1 Samuel 21:3
Now therefore what is under your hand? give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or what there is present.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1 Samuel 21:3-4. What is under thy hand? — He desires to know what he was able to do for him to supply his wants. And particularly he requests some bread for himself and servants. Or what there is present — That is, any other victuals. There is hallowed bread — Here in the tabernacle. Doubtless, Ahimelech had other provisions in his house; but David was in great haste, and in fear of Doeg, whom he saw and knew, and therefore would not stay till any thing could be fetched from thence. There seemed to be a double impediment to Ahimelech’s giving David and his servants this bread: 1st, Its sacredness in itself, which he intimates, and in answer to which David pleads his great necessity; an answer with which Ahimelech appears to have been satisfied. “Cases of necessity, as the Jews themselves allow, often superseded the observance of the ritual laws; and this compliance of Ahimelech is urged with great force by our Saviour, in vindication of a similar infringement, Mark 2:25.” — Dodd. 2d, It was requisite that all who ate of the holy bread, should have observed the same purity which was required of the priests, particularly in the instance of abstinence from all women; and Ahimelech suspected that David or his servants might possibly want this qualification, and therefore inquires concerning it. But out of respect to David he does not name him, but asks only concerning the young men. David’s answer, however, shows that he was intended to be included in the inquiry.21:1-9 David, in distress, fled to the tabernacle of God. It is great comfort in a day of trouble, that we have a God to go to, to whom we may open our cases, and from whom we may ask and expect direction. David told Ahimelech a gross untruth. What shall we say to this? The Scripture does not conceal it, and we dare not justify it; it was ill done, and proved of bad consequence; for it occasioned the death of the priests of the Lord. David thought upon it afterward with regret. David had great faith and courage, yet both failed him; he fell thus foully through fear and cowardice, and owing to the weakness of his faith. Had he trusted God aright, he would not have used such a sorry, sinful shift for his own preservation. It is written, not for us to do the like, no, not in the greatest straits, but for our warning. David asked of Ahimelech bread and a sword. Ahimelech supposed they might eat the shew-bread. The Son of David taught from it, that mercy is to be preferred to sacrifice; that ritual observances must give way to moral duties. Doeg set his foot as far within the tabernacle as David did. We little know with what hearts people come to the house of God, nor what use they will make of pretended devotion. If many come in simplicity of heart to serve their God, others come to observe their teachers and to prove accusers. Only God and the event can distinguish between a David and a Doeg, when both are in the tabernacle.A fresh instance of David's unscrupulous readiness of invention (compare 1 Samuel 20:6). 2. The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know—This was a direct falsehood, extorted through fear. David probably supposed, like many other persons, that a lie is quite excusable which is told for the sole purpose of saving the speaker's life. But what is essentially sinful, can never, from circumstances, change its immoral character; and David had to repent of this vice of lying (Ps 119:29). Under thine hand, to wit, in thy power, and ready for thee to give, and for me to take, and eat. Now therefore what is under thine hand?.... Meaning, what food had he in his house?

give me five loaves of bread in mine hand; to take with him, for him and his servants in such a place:

or what there is present; or to be found (g) in the tabernacle; if not five loaves, two, or three, or four, or what food soever he had by him.

(g) "quicquid inveneris", V. L, "inventum", Montanus; "quicquid inventum fuerit", Tigurine version.

Now therefore what is under thine hand? give me five loaves of bread in mine hand, or what there is present.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 3, 4. - What is under thine hand? This does not mean that Ahimelech was himself carrying the shewbread out of the tabernacle, but simply, "What hast thou? The sense of the whole verse is, "Now, therefore, what hast thou at hand? Give me five loaves, or whatever there may be." Ahimelech answers, "There is no common bread at hand." I have no ordinary food; there is only hallowed bread, that is, the shewbread, which, after remaining in Jehovah's presence from sabbath to sabbath, was then to be eaten by the priests in the holy place (Leviticus 24:8, 9). As Ahimelech could not venture to refuse David's request, he asks if his attendants are at least ceremonially clean, as in that case the urgency of the king's business might excuse the breach of the letter of the commandment. Our Lord in Matthew 12:3 cites this as a case in which the inward spirit of the law was kept, and the violation of its literal precept thereby justified. When the boy came to the place of the shot arrow (i.e., to the place to which the arrow had flown), Jonathan called after him, "See, the arrow is (lies) away from thee, farther off;" and again, "Quickly, haste, do not stand still," that he might not see David, who was somewhere near; and the boy picked up the arrow and came to his lord. The Chethibh החצי is evidently the original reading, and the singular is to be understood as in 1 Samuel 20:37; the Keri החצּים is an emendation, according to the meaning of the words. The writer here introduces the remark in 1 Samuel 20:39, that the boy knew nothing of what had been arranged between Jonathan and David.
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