At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees witnessed it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (Mathew Chapter 12: 1-4.)
God created the universe in six days and on the seventh day He rested. Mankind was therefore commanded to follow His example. Every seventh day was set aside as a day of rest; a day on which no work was to be done; a day of fellowship with family and friends; a time to pray and remember the blessings of God. During the first century, many overly zealous religious leaders believed it was their duty to enforce God’s laws. Blinded by rigid traditionalism, they weren’t able to see the numerous situations that warranted breaking the fourth commandment. When they saw Jesus plucking wheat, they accused him of harvesting; thereby violating the Sabbath. He responded by quoting an Old Testament scripture. When King Saul sought to kill David, David fled with a handful of soldiers. Wearied and hungry, he and his companions entered a temple and ate the showbread from the altar (a sacred loaf strictly reserved for the priests.) In order to survive, he did what wasn’t lawful; and yet God didn’t condemn him. Providing for those in need is the greatest of all of the commandments; in certain unique circumstances, it can, and will supersede a number of other laws.
One day a confused woman asked me an important question. She said, “I was recently offered a part-time job working on Saturday and Sunday. I really need the money, but I don’t want to break the Sabbath by working on the weekend. What should I do?” I asked her if the job was necessary for her survival. Indeed, she needed the additional income to purchase food and to pay her rent. I indicated that when David was starving, he broke the law by eating the showbread from the altar. God didn’t fault him for doing what was necessary to survive; and he wouldn’t fault her either. In very unique circumstances, we must break the law in order to fulfill the law of love. [Warning: God does not condone situational ethics. Stealing is always wrong; as is laziness and adultery; there is never a situation where drunkenness is necessary; nor will circumstances ever require fornication, lewdness, or idolatry, for example.]
The Lord is a compassionate and understanding Father; He’s the giver of divine wisdom. Although His laws are supreme and unchanging, His will is not always so rigid and legalistic. Extreme human need often necessitates exceptions. Wisdom concerning such instances can only come from God. We must never presume to know His heart. Instead, through prayer, we can receive critical direction and discernment. May we always seek His will in every situation; may compassion be our trusted guide and understanding our ally. May we never forget that the law of love is the greatest of all of the commandments.
“Lord Heavenly Father, may we receive Your wisdom. Give us understanding and fill our hearts with love. Your laws are without error; yet You desire to provide for those in need; in turn, You aren’t overly zealous; You make benevolent exceptions, where and when they are needed. As we minister to others, may we respond to every unique circumstance in love; without condoning evil. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name; Amen.” God bless all of you.