Today we continue our story of the life of David seeking to learn what we can to be good followers of the leader above us.
We pick up on the story in 1 Samuel chapter 21. In chapter 20 David hides out in a field and Jonathan comes to tell him that Saul has a plan to kill him. So, David decides to run away.
In chapter 21 (which you can read here for free) David goes to see Ahimelech the priest in Nob. Ahimelech is surprised to see David and asks why he is traveling alone. David slightly misleads Ahimelech saying that “The king has sent me on a private matter” (v. 2). Little does Ahimelech know that David is running from Saul and trying to keep from being killed!
This is a tough time for David. He has had to run from his king, Saul; his best friend, Jonathan; and his wife, Michal. He is all alone in another town having to lie about why he is there. Bible Teacher Chuck Swindoll captures the context of David’s frame of mind beautifully when we writes,
“David had a position and he lost it. He had a wife and he lost her. He had a wise counselor [Samuel], and he lost him. He had a friend [Jonathan], and he lost him. He had self-respect, and he lost it” 
David goes to Nob to see Ahimalech the priest and gets a fresh reminder of the past, back to the days when he was given the freedom to shine, when he thought he was soon to be king. Up until that time, David was tending sheep in the field. Then he went out into battle, killed Goliath, and might have thought “this is it” or “here we go!”
In Nob, David asks Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword?” (v. 8) to which Ahimelech replies, “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the vally of Elah” (v. 9). To that David replies, “There is nothing like it! Give it to me!” (v. 9)
Let’s stop for a moment to examine the different ways David could have interpreted the finding of Goliath’s sword that was taken from the giant he killed in front of the entire Israelite and Philistine army in 1 Samuel 17.
David had a promise given to him back in 1 Samuel 16 that he was to become king, someday. Even though he has risen to great fame and respect among the people of Israel, David has recently left Israel because of threats against his life from the king who is the one person who should have been happy and supportive of David (since David was considered to be the greatest of all of Saul’s commanders).
That sword of Goliath could have been terribly discouraging to David. It could have reminded him of what he once had and once had been in the eyes of Saul. It could have reminded him of the promise that God had made which had not yet been fulfilled.
Or, this sword of Goliath could have been very encouraging to David. It could have served as a reminder of the great promise God had given to him to one day be king of Israel. And that interpretation of the sword–the encouraging reminder of what God had promised to David is exactly how he perceives it. The sword is a wake up call for David to remember what God had already promised but had yet to come to pass.
Now that we know David uses the sword as a reminder of God’s promise to him, here are a few questions to help us think about this story and how it applies it to our own lives.
We as leaders need something to hold on to as a reminder of what God has promised to us.
As we have seen in this story, that tangible item for David is Goliath’s sword. It is something that David can touch and feel. It reminds him of Goliath, who defied and cursed against David’s God and whom David eventually killed in God’s name on behalf of the entire Israelite army.
For us as leaders, maybe this is the Bible. It is God’s inspired word given to us with lots of promises that God will guide us, protect us, and provide for us. Maybe it is an encouraging letter someone who you greatly respect sent to you.
When in a difficult and hard place, we will have to go somewhere and do things that we never thought we would have to do.
This is definitely what happened with David’s situation in 1 Samuel 21. He probably never would have thought that his own king would threaten his life to the point he would have to flee to another city away from the king. He never would have imagined he would have to lie to a priest in order to hide the reason he was running away from a king like a fugitive would have to do.
Question: What is God’s promise you are having to hold on to right now?