In 1948 Jerusalem was being strangled by the Arabs. The Arabs had attacked Jerusalem’s supply road and it was in danger of starving out its inhabitants. In February, the Jewish leadership had met and there was intense pressure to evacuate the women and children. Dov Joseph, a Canadian lawyer, was in charge of Jerusalem’s survival plan. He refused the evacuation of any. His reasoning was that Jerusalem’s fighters would lose their spirit unless their families and homes were left to defend. He believed that desperation could have its benefits in this situation.
I think that this can be true, but if a person is desperate too long one can become desperate about getting through his desperation. It can tear you down and really work on you. In our narrative David now realizes that if there is any chance at all, Saul will have his head. There will be no Jonathans, and Michals, and Samuels to save him now. So, where do I go? What do I do now?
The words in 21:10a kind of sum up the next few verses: “And David rose and fled that day from Saul”. He asks “what good can possibly come from me escaping by the skin of my teeth”? The verses seem to say to us that even in the most desperate times The Lord God does not let go of His servants.
So David heads to Nob, only a mile or two north of Jerusalem. Ahimelech the priest can tell something is just not kosher with David. If he didn’t, he would not have been trembling in 21:1. David was typically not alone. David’s story here seems flimsy to me. He tells the priest the he is on a very sensitive assignment for the king. This is top secret government business. In vs. 2 he tells Ahimelech that he does have men waiting at a secret location. What is very suspicious is that David left in such a hurry that he had forgotten food (vs.3) and his sword or any weapons (vs.8).
There are enough problems with David’s story, but it is about to get worse. When I read these narratives, to me it is like watching a movie. I can just see it in my mind. The camera now is going to turn to Doeg, the Edomite, one of Saul’s thugs. There is only a glance here but like a great British mystery, this glance has its ramifications coming.
I wonder why David dealt with Ahimelech the way he did? Maybe he was trying to save the priest from any true knowledge in case Saul asked him directly about it. If he didn’t inform Ahimelech of the true reason, King Saul could not rightly discipline him for it. I believe this was the reason. The text doesn’t seem to condemn, or approve David’s actions in this matter. David was indeed panicking here. He seems to be at his wits end and near to be putting to death. The writer here is just reporting the facts pertaining to David and his situation.
So what does God seem to be doing here? We can see that in all of the fear and confusion of David The Lord God provided David with what he needed. God sustained him in the situation. These were maybe small items, but they were needed to sustain his life. The bread that he received was no ordinary bread either. He received “holy bread” that was before the “presence” which only the priests were to eat. Every Sabbath 12 loaves of this bread were piled on the table on the north side of the holy place in the tabernacle. They were to be a quiet witness that The Lord God keeps His people and supplies their needs. Ahimelech’s holy bread becomes here David’s daily bread.
Some of you may say that David does not deserve the provisions because of his deceptions. But what’s new? If you or I had to wait for our daily bread because we deserved it, then we would all have starved a long time ago. We would all be skeletons at best. We all receive our daily bread not because we are godly but because The Lord God is gracious.
I’m thinking that maybe some of us may be under heavy loads right now. You may be facing job, financial, emotional, spiritual, or other terrible circumstances. Are you still eating every day? Doesn’t God’s small provisions in the midst of your big problems tell you something? Doesn’t it assure you that God has not cast you off?
He is the great Provider because He is gracious. Trust upon His never ending grace to get you through your current difficulties. He NEVER forsakes His people!