1 Samuel 21-24 World English Bible

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David Flees from Saul

21 1  Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech came to meet David trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no man with you?” 2  David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commanded me a business, and has said to me, ‘Let no man know anything of the business about which I send you, and what I have commanded you; and I have appointed the young men to such and such a place.’ 3  Now therefore what is under your hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever there is present.” 4  The priest answered David, and said, “There is no common bread under my hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5  David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about these three days. When I came out, the vessels of the young men were holy, though it was but a common journey. How much more then today shall their vessels be holy?” 6  So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the show bread, that was taken from before Yahweh, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away. 7  Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before Yahweh; and his name was Doeg the Edomite, the best of the herdsmen who belonged to Saul. 8  David said to Ahimelech, “Isn’t there here under your hand spear or sword? For I have neither brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” 9  The priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it; for there is no other except that here.”

David said, “There is none like that. Give it to me.”

10  David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11  The servants of Achish said to him, “Isn’t this David the king of the land? Didn’t they sing one to another about him in dances, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands?’” 12  David laid up these words in his heart, and was very afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13  He changed his behavior before them, and feigned himself mad in their hands, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down on his beard. 14  Then said Achish to his servants, “Look, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15  Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

22 1  David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. 2  Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented, gathered themselves to him; and he became captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men. 3  David went there to Mizpeh of Moab, and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother come out with you, until I know what God will do for me.” 4  He brought them before the king of Moab; and they lived with him all the while that David was in the stronghold. 5  The prophet Gad said to David, “Don’t stay in the stronghold. Depart, and go into the land of Judah.”

Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Kills the Priests of Nob

6  Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Now Saul was sitting in Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree in Ramah, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. 7  Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give everyone of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, 8  that all of you have conspired against me, and there is none who discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me, or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” 9  Then Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, answered and said, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10  He inquired of Yahweh for him, gave him food, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” 11  Then the king sent to call Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were in Nob: and they came all of them to the king. 12  Saul said, “Hear now, you son of Ahitub.”

He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13  Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread, and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” 14  Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and is taken into your council, and is honorable in your house? 15  Have I today begun to inquire of God for him? Be it far from me! Don’t let the king impute anything to his servant, nor to all the house of my father; for your servant knows nothing of all this, less or more.” 16  The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you, and all your father’s house.” 17  The king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn, and kill the priests of Yahweh; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew that he fled, and didn’t disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king wouldn’t put forth their hand to fall on the priests of Yahweh. 18  The king said to Doeg, “Turn and attack the priests!”

Doeg the Edomite turned, and he attacked the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five people who wore a linen ephod. 19  He struck Nob, the city of the priests, with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing babies, and cattle and donkeys and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

20  One of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. 21  Abiathar told David that Saul had slain Yahweh’s priests. 22  David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23  Stay with me, don’t be afraid; for he who seeks my life seeks your life. For with me you shall be in safeguard.”

David in the Wilderness

23 1  David was told, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2  Therefore David inquired of Yahweh, saying, “Shall I go and strike these Philistines?”

Yahweh said to David, “Go strike the Philistines, and save Keilah.” 3  David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah: how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4  Then David inquired of Yahweh yet again. Yahweh answered him, and said, “Arise, go down to Keilah; for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.” 5  David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their livestock, and killed them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. 6  It happened, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand.

7  It was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars.” 8  Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. 9  David knew that Saul was devising mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10  Then David said, “O Yahweh, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. 11  Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Yahweh, the God of Israel, I beg you, tell your servant.”

Yahweh said, “He will come down.” 12  Then said David, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?”

Yahweh said, “They will deliver you up.” 13  Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go. It was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he gave up going there.

14  David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God didn’t deliver him into his hand. 15  David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph in the wood. 16  Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose, and went to David into the woods, and strengthened his hand in God. 17  He said to him, “Don’t be afraid; for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you; and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you; and that also Saul my father knows.” 18  They both made a covenant before Yahweh: and David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his house.

19  Then the Ziphites came up to Saul to Gibeah, saying, “Doesn’t David hide himself with us in the strongholds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is on the south of the desert? 20  Now therefore, O king, come down, according to all the desire of your soul to come down; and our part shall be to deliver him up into the king’s hand.” 21  Saul said, “You are blessed by Yahweh; for you have had compassion on me. 22  Please go make yet more sure, and know and see his place where his haunt is, and who has seen him there; for it is told me that he deals very subtly. 23  See therefore, and take knowledge of all the lurking places where he hides himself, and come again to me with certainty, and I will go with you: and it shall happen, if he is in the land, that I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.” 24  They arose, and went to Ziph before Saul: but David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah on the south of the desert. 25  Saul and his men went to seek him. When David was told, he went down to the rock, and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. 26  Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men surrounded David and his men to take them. 27  But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land!” 28  So Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela Hammahlekoth. 29  David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.

David Spares Saul at Engedi

24 1  It happened, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of En Gedi.” 2  Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats. 3  He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave. 4  The men of David said to him, “Behold, the day of which Yahweh said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe secretly. 5  It happened afterward, that David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6  He said to his men, “Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, Yahweh’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, since he is Yahweh’s anointed.” 7  So David checked his men with these words, and didn’t allow them to rise against Saul. Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. 8  David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, “My lord the king!”

When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and did obeisance.

9  David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to men’s words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks your hurt?’ 10  Behold, this day your eyes have seen how that Yahweh had delivered you today into my hand in the cave. Some urged me to kill you; but I spared you; and I said, I will not put forth my hand against my lord; for he is Yahweh’s anointed. 11  Moreover, my father, behold, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for in that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and didn’t kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor disobedience in my hand, and I have not sinned against you, though you hunt for my life to take it. 12  May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh avenge me of you; but my hand shall not be on you. 13  As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness;’ but my hand shall not be on you. 14  Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15  May Yahweh therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.”

16  It came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. 17  He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have done good to me, whereas I have done evil to you. 18  You have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, because when Yahweh had delivered me up into your hand, you didn’t kill me. 19  For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may Yahweh reward you good for that which you have done to me this day. 20  Now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21  Swear now therefore to me by Yahweh, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” 22  David swore to Saul. Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

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