1 Samuel 21:3-6 NLTse Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.” (4) “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.” (5) “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!” (6) 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.
After riding for days, David and his men were hungry and tired. David wondered what he was going to do. The few men with him were dedicated beyond all expectations. They were loyal, but David felt inadequate to lead even though Samuel anointed him to be the next king of Israel. David look
ed back at to a time he was a small boy. A few months after being anointed, David found himself playing and singing in Saul’s court. Looking back, David felt a little like Moses growing up in Pharaoh’s court. David could see why God chose Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt. His love for Pharaoh’s family left all the plans and details in God’s hands. Moses could never lift a hand against the family who raised and cared for him. David wondered if the plagues and suffering made Moses sad. How did Moses feel as he watched the brother he grew up with reject him and God? This reminded David, he had no choice but to rely on God for everything. There was no other decision to make. His first stop had to be the synagogue. Maybe the priests could direct him. Maybe they had something to eat.
Most people know Jesus asked the Pharisees why David was allowed to eat the sacred bread. Common sense would tell us, Jesus would not ask a question He was not able to back up with scripture. What do you think? Do you think the Pharisees cared enough to look, or did they think Jesus was crazy or something? What about today? How many people read Jesus’ question and ask why He brought up this subject? What goes through their mind when they look at the question with as little interest the Pharisees showed? It time to take a serious look at Jesus’ question and see if we can figure out the answer.
Mark 2:23-28 NLTse One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. (24) But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (25) Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (26) He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.” (27) Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. (28) So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Its easy to see what Jesus was referring to when He asked the Pharisees about David and the sacred bread if you know how to look. The tough question is, what relationship does it have with the Sabbath? The obvious way to proceed is to find the spiritual meaning to the first question Jesus asked about David and the bread. What did Jesus want the Pharisees to find? It stands to reason, if Jesus made it easy enough for the Pharisees to find the texts, we should have no problem. Our first clue is found in Mark 2:23-28. Did you notice the word, “law,” is repeated? Was Jesus making it easy for the Pharisees by leaving a clue? We have to find the law Jesus is referring to.
Leviticus 22:9-11 NLTse (9) “The priests must follow my instructions carefully. Otherwise they will be punished for their sin and will die for violating my instructions. I am the LORD who makes them holy. (10) “No one outside a priest’s family may eat the sacred offerings. Even guests and hired workers in a priest’s home are not allowed to eat them. (11) However, if the priest buys a slave for himself, the slave may eat from the sacred offerings. And if his slaves have children, they also may share his food.
This time the word slave is repeated. This calls our attention to the answer the Pharisees couldn’t find. Based on the fact the word priest is repeated four times, you would think the Pharisees would have known about this law. Its easy to see only priests and their families were allowed to eat the offerings. God also included one exception. If the priest buys a slave for himself, the slave may eat from the sacred offerings. And if his slaves have children, they also may share his food. This has an obvious connection with the New Testament. Seeing the spiritual lesson is only a simple matter of finding the right New Testament texts. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Romans 6:6-7, Colossians 1:13-14 NLTse). Among other things, David was a symbol pointing to Jesus, who paid the price for our freedom. Such a simple concept backed up by solid scriptural evidence that is easy to remember and share.
Another simple method of Bible study is to compare the Old Testament and New Testament chapters used in the study and look for parallels. In 1 Samuel 21, David is fleeing from king Saul. Why? King Saul was paranoid. Saul saw his kingdom falling apart. David, one of his army commanders compiled a series of victories which won him the love and respect of the people in Saul’s kingdom. Saul’s jealousy engulfed him, controlling his every thought and action. In a rage, Saul threw a spear at David in sight of his entire court. Later Saul sent guards to arrest David, but God warned him. David fled to safety, waiting on God to see what he should do next. In a way this represents what Jesus went through. Jesus came to preach about His Father and heal. Jesus accumulated victory after victory over the devil and his agents. The people loved Jesus, so they shouted and sung praises about Him and God. This made the Pharisees and other religious leaders mad with jealousy. They cast their poisonous spears at Jesus in the form of words and accusations. God’s Spirit protected Jesus. Each of His answers silenced the religious leaders. In their minds, each encounter with Jesus added to His victories, which increased the priest’s rage and thirst for revenge. 1 Samuel 21 and Mark 2 both illustrate battles. David and Jesus faced both physical and spiritual battles. When we pay too much attention to one battle, we miss the other. We see both battles in the introduction of each chapter.
1 Samuel 21:1-2 NLTse 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?” (2) “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.
