t blame your wife.

:30 …unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?

The idea is this – Jonathan has made a big mistake in being so friendly with David. When Saul would die, there would probably be a fight for the throne, and Jonathan will probably just hand over the keys to the kingdom to David, a son-in-law, not a son of the king. People may even question whether Jonathan was a true, legitimate son of Saul, since he seems to not have his father’s temper or attitudes.

:31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom.

Saul sees David as a threat to Jonathan ever becoming king after his father.

Frankly, it seems to me that Jonathan doesn’t have a problem with this.

:32 Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?

Somebody stands up to Saul for what is right.


A friend defends you

A good friend is one who is willing to defend you, even in front of your enemies.
A friend is not two-faced, saying nice things to you but speaking badly behind your back. Or when others are speaking badly of you, a friend will not join in with the criticism.

:33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him

It might be that Saul is trying to kill Jonathan, but it doesn’t say “Jonathan escaped” as it did when David was facing Saul’s spear.

I think Saul is just making threatening gestures, probably throwing the spear to land near Jonathan, to show how angry he is.

Note: It could be that Saul is just really bad at throwing javelins. We don’t have any record of him hitting anyone with one.

:34 because his father had done him shame.

By calling Jonathan names and throwing a spear at him.

:37 Is not the arrow beyond thee?

Jonathan gives the signal indicating that things are bad, that Saul is indeed wanting to kill David.

:38 Make speed, haste, stay not.

Jonathan sends the boy home so he can have a few minutes alone with David without anyone knowing about it.

:40 And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad

artilleryk@liy – article, vessel, implement, utensil. He gives the kid his bow and arrows.

:41 fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times

These are not the actions of a person who is plotting to overthrow the government. These are the actions of a humble young man who respects and honors the Crown Prince Jonathan.

:41 wept one with another, until David exceeded.

David has the most to weep for. He is having to give up his wife, his friends, his service to God and country, everything.


The value of friendships

There’s a picture here of what true friendship, true fellowship ought to be all about.
The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. The bar is an imitation dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is permissive, it is accepting and it is an inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic.
You can tell people secrets and they usually don't tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart, the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved. And so many people seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.
The Sequoia trees of California tower as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these giants have unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. Seldom will you see a redwood standing alone because high winds would quickly uproot it. That's why they grow in clusters. Their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms.
How can I find these kinds of friendships?
Frankly, I don’t think it’s going to happen simply by sitting in church. There comes a point where you need to step out. I think one of the ways it can get started is when you get involved with other people. Get involved in a small group. Get involved in serving. Go to a retreat. But don’t stop there. Learn to go out to lunch. Learn to invite people over to the house. Learn to help. Learn to listen.

:42 And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

This won’t be the last time David will see Jonathan, but there will only be one more brief time:

(1 Sam 23:16-18 KJV) And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. {17} And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. {18} And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

1Samuel 21

:1-9 David at Nob

:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest

NobNob – “high place” see map

Ahimelech‘Achiymelek – “my brother is king” or “brother of Melek”. Ahimelech is the son of Ahitub, who was the brother to Ichabod, the grandson of Eli the high priest. Ahimelech is Eli’s great-grandson.

:2 The king hath commanded me a business …

David tells Ahimelech that he is on a secret mission for the king and he needs Ahimelech’s help.

David is lying.

Though in many ways David is a hero for us, David was also flawed in many ways.


Lying leads to trouble

A pastor was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age. The group surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked “What are you doing with that dog?” One of the boys replied, “This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we’ve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog.” Of course, the pastor was taken aback. “You boys shouldn’t be having a contest telling lies!” he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, “Don’t you boys know it’s a sin to lie,” and ending with, “Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie.” There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the pastor was beginning to think he’d gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, “All right, give him the dog.”
The truth is, we all have a tendency to lie.  It’s not hard to find yourself stretching the truth every once in a while, especially if it doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt anyone.  And especially if it might help you out a little.
David’s lie seems like that.  What’s the harm?
David’s lie will cause Ahimelech and 85 priests to lose their lives (1Sam. 22:11-23)

:3 Now therefore what is under thine hand?

