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1 Samuel 21:1-9, David and the Holy Bread

I have done a great deal of amateur research on food. What I have learned is that there are simply too many conflicting ideas on what makes a food healthy, how the production of food affects the planet, and what we “should” and “should not” eat to conclude definitively on any of these. Trends shift – from eating no carbs and lots of meat to a plant-based vegan diet; from believing eggs are unhealthy to toting the benefits of eggs in a healthy diet; from milk, which does a body good, to the idea that cow’s milk is unnatural and unhealthy for human consumption. Did you know that cows raised for beef are culprits for the hole in the ozone layer, and that polar bears are losing their polar ice caps? It’s enough to make a person crazy, trying to keep on top of all the latest trends and ideas, and to eat – well – “healthy”.

It doesn’t seem much has changed since the time of David in that regard. The priests kept “holy” bread in the temple that was only to be eaten by men who had kept themselves from women. Right idea – to honor God with their food; perhaps misguided (or now outdated) idea – that holiness is directly tied to abstinence. I wonder if there is a way to treat our nourishment with the respect it deserves – it is, after all, a holy gift from a generous God.

Maybe honoring God with our food isn’t about getting it right. Maybe it is about mindfulness, awareness of what we are putting in our bodies and how that food is cultivated and distributed, and gratitude that we have food at all. Perhaps there is a way, even when we dine fast food, to honor God as we eat. For me it is praying before my meals (yes, even at fast food sometimes), and not being wasteful (not ordering more than I think I can eat, and also not over-stuffing myself when my stomach is satisfied). Food is a great way to honor and remember God – we need it multiple times each day. If we tie our gratitude and respect into our meals and snacks, then we will be praising God multiple times each day.

1 Samuel 21:1-9

David came to Nob to the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” David said to the priest Ahimelech, “The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, ‘No one must know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” The priest answered David, “I have no ordinary bread at hand, only holy bread—provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.” David answered the priest, “Indeed women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds. David said to Ahimelech, “Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” The priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod; if you will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.” David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”