The Family Festival
1 Samuel 20:6
If your father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city…

The word in this verse rendered "sacrifice" is in the margin of our English Bible rendered with somewhat greater felicity "feast." There comes to view, therefore, in the narrative an unusually interesting fact; namely, that the family of Jesse continued to keep up their residence in Bethlehem, and carefully observed the household festivals through the year, as in earlier days they had been accustomed. The members of that scattered circle summoned each other regularly to a social reunion annually.


1. Of course, first and chief of these is the consideration that for all God's love and care for us there is due at least full acknowledgment of the hand which has given them to us. "Count up your mercies." A day in each year is surely not too much to be given to this formal rehearsal before God of our plentiful gains and prosperities.

2. In the second place, there is manifest advantage in these annual festivals growing out of the cultivation of our domestic affections and the perpetuation of our home tastes and feelings. It mingles religion with our best sympathies. He cannot be called a manly man who did not feel himself a weaker man from the month when his praying mother died and was buried, or who does not feel himself a braver, better man, if now perhaps the beloved old voice still lives to be his counsel and his inspiration.

3. Again: there is a manifest advantage in these thanksgiving festivals found in the perpetuation of ancestral memories to which they are calculated most strongly to minister. It is instinctive in the heart of every true man and woman to desire to live beyond the limits of an immediate generation. We toil hard for many a season to keep our name unsullied and preserve our fair fame unstained for the sake of our offspring.

4. And this leads me on to mention a fourth advantage derived from this annual feast; namely, the opportunity it offers for kindling and quickening a true patriotism in the hearts of the people.

II. With this exhibition of manifest advantages I CAN HARDLY NEED TO ARGUE FURTHER FOR SUCH OBSERVANCE OF THE DAY. If we go with David at all on his errand, it must be in imagination only. And I think it will be profitable now to ask and answer where he did go.

1. To his own city.

2. In the second place, I suppose David went straight as was possible to his own home in Bethlehem.

3. Then, finally, I imagine David would want to go to various houses of his brethren. I take this from the fact that this day's invitation was given by his brother.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.

WEB: If your father miss me at all, then say, 'David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city; for it is the yearly sacrifice there for all the family.'

Christmas and New Year Festivities
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