TEXT: 1 Samuel 21:1-15
David had fallen out of favour with Saul and he wanted him dead by all means. His life was under constant threat causing him to move from one place to another for safety. He reminisced his travail during this period in one of the psalms. “They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (Psalm 109:3-5). David, being chased by a furious and determined enemy, decided to relocate across the border for his safety. The need for him to seek asylum in a strange land was because Saul had recorded several humiliating misses and was not going to give up until he was assassinated. Also, Jonathan his friend had confirmed that Saul meant to get rid of him and Michal had recently aided his escape. Believers need not forget that the devil is always trailing and seeking to devour the careless ones. Even Christ was not spared. Satan is always seeking to abort the plan of God for His people. Christians must be prayerful and watchful when they are victorious, successful
or exalted because every open door attracts many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:9,13).
DAVID FLEES TO NOB (1 Samuel 21:1-6; Psalms 46:1; 9:9; 37:39; Matthew 12:3,4; Mark 2:25-27)
The text focuses on David’s wanderings after parting ways with Jonathan, his bosom friend. It began with his flight to Nob where he had an encounter with Ahimelech, the priest. Nob, a city probably of the tribe of Benjamin was where the tabernacle of the Lord was pitched at that time after the desertion or abandonment of Shiloh.
David had to run away from Saul’s fury for his dear life because neither Samuel the prophet nor Jonathan the king’s son could protect him. Little wonder that the Scripture concludes: “Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man” (Psalm 60:11). Since our help comes from the Lord, we are to look up to Him at all times and under all circumstances.
David’s decision to visit the house of God before going to Gath is instructive to believers. As his custom, David fled first to God’s prophet and priest before his flight to Gath (1 Samuel 21:1-9; 19:18-24; 22:9,10). Here, we learn that we should always resort to spiritual resources such as the house or presence of God, the word of God and men of God (counsellors) before undertaking important tasks or while suffering persecution. The assurance that God is always ready and available to intervene on our behalf takes away fear, unbelief and discouragement.
Ahimelech was a priest in God’s house. On sighting David, he enquired why he was alone, probably before he saw the young men who accompanied him. David’s reply that: “The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know anything 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” (1 Samuel 21:2) was not true. The king who sought to kill him could not have sent him on an errand. Here, he just wanted to obtain his requests under pretense. David got bread for himself and his men. Ahimelech consented to his request for the hallowed bread judging by status and past reputation of David. Since Ahimelech was a true priest of God, he could still have granted David’s request if he heard the truth about his plight and flight from danger. So, there was no reason for him to tell lies. Believers cannot point to David’s example as reason to lie; Christ is our perfect Example in everything. One basic condition the priest gave for request was that the young men must themselves from women before partaking bread. This bread was not the common acceding to the have separated of the hallowed one; it was the shewbread. Its handling bears some semblance with the unleavened bread which the Scripture enjoins New Testament believers to use in observing the Lord’s Supper.
Ahimelech gave David the shewbread which was not lawful for him to eat. Our Lord Jesus referred to this event without condemning the action of the priest to teach us that the value of saving life was above ceremonial laws. In response to the Pharisees’ allegation that Christ’s disciples who were hungry plucked and ate ears of corn on the Sabbath day, “he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungered, and they that were with him; 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? (Matthew 12:3,4; Mark 2:25-27; Luke 6:4). Also, Christ’s reference to this incident in the Old Testament attests to the veracity of Scripture as the word of God.
DOEG: A SERVING STRANGER IN ISRAEL (1 Samuel 21:7-9; 22:9,10; Proverbs 22:3; Matthew 10:23; 23:34)
“Now 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 herdsmen that belonged to Saul” (1 Samuel 21:7-9). While David and Ahimelech exchanged pleasantries, Doeg, a proselyte to the Jewish religion watched. As the chief of Saul’s herdsmen, he appeared responsible and harmless but deadly. Though he came to the house of God to either pay some vows or avail himself of some rites of purification,
he found an opportunity to report proceedings to Saul whom he knew had been hunting David (1 Samuel 22:9,10).
