In last week’s study, David and Jonathan were forced to part company because of King Saul’s irrational jealousy of David. A new season in David’s life now begins. He will be on the run for sometime as Saul had already alerted half the country that David was to be pursued and killed.
The first stop of David’s flight was in Nob. We pick up the narrative in I Samuel 21
David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech, the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him and asked ‘Why are you alone?’ It is most likely that he did not yet know that the King was determined to kill him or he would not have asked ‘Why are you alone?’
David asked if the priest had any food and any weapons. Though he had no regular bread, Ahimelech gave David the holy bread from the house of God. Why would Ahimelech have done that? It certainly was not the norm.
Called the ‘bread of the Presence’, it could well have signified the eternal covenant which God had with David as breaking of bread was always part of the ceremony of establishing a covenant. It also may have strengthened David’s faith that God was indeed his provider and a very near Presence in David’s life. The Hebrew word for presence is paneh, which can mean presence, countenance or face. Isaiah 55:3 tells us that God made an everlasting covenant with David:
‘I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.’
God was doing more than feeding David’s hungry stomach. He was reminding David that His presence would go with him and He would be David’s provider, that the anointing for kingship was real and despite the present circumstances, God would be faithful to His promise, that His covenant was forever.
David also asked for a weapon and isn’t it just too curious that the only weapon in Nob was the sword of Goliath, whom David had killed? Perhaps this was God’s second way of reminding David of His faithfulness to him. That sword of Goliath was a startling sign that David had already fought a greater enemy than Saul and prevailed. Surely the God who helped him defeat Goliath would help him survive Saul’s threats.
Sometimes we get ourselves into situations that seem desperate and even terrifying. In those moments, it’s important to remember the times that God has delivered us in the past from other difficult situations. He is faithful still and what He has done before He will do again. Each situation may be different but God remains the same. His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness! Aren’t we glad!
David then fled to Achish, the king of Gath, where he was quickly recognized by the Philistines as the young warrior who killed their giant. Afraid for his life and being a quick thinker, David pretended to be insane with ‘saliva running down his beard.’ I Sam. 21:13) Not only was he a psalmist, a musician, a warrior, he probably could have won an Oscar for his ‘performance’ before the king of Gath. Perhaps you wonder why they didn’t just kill him on recognizing him? David was very well acquainted with the customs of the people of the day. They were terrified of anyone with mental imbalance, considering them to be possessed of an evil spirit. Their superstition didn’t allow them to get anywhere close so cleverly, David used his knowledge of their superstitions to save his own life.
The king, observing this charade, declared, ‘Am I so lacking in madmen that you have to bring this man here to carry on like this in front of me?’ I Sam. 21:15 Apparently Gath had a good share of ‘crazies’!
This will not be the last time that David has to negotiate himself through some pretty tough times. As his life continues to unfold before us, we will begin to understand why God called him ‘a man after my own heart.’ The process of forming that kind of heart will have much to teach us over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, David escapes death and flees to the cave of Adullam (I Sam. 22:1) Can you imagine how he must have felt, hiding in a cave, far from family and his beloved friend, Jonathan? And with a viciously jealous king hot on his trail? Picture yourself there, running for your life. How would you feel? What prayers might you pray? What thoughts might be going through your mind?
There is one other person in I Samuel 21 who we’ll encounter again. Doeg, the Edomite, chief shepherd over King Saul’s flocks, happened to overhear the conversation between David and Ahimelech. Will he betray David to the king? Stay tuned!
Recently I came across a unique definition of FAITH: it is that unique trust in God that refuses to allow our senses to determine what is possible. I really like that, don’t you?
Remembering all that God has already done for us is a worthwhile practice. It cultivates an attitude of gratitude and builds our faith. Faith is essential to pleasing God and whether or not you’ve ever had to flee for your life, every person faces painful or difficult situations and circumstances at different times of their lives.
The message this week is simply this: The God who has cared for you up to now will not stop caring for you. God has never failed – and He’s not going to begin doing so with you!
Note: The previous series posted on this site, “The Longest Chapter – Meditations on Psalm 119” is now available on AMAZON.COM as a paperback or as an E-book download.
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