I Samuel 21:1-15

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Text: I Samuel 21



At the Lord's direction, Samuel anointed David as king. This means that David was eventually going to succeed Saul as king. We have studied this in I Samuel 16 .

I Samuel 16:1 - And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

Jesse made seven of his eight sons pass before Samuel, but the Lord indicated to Samuel that he was not to anoint any of these seven as king. Because Samuel was a bit puzzled, he asked if there were more children somewhere else.

I Samuel 16:11-13 - (11) And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. (12) And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. (13) Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

Inasmuch as Saul has made a number of attempts to murder David, it is clear that David's life was in apparent danger. However, we recall the fact that, at God's direction, he had been anointed to be Saul's successor. This means that he would have to outlive Saul. It means that Saul could not kill him no matter how hard he tried.

There is a truth here that we can see for ourselves. If it is God's will that we do certain things, as long as we are living the way we should be living and serving the way we should be serving and doing the things we should be doing, God is going to protect us. Nothing is going to come into our lives apart from God's permission or direction. Furthermore, if something comes into our lives in accordance with God's permission or direction, we are not going to be able to stop it no matter how hard we try.

We need to keep certain Biblical truths in mind:

God is always in control of every situation.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose [including efforts to harm us or our reputations in any way].

Trials are normal.

I Peter 1:6-7 - (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [i.e. various trials]: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire [i.e. than highly refined gold], might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ [God sometimes allows us to experience unpleasant things to refine our characters].

James 1:2-4 - (2) My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [i.e. various trials]; (3) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience [i.e. produces endurance or produces steadfastness]. (4) But let patience have her perfect work [or her completed work], that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing [i.e. lacking nothing] [Apart from the trials we are going through, we will not be perfect and entire, lacking nothing].

The trials are never out of God's control.

I Corinthians 10:13 - There hath no temptation [or testing or trial] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [or tested or tried] above that ye are able; but will with the temptation [the testing or the trial] also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it [No matter how difficult things may be for us to endure, things are never out of God's control; and He will be with us and will not put us through more than He has prepared us to be able to take].

Unfortunately, we sometimes forget God's promises and seem to think we must take things into our own hands. It's as if we think we have to make things happen, but we make a mess of things whenever we take things into our own hands. We have seen this problem before in the Old Testament Scriptures.

God led Abram to the land of Canaan and promised him that He would give Abram the land of Canaan. According to Genesis 12 , when things became a little tough, Abram and Sarai went down into Egypt; and Abram instructed her to say that she was his sister so that they would not kill him and steal her. He took things into his own hands and got into trouble.

Abram and Sarai were promised a son. When one didn't come along in what they considered a timely way, they attempted to make it happen. In Genesis 16 , Abram fathered a son by the name of Ishmael through Hagar, Sarai's handmaid. It did not accomplish God's purposes, and the descendants of Ishmael, the Arabs, have been nothing but trouble for the Jews ever since.

According to Genesis 20 , in Gerar Abraham again asked Sarah to say that she was his sister. You would have thought he would have learned not to do this from his previous experience in Egypt.

We should instead take the attitude of Moses as expressed to Israel when the Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites and the Red Sea lay before them.

Exodus 14:13-14 - (13) And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. (14) The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

Unfortunately, we seem to get this I've-got-to-do-something-now attitude, this I-can't-wait-for-God-to-get-it-done outlook, this I've-got-to-help-God-out mentality. It is much more difficult for us to wait on the Lord than to try to do something on our own, but what we must do is wait on the Lord. We must always stay in step with God, never going ahead of Him and never lagging behind. If He directs us to do something, we need to do it; but when there is no clear direction from Him, it is best to wait. The reason there is no clear direction may be because it is not the right time to do something.

Churches and preachers are prone to get into trouble like this also. There is the numbers syndrome where numbers are equated with success in the ministry and where the number of people going forward in services is regarded as the sole factor for determining whether the Lord is blessing. In some churches there is a great deal of pressure on the preachers to make things happen. Therefore, preachers sometimes do things, even to the point of compromising, in order to make things happen. The music is changed in order to draw bigger crowds. Services are made more entertaining in order to draw bigger crowds. Biblical separation is ignored in order not to offend unbelievers or disobedient believers. Some churches place quotas on their staff members for the number of souls they need to win to Christ on a weekly basis. You wouldn't believe the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, pressure people put on their pastors to do things in order to make things happen as if this is the way God intended for things to be.

One of my deacons in Illinois attended a church just outside my home town where one Sunday morning the preacher got up and threw a chair across the platform during a Sunday morning service. He defended his action by saying that things needed to get stirred up around there. It wasn't long before this pastor was out of the ministry.

We have seen that Samuel anointed David to succeed Saul as king of Israel, that God prepared David to be king by having him in Saul's court, and that God divinely protected David when Saul was trying to kill him. In I Samuel 21 , we see some of the trouble David got himself into because he took things into his own hands. Let it serve as a warning to us not to take things into our own hands but to trust the Lord and to allow Him to work things out in His own way and in His own time.


I Samuel 21:1-6 - (1) Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest [Nob was a small town inhabited by priests, just north of Jerusalem.]: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee? (2) And 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. (3) Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present. (4) And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed [i.e. holy] bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. (5) And 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. (6) So the priest gave him hallowed [i.e. holy] 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.

Exodus 25:30 - And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway. [This table was in the first room (or compartment) in the tabernacle. It was outside the holy of holies. Instructions regarding the shewbread (also referred to as the bread of the presentation) are found in Leviticus 24:5-9 .]

