1 Samuel 21:1-15 (Part 2) – David’s Lie and Ross Trying to Remember the Trail

Posted: March 20, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 21:1-15 (Part 2 of 3)
David Runs from Saul

As many of you who have kept up with my blog over these last six years and those who are my closest friends over the years know, I often compare my life to, draw analogies from, and use scenes from any number of my favorite movies or from my all-time favorite television show, Friends. This morning will be no different.

When I read this passage and saw where David acts like a madman to save his own skin. He lied to protect himself. Though it seems expedient as we read this passage for him to deceive his enemies (and David has plenty of them at this moment – not just the Philistines but from within his own country in Saul and his armies). You and I may have done the same thing. You’ve escaped one jam but you’ve landed yourself square in your enemies camp so you lie as to why you are there and quietly slip out the back door, so to speak. David’s lie, in that we love David and his story and how he went on to become a great king, seems almost honorable here. It saves his life and preserves it for what is yet to come in his life – greatness among men and a being a man that the Bible characterizes as a man after God’s own heart. So, in our mind that makes the lie here OK and definitely the most expedient thing to do. It serves the greater good, right?

But as we will learn this lie (no matter what noble qualities we try to assign to it) had disastrous consequences down the line as all lies do. For some reason as I was reading through this passage and concentrating on David’s lie in this passage, an episode of Friends came to mind. It was the Season Three episode called “The One the Morning After”. In this episode, the morning after Rachel declared they needed a break, she wakes up ready to work on getting back together – and Ross is drunk in bed with Chloe, the copy girl; Joey and Chandler warn him that he should have remembered “the trail”. The trail, they explain, is the trail of people who connect the woman with whom he had his dalliance to his long-time girlfriend, Rachel. Then, Ross sets off to each person in “the trial” to beg them not to tell the next person in “the trail” and at every step he’s too late to stop it. Finally, he gets to Gunther who is the last person in “the trail” and begs him not to say anything to Rachel. And Gunther fatally reveals that he has already told Rachel with his question, “Was I not supposed to?” The remainder of the episode is Ross and Rachel dealing with the consequences. This episode is probably the singular best episode of the 10 year run of the show. The intensity of emotion in that last half of the show between Ross and Rachel was amazing. It was so well acted by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston.

It reminds as Ross tries to track down “the trail” how difficult it is to maintain a lie. It reminds us that our actions which we must lie about, even if we are successful in covering them up, have long-term negative consequences that we cannot even begin to calculate at the time we create our coverups. The episode reminds us of the terrible impact of lies. Think about the show Friends. In the first season we learn about the long-term crush that Ross has had on Rachel. Then we spend almost all of Season 2 watching them have their hit and miss of bad timing about getting together as a couple. Finally, late in Season 2, they get together and they just make the cutest couple for almost a year of the show. Then, things go sideways and the breakup happens because of the lie. Then it takes 7 seasons, 7 years, for them to get back together – in the final episode of the show. Wow. One lie. Seven years.

That idea of lies festering and blowing up in our faces and having consequences far beyond what we expected is what came to mind this morning. Let’s read the passage together now for the second of three reviews of this passage with an eye, today, toward whether David broke the law of God or not:

Chapter 21
1 [a]David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?”

2 “The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. 3 Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.”

4 “We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.”

5 “Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when we are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!”

6 Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

7 Now Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman, was there that day, having been detained before the Lord.[b]

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

“There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!”

10 So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. 11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. 13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.

14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? 15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

In this passage, we see that David lied to protect himself from Saul (read again 1 Samuel 21:10-13). Some may excuse this lie because it was David and it was a time of war and it is the duty of a good soldier to deceive the enemy. But nowhere is this text is David’s lie celebrated or rewarded or even condoned. In fact, the opposite is true as we will find out later in 1 Samuel. At 1 Samuel 22, we will see that this lie led to the death of 85 priests (see 1 Samuel 22:9-19). David’s small lie here seemed harmless enough, but it would later lead to tragedy. The Bible makes it very clear that lying is wrong (Leviticus 19:11). Lying, like every other sin, is serious in God’s sight and may lead to all sorts of consequences. We should not try to minimize sin or grade our sins. All sins lead to disastrous consequences for our lives and, many times, the lives of others and, as such, no one sin is greater than another. All sin in detestable in God’s perfect and holy sight.

David’s lies here and elsewhere in his life cost him dearly. This lie caused the death of 85 priests. Another lie about adultery causes him eventually to have civil war in his country and ends up losing his son, Absalom, over it. Ross ends up without the love of his life, Rachel, for 7 years because of one lie in Season Three on Friends. We all have lies that have cost us dearly. Lies that we cannot go back and fix. Some of these lies ended relationships, friendships, and so on. Lies. Lies. Lies. Why do we do it? Why do we try to preserve our situations with lies? Why do we do things that we have to lie about them to cover them up? Why? Because we are sinners. No matter how good we try to make ourselves out to be and no matter how we try to minimize the impact of our evil deeds? We are sin-filled people who try to make ourselves number 1 and preserve that ranking at all costs. We are sinners. We are…liars.

That we cannot excuse any of our sins or rationalize them away or minimize our sins in any way before God, it makes knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior all the more necessary and all the more important. He is not just some self-help guru. He is the necessity of our lives! We are sinners in need of repentance and rescue. We cannot minimize even our smallest lie before the perfect and righteous God who will judge us and have every right to do so. That is what makes Jesus the most important thing to us in the world. We need him. We need his covering. We are sinners in need of redemption. Jesus is the only one who washes away the eternal impact of every lie that we have told that condemns us to separation from God forever. Jesus is reason for every season. Jesus is our absolute necessity.

Amen and Amen.

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