David Takes Consecrated Bread
21 Then David went to [a]Nob to [b]Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came trembling [in fear] to meet David and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” 2 David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has told me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter for which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you. I have directed the young men to a certain place.’ 3 Now what [food] do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.” 4 The priest answered David, “There is no ordinary (unconsecrated) bread on hand, but there is [c]consecrated bread; [you may have it] if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David answered the priest, “Be assured that [d]women have been kept from us in these three days since I set out, and the [e]bodies of the young men were consecrated (ceremonially clean), although it was an ordinary (unconsecrated) journey; so how much more will their vessels be holy today?” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the [f]Presence which was removed from before the Lord in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away.
7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds.
8 David said to Ahimelech, “Do you not have a sword or spear here on hand? For I brought neither my sword nor my [other] weapons with me, because the king’s business was urgent.” 9 Then 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 would take it for yourself, do so. For there is no other here except for it.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”
10 Then David arose and fled from Saul that day, and went to Achish king of [g]Gath. 11 The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing in praise of this one as they danced, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”
12 David took these words to heart and was greatly afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So [fearing for his life] he changed his behavior in their sight, and acted insanely in their hands, and he scribbled on the doors of the gate, and drooled on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see that the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you bring this one to behave like a madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”
- 1 Samuel 21:1 The city of the priests was located on Mt. Scopus about a mile northeast of Jerusalem.
- 1 Samuel 21:1 Ahimelech was also known as Ahijah.
- 1 Samuel 21:4 I.e. the bread of the Presence (showbread) was an offering dedicated to God and was to be eaten only by the priests. The ancient rabbis maintained that any law may be superseded to save life, and that David’s life was in danger from hunger.
- 1 Samuel 21:5 I.e. intimate contact with women.
- 1 Samuel 21:5 Lit vessels, a euphemism for the human body.
- 1 Samuel 21:6 Lit Face.
- 1 Samuel 21:10 This was a dangerous place to go since it was not only one of the Philistine’s five major cities, but also the former home of Goliath.