As David and his men fled from Saul, they stopped by the Tabernacle to ask the priest for bread. However, the only bread the priest had was “showbread,” which was the twelve loaves that were to be continually kept on the Table of Presence in the Holy Place. When fresh bread was baked to replace the twelve loaves, the older loaves were to be divided among the priests and their families to eat. The showbread was not to be given to those outside the priestly tribe.
Yet, the priest gave the bread to David and his men because it was all he had to offer. He decided that his moral obligation of hospitality toward God’s man overrode his ceremonial obligation to God’s house.
When the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, He referred to this story of the priest allowing David to have the showbread as a better understanding of the Sabbath’s purpose. Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
We cannot rightly understand and follow God’s law without the Spirit of Christ to indwell and lead us. For Christ is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5).