His report that stoked the fire of Saul’s hatred of David was not surprising judging by his pedigree as an Edomite. Edom (Esau) was an avowed enemy of the united nation of Israel. Now in the employ of a senior citizen in Israel, he found an occasion to fuel the enmity between two key leaders in Israel because of the perpetual hatred of the Edomites for the Israelites (Ezekiel 35:3-5).
Believers should be careful on who they engage in their secular endeavor or domestic affairs. There is need to always seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit in all decisions, including employment of staff for household and sensitive duties. Besides, there is need for proper and effective information management by all Christians at the home front and in workplaces to avoid suffering incalculable damage. We must be wise to relate with people around us based on proper understanding of their personality,
antecedents and loyalty. Doeg’s report made Saul to destroy the city of Nob and kill eighty-five priests. In this age of security concerns, believers must be prayerful and watchful to detect and appropriately handle every friendly foe and pretentious Doegs. Also, it is unwise to dish out sensitive personal information and movement on social media platforms as these are now being used by rapists and kidnappers.
Aside eating bread for sustenance, David realized that he needed a spear or sword especially as he would be crossing the border of Israel in order to escape from Saul. “And 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.” Armed with bread and sword, David fled to Gath. Believers need to put on the whole armour of God to be successful in their service and pilgrimage to heaven. David’s flight from perceived danger was in order. The Scripture states that, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). Jesus also teaches that
believers should endure persecution. But in life- threatening situations, He said, “when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matthew 10:23; 23:34).
DAVID’S FLIGHT TO GATH (1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Kings 8:56; 1 Peter 2:21-23; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Deuteronomy
8:3; 2 Corinthians 1:20; Romans 8:28)
While in the court of Achish, David who was already traumatized by fear deduced from the unfolding events that his life was not safe there. Without thinking of the divine presence, he resorted to self-management and feigned madness in order to escape death. This deception worked for him as he was thereafter taken for a mad man, ignored and rejected. There is no need for self- management and the use of sinful shortcuts for self- preservation or the execution of our divinely ordained programs and projects because God knows how to secure our lives.
David made many blunders while suffering. He told a lie and dramatized deceit out of fear to have his way (1 Samuel 21:2,8,12,13). This is quite unlike Christ who was without any fault or blemish during His trials (Hebrews 5:8,9). The
failure, backsliding and blemishes of any Bible character must never be copied by any heaven-minded believer. Christ our Lord, the Author and Finisher of our faith, is our Model. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23). From the way and manner David conducted himself, we observe that no matter how spiritual
a believer may be, he can fall from the grace of God if he is not prayerful and watchful.
It is possible to retain one’s integrity even in extremely difficult situations. The reason is, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). To always overcome, every heaven-bound believer needs determination, courage,watchfulness, regular self- examination, prayer, patience and personal faith in God in times of tribulations.
In David’s trying times, we see the king-elect now on exile; heir who will be possessor of vast treasures begging for bread; and a valiant warrior in need of a sword. In His sovereignty, God sometimes permits contrary circumstances to come the believer’s way for the purpose of testing his faith and faithfulness as well as to bring glory to His name. It is certain that obstacles and difficulties cannot hinder the word and purpose of God. He allows them to prove and train His servants for higher responsibilities and grow their faith to depend on Him and obey His commandments (Deuteronomy 8:3). Joseph, Daniel, the three Hebrew children and the apostles suffered for righteousness’ sake and came out stronger. David would learn from his trials that his one-time victory over the Philistines was an insufficient credential that would make him ascend the throne of Israel. He would have to depend absolutely on God to occupy the throne. In spite of our present challenges as believers, “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is our overall Moderator and He will balance up everything for us as we closely walk with and faithfully serve Him.