1 Samuel 21:1-5 (NKJV)

1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one is with you?” 2 So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. 3 Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” 4 And the priest answered David and said, “ There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women.” 5 Then David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.”

It seems unusual that a prominent man like David would wonder alone around the villages of judea,so Ahimelech was afraid because he could feel that there was something wrong

It seems David lied to the priest Ahimelech because from {1 Samuel 20} David was on the run alone from Saul,since he left in a hurry he could not have taken any servants, he came to Nob in {1 Samuel 21} & mostly likely lied to Ahimelech about his companions because he feared that he might alarm the priest if he discovered that he was alone, so he pretended that he was on the king's business, but the king could not have sent him without an escort.He left Ahimelech after getting the Showbread &:went to king Achish of Gath alone where he feigned madness,it was only in { 1 Samuel 22} that he managed to gather around himself some men at the cave adullum

Now this brings in Mark

Mark 2:25-26 (NKJV)

25 But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?”

I don't know how to reconcile the above text of Mark 2, since he attributes it to Christ. maybe somebody could have another source of information to augment.

  • I've made some edits (mostly just tagging, but also title) to make it clear you are focusing on the New Testament text and how it can be reconciled with the Hebrew Bible text. If you were asking about the Hebrew Bible text, that is a second question (and the NT is anachronistic to it). – Dan Dec 4 '16 at 20:33
  • Collen, I completely misanswered your question. I read it quite late at night and didn't read very carefully at all. You should have down voted my answer :) – user15733 Dec 5 '16 at 15:15

This is the third in a sequence of questions: [ESV throughout]

And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (2:16)

Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” (2:18)

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (2:23-24)

Each question concerns eating and application of Jewish Law:

  1. Is it against the law to eat with certain people?
  2. Is it against the law not to fast?
  3. Is it against the law to pluck heads of grain on the Sabbath?

In each case, Jesus did not give a direct answer; He responded with a midrash which according to His halakha resolved the question of whether He broke the Law. Since He is responding as a typical rabbi His answer is not necessarily meant to be taken literally. Instead the principles within the example are meant to illustrate the principles to be applied as His answer.

The example Jesus used raises other questions: Who named the wrong priest in Mark 2:26?, How does Jesus' argument from David and the showbread work?. However in terms of David being alone, there is no conflict. The High Priest understood the Bread of the Presence from the previous Sabbath which, according to the Law could only be eaten by priests, would be eaten by David’s men. In other words, on the Sabbath (the day the old bread was replaced) the High Priest made an exception to the Law because he understood David’s men were hungry. The fact David lied about the others is not part of the equation for the High Priest's decision. Thus, as the High Priest made exception to the Law on the Sabbath; Jesus can make exception to the Law on the Sabbath.

Unlike the first two questions Jesus goes beyond giving an answer:

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (2:27-28)

Therefore the "answer" Jesus gives can be understood in one of two ways:

  1. Just as the High Priest determined who may take the Bread of the Presence on the Sabbath, the Son of Man who is Lord of the Sabbath determines who may take grain on the Sabbath.
  2. Just as the High Priest had the authority to override the written Law, the Son of Man who is the Lord of the Sabbath has the authority to override the oral interpretation of the written Law.
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Three parallel passages in the Gospels relate to this:

Matthew 12:1-4

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

Mark 2:23-26

Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” But He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?

Luke 6:1-5

Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. And some of the Pharisees said to them, “Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?” But Jesus answering them said, “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” And He said to them, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”

All three recount Jesus stating that David was not alone, so it is not a case of one Gospel account being inconsistent.

I am not sure the argument for why David had to have been alone is completely sound. One way or another, David is certainly lying. We know from what preceded that the king (Saul) most certainly did not order him on some business. It would seem from 1 Samuel 22:20ff that his primary concern was hiding from Ahimelech his purpose so that Saul would not be warned. This task would have been next to impossible had David appeared to Ahimelech armed and with soldiers. It is true that in ch. 22 we learn that his brothers and his father's house went down to him, but this does not preclude others from having already been with him at that time.

It seems that both Jewish and Christian interpreters understood that David was lying about being alone. I haven't been able to find any Talmudic commentaries about David's truthfulness in 1 Samuel 21:3 per se, but a footnote in the Oxford Jewish Study Bible reads, "In order to obtain food David lies to Ahimelech." John Cassian (360-435) presents a justification for David's having lied in his Conferences (XVII.18.1-2).

Jesus' statements in the Gospels further reflect (to me, at least) that it was well understood that David was not completely alone at the time he spoke with Ahimelech.

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I'd suggest that Jesus is invoking David's context: he was the true king of Israel, on the run from the one who was currently on the throne (Saul). Jesus is saying, I am the true king of Israel, and you lot (the Pharisees) are chasing me around just like Saul chased David. The point is not the particulars of the story, but the way Jesus invokes the story.

Jesus sort of took the opportunity to draw this parallel for them; the direct response to their accusation is in verses 27 and 28.

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It is only an apparent contradiction because modern theologians confess that they cannot read the Old Testament the way Jesus and the NT authors did. The solution is actually in Mk 12:20-25.

Jesus used an interpretive method that combines pictures of the Messiah as though they were transparencies stacked on top of each other. This is called 'drash' in the ancient Hebrew hermeneutic.

In Genesis, there are 7 men who have seven wives. He saw that he could interpret that as seven different pictures of the Messiah and his bride, or combine them into one picture of the Messiah and his bride.

The taunters changed his teaching and made a dirty joke. Now seven men had one woman. They perverted his hermeneutic.

All the pictures of the Messiah fleeing are one picture. Moses had all of Israel with him. Baby Jesus had his parents with him. In this case, the lie of David paints the picture of those with him, even though there was no one literally with him, in the same way that the taint of Mary as a prostitute contribute to the prostitute-virgin that so many other women contribute to. She was not literally a prostitute, but the word play and imagery builds up the pattern.

Rebeccah was uncovered with the servant. Leah played the prostitute with Rachel as the virgin. Gomer was a prostitute that named her son "God sows"as a hint in prophetic riddle of the virgin.

Unfamiliarity with the hermeneutical methods of Jesus and the apostles causes many such apparent contradictions.

The final fulfillment is Christ who has his spiritual seed in him, as Abraham had his literal seed in him.. and Adam.

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