Puzzling Passages Made Plain: Showbread and Wheat Heads

For some reason, the passages about David eating the showbread (1 Samuel 21:1-6)and Jesus’ disciples plucking wheat on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-7, Mark 2:23-27, Luke 6:1-5) kept winding up in recent posts. This seemed like a strong hint I needed to pause and wait for the meanings to hit me. Oh, yeah… a rushing river of words washed through my mind, and I struggled to keep up with Him. I pray you enjoy this as much as I did “hearing” it.

Letter vs. Spirit

What was that priest thinking, giving David and his men the bread of the Presence of YHWH? Did abstaining from sexual relation really make them holy? While abstinence was a requirement before going to war (Exodus 19:15), it did not allow David to persist in that request. The Levites collected and doled out the third tithe, which assisted the poor and needy; this act was an extension of that behavior.

Doesn’t Scripture say, “I desire obedience (to My Will and Word), not sacrifice (either ritual or common procedure)”? Yes, but it also says, “I desire mercy (My heart’s desire), not sacrifice.” We need mercy, which is our opportunity to please Him though we do not deserve it. Who knows what could have happened if the priest would have turned David down? Perhaps some of the men, mad with hunger, would have ransacked the Temple, defiling everything and breaking Torah. Though fearful, this priest understood the spirit of the Law (mercy) was greater than the letter of the Law (the shadow or teaching example). Yahshua reinforced this behavior in His parable about the Good Samaritan.

The letter of the Law is the best attempt men can do to satisfy Yah’s basic requirements. However, the spirit of the Law shines His Desire through the spirit of man. Paul clarified this distinction in several ways: 1) the inner (spirit) man and outer (fleshly) man [Romans 7:22, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 3:16], 2) the inward and outward Jew [Romans 2:12-29], and 3) Jew and Gentile becoming one in Christ [Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 2:11-21]. Since we are now grafted in [Romans 11:11-24], we follow (copy, seek and obey) the Spirit of the Law, which is Christ.

His Presence in the Bread

As with all of Scripture, this tale holds a deeper meaning pointing towards Christ. How did the showbread become lawful for David and his band to eat? Easy… when David took it from the Temple, it became common. Yahshua, the Living Bread of His Presence, came in common flesh, profaning Himself to rescue us. Peter broke bread with Gentiles, something forbidden to Jews, in order to deliver the Word’s Good News. Whether we deal with people or things, the physical realm is only holy or profane when and for however long He says.

The showbread, as stated earlier, represented the Word, the Manna that nurtures the spirit of those who eat it—the fruit (results of His instruction) of the tree of life. Giving David and his men the bread foreshadowed Yah giving His Son, the Bread of Life. His flesh (His Word, Taught) sustains our spirits within and makes the Blood (His works, His soul) that flows through all believers.

A Deeper Message

In essence, Yahshua used the showbread tale to tell the Pharisees, “Look, you are nitpicking over the letter of the Law, although the Law states we are permitted to eat on the Sabbath. The priest back then took what was holy (the Word from the Will) and made it profane (the Word made flesh, the Word spoken through men), so David and his men (those hungry for the Will and the Word, spirit and life) could eat.

“The Word of God, who is the Lord of the Sabbath, dictates how the Sabbath should be followed, not men’s assumptions or traditions. The Will and the Word wanted you to learn how to rest from your own works and embrace Our work for you.”

Another gem was hidden in the actions of His disciples. When they picked the wheat and rolled off the chaff between their hands, that symbolized those chosen of God to cause what was once profane to the Body edible. This meant dropping our will (removing the chaff) to receive and deliver the Word (the exposed grains) spirit-to-spirit (eating the grains). As Yahshua said, “My food is to do the Will of the Father.”

Notice that they ate fresh, raw wheat. The raw wheat is the Fresh Agreement (New Testament), announcing the fulfillment the prophetic wish of Moses [Numbers 11:29]. We were promised a new heart (soul, life) with His Law (His Will) written on it, therefore we need new food (the Word given and understood within) to feed it.

Lovely Strings of Pearls

1. Death (the plucking of the wheat heads) – death to sin (self) – deny yourselves – removing ourselves from the world, yet still in it – justification.

2. Burial (the rubbing the wheat between the hands) – Sheol (the grave) is made of dirt and so are our hands (His actions through us) – to remove the chaff, which is the outer man, the outward Jew – take up your cross – salvation is a process.

3. Resurrection (the new grain) – alive in Christ – regeneration and renewal – the spirit man, the inward Jew revealed – follow Him (do as He does and say) – the promise of glorification.

4. Ascension (eating the grain) – eating His flesh (the Word’s nurturing instructions and promises of the future) – “I go to prepare a place for you.” – Yahshua, the Spirit of His Voice, had to leave the physical plane so that both the Spirit of the Will and the Spirit of the Voice could reign in the hearts of believers through the Holy Spirit. “We are Christ’s ambassadors [of His nation (Kingdom), pieces of the spirit realm]…” [2 Corinthians 5:20, Ephesians 6:20] – According to Scripture, this is the highest level those in the physical can achieve.

In conclusion, both of these incidents teach us Who is in control of how and when His Desire is accomplished, demonstrating His dominance over His Voice, the Word.

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