1 Samuel 21:8
And David said to Ahimelech, And is there not here under your hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Spear or sword?—We may well suppose to what David pointed when he made his request—the famous sword, the trophy of the combat which had for ever made his name illustrious. In the first flush of gratitude to the invisible One who had stood by him in the hour of peril, he had doubtless taken and presented to the sanctuary guardians, as an offering to be kept for ever, a memorial of the victory of Israel over the uncircumcised; but now, in his hour of need and humiliation, he needed all the credentials he could gather together of his ability and power to lead men, so he trusts the priest will let him have his glorious prize back again. This seems to have been really the meaning of his petition to Ahimelech, and so evidently the priest understood David, for at once he suggested restoring the well-known, treasured sword. The sanctuary, he said, possesses no war weapon but that one which hangs up among us, a votive offering.

1 Samuel 21:8-9. The king’s business required haste — He pretended to Ahimelech, that the reason why he had not brought his sword or any weapon with him was, because he had not time to go to his house; the king pressing him to go immediately about his business. Wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod — That is, behind that holy place allotted for the keeping of the sacred, or priestly garments; all which are here comprehended under the ephod; which, as the chief, is put for all the rest. Here it was laid up as a sacred monument of God’s power and goodness. There is none like it — Because it not only served him for his use, for he was a strong and tall man, and one that could wield that sword; but it was also a pledge of God’s favour to him. Whenever he looked upon it, it would be a support to his faith, by reminding him of what God had already done.21:1-9 David, in distress, fled to the tabernacle of God. It is great comfort in a day of trouble, that we have a God to go to, to whom we may open our cases, and from whom we may ask and expect direction. David told Ahimelech a gross untruth. What shall we say to this? The Scripture does not conceal it, and we dare not justify it; it was ill done, and proved of bad consequence; for it occasioned the death of the priests of the Lord. David thought upon it afterward with regret. David had great faith and courage, yet both failed him; he fell thus foully through fear and cowardice, and owing to the weakness of his faith. Had he trusted God aright, he would not have used such a sorry, sinful shift for his own preservation. It is written, not for us to do the like, no, not in the greatest straits, but for our warning. David asked of Ahimelech bread and a sword. Ahimelech supposed they might eat the shew-bread. The Son of David taught from it, that mercy is to be preferred to sacrifice; that ritual observances must give way to moral duties. Doeg set his foot as far within the tabernacle as David did. We little know with what hearts people come to the house of God, nor what use they will make of pretended devotion. If many come in simplicity of heart to serve their God, others come to observe their teachers and to prove accusers. Only God and the event can distinguish between a David and a Doeg, when both are in the tabernacle.Detained before the Lord - Either to fulfill a vow Acts 21:23-27, or on account of uncleanness, or under the law of lepers Leviticus 13:4, Leviticus 13:11, Leviticus 13:21, or as a proselyte. It is not impossible that Doeg may have been in custody or in sanctuary for some crime. 7. Doeg, an Edomite—who had embraced the Hebrew religion.

detained before the Lord—at the tabernacle, perhaps, in the performance of a vow, or from its being the Sabbath, which rendered it unlawful for him to prosecute his journey.

the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul—Eastern monarchs anciently had large possessions in flocks and herds; and the office of the chief shepherd was an important one.

He left his weapons behind him, that he might with less suspicion remove from place to place, and hide himself from Saul and his spies.

The king’s business required haste; the message came to me when I was unarmed, and the business required so great expedition that I could not go home to fetch my weapons. And David said unto Ahimelech,.... After he had given him some of the loaves of the shewbread:

and is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? any weapon, meaning in the tabernacle, and in his keeping, and at his disposal; he knew the sword of Goliath was there, and perhaps had a principal view to it, and put this question in order to get that in his possession:

for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me; neither his sword, nor any part of his armour, but was come quite naked and unarmed and, as he pretended:

because the king's business required haste; still continuing his lie; whereas the true reason was, he was let down in haste by his wife through a window of his house, and could not stay to take his armour with him; and had lain hid for some time, and passed incognito from place to place, and without armour, that he might be the less known and observed, and least suspected; though it may seem strange that Jonathan had not provided him with a sword.

