Questions From Readers
◼ Why did David knowingly endanger Ahimelech the high priest, leading to the priest’s death, as David confessed in 1 Samuel 22:22?
Actually, 1 Samuel 22:22 does not indicate that David knew beforehand that his course would lead to Ahimelech’s death. The verse states: “At this David said to Abiathar [son of Ahimelech]: ‘I well knew on that day, because Doeg the Edomite was there, that he [Doeg] would without fail tell Saul. I personally have wronged every soul of the house of your father [Ahimelech].’”
David, fleeing from enraged King Saul, went to Nob, where high priest Ahimelech was. Perhaps out of a concern that the high priest would feel obliged to report David’s whereabouts to the king, David did not reveal the precise reason for his being out of Jerusalem. Yet his presence in Nob was noticed. The Edomite named Doeg saw David and afterward reported the matter to angry Saul.
There is nothing in the account, though, that proves that David knew beforehand of Doeg’s presence. Doeg “was there on that day, detained before Jehovah.” (1 Samuel 21:7) Likely, David was surprised, even shocked, that the unprincipled Doeg saw him with Ahimelech. Once it was done, however, it was done. David could not change that; nor could he prevent the awful consequences that Saul’s rage brought on the high priest and scores of other priests, as well as women, children, and animals in Nob.—1 Samuel 22:9-19.
With this in mind, note again David’s sad words to Abiathar, who had escaped the massacre: “I well knew on that day, because Doeg the Edomite was there . . . ” We can understand David’s point to be, ‘I knew that day, just as soon as I saw that Doeg had observed me with Ahimelech . . . ’ But it was too late. Doeg unexpectedly was there and noted David’s contact with the high priest. So David immediately concluded that Doeg would report the matter to Saul. That is why David later admitted to Abiathar a feeling of some guilt, even if David had contributed only indirectly to the subsequent massacre. He urged Abiathar to remain with him, for David trusted in Jehovah’s guidance and protection.—1 Samuel 22:22, 23.
◼ Is it appropriate for two or three brothers to share in immersing a person during Christian baptism?
Normally only one male minister is needed to baptize someone.
While the Bible does not outline procedural rules concerning Christian baptism, we can learn from the Biblical record. The water baptism of Jesus is particularly instructive.
The Bible reports: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John [the Baptizer], in order to be baptized by him.” (Matthew 3:13) Notice that it says “by him,” not by them. The Gospel accounts give no indication that anyone shared with John in baptizing Jesus. In fact, there were evidently no observers at that baptism, for John alone initially identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29, 33, 34) Jesus’ baptism, then, sets the pattern of total immersion in water, but it also suggests that one male servant of God should perform the baptism.
There may have been one or more witnesses when Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in “a certain body of water,” but Philip was alone in doing the baptizing. (Acts 8:36-39) Moreover, the Biblical records of other baptisms do not indicate that two or three brothers shared in lowering a person under the water and then lifting that new brother or sister out of it. In many cases, though, there evidently were observers, or witnesses, of the baptisms.
Of course, over the years there have been some special situations that have needed to be considered when performing certain baptisms. For example, when the only available body of water is a swift and potentially dangerous stream, respect for safety might recommend that two brothers work together. Or the physical condition of the candidate, such as paralysis or extreme fragility, might require that more than one brother perform the baptism. These, though, are unusual cases to be handled as wisdom dictates. The norm among Jehovah’s Witnesses is for only one male to immerse the baptismal candidate.