Morning Light – May 26th, 2015
Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Twenty-One]: More Critical than God? Are modern Christians more critical than God? Would David be accepted by modern Christian leadership? In this chapter David flees Saul to the city of Nob. He meets with Ahimelech the high priest and doesn’t tell the truth about why he is there. He then pressures Ahimelech to give him holy bread to eat – a direct violation of Moses’ law. There are many contradictions in David’s character that revealed themselves through the whole of his life. Yet there is no man in human history to have walked in greater favor from God than David. Would David be accepted today after a record of running in fear, and lying, and cheating and ultimately in his lifetime committing adultery and murder? Yet ultimately God’s judgment of David was that he was a man after His own heart.
[1Sa 21:1-15 KJV] 1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why [art] thou alone, and no man with thee? 2 And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed [my] servants to such and such a place. 3 Now therefore what is under thine hand? give [me] five [loaves of] bread in mine hand, or what there is present. 4 And the priest answered David, and said, [There is] no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.
In the previous chapter David flees from Saul’s house being warned by Saul’s son Jonathan that his life is at risk. David flees and comes to the city of Nob. There are two places in the bible named Nob and it is assumed that the one he comes to is the city about 12 miles from Jerusalem. Nob means “high place”. When you are fleeing from your enemy where do you go? Samuel lived in Ramah which also means “high place”. Eph. 2:6 says we are seated in heavenly places in Christ. When you are under pressure do you get depressed and fearful? Are you full of anxiety – or do you go to the high place. Rev. 1:8 says that the fearful lead the abominable and murders and adulterers into the abyss. The implication here is that fear is a punishable sin. In our culture we treat fear as an unchangeable defect that should be treated. In a biblical world view fear is something that you are to deal with just as you would temptation. When you are under pressure – go to the high place. Develop an ascension mentality.
One question as well is it wrong to run from your enemy? In Matt. 10:23 Jesus said when they persecute you in one place flee to the other. This was a big issue in the early church. Were the early believers to stand and face persecution and death or flee to other places in order to survive? Those who refused to flee became and survived persecution became known as “Confessors” because they continued to profess Christ under torture. The Confessors were very powerful and influential in the church and they refused to allow those who yielded under torture or those who fled to come back into the church. At long last the bishops decided that the “lapsi” or “lapsed” as they called those who fled could come back into the church but only after rebaptism and acts of penance. Now this had far reaching consequences because from that time forward those out of favor with the church were required to perform acts of penance down to this day. Abuses of this practice were what launched the Protestant reformation. Even in our “enlightened” and “full gospel” circles we often require those who have failed in their faith to serve a period of probation before being allowed to re-enter the fellowship or leadership. Is this biblical? David later in his life committed cold blooded murder and the crown never left his head for one day. When the standards we set are higher than the scriptures themselves we get ourselves into trouble. Back to Jesus’ statement about fleeing persecution. Was David wrong? This brings up many questions but nonetheless from a biblical standpoint David is not wrong – even though as a result of his action at Nob 80 people will shortly be brutally murdered.
David approaches Ahimelech the priest asking for bread. Ahimelech questions why David is traveling alone and David obfuscates suggesting he is on an errand for the king. Ahimelech doesn’t question him further but tells David that the only bread he has is the showbread from off the table of showbread in the holy place. David and the young men with him are not of the priesthood and therefore not qualified to partake of this bread. David presses Ahimelech and Ahimelech is willing to compromise just so the young men with David and David himself have not had sexual relations in the last three days (according to the law of Moses).
5 And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women [have been] kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and [the bread is] in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. 6 So the priest gave him hallowed [bread]: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away. 7 Now a certain man of the servants of Saul [was] there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name [was] Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that [belonged] to Saul. 8 And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste. 9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it [is here] wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take [it]: for [there is] no other save that here. And David said, [There is] none like that; give it me.
When David answers Ahimelech it seems to be a plain lie. His purpose was not to reveal to Ahimelech that he is fleeing from Saul. We cannot condone a lie but was David wrong in not wanting to hide the facts? Did not Ahimelech have a right to know what he was getting himself into by receiving David? The fact is that because David hid the truth 80 people died just a few days later. If one of our own leaders lied and cheated to save his own skin and 80 people were murdered as a result – would that leader have any credibility in our eyes? Yet David was a man after God’s on heart and God’s anointed king. Sometimes we are more critical than God. Sometimes we judge by a higher standard the bible itself.
In our day public disclosure is one of the pillars of popular culture. We think if something is true and important and interesting we have a right to know it under the heading of “Freedom of Information”. What about your own personal information? Many times we get ourselves into trouble. David could have spilled the whole story to Ahimelech. We do this many times. We tell our friends, our fellow church members, co-workers, family members, school mates everything that is going on our lives because we are under pressure and want to be heard. This often greatly compounds our difficulty. We need to learn to be gathers of information and not dispensers of information.
10 And David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said unto him, [Is] not this David the king of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances, saying, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands? 12 And David laid up these words in his heart, and was sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and 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 mad: wherefore [then] 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? shall this [fellow] come into my house?
Eventually David flees to the protection of Achish a Philistine king. He actually becomes a mercenary fighting for Achish against the king’s enemies other than Israel. Even here the Philistines are about to find him out and he publically feigns madness again in order to save his own skin. As a leader judged by today’s hypocritical standards David would never ascend to power. He would never be accepted by the puritanical and hypocritical standards in the current leadership climate in Christian culture. Throughout his life David never matures out of these tactics. He mellows and becomes more thoughtful but in times of pressure he seldom responds in alignment with modern standards of good character and leadership. Once he becomes king he dresses up in a priests ephod without proper modicum and exposes himself dancing before the people. He hijacks the ark of the covenant and openly displays it in his own backyard in Zion to the offense of all the priests and Levites on Mount Moriah. He shames himself in the matter of Bathsheba yet never goes through any remedial or probationary period – but continues without interruption to rule as king.
What is to be our response to this? David is a liar, a cheat, a thief and a murderer. He goes through life unchecked and unpunished by human authorities yet he remains the quintessential archetype of Jesus himself. What are we to make of this? Jesus Himself carries the primary title “Son of David”. Does this mean that it doesn’t matter what we do? Is there no standard of holiness or ethics? Certainly not. However in the same breath it gives us pause when we see leaders who are judged, rejected, set aside and nullified for offenses much less than anything that David did. The core accusation of the world against Christian culture is that the church is judgmental. In all of that we rail back in response that we serve a holy God who requires unimpeachable perfection of His servants. Really? Does the life of David not give us pause? No man in all of history experienced more favor than King David did from the hand of God. Yet David was a man very flawed and imperfect. David would have never been accepted on any basis even as a member of our churches not to mention a leader of any kind. Again as evangelist AA Allen observed once “some people are more critical than God Himself….” Let us choose NOT to be among that august and Pharisaical crowd.
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