Show Bread or No Bread?
“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. No therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.” 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.” (I Samuel 21:2-4).
Have you ever been on your way to church and you see a homeless person on the corner of the freeway exit with a sign asking for food? You have money in your wallet for the tithes and offerings but perhaps not much more. You want to help, but you also want to fulfill your duty to your church. You pray, “Lord, please send someone to help this person. Please provide a way for them to have a warm breakfast.” You feel better after your prayer and continue on to church. You place your tithes in the offering and think that you have done the right thing. However, let us examine the scripture to see how we ought to respond.
In David’s day, twelve consecrated show breads were baked and set apart for use in the tabernacle every Sabbath. This bread was only to be eaten by priests and no one else. When David was on the run from Saul, he traveled to Nob “the city of priests”, about one mile northeast of Jerusalem, to request supplies, comfort, and counsel. David spoke with Ahimelech, the priest, and requested food for himself. Ahimelech only had show bread on hand. Ahimelech sought the Lord and received approval (I Sam 22:10) from the Lord to provide David five loaves of show bread. Ahimelech understood that his duty to preserve David’s life superseded the ceremonial regulation and restrictions concerning who could eat the consecrated bread.
Jesus made a similar choice when his disciples were hungry. “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!’” (Matthew 12:1-2). Jesus rebukes the self-righteous Pharisees by recounting them the story of David and the show bread. Jesus allowed His disciples to fulfill their physical need by allowing them to pick grain to eat on the Sabbath over obeying the ceremonial law of the Sabbath.
When we recognize a need from our fellow brother/neighbor/stranger and we have the means to help, we should not allow anything to dissuade us from reaching out our hand. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.” (Pro 3:27) It is clear from scripture and the words of Jesus that physical needs outweigh ceremonies and religious practices. Remember that God is sovereign and He has placed you in the right place, at the right time, with the right means to help those that are in need. So the next time you want to save that help (financial, time, etc.) for church activities, maybe you need to give it freely to that person you see right in front of you in need.
Fellow Bond Servant in Christ – Daryl Kas