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1 Samuel 21 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Ahimelech Helps David

21 David went to see Ahimelech, a priest who lived in the town of Nob. Ahimelech was trembling with fear as he came out to meet David. “Why are you alone?” Ahimelech asked. “Why isn’t anyone else with you?”

“I’m on a mission for King Saul,” David answered. “He ordered me not to tell anyone what the mission is all about, so I had my soldiers stay somewhere else. Do you have any food you can give me? Could you spare five loaves of bread?”

“The only bread I have is the sacred bread,” the priest told David. “You can have it if your soldiers didn’t sleep with women last night.”[a]

“Of course we didn’t sleep with women,” David answered. “I never let my men do that when we’re on a mission. They have to be acceptable to worship God even when we’re on a regular mission, and today we’re on a special mission.”

The only bread the priest had was the sacred bread that he had taken from the place of worship after putting out the fresh loaves. So he gave it to David.

It so happened that one of Saul’s officers was there, worshiping the Lord that day. His name was Doeg the Edomite,[b] and he was the strongest of[c] Saul’s shepherds.

David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or a sword? I had to leave so quickly on this mission for the king that I didn’t bring along my sword or any other weapons.”

The priest answered, “The only sword here is the one that belonged to Goliath the Philistine. You were the one who killed him in Elah Valley, and so you can take his sword if you want to. It’s wrapped in a cloth behind the statue.”

“It’s the best sword there is,” David said. “I’ll take it!”

David Tries To Find Safety in Gath

10 David kept on running from Saul that day until he came to Gath,[d] where he met with King Achish. 11 The officers of King Achish were also there, and they asked Achish, “Isn’t David a king back in his own country? Don’t the Israelites dance and sing,

‘Saul has killed
    a thousand enemies;
David has killed
    ten thousand enemies’?”

12 David thought about what they were saying, and it made him afraid of Achish. 13 So right there in front of everyone, he pretended to be insane. He acted confused and scratched up the doors of the town gate, while drooling in his beard.

14 “Look at him!” Achish said to his officers. “You can see he’s crazy. Why did you bring him to me? 15 I have enough crazy people without your bringing another one here. Keep him away from my palace!”

Footnotes:

  1. 21.4 night: Having sex was one of the things that would make someone temporarily unfit to take part in worship or a sacred meal (see Exodus 19.15; Leviticus 15.18).
  2. 21.7 Edomite: A person from the country of Edom, to the south of Israel.
  3. 21.7 the strongest of: Or “in charge of.”
  4. 21.10 Gath: One of the five main Philistine towns.

1 Samuel 21 New International Version (NIV)

David at Nob

21 [a]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?”

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. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.”

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.”

David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever[b] I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” 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.

Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; he was Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief shepherd.

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.”

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.”

David at Gath

10 That day David fled from Saul and went 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’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. 13 So he pretended to be insane 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?”

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 21:1 In Hebrew texts 21:1-15 is numbered 21:2-16.
  2. 1 Samuel 21:5 Or from us in the past few days since
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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