Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech--Nob, a city of the priests
was in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives--a little
north of the top, and on the northeast of the city. It is computed to
have been about five miles distant from Gibeah. Ahimelech, the same as
Ahiah, or perhaps his brother, both being sons of Ahitub (compare
with 1Sa 22:4-11, 20).
His object in fleeing to this place was partly for the supply of his
necessities, and partly for comfort and counsel, in the prospect of
leaving the kingdom.
Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David--suspecting some
extraordinary occurrence by his appearing so suddenly, and in such a
style, for his attendants were left at a little distance.
2. The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let
no man know--This was a direct falsehood, extorted through fear. David
probably supposed, like many other persons, that a lie is quite
excusable which is told for the sole purpose of saving the speaker's
life. But what is essentially sinful, can never, from circumstances,
change its immoral character; and David had to repent of this vice of
4. there is hallowed bread--There would be plenty of bread in his
house; but there was no time to wait for it. "The hallowed bread" was
the old shew-bread, which had been removed the previous day, and which
was reserved for the use of the priests alone
Before entertaining the idea that this bread could be lawfully given to
David and his men, the high priest seems to have consulted the oracle
as to the course to be followed in this emergency. A dispensation to
use the hallowed bread was specially granted by God Himself.
5. these three days--as required by law
David and his attendants seem to have been lurking in some of the
adjoining caves, to elude pursuit, and to have been, consequently,
reduced to great extremities of hunger.
the bread is in a manner common--that is, now that it is no longer
standing on the Lord's table. It is eaten by the priests, and may also,
in our circumstances, be eaten by us.
yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel--that is,
though the hallowed bread had been but newly placed on the vessel, the
ritual ordinance would have to yield to the great law of necessity and
mercy (see on
6. there was no bread there--in the tabernacle. The removal of the
old and the substitution of the new bread was done on the Sabbath
the loaves being kept warm in an oven heated the previous day.
7. Doeg, an Edomite--who had embraced the Hebrew religion.
detained before the Lord--at the tabernacle, perhaps, in the
performance of a vow, or from its being the Sabbath, which rendered it
unlawful for him to prosecute his journey.
the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul--Eastern monarchs
anciently had large possessions in flocks and herds; and the office of
the chief shepherd was an important one.
9. sword of Goliath--(See on
behind the ephod--in the place allowed for keeping the sacred
vestments, of which the ephod is mentioned as the chief. The giant's
sword was deposited in that safe custody as a memorial of the divine
goodness in delivering Israel.
There is none like that--not only for its size and superior temper,
but for its being a pledge of the divine favor to him, and a constant
stimulus to his faith.
10. David . . . fled . . . to Achish the king of Gath--which was one
of the five principalities of the Philistines. In this place his person
must have been known, and to venture into that country, he their
greatest enemy, and with the sword of Goliath in his hand, would seem
to have been a perilous experiment; but, doubtless, the protection he
received implies that he had been directed by the divine oracle. Achish
He might wish to weaken the resources of Saul, and it was common in
ancient times for great men to be harbored by neighboring princes.
13. feigned himself mad--It is supposed to have been an attack of
epilepsy, real or perhaps only pretended. This disease is relieved by
foaming at the mouth.
let his spittle fall down upon his beard--No wonder that Achish
supposed him insane, as such an indignity, whether done by another, or
one's self, to the beard, is considered in the East an intolerable