Q&A: Was Jesus Mistaken? 1 Samuel 21:1-2 and Mark 2:25-26

Was Jesus Mistaken? 1 Samuel 21:1-2 and Mark 2:25-26

Question

Did Jesus contradict the Old Testament? In 1 Samuel 21:1-2, it states that Ahimelech gave David the showbread instead of Abiathar. It also says David was alone, when he was actually had companions with him (Mark 2:25-26)?

Answer

1 Samuel 21:1-2 David went to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he met him, and asked, "Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?" David answered Ahimelech the priest, "The king charged me with a certain matter and said to me, 'No one is to know anything about your mission and your instructions.' As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place."

Mark 2:25-26 He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

The Reformation Study Bible states:

According to 1 Sam. 21:6, it was Abiathar's father Ahimelech who gave David the consecrated bread. However, Abiathar was certainly alive and perhaps even present when the incident referred to occurred. So the phrase "in the days of Abiathar" is strictly correct. Probably, Jesus referred to Abiathar because he was so well known as one of David's chief supporters.

The full context of 1 Samuel also mentions David's men: "As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place." Though not in David's immediate presence when he first met with Ahimelech "in the days of Abiathar the high priest," his men were near (they could have come to David, or David could have gone to them) and ate of the consecrated bread the way Christ stated.

Reference

Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation Study Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).