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New Living Translation

1 Samuel 23:1–18

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David Protects the Town of Keilah

One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?”

“Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.

But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”

So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the Lord what he should do. 10 Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?* And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”

And the Lord said, “He will come.”

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

And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”

David Hides in the Wilderness

13 So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all. 14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.

15 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. 16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” 18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

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23:11 Some manuscripts lack the first sentence of 23:11.