"In effect" is fine, although I prefer the KJV here:
And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women
have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out,
the vessels [genitals] of the young men are holy,
and the bread is in a manner
yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
In other words, David is saying "it's just bread, but we are people". Moreover, David's men were, in his eyes, holy, because they had been set apart by God to fulfill an important mission.
So he is pointing out that the Bread of the Presence is a symbol, and it would be just bread even if it was sanctified today
David, unlike the pharisees that would follow him, was not confused about what was a symbol of God's presence and what actually was God's presence, most likely because he had experienced God's presence (Psalm 16.8-9).
It is always those who never experience the real thing that end up worshipping the symbols.
The subsequent justifications by various medieval rabbis to try to say that David was honoring traditions because of some loophole is a proof that they have not yet learned the lessons that David already learned about the difference between a symbol and the thing it represents.
This is why this passage is cited by Christ to the pharisees when they accuse his followers of gleaning on the Sabbath (Mark 2.23-28). Again, Christ understands the purpose of the Sabbath is to be at rest in your inner self, that is, to not try to win salvation with your own works (Heb 4.10). But by inventing all these rules in order to "keep" the Sabbath, the Pharisees were the ones who were trying to even keep the Sabbath by "works"!, and thus they failed to keep the Sabbath, whereas Christ and his disciples were the ones keeping the Sabbath by being confident that they were right with God as they were with Christ. Thus they were the ones at rest, whereas the Pharisees were laboring.
Similarly David, by taking food and weapons from the Temple, was honoring the Presence of God because that presence was much more in his genitals (vessels) than in the bread of the temple, as the Messiah would come from his line, and not from the bread placed on the table. In comparison to him and his men, the bread was common, and they were honoring God's presence by eating it, just as Jesus' followers kept the Sabbath even though they gleaned and ate.
 The bread was sanctified and then kept on the table for a week and then removed from the table and eaten by the Priests. Thus it was considered "holy" when it was first put on the table, and then afterwards it was considered common when it was removed from the table and eaten. (Lev 24.8-9)
 Some expressed shock and dismay that references to the young men's cli -- receptacles, equipment, jewels, instruments, cups, etc -- could be a euphemism for genitals when used as a response to a question if the young men had been with women.
I guess these readers think the priest was inquiring if the young men were cooking with the women and thus might have dirty pots. Or maybe it was their swords - perhaps they slew a pig on the way and so had unclean swords. Or perhaps it was their clothes -- they forgot to undress before having sex and so had emissions of semen all over their clothes!
Now there are many Biblical euphemisms for genitalia such as feet, mandrakes, thigh, etc. and it is very useful for exegesis to understand these euphemisms. E.g. here is the Cornerstone commentary:
“The vessels” (kele- [3627, 3998]) has been understood as a reference
to weapons, clothing, or euphemistically as a reference to the male
Vannoy, J. R. (2009). Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1-2 Samuel (Vol. 4, p. 196). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
The detection of euphemisms is determined primarily by context, and here the issue is the abstinence of the young men. That's not a proof that genitals were referenced - after all, maybe Ruth really did just uncover Boaz's feet - but I think you have a richer exegesis if you keep the euphemisms in mind.