Desperate times call for desperate measures, but desperation itself is not an acceptable lifestyle for people of faith. In chapter 21, David is not having one of his better faith-filled moments.
Who could blame him?
He was a man on the run. Saul had threatened his life. His soldiers had entered his home and he would have been a dead man had it not been for the subterfuge of his wife Michal. He was a wanted man without sword to defend himself, friend to encourage him or money to buy food. Aside from his personal fears, he feels responsible for those closest to him – for his wife and his father’s family, all of whom are now in danger because of him.
David knows he has been anointed king, but he is not a king. Furthermore, he cannot in good conscience attack the king because he too has been anointed of God. He does not know what to do, and God has provided no direction for him. You are expected to see these desperate straits in chapter 21.
He pretends he is on an official mission to get food and sword, thus lying to the priest Ahimelech. His presence in Nob endangers the entire house of priests who live there. He takes refuge in philistine territory (with Golaith’s sword no less) for protection and then must feign insanity to escape capture.
Why are we given this scene? There is nothing about it complimentary to David.
And perhaps that’s the point. David had every reason to be secure in the Lord. If he had known what we know, how would he have reacted? And there, in a moment, you know the story’s purpose. Faith is not the confident action of a moment, but an every day security in God. Had David known what we know, his whole lifestyle would have been different. You know the end of the story. Does your life exhibit desperation or security?