1 Samuel 21
David Takes Consecrated Bread
21 Then David went to [a]Nob to [b]Ahimelech the priest; and Ahimelech came trembling [in fear] to meet David and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” 2 David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commissioned me with a matter and has told me, ‘Let no one know anything about the matter for which I am sending you and with which I have commissioned you. I have directed the young men to a certain place.’ 3 Now what [food] do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found.” 4 The priest answered David, “There is no ordinary (unconsecrated) bread on hand, but there is [c]consecrated bread; [you may have it] if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 David answered the priest, “Be assured that [d]women have been kept from us in these three days since I set out, and the [e]bodies of the young men were consecrated (ceremonially clean), although it was an ordinary (unconsecrated) journey; so how much more will their vessels be holy today?” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the [f]Presence which was removed from before the Lord in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away.
7 Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds.
8 David said to Ahimelech, “Do you not have a sword or spear here on hand? For I brought neither my sword nor my [other] weapons with me, because the king’s business was urgent.” 9 Then the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you would take it for yourself, do so. For there is no other here except for it.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”
10 Then David arose and fled from Saul that day, and went to Achish king of [g]Gath. 11 The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing in praise of this one as they danced, saying,
‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands’?”
12 David took these words to heart and was greatly afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So [fearing for his life] he changed his behavior in their sight, and acted insanely in their hands, and he scribbled on the doors of the gate, and drooled on his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see that the man is insane. Why have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you bring this one to behave like a madman in my presence? Shall this one come into my house?”
- 1 Samuel 21:1 The city of the priests was located on Mt. Scopus about a mile northeast of Jerusalem.
- 1 Samuel 21:1 Ahimelech was also known as Ahijah.
- 1 Samuel 21:4 I.e. the bread of the Presence (showbread) was an offering dedicated to God and was to be eaten only by the priests. The ancient rabbis maintained that any law may be superseded to save life, and that David’s life was in danger from hunger.
- 1 Samuel 21:5 I.e. intimate contact with women.
- 1 Samuel 21:5 Lit vessels, a euphemism for the human body.
- 1 Samuel 21:6 Lit Face.
- 1 Samuel 21:10 This was a dangerous place to go since it was not only one of the Philistine’s five major cities, but also the former home of Goliath.
1 Samuel 21
New International Version
David at Nob
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.”
5 David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual(F) whenever[b] I set out. The men’s bodies are holy(G) even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 6 So the priest gave him the consecrated bread,(H) 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.
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(K) of Goliath(L) the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah,(M) 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.”
David at Gath
10 That day David fled from Saul and went(N) to Achish king of Gath. 11 But the servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances:
“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands’?”(O)
12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane(P) in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.
14 Achish said to his servants, “Look at the man! He is insane! Why bring him to me? 15 Am I so short of madmen that you have to bring this fellow here to carry on like this in front of me? Must this man come into my house?”