Leviticus 24:5-9 - 5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals [i.e. about 4 quarts or one gallon] shall be in one cake [so they would be large cakes]. 6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. 7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. 9 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.

The bread that Ahithophel had was the showbread (or bread of the presentation) which had been replaced by fresh bread on the table in the tabernacle, but it was ordinarily eaten only by the priests. Bread of the Presence means bread laid before God, in His presence. Each of the 12 tribes was equally dear to Him, and He was the One Who met their needs

David's eating this bread illustrated a concession that the law permitted - that life is more holy than bread. Jesus commented on this in Matthew 12:1-8 .

Matthew 12:1-8 - 1 At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn [i.e. through the grainfields]; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn [i.e. to pick some heads of grain], 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 shewbread, 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.

Was David forced to lie? No, not at all. God could have worked things out without David's sinning by lying. David was a man after God's own heart, but he was not perfect. Even though we are not perfect, we can be men or ladies after God's own heart; and as genuinely saved people who are living for the Lord, this is what we really want to be.


I Samuel 21:7 - (7) Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord [apparently because of ceremonial defilement]; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul.

In chapter 22, we will see that Saul has Doeg kill the entire population of Nob except Abiathar who escapes. When we get involved in sin, we may take others along with us and involve them in our sin as well. When someone becomes real unhappy in a church or other organization to the point where he can no longer support it wholeheartedly, he really ought to leave for his own benefit. However, the tendency is for him to gather others around him who are also unhappy, and they have a tendency to feed each other's unhappiness; and they tend to spread their unhappiness to others. Eventually, a split occurs. We will never know how many husbands have involved their wives (or wives involved their husbands) in sin and destroyed their relationship in the process. We will never know how many parents have involved their children in sin and ruined them in the process.


I Samuel 21:8 - And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand [i.e. is there not here] spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.

David did not have to sin by lying in order to protect himself. God could have protected him as He had done on previous occasions. David did not need to help God out, and he certainly did not do himself any good in the process.


I Samuel 21:9 - And 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.

We have seen this sword in I Samuel 17 , and we have seen that it did not provide protection for Goliath on the day he died. On the day that David killed Goliath, David relied completely upon the Lord; now it appears that he was relying on Goliath's sword -

I Samuel 17:45-51 - (45) Then said David to the Philistine, Thou camest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. (46) This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. (47) And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands. 48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence [i.e. took from there] a stone, and slang it [i.e. slung it], and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith [i.e. with it]. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.


I Samuel 21:10 - And David arose and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

What was David thinking? He had no business going to the enemies of God for help. He fled from one man who was trying to kill him and sought refuge from an enemy who might also try to kill him because David had killed thousands of Philistines. In spite of himself, God protected him.


I Samuel 21:11-15 - (11) And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king of the land? [Although David was not yet king of Israel and would not be for another 10 years, it was apparently known that he would be the next king.] did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? (12) And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. (13) And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad [i.e. pretended to be crazy] in their hands, and scrabbled [i.e. scribbled] on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle [i.e. his saliva] fall down upon his beard [i.e. he drooled upon his beard]. (14) Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is mad: wherefore then have ye brought him to me? (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?

If David had not been where he did not belong, he would not have had to pretend to be crazy in order to protect himself from the enemy.

Don't be too hard on David. He was only about 20 years old at this time in his life, and God was dealing with his heart. It was at this time in his life when he wrote Psalms 34 and 56. These psalms show that David had a heart for the Lord in spite of his mistaken behavior. It is not fair to base your view of David's character on this one incident from his life any more than it would be fair to evaluate your character on the basis of one incident on one of the worst days of your life.

To the chief Musician upon Jonathelemrechokim, Michtam of David, when the Philistines took him in Gath.

Psalms 56:9-13 - (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?

Psalms 34 - A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech [Abimelech is Achish the king of Gath - Abimelech may have been a title rather than a personal name]; who drove him away, and he departed. (1) 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. (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. (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.


Let these episodes in the life of David serve as a warning to us not to take things into our own hands but to trust the Lord and to allow Him to work things out in His own way and in His own time.

As we look at David, one of our heroes in the faith, let's remember that David had feet of clay. He had chinks in his armor. He had weaknesses, faults, imperfections, and sins in his life. Let's never forget that we likewise have feet of clay, chinks in our armor, weaknesses, faults, imperfections, and sins. Let's never forget that all of our Christian heroes, whether they are our parents, our pastors, or our missionaries, they all have feet of clay. At the same time, let's note that God still used David in spite of his feet of clay. And God will still use us in spite of our feet of clay, in spite of the chinks in our armor, in spite of our weaknesses, faults, imperfections, and sins, and God will still use our parents, our pastors, and our missionaries in His service in spite of their feet of clay and in spite of the chinks in their armor, and in spite of their weaknesses, faults, imperfections, and sins. Let's let others alone. They are God's problem to deal with. Let's be more concerned about dealing with our own feet of clay, with the chinks in our own armor, and with our own weaknesses, faults, imperfections, and sins. We have enough to concern us that we don't need to be worried about problems of others who are not under our authority.

Let's also take note that one of the distinctions between the Bible and other literature is that the Bible does not gloss over the sins of its characters, but presents them as they really are. This is one of the evidences that the Bible is the Word of God and not just some human production. Therefore, it is something we can rely upon.