Saul clearly expected David to come to the meal. That fact may surprise us because very recently Saul had tried to kill David (19:10). Although Saulís plan to kill David was now secret, we still might not expect David to be there. However, Saul expected him to come.
Saul expected that because, during that period of Israelís history, such meals were extremely important. Those meals were the only opportunity that people usually had to pray in public. For that reason, such a holy man as David would consider it essential to attend those meals if possible.
The meals were so important because of the sacrifices that people offered at those meals. A sacrifice was an animal that the people offered to God. Leviticus chapter 3 describes this type of sacrifice. The priest would burn the fat from the animal as a gift for God. Then the priest would take the animalís breast and right shoulder for himself and his family to eat. All the people would eat from the rest of the animal; that was their meat at the special meal.
There were additional special sacrifices at the new moon (the start of each month), which the priests burned completely as gifts to God (Numbers 28:11-15).
We often read about these special meals in the Book of 1 Samuel. In chapters 1 to 3, they happened only at Shiloh, because the tabernacle (Godís sacred tent) was there. After the loss of the sacred object called the ark, the priests could not still carry out sacrifices there. So people built altars (heaps of stone) on the hills and they made their sacrifices there. See 1 Samuel 1:3-8; 2:12-17; 9:12-13; 9:22-24;13:8-13; 14:34-35; 15:21-22; and 16:1-13.
Next part: What made a person unclean? (1 Samuel 20:26)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.