Feeling Used — Adam’s Angle

Every boy dreams of being the quarterback. We want to be the one who wins the game with only three seconds to go as the crowd goes wild.

But no one dreams of being that poor schlepp who has to block for the quarterback.

Why? You get pummeled play after play and have no thanks to show for it. If you do your job well, the quarterback is the one who gets the glory. If you don’t do your job well, you get blamed for letting the quarterback get sacked. It’s a raw deal. And yet, so many of us can relate to that blocker as we try to walk with integrity before God.

We do the right thing and we get ignored or taken advantage of. Sometimes it even seems like we get punished. Your manager takes the credit for your brilliant ad campaign and gets promoted. You refuse to fudge the numbers on the Johannson account and get fired. You give your life to become a missionary in South America and a month later your four year old daughter gets run over by a bus.

Life isn’t fair. Why should we bother to walk with integrity before God when there doesn’t seem to be much reward in it? We should keep doing the right thing because although people may abuse us, God will use us.

Ahimelech — Star Blocker

Ahimelech is one of my favorite blockers in the Bible. Why do I call him that? Because by continually doing the right thing he suffered while others benefited. You probably don’t remember him, but you certainly know the quarterback he was blocking for: King David. You probably also remember his story in 1 Samuel 21 and 22.

David was fleeing for his life from wild-eyed Saul. He left in such a rush that he didn’t bring any food. He ran to the tabernacle of the Lord and met with Ahimelech the priest.

When Ahimelech asked him why he was alone David flat-out lied, “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. Now then, what have you to hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find” (I Samuel 21:2-3).

Ahimelech didn’t know that David was on the lam. So he acted in good faith and gave David the sacred bread of the tabernacle even though he could have easily said no. After all, that bread was meant for just the priests to eat. Did Ahimelech make a mistake? Were the later tragic events in his life a result of this “sin”? Apparently not. We know he did the right thing because Jesus referred to his kindhearted actions to David that day as what it means to desire mercy and not sacrifice (Matthew 12:3-4). In short, David gave Ahimelech lies, and Ahimelech gave David mercy.

Ahimelech: 0 — Abusers: 2

Of course the story doesn’t end there. One of Saul’s servants, named Doeg, just happened to be there at the tabernacle to witness this interchange between the future king and Ahimelech. Doeg went to the tabernacle for ceremonial cleansing, and most likely got it directly from Ahimelech since he was on duty that day. Nonetheless, any sense of indebtedness Doeg had toward this faithful priest was meaningless because — after all — business is business. Doeg was about to misrepresent Ahimelech to Saul and to effectively stab him in the back.

Saul was ranting to his officials that no one cared enough about him to warn him about those who were conspiring with David to overthrow him (1 Samuel 22:6-8). Seeing a chance for quick promotion, Doeg quickly told Saul about David’s clandestine meeting with Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22:9-10). The suggestion that Doeg planted was that David was in cahoots with God’s priests to overthrow Saul’s kingdom. Of course this was not true. Ahimelech gave Doeg cleansing, Doeg gave Ahimelech misrepresentation and betrayal.

Touchdown, Saul!

Saul summoned Ahimelech and his whole family. The king then accused him point blank of treason: “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and enquiring of God for him so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?” (1 Samuel 22:13).

This was the moment of Ahimelech’s test. He could have just gone along with the king and agreed that David was a traitor, but that he didn’t know it at the time. He could have taken the easy way out, but he took the hit and did the right thing even though it would cost him. He made an honest defense, but also upheld the faithfulness of David’s character, “Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? Was that day the first time I enquired of God for him? Of course not! . . . your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair” (1 Samuel 22:14-15).

Those were not the words Saul wanted to hear. Ahimelech gave him the hard truth that could have lead the king to repentance, Saul gave him the sword. Saul killed not only Ahimelech, the innocent priest, but also 85 other priests in his extended family. As if that weren’t enough, he also killed everyone in the city of Nob, Ahimelech’s hometown, as well as the livestock (1 Samuel 22:18-19).

The Final Score

Was it all a waste? Ahimelech acted in good faith. He showed mercy. He faithfully carried out his duties. He boldly spoke for truth. And yet, he was butchered. His family was butchered. His city was razed. Babies were murdered. Even animals were killed. Did anything good come out of this?

Yes. Saul’s kingship was discredited in the eyes of the people. His own officials refused to kill the priests, although Doeg stepped in to do the dirty job (1 Samuel 22:18). One of the priests of the tabernacle escaped the massacre and sided with the soon-to-be king, David (1 Samuel 22:20-23). Short of some unbelievable tragedy like this, the priesthood would have never left the official king of Israel — God’s own anointed one. This transfer of God’s priest to David was tangible evidence in the eyes of the people that God was with David, not Saul.

David would become king. He would also be the man through whom the Messiah, Jesus, was to come. This very same Messiah would die for the sins of all mankind and rise from the dead. Some very significant events were riding on the “pointless” service and death of Ahimelech.

And, as if that weren’t enough, the Messiah Himself would look back on Ahimelech’s life and use him as an example of God’s heart for mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 12:3-4). In the 2000 years since Jesus reflected on Ahimelech’s example many have experienced the freedom that comes from breaking free of the icy embrace of legalism. That’s not too bad a legacy for Ahimelech’s “wasted” good deeds.

Do you feel like a blocker who wants to give up doing good? Don’t. People may not appreciate your service, but “the Coach” wants to use your unnoticed sacrifice to help win the Super Bowl of the ages. People will often return evil for good. But God sees good and will use it to further His good plans.

— Adam Pivec
11/21/07