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Did Jesus claim in Mark 2:23-26 that telling lies to get food is justified when 'hungry' (πεινάω)?

He [Jesus] said to them, “Have you never read what David [Δαβίδ] did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him (καὶ αὐτὸς ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε τί ἐποίησεν Δαβίδ, ὅτε χρείαν ἔσχεν καὶ ἐπείνασεν αὐτός καὶ οἱ μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ)
  • Jesus (like David in 1 Samuel 21) needs to find food to feed those with him. Jesus decides to validate breaking sabbath law for feeding his men, by referencing the overlooked sins (telling lies about King Shaul) which David commited to find food for those with him:
how he [David] went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar [error: "Achimelek", 1 Samuel 21:2-4] 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?

In order to feed those with him, David violates God's prohibition against telling lies (Exodus 20:13) to attain showbread from אֲחִימֶלֶךְ "Achimelek" (1 Samuel 21:2-4) by stating false reports about King שָׁאוּל Shaul.

  • Please note : This question is Not asking if Jesus claimed David spoke directly with אֲחִימֶלֶךְ "Achimelek" [1 Samuel 21] or Ἀβιάθαρ "Abiathar" [Mark 2:26].

Jesus references David's use of lies to gain prohibited food to validate his own disciples' violation of Sabbath labor laws to gain food.

[QUESTION] : Based on Jesus' Grainfield Logic in [Mark 2:23-26], What level of hunger is accepted by Jesus for people (like David/Disciples) to break God's commandments for food?

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  • I'm really confused about the premise of this question. Jesus doesn't say anything about lies. Why do you think he was trying to teach about lying?
    – Steve can help
    Apr 28, 2022 at 19:28
  • @SteveTaylor - In [Mark 2:23-26], Jesus sets a new standard for nullifying torah if a person is hungry by validating the permissible lies of David (when hungry) to eat showbread. | What level of hunger is accepted by Jesus for people to break God's commandments for food? Apr 28, 2022 at 21:42
  • That's you importing something that you personally see as relevant/valid into the text, though. Jesus doesn't mention it, as far as I can tell. How did you conclude that angle was on Jesus' mind at all when he spoke about this? Are you actually interested in understanding what Jesus is trying to communicate in this passage, or are you trying to force him to talk about something else entirely?
    – Steve can help
    Apr 28, 2022 at 21:48
  • @SteveTaylor - Jesus' question in [Mark 2:25] "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry"... references the lie David told about Shaul to get food, because David was hungry = Disciples were hungry and broke Sabbath law for food. | Because David's actions validate Jesus' Disciples, what degree of hunger would constitute innocent lawbreaking. Apr 28, 2022 at 23:00
  • How can we conclude that Jesus words are a reference to a lie, when he does not mention a lie, and specifically focuses on a different specific action of David? I feel like you have missed the point that Jesus is trying to make. Consider including the whole passage in your question so that the context of Jesus' words are clear.
    – Steve can help
    Apr 28, 2022 at 23:14

2 Answers 2

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23 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. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 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?” 27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2 KNJV)

Jesus is recounting an historical event (cf. 1 Samuel 21:1-9); nowhere does He indicate approval, or disapproval of David's action. Rather, He is inviting the Pharisees to consider their criticism of His failure to control His disciples in the light of how the High Priest responded to David's request.

There are several questions about understanding how Jesus used this event:

However, lying to obtain food is not something Jesus is teaching about or using.

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  • The purpose then of Mark 2:23-26 is modeling Achimelek’s mercy to break Torah [Leviticus 24:9] in order to feed the hungry? Apr 29, 2022 at 2:17
  • @חִידָה I believe Jesus is responding to the Pharisees misinterpretation of the Torah as they apply it to what disciples of Jesus are doing on the Sabbath. The focus is not on hunger or the actions of the hungry; it is on the person who has the authority to decide what is permitted on the Sabbath. Apr 30, 2022 at 17:11
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Mark 2:27-28 NASB Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 5:6 NASB “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 6:35 NASB

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

What makes scripture so believable is that God does not hide behind man’s sin. The fact that David lies should not surprise anyone. It is used to train and equip God’s people. 2 Timothy 3:16

What we can learn from this story?

1.Jesus sets the priority of the Sabbath. 2.The high priest can be deceived 3.There was bread not lawful to eat 4.The law was broken 5.David was not alone 6.He was hungry 7.Jesus is Lord

Hunger and thirst are key in understanding the gospel.

Matthew 5:6 NASB “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Luke 15:15-17 NASB So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

What level of hunger justified David telling lies to get food?

David choose what kind of food he was to eat but he was not able to choose his appetite.

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