And David said unto Ahimelech, And is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? for I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 8, 9. - Is there not here under thine hand spear or sword? The sight of Doeg made David feel how helpless he was in case of attack, and he excuses his request for weapons by saying that he had left home unarmed because of the urgeney of the king's business. The whole matter must have seemed very suspicious to Ahimelech, but he was powerless, and answers that the only weapon in the sanctuary was David's own votive offering, the sword of Goliath, carefully deposited in a place of honour behind the ephod with the Urim and Thummim, and wrapped in a cloth for its protection. As the word is used in Isaiah 9:5 of military attire, it may mean Goliath's war mantle, but more probably it was a covering to preserve it from rust and damp. In 1 Samuel 17:54 it is said that Goliath's armour became David's private property, and nothing could be more natural than that he should thus lay up the sword in the tabernacle, as a thank offering to God. He now takes it with pleasure, saying, There is none like that; for it was a memorial of his greatest achievement, and might be the presage of good fortune again. DAVID SEEKS REFUGE WITH THE KING OF GATH (vers. 10-15). David at Nob. - The town of Nob or Nobeh (unless indeed the form נבה stands for נבה here and in 1 Samuel 22:9, and the ה attached is merely ה local, as the name is always written נב in other places: vid., 1 Samuel 22:11, 1 Samuel 22:19; 1 Samuel 21:1; Isaiah 10:32; Nehemiah 11:32) was at that time a priests' city (1 Samuel 22:19), in which, according to the following account, the tabernacle was then standing, and the legal worship carried on. According to Isaiah 10:30, Isaiah 10:32, it was between Anathoth (Anata) and Jerusalem, and in all probability it has been preserved in the village of el-Isawiyeh, i.e., probably the village of Esau or Edom, which is midway between Anata and Jerusalem, an hour from the latter, and the same distance to the south-east of Gibeah of Saul (Tell el Phul), and which bears all the marks of an ancient place, partly in its dwellings, the stones of which date from a great antiquity, and partly in many marble columns which are found there (vid., Tobler, Topogr. v. Jerusalem ii. p. 720). Hence v. Raumer (Pal. p. 215, ed. 4) follows Kiepert in the map which he has appended to Robinson's Biblical Researches, and set down this place as the ancient Nob, for which Robinson indeed searched in vain (see Pal. ii. p. 150). Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, most probably the same person as Ahiah (1 Samuel 14:3), was "the priest," i.e., the high priest (see at 1 Samuel 14:3). When David came to him, the priest "went trembling to meet him" (לקראת יחרד) with the inquiry, "Why art thou alone, and no one is with thee?" The unexpected appearance of David, the son-in-law of the king, without any attendants, alarmed Ahimelech, who probably imagined that he had come with a commission from the king which might involve him in danger. David had left the few servants who accompanied him in his flight somewhere in the neighbourhood, as we may gather from 1 Samuel 21:2, because he wished to converse with the high priest alone. Ahimelech's anxious inquiry led David to resort to the fabrication described in 1 Samuel 21:2 : "The king hath commanded me a business, and said to me, No one is to know anything of this matter, in which (lit. in relation to the matter with regard to which) I send thee, and which I have entrusted to thee (i.e., no one is to know either the occasion or the nature of the commission): and the servants I have directed to such and such a place." יודע, Poel, to cause to know, point, show. Ahimelech had received no information as yet concerning the most recent occurrences between Saul and David; and David would not confess to him that he was fleeing from Saul, because he was evidently afraid that the high priest would not give him any assistance, lest he should draw down the wrath of the king. This falsehood brought he greatest calamities upon Ahimelech and the priests at Nob (1 Samuel 22:9-19), and David was afterwards obliged to confess that he had occasioned it all (1 Samuel 22:22).
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