Holy God, may I look at the past with thanksgiving, the present with faith, and the future with hope.
Read 1 SAMUEL 21
David at Nob
21 [a]David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”
2 David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. 3 Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”
4 But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.”
5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever[b] I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.
7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd.
8 David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.”
9 The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.”
David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”
David at Gath
10 That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:
“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”
12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHold your hands open and upward and slow your breathing. Repeat this simple prayer: ‘Come, Holy Spirit.’
As God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel had the task of living out of a sense of ‘otherness’, worshipping God: Holy, mysterious and ‘other’ to all creation. The priest’s duty, in this case Ahimelek, was to keep the practices of the sanctuary holy.
Ahimelek was unnerved by David’s entrance. David was a popular and high-profile figure, yet here he was alone, disheveled and oddly requesting to eat the consecrated bread. Twelve loaves would be laid on the altar each Sabbath as an offering to God. Once replaced, only the priests could eat them (Leviticus 24:5–9), as David would well have known.
Sanctuary worship was scaffolded by law, ritual and process, designed to ensure the otherness of God was rightly respected. But for all his failings, David knew this was a place where his most earthy needs – food and a sword – could be met. Ahimelek too understood the heart of the law and, much later, received the tacit approval of Jesus himself for his actions that day (Matthew 12:1–5). Life can be terribly messy, but we’d be mistaken to do anything other than run toward God’s sanctuary in times of need.
God is our ultimate place of safety. As the only one whom we should rightly fear, through Jesus he offers us unconditional love and acceptance. You can turn to him now and tell him what you need to keep going.
Gracious Father, may I serve you loyally. In situations where sorrow, shame, and pain abound may I point others clearly to you.
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