I hope you’re beginning to see the clear parallels between my life and yours. Like it was for me, a throne is God’s purpose for you (1 Peter 2:9-12), a cross is his path for you (Matt. 10:37-39), and faith is his plan for you (2 Cor. 5:7).
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
After Jonathon and I parted, I went to the village of Nob where the Tabernacle had been relocated when the Philistines attacked and defeated the Israelites at Shiloh. As you may recall, Eli the priest and his two sons were killed that day and the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. Shortly before this time, Samuel had been elevated to the position of Israel’s Prophet, and God had warned him that this would happen. It was a judgment against Eli for letting his sons make a mockery of the Lord’s offering. While the Ark was soon returned to the Israelites because of the trouble the Philistines experienced while they had it (a fascinating story in its own right) the Tabernacle had remained at Nob. (1 Sam. 2-6)
Ahimelech was the priest in charge now and he trembled visibly when he saw me at his door. Obviously, word of my problems with Saul had preceded me and Ahimelech was afraid for his life. To protect him in case Saul found out I had been there, I made up a story about the king sending me on such an urgent mission that I hadn’t had time to pack food or even a sword. I asked him if he had any bread.
“I only have the Bread of the Presence left over from yesterday,” he replied. “If you and your men have kept yourselves from women, you can have it.”
If you’re not Jewish, I’ll need to explain a couple of things here to help you understand. First, the Bread of the Presence consisted of 12 loaves baked fresh every morning and placed on a table in the Holy Place. (It was the larger of the two rooms in the Tabernacle. The smaller one was called the Holy of Holies.) There was one loaf for each tribe, a continuing sign of our gratitude to the Lord for providing our daily bread. When it was replaced the next morning by a new supply, the day old bread was available for the priests to eat. In the name of human kindness, Ahimelech decided he could give the Bread to us, even though it was technically illegal, as long as we were ceremonially clean. Later on Jesus would use this incident to remind the Pharisees that there are exceptions to the Law, even on the Sabbath. (Matt. 12:3-4)
Next, having sexual relations with a woman would have made us ceremonially unclean, since it involved the emission of bodily fluid, and would have disqualified us from partaking of the Holy Bread until we had been made clean again, a time consuming process. When I assured Ahimelech we’d had no such opportunity, being hunted fugitives, he gave me the bread.
And finally, right from the beginning I had attracted followers because of my acts of valor against the Philistines. Men who were in distress, burdened by overwhelming debt, or otherwise discontent with their lives began joining my growing band of guerilla fighters.
Before leaving, I asked Ahimelech for a sword, and he gave me the one I had taken from Goliath when I killed him. It had been wrapped in cloth and placed in the Tabernacle in honor of my victory.
That same day I headed southwest toward Gaza and arrived in Gath, one of the Philistine cities. I was hoping to hide from Saul there, but when Achish, the King of Gath, recognized me, I pretended to be insane so he wouldn’t do me any harm. My act was so convincing he sent me away from his presence to avoid looking at me. I made my escape from there and wound up in a cave at Adullam, about 8 miles east and a little south from Gath. During the time I was there my family came to visit, and so did many others. A lot of them stayed and my little band of brothers swelled to over 400.
Here’s another of the many events in my story that also have symbolic implications. Let Saul represent Satan, the already deposed king, determined to fight on till the bitter end and take as many as possible with him in defeat. I represent our Lord Jesus, the King God has chosen and whose victory is assured. The cave at Adullam is the Church. (The name Adullam comes from a root meaning the Justice of God.) And my 400 followers stand for you. They were debt ridden, distressed and discontent, and so are you. Like them you have a debt of sin you can never repay, you’re distressed about the condition of your godless world, and no matter how much wealth and pleasure you’ve experienced, you’re so discontent in the absence of the Lord that you’re willing to leave it all behind to dwell in His presence. I wrote Psalm 56 to describe my plight then and help you compare it to yours now.
I took my mom and dad to Mizpah in Moab and arranged political asylum for them there. Since my father Jesse’s grandmother was Ruth, a Moabite princess, the King of Moab agreed to keep them safe while my life was in such danger. On returning to my stronghold in Adullam, I was told by the prophet Gad to leave and go back into Judah. Gad became a life long associate and would later help me orchestrate the musical arrangements for the Temple services. After a time a priest, a son of Ahimelech and another refugee from Saul’s administration, would also join completing the official royal triumvirate of Prophet, Priest, and King.
From my time until the Babylonian captivity, over 400 years later, all three of these offices were manned in the governance of God’s people. The office of King was suspended then, the last legitimate king of Israel being Jehoiachin, or Jeconiah as he’s called in the New Testament (Matt. 1:11).
(Jehoiachin’s uncle Mattaniah actually presided over Jerusalem’s defeat by Babylon, but he was not in the royal line of succession and was therefore not a legitimate king. He was placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar, who changed Mattaniah’s name to Zedekiah in the process. 2 Kings 24:17)
The last legitimate High Priest, Onias III, was murdered during the time of the Syrian King Antiochus Epiphanes in 171 BC (Daniel 8:11 & 11:22). The Prophet Ezekiel wrote that these two offices would henceforth be vacant until the Messiah, to Whom they rightfully belong, came to fill them (Ezek. 21:25-27). The Prophet Zechariah confirmed this (Zech 6:12-13). In the mean time Jesus was also given the office of Prophet (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Getting back to our story, Saul discovered that Ahimelech, the priest from Nob, had helped me out. Summoning him, his family and all the other priests in Nob, Saul had them killed, 85 in all. Then he attacked and destroyed the whole town of Nob. Only one man escaped, the son of Ahimelech I mentioned above. When he told me what had happened, I was devastated and asked him to stay and help me make things right.
So many times I would rather have died myself than to have seen all those innocent people destroyed just for showing kindness to me. But that was my cross to bear. I had to trust God through this and leave the outcome in His hands.
I hope you’re beginning to see the clear parallels between my life and yours. Like it was for me, a throne is God’s purpose for you (1 Peter 2:9-12), a cross is his path for you (Matt. 10:37-39), and faith is his plan for you (2 Cor. 5:7). See you next time.