David needs some provisions.

:4 but there is hallowed bread

This is the showbread, the “bread of the Presence”.

Every week, the priests were to bake twelve large loaves of bread, each loaf weighing six pounds for a total of 72 pounds of bread. On Saturday, a priest was to take the loaves into the Tabernacle and place them on the golden table along with frankincense. The old bread was then taken out …

(Lev 24:9 KJV) And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.
Only priests were to eat the bread, and eat it at the Tabernacle.
Because this bread was to be in the Holy Place, in God’s “presence”, it was called the “bread of the Presence” or, “showbread”.

:4 if the young men

Were there other men with David? At first it seems that David is all by himself, but Jesus seemed to think that there were others with him, probably just a few.

Mr 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

:4 have kept themselves at least from women.

Why does Ahimelech make this request?

There was only one other time when this requirement seems to have been given, at the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai:

Ex 19:15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at [your] wives.

Other than that, there is no other requirement like this for anything.

Some have suggested that this was something that God told Ahimelech by enquiring of the Lord.

Later, a witness to this will say that
(1 Sam 22:10 KJV) And he inquired of the LORD for him, and gave him victuals, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.

Because of this, some have suggested that the directions that Ahimelech gives here were given to him by God for this specific situation.

Note:  Be careful that you don’t get the idea that sex is something that makes you unclean.  It’s not unclean if you are married to each other.

(Heb 13:4 KJV) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

:5 the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.

Some of the newer translations (NAS, NIV, NLT) have a completely different sense here:

(1 Sam 21:5 NLT) "Don't worry," David replied. "I never allow my men to be with women when they are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!"

But if we go with the sense of the King James (and New King James), here’s how David’s reasoning goes:

David is reasoning a little with the priest here about the matter of the bread being special.

This is probably happening on the Sabbath day, the day that the bread is changed in the Tabernacle. Because the bread had earlier been inside the Tabernacle, there was a sense in which it was “holy” or “sanctified this day”.
Yet David isn’t asking the priest to take away the bread that is now in the Tabernacle, he’s only asking for the bread that has just come from the Tabernacle, bread that is now available for human consumption. In this way it is “in a manner common”.

:6 So the priest gave him hallowed bread

It seems that this must have occurred on the Sabbath day, which is pretty interesting.


Balancing the Law

Jesus used this story of David and the showbread to teach a truth regarding the Sabbath. It appears that David’s encounter with Ahimelech took place on the Sabbath.
(Mat 12:1-8 KJV) At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. {2} But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. {3} But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; {4} How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the showbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? {5} Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? {6} But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. {7} But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. {8} For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.
Jesus used this story of David’s to show that God was concerned about people, “I desire compassion, and not a sacrifice”.
The Jews had taken the Law and made their traditions so detailed and intricate that they life became strict and harsh.
Concerning the showbread, the Jews had come to interpret what was commanded to include that nobody else could eat the bread too, yet that was not necessarily so. The Law said the bread was for Aaron and his sons, but it didn’t specifically say everybody else was forbidden.
The Sabbath traditions had become so detailed as to what you could do and couldn’t do, whereas God basically said, “Rest”.


Compassion or sacrifice?

What is our motivation for living? Do we do things out of love for the Lord and love for others, or are we motivated by the “I have to” things?

:7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul.

detained‘atsar – to restrain, retain, close up, shut, withhold, refrain, stay, detain

(1 Sam 21:7 NLT) was there that day for ceremonial purification.

DoegDo’eg – “fearing”

chiefest of the herdmen – this guy wasn’t just a shepherd or cowboy, he was in management.

Note: There are other people around when David is talking to Ahimelech.

