1 Samuel 21 & 2 Psalms: Have Faith in the Lord, not Fear in a Time of Desperation

Going in historical sequence through the Old Testament really helps us understand not just what was happening, but how David felt. Today we have the continuation of the David’s story and 2 psalms that go with it. The year is c. 1012 BC. Here, we really see what happens when fear and desperation set in and we start coming up with our own ideas rather than turning to God. Let’s dig in….

1 Samuel 21 – Holy Bread and Faking Insanity

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?”

“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. Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.”

“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.”

“Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when we are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!”

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.

Now Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman, was there that day, having been detained before the Lord.

David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

“I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

“There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!”

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?”

1 Samuel 21 NLT

1 Samuel 22

So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming—men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented—until David was the captain of about 400 men.

1 Samuel 22: 1-2 NLT
  • David first deceives the priest — twice. He’s living a life of the persecuted — a life on the run. He’s not thinking clearly. Really, why would he go to the enemy?
  • Overcoming fear is an act of will. Who’s will? Yours or God’s? Are you operating out of fear or faith?
  • Of all places, he goes to Goliath’s hometown, Gath, carrying the giant’s sword! Of course, he was recognized! Was that a wise thing to do?
  • He does manage to escape and goes to hide in a cave where his brothers and family soon join him.
  • What about eating the consecrated bread? Well, Jesus brings up this very story when confronted by the Pharisees. We find that story in Matthew 12 as well as Luke 6 and Mark 2…

At about that time Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, your disciples are breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.”

Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and he and his companions broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. And haven’t you read in the law of Moses that the priests on duty in the Temple may work on the Sabbath? I tell you, there is one here who is even greater than the Temple! But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ [Hosea 6:6] For the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

Matthew 12:1-8 NLT

The need was above the letter of the law. We are not supposed to put rituals above human needs. The human need right now is SALVATION not rituals!

Psalm 34

A psalm of David, regarding the time he pretended to be insane in front of Abimelech, who sent him away.

BTW, this psalm is a Hebrew acrostic poem; each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Writing it like this made it easy for people to memorize it. Have you memorized any Bible verses? Is so, let me know in the comments below.

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
    let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
    let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
    He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
    no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
    he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
    for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
    but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
    and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
    that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
    and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
    Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
    his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
    he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
    He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
    but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
    not one of them is broken!

21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
    No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Psalm 34 NLT

I love these Psalms!

  • The Lord is good!
  • He sends angels to watch over us!
  • But we need to FEAR THE LORD! That is, respect Him. Recognize His awesomeness. You will have all you need! That’s what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that I quote all the time.
  • Sure, we’ll have troubles, but God rescues us. He is our refuge.
  • He lifts the spirits of the brokenhearted.
  • The wicked will get theirs. We see that a lot in the psalms and Proverbs as well. You’d think they’d get the idea. But, then again, if they read the Bible like you’re supposed to — daily — they wouldn’t be wicked, would they?
  • Verse 20 is a Messianic verse and is quoted by John because none of Jesus’ bones were broken. The Roman soldiers were breaking the legs of the crucified men, but when they got to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead. Thus, this prophetic verse was fulfilled.
  • We will be redeemed! When we sincerely come to the Lord and surrender our lives to Him, He promises that we will NOT be condemned! (No purgatory!)

Psalm 56

To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Silent Dove in Distant Lands.” A Michtam (song) of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.

Some scholars say that “the silent dove in distant lands” is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is far from His Heavely home. He works silently in the hearts of true, born-again believers, yet His ministry is both powerful and strategic.

Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up;
Fighting all day he oppresses me.
My enemies would hound me all day,
For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

All day they twist my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather together,
They hide, they mark my steps,
When they lie in wait for my life.
Shall they escape by iniquity?
In anger cast down the peoples, O God!

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.
10 In God (I will praise His word),
In the Lord (I will praise His word),
11 In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
13 For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?

Psalm 56 NKJV

The best verse here is verse 11: “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Also, He bottles our tears (v.8)! He knows when we are sad and hurting. He knows when we are mourning, when we are sad, when we are depressed. David then praises God. When you’re praising God, you can’t be sad! When you’re praising God, you can’t feel depressed or hopeless!

The last verse is another Messianic one: “For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”

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Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

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