David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?”
“The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.”
“We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.”
“Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when they are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!”
Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.
(1 Samuel 21:1-6)
Once a week on the Sabbath, a priest entered the Holy Place in the tabernacle and placed twelve freshly baked loaves of bread on a small table. This bread, called the Bread of the Presence, symbolized God’s presence among his people as well as his loving care that met their physical needs. The bread that was replaced was to be eaten only by the priests on duty.
This is the first time Ahimelech is mentioned. Either he was the Ahijah mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:3, 18, or, more likely, he was Ahijah’s successor. In either case, Ahimelech had to go against the law to give the consecrated bread to David because the bread was supposed to be given only to the priests (Leviticus 24:5-9). But Ahimelech put David’s need and life ahead of religious ceremony and fed him the consecrated food, thus upholding a higher law of love (Leviticus 19:18). Centuries later, Jesus would refer to this incident to show that God’s laws should not be applied without compassion. To do good and to save life is God’s greater law (Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5).
In what ways can you do good and work to save lives this week? Ask God to show you how you can work with him to reach out to others with his compassion.