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 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.”
This part of the story seems quite random, David running to Nob and conning a priest out of the consecrated bread and Goliaths sword. Clearly the priest would not help David if he knew that the king wanted David dead. This story is quite significant though because Jesus mentions it in Matthew 12.
But let’s start here, the priest is reluctant to give bread to men who are unclean…have they been with women. David’s response interests me though; he says that the men’s bodies are clean even on missions that are unclean. I find that interesting, what he is suggesting is that his men have fulfilled the requirements of the law that make them clean but he gives little thought to what they actually spend their time doing.
In Matthew 12, Jesus’ men are walking on the Sabbath and picking grain to eat. The Pharisees confront him and ask him why his disciples are breaking the law? He responds like this…“Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent
What I understand Jesus saying here is that people break laws…but what we do is more important than sacrifice. After this encounter Jesus goes on to heal a man on the Sabbath.
In life we are constantly faced with choices, we make choices without even thinking about it. What I would like us to do is to consider our choices more carefully. How often do we let our religious beliefs allow us to carry out an “unholy” mission because somewhere we have found a clause to justify our actions? It’s a bit of a heavy thought but it is important, our freedom is not in our religious system but in Christ so let’s embrace what needs to be embraced and let go of the other stuff.