Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 21

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-15

1 Samuel 21:1-6 David Eats the Shewbread - Jesus refers to this story in the Gospels (Matthew 12:3-4, Mark 2:25-26).

Matthew 12:3-4, “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?”

Mark 2:25-26, “And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?”

1 Samuel 21:1 Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech was afraid at the meeting of David, and said unto him, Why art thou alone, and no man with thee?

1 Samuel 21:1 Comments - Note that the Tabernacle and high priest were no longer in Shiloh. It appears from Scripture that Shiloh lost its place as the center of worship after the ark was removed and taken by the Philistines during the time of Eli and his two sons. Shiloh had been the place of worship from the time of Joshua (1400 B.C.) until the time of Eli and his sons (1050 B.C.).

The tabernacle is now located at Nob, even though the ark was still at rest in Kirjath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1).

1 Samuel 7:1, “And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.”

1 Samuel 21:4 And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women.

1 Samuel 21:4 Comments - The laws on the shewbread are discussed in Exodus 25:30, “And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.”

1 Samuel 21:9 And the priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod: if thou wilt take that, take it: for there is no other save that here. And David said, There is none like that; give it me.

1 Samuel 21:9 “The sword of Goliath the Philistine” - Comments - The Scriptures do not record how this sword made its way to Nob, where the Tabernacle was now erected. It evidently had been dedicated to the Lord after David defeated Goliath. When David was king, he dedicated the spoil to the Lord by putting them in the treasury.

2 Samuel 8:11, “Which also king David did dedicate unto the LORD, with the silver and gold that he had dedicated of all nations which he subdued;”

1 Chronicles 26:27, “Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD.”

2 Chronicles 15:18, “And he brought into the house of God the things that his father had dedicated, and that he himself had dedicated, silver, and gold, and vessels.”

Other people, especially the kings of Judah, dedicated spoils to the Lord.

Judges 17:3, “And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.”

2 Chronicles 24:7, “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.”

2 Chronicles 31:12, “And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.”

Note that when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant, they also dedicated it to their god by placing it the temple of Dagon. They also took Saul's armour and dedicated it in the house of Ashtaroth.

1 Samuel 5:2, “When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.”

1 Samuel 31:10, “And they put his armour in the house of Ashtaroth: and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan.”

1 Samuel 21:13 And he changed his behaviour before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down upon his beard.

1 Samuel 21:13 Comments - In developed countries, mad men are usually locked up in institutions. However, in underdeveloped nations, it is common to see crazy people walking the streets.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 21". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.