Through the Bible in a Year: 1 Samuel 21-25

This Week’s Readings

Monday, May 14: 1 Samuel 1-5
Tuesday, May 15: 1 Samuel 6-10
Wednesday, May 16: 1 Samuel 11-15
Thursday, May 17: 1 Samuel 16-20
Friday, May 18: 1 Samuel 21-25

Monday, May 21, we’ll finish 1 Samuel by reading chapters 26 through 31.

The overall year’s plan is here.

1 Samuel 21

David lies to Ahimelech the priest about his mission, not telling him that he’s fleeing from Saul. Ahimelech gives him yesterday’s (v.6) showbread from the table that is before the Lord, which indicates that the tabernacle must have been there in Nob.

The exact location of Nob has not been found, and it may never be, because it may have just been a camp of priests. It was, however, within eyesight of Jerusalem (Isa. 10:32) and near Anathoth, which is just 2-1/2 miles north of Jerusalem.

I’ve mentioned repeatedly the flexibility with which God treats his favored ones, emphasizing the importance of faith and relationship with God. This incident, where David and those with him eat of the showbread, which is normally only allowed to the priest, is cited by Jesus himself as evidence of the same thing. The Pharisees complained that Jesus’ disciples were picking heads of grain on the Sabbath and eating them, and Jesus appeals to this story, then accuses the Pharisees of condemning the guiltless (Matt. 12:1-8).

1 Samuel 22

The cave of Adullam was a cave or caves near the city of Adullam, which was west of Jerusalem toward the land of the Philistines.

Note the people that joined David there:

Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. (v. 2a, NASB)

David is not just a prophet, but often a type [a figurative representation] of Christ. We sometimes wonder if it is okay to come to Christ out of our desperation, and this passage signifies for us that fleeing to Christ is a perfectly acceptable way to come to him.

We don’t clean ourselves up for Christ. We repent of our ways, whether out of wisdom or despair, and flee to him so that he can clean us up.

Verse 4 mentions that David was in a stronghold. The story doesn’t tell us where. Some commentators seem to assume that was Mizpeh in Moab, which was a fortified city. Others think that the stronghold might be the cave of Adullam. Others think that he may have moved from stronghold to stronghold (ref).

The story of Doeg the Edomite and the slaying of Abiathar’s family is dreadful. David wrote a Psalm about it, which is Psalm 52.

1 Samuel 23

The ephod was a priestly garment, and the priest’s breastplate hung on it. On the breastplate was the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30), which the Israelites used to obtain answers from God, similar to casting lots, though no one knows exactly how that was done.

The breastplate is not specifically mentioned with the ephod, but the ephod is often tied to obtaining answers from God and to the Urim and Thummim. Thus, because the breastplate was hung on the ephod, anyway, it’s probably safe to assume all such references to the ephod include the breastplate as part of it.

The Wilderness of Ziph was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem. The Wilderness of Maon was south of Ziph. After escaping Saul in Maon, David goes to En-gedi, which is to the east on the shores of the Dead Sea.

1 Samuel 24

It’s probably important to remember as we read this story that Saul may have been going insane by this time, and he was still plagued by the evil spirit that the Lord had sent him as judgment. The switch back and forth from rage to repentance to rage to repentance that we have been reading about, and will continue to read about, is a symptom of his insanity. I’m very curious about what it would have been like to see the king at that time.

1 Samuel 25

The Wilderness of Paran is even further south than the Wilderness of Maon. It’s almost down to the Sea of Arabia at the top of the Sinai peninsula.

The story of Nabal is obviously set in a very different culture than ours. Gift giving, care for travelers and the displaced, polygamy … these are all addressed here in a cultural setting that is not ours.

The name Nabal means fool. Was that really his name? Some set of parents really named their child "Fool"? Or was a name assigned to him as the story was told because the ones who told the historian the story couldn’t remember his name? We have no way of answering such questions, but I think it’s important to remember that these stories were told word of mouth for years before someone wrote them down.

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