Samuel – Food, Feast, and Fast

Food and Meals

An unusual link that twists the stories in 1 and 2 Samuel together is food and meals.  Eating or abstaining from it are key ingredients in many of the stories in the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.  The anointing of Saul and David are both served at sacrifices and their accompanying feast (probably New Moon Celebrations).  Fasting stirs the drama of stories with Jonathan and Saul.  The main course at several feasts was treachery, often served with someone dying.Challah_Bread_Six_Braid_1

1 Samuel starts with Elkanah giving Hannah a double portion at the sacrifice and ends with Saul breaking his fast with the fattened calf.  David also feeds a slave to find where the Amalekite raiding party that is feasting on their plunder.  2 Samuel opens with David feasting his enemy who is seeking peace, only to have his general kill him, and additional courses of treachery are added with Amnon and Absalom in chapter 13.  The feasting continues in 1 Kings with Adonijah giving a party to proclaim himself king.  Meals are included in many of the stories and show the importance of these times in the lives of the people.  It adds the touch of humanity to what could be just a history lesson.


Several fast are also talked about in 1 Samuel; to show this use and possible abuse of a way to seek YHWH.  In chapter 7 Israel is fasting at Mizpah repenting before the LORD.  The Philistines attack and God responds with thunder and a rout of the enemy.  A rout and fasting are also in chapter 14, but this seems to be a very “religious thing” and almost cost Jonathan his life.  Saul may have been making amends for his foolishness in chapter 13.  Chapter 20 has Jonathan not eating at a New Moon Festival because he was grieved that his father was determined to kill David.  Saul is again fasting in chapter 18 because he hopes it will find favor with God or Samuel as he consults a witch.  Even though fasting is important it seems Saul did not understand his God and this method of seeking Him.

New Moon Festivals

Personally, the importance of this festival was lost to me until this post, it may become a post of its own in the future.  This was an important time every thirty days for the people of Israel.  The moon was the main timekeeping device Israel.  Special sacrifices (1 Samuel 20:29) and celebrations were planned at this time by the people.  The new moon is a reminder of “rebirth” and fresh starts with God.  The lunar calendar is important in the Bible and it is something to be aware of as we read Scripture.  I did a brief study of the full moon with a post on Passover.

Food, feast, or fast all find their way into the lives of Samuel, Saul, and David.  They are just as important to us today.  It may be time with friends and family, fellowship dinners, or cropped-dscf0348.jpgthe Lord’s Supper but all of us have strong memories preserved in the act of eating.

These sites were used for reference on the feast and New Moon celebrations. ,