After David discovers from Jonathan that King Saul wants to take his life, David flees. First he goes to the temple and gets food (specifically the Holy Bread of the Presence) and the sword of Goliath. Then David goes on to Gath, but discovers that the people there have heard of his many killings and he pretends to be insane. Next he hides out in the cave of Adullam. His family comes to him there as well as about 400 who were in debt, discontent, or in distress. He becomes captain over these men. To take care of his parents he seeks help from the king of Moab to let them stay there. The section ends with the prophet Gad telling David to move on from the cave to go to the land of Judah, which David does.
David, Ahimelech the priest, Saul, the Lord, Doeg the Edomite, Goliath, Achish the king of Gath, David’s brothers, David’s father and mother, the king of Moab, and Gad the prophet
21:6 “So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.”
22:1-2 “David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”
21:4 & 6 Cross References
1 Samuel 21:4 “And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.”
Leviticus 24:5-9 “”You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it; two tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. And you shall set them in two piles, six in a pile, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. And you shall put pure frankincense on each pile, that it may go with the bread as a memorial portion as a food offering to the Lord. Every Sabbath day Aaron shall arrange it before the Lord regularly; it is from the people of Israel as a covenant forever. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place, since it is for him a most holy portion out of the Lord’s food offerings, a perpetual due.””
Exodus 25:30 “And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly.”
Matthew 12:1-8 “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.””
Mark 2:23-28 “One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck head of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.””
Luke 6:1-5 “On a Sabbath, while he was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked and ate some heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands. But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” And Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those with him?” And he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.””
22:1-2 Cross References
2 Samuel 23:13 “And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.”
1 Chronicles 11:15 “Three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David at the cave of Adullam, when the army of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim.”
Judges 9:4 “And they gave him seventy pieces of silver out of the house of Baal-berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless fellows, who followed him.”
Judges 11:3 “Then Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob, and worthless fellows collected around Jephthah and went out with him.”
1 Samuel 23:13 “Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition.”
1 Samuel 25:13 “And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.”
I am always glad to make connections between different books and chapters of the Bible. When I read about the bread I said to myself, Jesus talks about this! It made the story more important and I was able to focus on it a little more. Also, Jesus is pointing out something that David did which was wrong instead of the way many Jews and Christians look at David as a perfect person. All have sinned, and even though we can think of David as “innocent,” he was not any more innocent than any one of us, which means he was a sinner, too.
The second part that I thought was important was the men that gathered around David. The cross references were fascinating. First, the two Psalms that we know came from this time of being in the cave. Then other verses talking about David and another time at the same cave later on. Then the two verses about two other men who became leaders of a band of discontent, but these men are described as reckless and worthless. It makes me think that these men may not have been the best choices, but sometimes that is how God makes his choice. Finally, we see that these same men will also go to battle with David in future chapters.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Taking one’s eyes off God invites fear to rush in. And fear can lead to desperate and dangerous actions. Fleeing from Saul, David not only deceives the Lord’s priest at Nob (21:2-3), but after receiving food and Goliath’s sword (21:9), goes to Goliath’s hometown (21:10)! It seems an insane step—did David hope to enter the city unnoticed, with Goliath’s sword tucked under his belt? As it happens, David is quickly recognized (as Israel’s “king”! 21:11) and escapes death only by feigning insanity. He flees into the wilderness (cf. 22:1), and there he begins a training course in trust.”*
Once again I want to point out that stories in the Bible do not contain perfect ideal people, but real people. David was a real person who made real mistakes and sinned in this story.
“In the life of a believer, the wilderness is often just the place to learn bedrock trust. “When I am afraid,” writes David in a Psalm linked to his misadventure in Gath, “I put my trust in you” (Ps. 56:3). “What can man do to me?” (Ps. 56:11; cf. v. 4). Or, as the apostle Paul later writes, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31). The bedrock certainty of believers in Jesus is that we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Nothing in all creation—no hardship, no earthly or heavenly power, no extremity of life or death, no “Saul,” absolutely nothing—”will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).”*
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 22:6-19
To receive this Bible Study in your email CLICK HERE