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1 Samuel 22:1–24:22

David at Adullam and Mizpah

22 David left Gath and escaped to the caves of Adullam.t When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gatheredu around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him.

From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab,v and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.

But the prophet Gadw said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.x

Saul Kills the Priests of Nob

Now Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. And Saul was seated,y spear in hand, under the tamariskz tree on the hill at Gibeah, with all his officials standing at his side. He said to them, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commandersa of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspiredb against me? No one tells me when my son makes a covenantc with the son of Jesse.d None of you is concernede about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today.”

But Doegf the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, “I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitubg at Nob.h 10 Ahimelek inquiredi of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisionsj and the swordk of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Then the king sent for the priest Ahimelek son of Ahitub and all the men of his family, who were the priests at Nob, and they all came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.”

“Yes, my lord,” he answered.

13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspiredl against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?”

14 Ahimelek answered the king, “Whom of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? 15 Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.”

16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.n

17 Then the king ordered the guards at his side: “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.”

But the king’s officials were unwillingo to raise a hand to strike the priests of the Lord.

18 The king then ordered Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests.”p So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck them down. That day he killed eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod.q 19 He also put to the swordr Nob,s the town of the priests, with its men and women, its children and infants, and its cattle, donkeys and sheep.

20 But one son of Ahimelek son of Ahitub,t named Abiathar,u escaped and fled to join David.v 21 He told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doegw the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. 23 Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill youx is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”

David Saves Keilah

23 When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilahy and are looting the threshing floors,”z he inquireda of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?”

The Lord answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.”

But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!”

Once again David inquiredb of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistinesc into your hand.dSo David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. (Now Abiathare son of Ahimelek had brought the ephodf down with him when he fled to David at Keilah.)

Saul Pursues David

Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands,g for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.”h And Saul called up all his forces for battle, to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.

When David learned that Saul was plotting against him, he said to Abiathari the priest, “Bring the ephod.j10 David said, “Lord, God of Israel, your servant has heard definitely that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town on account of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? Lord, God of Israel, tell your servant.”

And the Lord said, “He will.”

12 Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrenderk me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord said, “They will.”

13 So David and his men,l about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there.

14 David stayed in the wildernessm strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph.n Day after day Saul searchedo for him, but God did notp give David into his hands.

15 While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned thata Saul had come out to take his life.q 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strengthr in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be kings over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenantt before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

19 The Ziphitesu went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Is not David hiding among usv in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hakilah,w south of Jeshimon? 20 Now, Your Majesty, come down whenever it pleases you to do so, and we will be responsible for givingx him into your hands.”

21 Saul replied, “The Lord blessy you for your concernz for me. 22 Go and get more information. Find out where David usually goes and who has seen him there. They tell me he is very crafty. 23 Find out about all the hiding places he uses and come back to me with definite information. Then I will go with you; if he is in the area, I will tracka him down among all the clans of Judah.”

24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the Desert of Maon,b in the Arabah south of Jeshimon.c 25 Saul and his men began the search, and when David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Desert of Maon. When Saul heard this, he went into the Desert of Maon in pursuit of David.

26 Sauld was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his forces were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Come quickly! The Philistines are raiding the land.” 28 Then Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. That is why they call this place Sela Hammahlekoth.b 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholdse of En Gedi.c f

David Spares Saul’s Life

24 a After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.gSo Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to lookh for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cavei was there, and Saul went in to relievej himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, “This is the day the Lord spokek of when he saidb to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ”l Then David crept up unnoticed and cutm off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Afterward, David was conscience-strickenn for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed,o or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.” With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.

Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.p He said to Saul, “Why do you listenq when men say, ‘David is bent on harmingr you’? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spareds you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cutt off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guiltyu of wrongdoingv or rebellion. I have not wrongedw you, but you are huntingx me down to take my life.y 12 May the Lord judgez between you and me. And may the Lord avengea the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,b’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog?c A flea?d 15 May the Lord be our judgee and decidef between us. May he consider my cause and upholdg it; may he vindicateh me by deliveringi me from your hand.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice,j David my son?” And he wept aloud. 17 “You are more righteous than I

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