1 Samuel 27 & 1 Corinthians 8

1 Samuel 27

    Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal's widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him.

    Then David said to Achish, “If I have found favor in your eyes, let a place be given me in one of the country towns, that I may dwell there. For why should your servant dwell in the royal city with you?” So that day Achish gave him Ziklag. Therefore Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah to this day. And the number of the days that David lived in the country of the Philistines was a year and four months.

    Now David and his men went up and made raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites, for these were the inhabitants of the land from of old, as far as Shur, to the land of Egypt. And David would strike the land and would leave neither man nor woman alive, but would take away the sheep, the oxen, the donkeys, the camels, and the garments, and come back to Achish. When Achish asked, “Where have you made a raid today?” David would say, “Against the Negeb of Judah,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Jerahmeelites,” or, “Against the Negeb of the Kenites.” And David would leave neither man nor woman alive to bring news to Gath, thinking, “lest they should tell about us and say, ‘So David has done.’” Such was his custom all the while he lived in the country of the Philistines. And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made himself an utter stench to his people Israel; therefore he shall always be my servant.”

(1 Samuel 27 ESV)

1 Corinthians 8

    Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

    Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

    However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

(1 Corinthians 8 ESV)

Something to Consider

1 Corinthians 8: The apostle Paul addresses an issue that had arisen in Corinth and ends up agreeing with those who have come to understand that pagan idols don’t actually represent real gods so the food “offered” to these idols is still just simply food. However, some still suffering from a “weak conscience” are concerned that eating such food is evil and is still a way of associating themselves with their former ways of paganism. Therefore, Paul urges those with “knowledge” to refrain from buying and eating such foods since it may run the risk of harming the faith of other believers. 

Paul urges those stronger in their faith to use their strength in service to those who may be weaker in their faith (Romans 14). Therefore, the strong are faced with the dilemma of some things being permissible and impermissible at the same time. While I may be convinced that certain things are permissible for Christians; other Christian brothers may be equally convinced that these things are not. 

So what is my responsibility as the stronger in faith regarding such a disagreement? Although my position may be the correct position, I’m not permitted to run cavalier all over my weaker brother. The great paradox for the strong in faith is that lawful things can be done unlawfully. We are not to frustrate the faith of our weaker Christian brothers by exercising our freedom in their face. We’ve been called to defer to the weaker brother’s conviction in non-essential matters regardless of whether they are mistaken or not. 

Suppose I am fully convinced that the Christian is free to have a drink of alcohol from time to time, but you’re fully convinced that a Christian is to absolutely abstain from alcohol. If I invited you over to my house, I would not offer you a drink nor would I have a drink myself in your presence. If you invited me over to your house, I would not bring alcohol, and I would not expect you to have any. 

Paul says that when we cause distress for our Christian brothers regarding these disputable matters then we are no longer acting in love. True love limits our own freedoms out of respect and for the ultimate benefit of others.