Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 21

Ahimelech, the chief priest

1 Samuel 21:1

More than 60 years may have passed since the death of Eli, Israelís chief priest (4:18). During those years, the chief priests lost much of their authority and their wealth.

People still asked the priests to offer sacrifices (gifts to God) on their behalf. However, they did not still go to Shiloh, the chief priestís town, to do that. Instead they built altars (piles of stone) on the hills in each region, and they gave their gifts there.

The chief priest also continued to inquire of God for people (14:36-37). However, now people often went instead to a prophet (holy man) for that purpose (9:6-9).

After Eliís death, his grandson Ahijah acted as chief priest (14:3). Then Ahimelech, from the same family, became chief priest.

As chief priest, Ahimelech had responsibility for Godís sacred tent, called the tabernacle. After the troubles at Shiloh (1 Samuel chapter 4), the priests left that town. They took the tabernacle to Nob, which was probably near Jerusalem. However, the tabernacle did not still contain its most sacred object, called the ark of the covenant. That was still at Kiriath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1; 2 Samuel 6:2-3).

Although the chief priest still carried on a few ceremonies at Nob, it was not an important place. Not many people had any reason to go there.

David went there briefly to ask for help before he went into Philistia. Saul was plotting to kill David, and David had to escape at once. Probably, David considered that he could trust the priests not to tell Saul about him. However, David did not know that Doeg, one of Saulís most wicked officials, was in Nob that day (21:7).

Next part: Davidís untrue words to Abimelech (1 Samuel 21:2)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.