21 1 David fleeth to Nob to Ahimelech the Priest. 6 He getteth of him the showbread to satisfy his hunger. 7 Doeg Saul’s servant was present. 10 David fleeth to King Achish, 13 and there feigneth himself mad.

Then came David to [a]Nob, to Ahimelech the Priest, and Ahimelech was astonied at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

And David said to Ahimelech the Priest, The [b]King hath commanded me a certain thing, and hath said unto me, Let no man know whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such places.

Now therefore if thou hast ought under thine hand, give me five cakes of bread, or what cometh to hand.

And the Priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but here is (A)hallowed bread, if the young men have kept themselves, at least from [c]women.

David then answered the Priest, and said unto him, Certainly women have been separate from us these two or three days since I came out: and the [d]vessels of the young men were holy, though the way were profane, and how much more then shall every one [e]be sanctified this day in the vessel?

So the Priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there, save the showbread that was taken from before the Lord, to put hot bread there, the day that it was taken away.

(And there was the same day one of the servants of Saul [f]abiding before the Lord, named Doeg the Edomite, the [g]chiefest of Saul’s herdmen.)

And David said unto Ahimelech, Is there not here under thine hand a spear or a sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor mine harness with me, because the king’s business required haste.

And the Priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the (B)valley of Elah, behold, it is wrapped in a cloth behind the [h]Ephod: if thou wilt take that to thee, take it: for there is none other save that here: And David said, There is none to that, give it me.

10 And David arose and fled the same day from the [i]presence of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath.

11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the (C)King of the land? did they not sing unto him in dances, saying, (D)Saul hath slain his thousand, and David his ten thousand?

12 And David [j]considered these words, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath.

13 And he changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and [k]scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.

14 Then said Achish unto his servants, Lo, ye see the man is beside himself, wherefore have ye brought him to me?

15 Have I need of mad men, that ye have brought this fellow to play the mad man in my presence? [l]shall he come into mine house?


  1. 1 Samuel 21:1 Where the ark then was to ask counsel of the Lord.
  2. 1 Samuel 21:2 These infirmities that we see in the Saints of God, teach us that none hath his justice in himself, but receiveth it of God’s mercy.
  3. 1 Samuel 21:4 If they have not accompanied with their wives.
  4. 1 Samuel 21:5 That is, their bodies.
  5. 1 Samuel 21:5 Shall be more careful to keep his vessel holy, when he shall have eaten of this holy food?
  6. 1 Samuel 21:7 Tarrying to worship before the Ark.
  7. 1 Samuel 21:7 Or, master of them that kept Saul’s castle.
  8. 1 Samuel 21:9 Behind that place, where the high Priest’s garment lay.
  9. 1 Samuel 21:10 That is, out of Saul’s dominion.
  10. 1 Samuel 21:12 Hebrew, put these words in his heart.
  11. 1 Samuel 21:13 By making marks and toys.
  12. 1 Samuel 21:15 Is he meet to be in a king’s house?

David at Nob

21 [a]David went to Nob,(A) to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled(B) 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(C) on hand; however, there is some consecrated(D) bread here—provided the men have kept(E) themselves from women.”

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!” 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.

Now one of Saul’s servants was there that day, detained before the Lord; he was Doeg(I) the Edomite,(J) 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(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?”


  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

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