Questions From Readers
Does the eating of the loaves of presentation by David and his men indicate that God’s law can be broken with impunity under difficult circumstances?—1 Samuel 21:1-6.
According to Leviticus 24:5-9, the loaves of presentation that were replaced on each Sabbath were reserved for the priests to eat. The principle behind this use was that the loaves were holy and were to serve as food for the men engaged in God’s service—the priests. Giving them to a common laborer or eating them just for pleasure would definitely be wrong. However, the priest Ahimelech did nothing sinful when he shared the showbread with David and his men.
David appeared to be on a special assignment from King Saul. David and his men were hungry. Ahimelech determined that they were ceremonially clean. While their eating of the loaves of presentation was technically unlawful, it was in harmony with the basic designated use of the showbread. This consideration permitted Ahimelech to make an exception to the rule. Jesus Christ himself used this incident to illustrate the impropriety of the unduly rigid application of the Sabbath law demanded by the Pharisaic interpretation of it.—Matthew 12:1-8.
The foregoing, however, does not mean that God’s law can be violated when circumstances become difficult. For example, a seemingly critical situation developed when Israelite warriors were fighting the Philistines. King Saul had said: “Cursed is the man that eats bread before the evening and until I have taken vengeance upon my enemies!” The Bible says: “On that day they kept striking down the Philistines.” The soldiers were battle-weary and hungry, ‘and the people began slaughtering animals on the earth and fell to eating along with the blood.’ (1 Samuel 14:24, 31-33) They sinned against Jehovah by violating his law on blood. Their actions were not in accord with the only God-designated use of blood, namely “to make atonement” for sins. (Leviticus 17:10-12; Genesis 9:3, 4) Mercifully, Jehovah accepted special sacrifices in behalf of those who had sinned.—1 Samuel 14:34, 35.
Yes, Jehovah expects us to obey his laws under all circumstances. “This is what the love of God means,” says the apostle John, “that we observe his commandments.”—1 John 5:3.
[Picture on page 30]
New loaves of presentation were placed inside the tabernacle each Sabbath