David came to Nob to the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, ‘Why are you alone, and no one with you?’ David said to the priest Ahimelech, ‘The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, “No one must 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 have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.’ The priest answered David, ‘I have no ordinary bread at hand, only holy bread—provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.’ David answered the priest, ‘Indeed, 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 a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?’ So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except 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 shepherds. David said to Ahimelech, ‘Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.’ The priest said, ‘The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.’ David said, ‘There is none like it; give it to me.’
This passage highlights the centrality of both love and the avoidance of sin. Ahimelech was in breach of the law in giving the consecrated bread to David as it was only supposed to be given to priests (Lev. 24:5-9). In giving it to him, Ahimelech was recognising David’s need and putting this above religious ceremony, thus upholding a higher law of love. Centuries later, Jesus used this incident to illustrate that God’s laws should be implemented with compassion (Mat. 12:1-8; Lk. 6:1-5).
It seems David is lying to protect himself. There may have been mitigating circumstances and a war going on but, interestingly, no one condoned hm. We discover in chapter 22 that David’s actions led to the deaths of 85 priests.
The Bible makes it clear that lying is wrong and that, just like other sins, it can lead to all kinds of harmful consequences, intended or otherwise.
Dear Lord, Your greatest commandments are that we should love You and love one another. Help us to show our love in everything we say and everything we do. Help us to avoid sin. Instead, help us to come to You for guidance before we speak or act. When we do make mistakes, help us to acknowledge them before You and to accept Your forgiveness and help moving forward. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Jeff Newall is a Lay Preacher and member of Christ the Vine Community Church, Milton Keynes.