New Defender's Study Bible Notes
21:1 to Nob to Ahimelech. Nob was a town near Jerusalem. Apparently, when Shiloh was destroyed, the tabernacle was moved to Nob, and Ahimelech, a descendant of Eli, was officiating there as high priest. The ark was not there at this time, but the ephod (I Samuel 21:9) and the shewbread (I Samuel 21:6) indicate that at least some of the regular activities at the tabernacle were continuing.
21:4 young men. David presumably had arranged a rendezvous with some of his followers after escaping from Saul, so he was not alone. It is also probable that these young men, like David, had had to leave their wives behind and had therefore “kept themselves from women” for at least three days (I Samuel 21:5).
21:6 hallowed bread. The showbread was intended only for the use of Aaron and his sons as they ministered in the holy place (Leviticus 24:5-9). However, the Lord Jesus Himself apparently approved of the use of this bread by David and his men under this circumstance (Matthew 12:3,4). This does not mean, of course, that God approved of David’s lies to Ahimelech or to Achish (I Samuel 21:2,13), although God apparently allowed these actions because of the urgency of the situation and His ultimate plans for Saul and for David.
21:8 the king’s business. This cliché, “the king’s business required haste,” has often been taken out of context (that is, David’s lie) and used to suggest urgency in the service of the Lord.
21:10 king of Gath. It is ironic that David would take refuge in Gath, which was the home town of Goliath and other giants (I Samuel 17:4). The city even contained Goliath’s sword (I Samuel 21:9). Note I Samuel 21:11-15; 22:1).