We know David is fleeing for his life. He doesn’t know who to trust. This is part of the spiritual lesson David needs to learn. God is preparing David to be the next king of Israel and knows he has a lot to learn about leadership. One of the most important lessons is how to rely on God. How is God going to remind David about the faith he had a a boy when he faced the giant who made Israel’s army and their king tremble in fear? Look at 1 Samuel 21:1. What appears strange? Why is Ahimelech the priest trembling when he sees David? We know this is the beginning of David’s flight. Its highly unlikely anyone arrived at Nob to tell Ahimelech about the situation between David and Saul. Something led David to Ahimelech and something warned Ahimelech about David’s situation. God’s Spirit was at work. David was also afraid. Instead of telling Ahimelech the truth, David made up a story. David lied. Somehow David lost the faith he had when he faced Goliath. God is trying to restore that faith by putting David through a series of trials until David decides to put his trust back in God. David is facing a physical battle with Saul and a spiritual battle with himself. We know David represents Jesus as King. But God also uses David’s mistakes to illustrate spiritual lessons by explaining the spiritual battles other people face. We see the same battles present in the introduction to Mark chapter 2.
Mark 2:1-12 NLTse When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. (2) Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, (3) four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. (4) They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. (5) Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” (6) But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, (7) “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” (8) Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? (9) Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? (10) So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, (11) “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (12) And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
This seems like a simple story on the surface. Jesus heals a paralyzed man while the religious leaders question His ability. This story shows a much deeper meaning when we look at the physical and spiritual battles. The man is physically paralyzed. His friends have to carry him to Jesus on a mat. Instead of just physically healing the man, Jesus points out the need to spiritually heal him. Spiritual healing is just as important as physical healing, if not more. The paralyzed man faced both physical and spiritual challenges. We see the men taking their friend to Jesus had faith their friend would be healed. Faith is what God was trying to restore in David. The lesson doesn’t stop there. We have to carefully examine these texts and find the missing element see another lesson. The religious leaders challenged Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, but not His ability to physically heal the man. For some reason, the religious leaders accepted Jesus’ ability to heal, but not His authority to forgive sins. When religious leaders recognized Jesus ability to physically heal, they converted Jesus’ victories over Satan to jealousy, just like king Saul. The religious leaders lost the physical battle and were quickly loosing the spiritual battle. We see the same lesson repeated in the summation of each chapter.
1 Samuel 21:10-15 NLTse (10) So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. (11) But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (12) David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. (13) So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. (14) Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? (15) We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”
David is given another opportunity to put his trust back in God. Instead of trusting God, David once again turns to lies to save himself. For some reason it worked again. But was this part of God’s plan? Just because it worked doesn’t mean this is what God wanted David to do. When we examine the texts we see another missing element. David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. David didn’t bother to pray to seek God’s guidance on the situation. David made his own decision to go to Gath and later decided to act insane when fear set in. Is this another spiritual lesson for us to see? What kind of example is this for the future king of Israel to set for a nation he could have reached out to? We see the same spiritual lesson in the summation for Mark chapter 2.
In the subject texts, Mark 2:23-28 above, Jesus is confronted by some Pharisees. We know they are trying their best to gain some kind of victory over Jesus and every failure increased their jealousy and rage. This time they are sure they have an advantage over Jesus when they saw His disciples eating grain straight from a field. In their minds, the Pharisees see the disciples harvesting grain on the Sabbath. This shows how unstable the Pharisees are. In an instant they add a new interpretation to God’s law. After all, isn’t that their job, or at least how they view their role as religious leaders? The fact of the matter is, Pharisees thought they had to stand between God and his people. They thought they had to interpret every matter no matter how big or small it may be. How did Jesus answer? He gave them an opportunity to look into a bigger lesson. Did the Pharisees try to answer Jesus’ question? No! Jesus showed us how the Pharisees interpreted God’s law. The religious leaders interpreted everything by relying on the first thought that popped into their head. They could have looked at the scripture Jesus sent them to see what happened to David when he relied on himself, but they chose not to. The Pharisees made the same mistake as David, they forgot to put their faith in God. Jesus also shows us what happens when we refuse to look into a matter ourselves. When the Pharisees refused to look back at God’s Word, they missed a number of lessons.
Jesus also addressed the Sabbath and the rules and regulations placed upon it by the Pharisees. We still face the same problem today. It doesn’t matter what day you worship on, religious leaders place rules and regulations on what you can and can’t do on that day. Religious leaders still insist the only way to worship God is to follow their rules and regulations. They set the time and place to worship. They prepare the worship service for you. They give you the impression all you need to do is sit and listen, and everything will be okay. How is this worshiping God? Are any of their rules, regulations, or worship services Biblical? How do we know how to worship God or follow His commandments if we don’t search for ourselves? We see the mistakes and lack of faith David had when he relied on his judgment. And he was the anointed king of Israel! We are also shown how the Pharisees misinterpreted God’s law by relying on their own judgment. What makes you think your religious leaders are doing a better job than the Pharisees or king David? Are they basing their rules and regulations on sound Biblical texts, or their own doctrines? Do they have the confidence to send you back to the scriptures and study God’s Word with His Spirit? Jesus was confident enough to send the Pharisees to the scriptures and had enough faith to trust God’s Spirit. That is the first test of a religious leader’s faith, to see if He is following Jesus’ example.
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.'” Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” (Matthew 15:7-9 NLTse, Colossians 2:20-23 NLTse, Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV, 1 Peter 2:8-10 NLTse).