1 Samuel 21: Is Lying Ever Acceptable?

David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ -1 Samuel 21:2

The Ten Commandments are clear that lying is wrong. Yet in 1 Samuel 21, David, a man after God’s own heart, lies twice in order to save his life. Is lying ever acceptable?

Scripture does not explicitly say so, but it seems to approve David’s lies in the context of a man seeking to save his life. First, he lied to a priest in order to get food while on the run for his life. Second, he lied to the Philistine king and his court when he appeared to act insane in order to escape death at their hand.

In both cases, there were negative consequences. Yet in both cases, David’s actions saved his life and perhaps the lives of his followers.

So is lying wrong? Yes. Is saving a life right? Yes. In the context of war, life and death, there are sometimes no good decisions. Instead, David made the best choice of the available options.

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Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of all 31,173 verses of the Bible at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.

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