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23 When David heard that the Philistines had attacked Keilah, ransacking the threshing floors and stealing the grain, he prayed and asked God for guidance.

David (to the Lord): Should I attack these Philistines?

Eternal One: Yes. Save Keilah, and defeat the Philistines.

David’s Men (objecting): We have a lot to fear even as we sit here in Judah. Think how much worse it will be if we go to fight the armies of the Philistines in Keilah.

So David asked the Eternal again just to make sure.

Eternal One: Yes, defend Keilah. I will grant you victory over the Philistines.

So David and his men went down to Keilah and fought the Philistines, carried away their livestock, and slaughtered them. This is how David saved the people of Keilah.

When Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, came to David at Keilah, he had fled carrying a sacred priestly garment. When Saul heard that David had gone to rescue Keilah, he was hopeful.

Saul: Surely the True God has sent David into my trap because he has entered into a city with gates and bars.

So Saul summoned the people to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men. When David heard that Saul was coming to attack him, he asked Abiathar to bring him the priestly vest so that he could ask the True God for direction.

David: 10 Eternal God of Israel, Your servant has heard that Saul the king is coming to Keilah to destroy the city since I am here. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah hand me over to save their lives? Is what I heard true? Is Saul really coming? I beg of You, please tell Your servant.

Eternal One: He will come.

David: 12 Then will the men of Keilah hand me over along with my men to Saul when he arrives?

Eternal One: They will do this.

13 So David and his followers, who now numbered about 600, left Keilah going wherever they could. When Saul heard that David had left Keilah, he gave up the chase because the trail was now cold. 14 David hid out in secure places in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph in the land of the tribe of Judah. Every day, Saul sent out spies to find him and kill him, but the True God did not allow Saul to capture or kill David.

15 While David was in the wilderness of Ziph at a place called Horesh, he heard that Saul was looking for him. 16 Then Jonathan, son of Saul, figured out where David was and went out to meet him at Horesh. Although David and his men were in a tight spot, Jonathan reassured David’s faith in the True God.

Jonathan: 17 Don’t be afraid. My father Saul will not get his hands on you today or any other day. Someday you will be king over all Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.

18 Then the two of them made a sacred covenant before the Eternal One. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan returned to his home.

19 At that time, some of the people of Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and told him David was hiding in some of the secure places at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah to the south of Jeshimon.

People of Ziph: 20 Now, O king, come down whenever you desire, and we will do our part by handing him over to you.

Saul: 21 May the Eternal One favor you for having compassion on me! 22 Check one more time to be sure; find out where he is exactly and who has seen him there because I hear that he is crafty. 23 Look around, find out all his hiding places, and come back to me when you are certain of your information. Then I will go back with you, and if he is still in the land, I will find him among the tribe of Judah no matter how many thousands of people there are.

24 They set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Meanwhile David and his followers were hiding in the wilderness of Maon, in the desert plain[a] to the south of Jeshimon. 25 When Saul and his men went to search for them, David found out and went to the rock in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard this, he pursued David in the wilderness of Maon.

26 At one point, Saul and his men were on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other. David and his men picked up the pace, trying to escape, but Saul and his forces were closing in fast and hoped to capture them.

27 Then a messenger arrived and spoke to Saul.

Messenger: Come quickly! A Philistine raiding party is in the land!

28 So Saul stopped his pursuit of David and went to fight the Philistines, which is why that place is known as the Rock of Escape.

29 From there David went up and lived in the narrow canyons and cliffs of Engedi.


  1. 23:24 Hebrew, Arabah

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