The Story of 1 Samuel | David & The Consecrated Bread | 1 Samuel 21.1-6 |

by | Nov 6, 2020

“David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.” David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever[b] I set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.” 1 Samuel 21.1-6

This story is famous and is retold several times through the Old and New Testament. David eats the consecrated bread from the Tabernacle of the Lord on the Sabbath. Huge.

Now David arrives at Nob where the priest Ahimelek is residing and offering sacrifices to the Lord. But when David shows up by himself the priest trembled. Is it before he was afraid of David? A mighty warrior, renown throughout the land? Or was it because he knew something odd was going on for David to be by himself and not with his men or with the King?

So David makes up a story telling him he’s on a secret mission for the king and that “no one is to know anything about the mission.” And regarding his men, “I have told them to meet me at a certain place.” Plausible enough. But what David is really concerned about it food. He’s been sitting out side the feast at the kings court for days. If he’s had anything to eat it hasn’t been much and so now he asked the priest, “What do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” The “or whatever” just so happens to be the “bread of the Presence that had been removed before the Lord.”

Now as Christians, we see this as similar to the bread we celebrate in Holy Communion or the Eucharist which represents the Body of Christ. This bread that David was eating was said to be holy, consecrated before the Lord, intended for only those who had purified themselves and made themselves holy by abstaining from sexual relations and being made right before the Lord. This was no small thing. Warriors, or even common people, probably did not eat this bread. Only God’s chosen priests. One commentator writes, “Our Lord refers to this as an instance of the great principle that where moral and ceremonial obligations come into conflict, it is the latter which must give way, because the rite is only the means and the moral duty the end. The high priest was bound to preserve David’s life, even at the expense of a ceremonial rule.” (

David eating the bread of the Presence was not normally acceptable but as David was in need, and he was the Lord’s chosen, he was permitted to do so. It’s not lost on me how fitting a meal the consecrated bread is for a man like David who is after God’s heart.

We know the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus was his broken body and shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins. The sacrifice of Jesus justifies us and it’s up to us to choose this for ourselves. David partaking of this body of the Lord is symbolic of what is to come when we enjoy the Lord’s Presence in the Last Supper.

Not only was this bread essential for David to live, but it was necessary for the well being of his soul, just as the Body of Christ is necessary for ours.

“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for sustaining David’s life with your Presence. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and love. Help us to walk in step with you and be renewed by your Holy Spirit. I thank you Lord for blessings us in such a way that we might be strength and grace in our time of need. I love you Lord and praise you. You have my heart. You direct my life. You guide my steps. Come now and fill me with your Presence and your love. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen