Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 21

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Saul and David (c 16-31)
Message: Saul Pursues David (v 1-15)

1 Samuel 21 Commentary

(21:1-6) Ahimelech Feeds David -  This is the first time Ahimelech is mentioned. Either he was the Ahiah mentioned in 14:3, 18, or, more likely, he was Ahiah's successor. In either case, Ahimelech had to go against the law to give the "hallowed" bread to David because the bread was supposed to be given only to the priests (Leviticus 24:5-9). But Ahimelech put David's need and life ahead of religious ceremony and fed him the holy food. This upheld a higher law of love (Leviticus 19:18). Centuries later, Jesus would refer to this incident to show that God's laws should be applied with compassion. To do good and to save life is God's greater law (Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5).

(21:2) David Chooses to Lie - David lied to protect himself from Saul (21:10). Some excuse this lie because a war was going on, and it is the duty of a good soldier to deceive the enemy. But nowhere is David's lie condoned. In fact, the opposite is true, because his lie led to the death of 85 priests (22:9-19). David's small lie seemed harmless enough, but it led to tragedy. The Bible makes it very clear that lying is wrong (Leviticus 19:11). Lying, like every other sin, is serious in God's sight and may lead to all sorts of harmful consequences. Don't minimize or categorize sins. All sins must be avoided, whether or not we can foresee their potential consequences.

(21:6) The Bread of Life - Once a week on the Sabbath, a priest would enter the holy place in the tabernacle and place 12 freshly baked loaves of bread on a small table. This bread, called "shewbread" or the Bread of the Presence, symbolized God's presence among his people as well as his loving care that met their physical needs. The bread that was replaced was to be eaten only by the priests on duty.

Jesus would one day refer to himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:35) in reference to his ability to meet both our physical and spiritual needs.

(21:7) Doeg is detained -  We don't know why Doeg was detained at the tabernacle. Perhaps he had made some sort of vow, was waiting for a word from the Lord, or was kept there by some kind of impurity.

(21:9) The Ehpod and Sword - An ephod was a vest worn by a priest (see chapter 2:18 for a more detailed explanation). David didn't know Goliath's sword was there, probably because David was a young man when he killed the giant and had spent much of his time at home.

(21:10-15) Gath Gives Refuge to David - Gath was one of the five major Philistine cities. Why did the Philistines allow their archenemy, David, into their camp? They may have been initially happy to accept a defector who was a high military leader. Any enemy of Saul would have been a friend of theirs. They could not have known that David had been anointed Israel's next king (16:13). Soon, however, the Philistines became nervous about David's presence. After all, he had slain thousands of their people (18:7). David then protected himself by acting insane because it was the custom not to harm mentally unstable people.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Bread in the House of the Lord


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 21. In our text, we see David asking for and receiving Holy Bread as Saul pursues him. Many applications are made from each day's text but what catches my eye today is how David found nourishment at the House of God. In making the application, I see a principle of receiving earthy and spiritual food from the House of God. When we face trials and temptations, we should go to the Lord's house for nourishment. How about you? Do you see the need to go to His House when faced with a condition? Let us learn from our text today as David examples for us to Seek not only Physical but also Spiritual Bread in the House of the Lord.


1 Samuel 21

1 Samuel 21

 1Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

 2And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.

 3Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.

 4And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

 5And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.

 6So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.

 7Now 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.

 8And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.

 9And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me.

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

 11And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands?

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

 13And 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.

 14Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me?

 15Have 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?