Let’s read Mark 2:23-24, “And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?” We must ask…What law had the Lord’s disciples broken? It is true that work was prohibited on the Sabbath as we read in Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” The Sabbath was a day given to men to make sure they rested, even as the Lord rested after the sixth day of creation. Genesis 2:2-3 tells us, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

But, what actions of the disciples were considered to be against the law? Surely, to eat on the Sabbath was not sinful. Were they guilty of stealing someone’s corn? Let’s read Deuteronomy 23:25, “When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.” The Lord gracefully made provision for those who were hungry. They were able to pick the standing corn to eat, but not to use a sickle to reap more corn than they needed for the time. It was made lawful by the Law, without any distinction of days; but the Pharisees had denied its lawfulness on the Sabbath. The Lord uses the Word to show them they were wrong to accuse the disciples.

Let’s read the Lord’s words in Mark 2:25-26, “And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?” (The account of this event is found in 1 Samuel 21:1-6) It was lawful for only the priests to eat the shew-bread; but David and his men were starving and no other bread could be had at the time. Therefore he and his companions ate of the bread without sin. Because of their need to eat, David declared of the hallowed bread in verse 5, “the bread is in a manner common.” Thus the Lord said in Mark 2:27, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” Would the Lord use the Sabbath to further inflict those who were poor and hungry? Would He value the observance of this day above the needs of the people He loved and provided for? Did the Lord create the Sabbath to make His people miserable? No. No, He would not! The Sabbath was created for the benefit of man, not to punish and restrict those in need.

It is not coincidence that the Lord pointed to the incident with David to show these Pharisees their fallacy. David was the rightful king of Israel, but was in a state of rejection. The Lord Jesus was the eternal rightful king of Israel, but was also in a state of rejection. I will finish this brief meditation by quoting Wm. Kelly, a gifted writer of the 19th century. He writes, “Thus it is that the Lord vindicates the disciples and maintains the principle that when God’s witness is refused, it is madness for the rejecters to pretend to be glorifying God. Were they then despising a greater than David? For such to talk about the Sabbath-day in order to lay heavier burdens on the righteous, what was it in God’s eyes?” (239.4)