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English Standard Version

1 Samuel 21:1–22:23

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David and the Holy Bread

21 1 Then David came to vNob, to wAhimelech the priest. And Ahimelech xcame to meet David, trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is yholy bread—zif the young men have kept themselves from women.” And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him ythe holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, awhich is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord. His name was bDoeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen.

Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” And the priest said, c“The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in dthe Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”

David Flees to Gath

10 And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to eAchish the king of Gath. 11 And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? fDid they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,

and David his ten thousands’?”

12 And David gtook these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, 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 behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David at the Cave of Adullam

22 David departed from there and escaped to hthe cave of iAdullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. jAnd everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul,1 gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him kabout four hundred men.

And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay2 with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet lGad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Kills the Priests at Nob

Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under mthe tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; will the son of Jesse ngive every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me owhen my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you pis sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, qto lie in wait, as at this day.” Then answered rDoeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse scoming to Nob, to tAhimelech the son of Ahitub, 10 uand he inquired of the Lord for him and vgave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king. 12 And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 And 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 uhave inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, wto lie in wait, as at this day?” 14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king’s son-in-law, and captain over3 your bodyguard, and honored in your house? 15 Is today the first time uthat I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, xmuch or little.” 16 And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.” 17 And the king said to ythe guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, zand he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. 19 And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; aboth man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.

20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named bAbiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, cwhen Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father’s house. 23 dStay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”

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