Lesser known characters :: Ahimelech

Ahimelech was the priest at Nob during the reign of Saul. When David fled from Saul to save his life, he comes to Ahimelech the priest. Upon being questioned by Ahimelech as to why David was alone and why no man was with him, David lies to him stating that king Saul had sent him on a secret mission and that is the reason as to why he was alone and had no one else with him.  Then David, in order to satisfy his hunger, asks Ahimelech for the loaves of bread that was in his place. Ahimelech, a priest and keeper of the law responds by saying that the bread that was in the house was sacred. He tells David that there was no common bread in the house and the sacred bread could be eaten by only the priests and their sons; by those who were sanctified and pure from carnal matters according to the Levitical law (Leviticus 24:5-9; 1 Samuel 21:4). David tells Ahimelech that he was carnally clean and so Ahimelech gives him the sacred bread. Later, Ahimelech also gives to David the sword of Goliath when David asked him for weapons (1 Samuel 21:1-9).

What can we learn from Ahimelech?
This act of Ahimelech giving David the sacred bread would be considered a direct contradiction to what the law prescribed. So how can a person who is supposed to uphold the law, be justified by breaking it? While on the surface, it may seem like a priest broke the very law that he was to uphold, which was to not give to anyone but to those who were priests, the sacred bread, under this act, is a hidden treasure that becomes evident upon deeper scrutiny. Jesus in fact, quoted this incident in the gospel according to Mark (Mark 2:25-28) to illustrate the understanding that Ahimelech had, which was that the law (sabbath) was made for life (man) and not life (man) for the law (sabbath). Ahimelech recognized that religious traditions and requirements were given to live a holy life, but when such requirements conflicted with the giving of life (symbolized by the bread – John 6:35), he must do that which was necessary to give life (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). Sometimes in our dedication to observe religious prescriptions, we often ignore the needy and those who need the bread of life (Jesus Christ) and this must not be the case. Additionally, we can also learn from this account that, that which was sacred was given to a common man. Jesus Christ, the sacred bread of life, is not only given to those who are religious and priestly but to the common man/woman; to the common thief, the adulterer, the murderer and to everyone.

Furthermore, in addition to giving to those in need (who are starving for being satisfied), the bread of life (Jesus Christ), we must also give them weapons (of warfare), as did Ahimelech give the sword with which David finalized the victory against Goliath.  this will help them to fight against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:10-18). We must give them the armor of God which includes the word of God, with which Jesus (referred in Ezekiel as the second David) won the victory against Satan, the goliath of all adversaries (during his temptation). The word is the Sword of the Spirit by which the victory over temptation and the devil’s schemes is won and finalized. “It is (thus) Written.”

1 Samuel 21:1-9 (KJV)
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?
And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee: and I have appointed my servants to such and such a place.
Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.
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.
And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.
So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.
Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the LORD; and his name was Doeg, an Edomite, the chiefest of the herdmen that belonged to Saul.
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.

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.