Another Psalm was written at this time, giving us insight into Doeg:

(Psa 52 KJV) To the chief Musician, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Ahimelech. Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually. {2} Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. {3} Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. {4} Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. {5} God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah. {6} The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: {7} Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness. {8} But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. {9} I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

:9 There is none like that; give it me.

David needs a weapon, and he ends up getting the sword of Goliath. Goliath of Gath.

:10-15 David at Gath

:10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

Achish‘Akiysh – Apparently it’s not too clear what his name means. It could mean “I will blacken (or terrify)”, “only a man”, “thus it is”, or “how is this”. Achish is his name, Abimelech is his title (a Philistine title for “king”, literally, “my father is king”)

Gath - see map


Don’t chase David away

Why Gath of all places?
David was the one who killed their champion. You would think that would be the last place David would go.
Sometimes life is hardest among people we should be at home with. Sometimes we can be more comfortable with the wrong people.
Sometimes it’s easier to get along with non-Christians than it is with Christians. It shouldn’t be so.

:11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land?

It’s interesting that the Philistines look at David as being the king of Israel.

:11 …Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?

That tune had been on the Philistine hit-charts as well. Poor Saul. Even the Philistines see David as being greater than Saul.

:12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.

David is beginning to wonder if he’s made the right choice, running to Gath.


Handle fear with trust

I have heard it suggested that David is operating out of the “fear of man”. He is running from Saul out of fear. Now he is afraid of Achish. And the Bible does say,
(Prov 29:25 KJV) The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
But David gives us a clue as to what is going on in his heart in his songs. He wrote another Psalm around this same period:
(Psa 56 KJV) To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath. Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. {2} Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. {3} What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. {4} In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. {5} Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil. {6} They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. {7} Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God. {8} Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? {9} When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me. {10} In God will I praise his word: in the LORD will I praise his word. {11} In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. {12} Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee. {13} For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?

Even though David was afraid at times, he handled his fear by trusting in the Lord. He kept putting himself into God’s hands.

:13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.

changed his behavior – he started to act crazy, (NIV) “he pretended to be insane

feigned himself madhalal – to shine; (Hithpael) to boast, glory, make one’s boast; (Poel) to make a fool of, make into a fool; (Hithpoel – as HERE) to act madly, act like a madman

scrabbledtavah – to scrabble, limit, mark, make or set a mark. Is this similar to the game “Scrabble”? NAS – “scribbled on the doors”, NLT – “scratching on doors”

let his spittle … – he started letting the drool run down his beard.

Some have suggested that David might have actually gone into some kind of hysteria or epileptic fit. But if this is the way he was acting, I have a hard time seeing how he would be able to compose songs like Psalms 34, 56, which he wrote at this time.

I think what is happening is divine inspiration.

:15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? shall this fellow come into my house?

The Jews have a tradition that the wife and daughter of Achish were “mad”. While David was acting like a madman out in the streets, Achish was living with it at home.

Though Achish will drive David out of town this time, David will be back. David will continue to run from Saul, and one day he ends up running back to Gath and asks Achish for help (1Sam. 27) because he doesn’t know of anywhere else to go. Achish will receive David warmly and will give David the city of Ziklag. David pretends to go out on raiding parties for the Philistines, though he is really continuing to fight the enemies of Israel. At one point Achish even invites David to join the Philistines as they battle against Saul, but in the end, David doesn’t participate in the battle.

David wrote a song after this incident. In the title Achish is referred to as “Abimelech”, which is a title for a Philistine king (Gen. 26:1).

(Psa 34 KJV) A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed. I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. {2} My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. {3} O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. {4} I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

David trusted the Lord. He’s praying.

{5} They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. {6} This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. {7} The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. {8} O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. {9} O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. {10} The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. {11} Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. {12} What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? {13} Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

I wonder if David is referring to his own sin of lying to Abimelech.

{14} Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. {15} The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. {16} The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. {17} The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. {18} The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. {19} Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. {20} He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. {21} Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. {22} The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.