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David Again Spares Saul

26 The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding on the hill of Hakilah opposite Jeshimon?” Then Saul got up and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, and three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.

Now Saul was on the hill of Hakilah, which is opposite Jeshimon by the road, but David was staying in the wilderness. When he realized that Saul had come to the wilderness after him, David sent spies, and he learned that Saul had come for certain.[a] Then David got up and came to the place where Saul had encamped, and David saw the place where Saul was lying down, as well as[b] Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. (Now Saul was lying in the encampment, and the army was encamping around him.)

David answered and said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah the brother of Joab, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul, in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai came to the army by night, and there was[c] Saul lying asleep in the encampment with[d] his spear thrust into the ground near his head, and Abner and the army were lying all around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has handed over your enemy into your hand today! So then, please let me pin him to the ground with the spear[e] one time,[f] and I will not strike him twice.”[g] But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy[h] him! For who has stretched out his hand against Yahweh’s anointed one and remained blameless?” 10 And David said, “As Yahweh lives,[i] certainly[j] Yahweh will strike him, or his day will come and he will die, or he will go down in the battle and perish.[k] 11 Yahweh forbid me[l] from stretching out my hand against Yahweh’s anointed one! So then, please take the spear that is near his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from near Saul’s head, and they went away. No one saw, no one knew, and no one awakened,[m] for all of them were sleeping because a deep sleep of Yahweh had fallen upon them.

13 Then David went to the other side and stood on the top of the hill at a distance; the distance was great between them. 14 David called out to the army and to Abner the son of Ner, “Will you not answer, Abner?” And Abner answered and said, “Who are you that you call to the king?” 15 So David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why did you not keep watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came to destroy[n] your lord the king. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As Yahweh lives,[o] surely you people deserve to die[p] since you have not kept watch over your lord, over Yahweh’s anointed one! So then, see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was near his head!” 17 Then Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord the king.” 18 Then he said, “Why is my lord pursuing after his servant? For what have I done? And what evil is in my hand? 19 And so then, please let my lord the king listen to the words of his servant: If Yahweh has incited you against me, may he delight in an offering; but if it is mortals,[q] may they be accursed before[r] Yahweh, for they have driven me away today from sharing in the inheritance of Yahweh, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods!’ 20 And so then, do not let my blood fall to the ground away from[s] the presence of Yahweh, for the king of Israel has gone out to seek a single flea, as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned! Come back, David my son, for I will not harm you again, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Look, I have acted like a fool and have made a terrible mistake.”[t] 22 David answered and said, “Here is the king’s spear; let one of the young men[u] come over and take it. 23 Yahweh repays to each one his righteousness and his faithfulness, for Yahweh gave you into my hand today, but I was not willing to stretch out my hand against Yahweh’s anointed. 24 Look, as your life was precious in my eyes this day, may my life be great in the eyes of Yahweh, and may he rescue me from all trouble.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed are you, my son David; you will not only do many things, but also will always succeed!”[v] Then David went on his way and Saul returned to his place.


  1. 1 Samuel 26:4 Literally “to be established”
  2. 1 Samuel 26:5 Literally “and”
  3. 1 Samuel 26:7 Literally “look” or “behold”
  4. 1 Samuel 26:7 Hebrew “and”
  5. 1 Samuel 26:8 Literally “let me strike him please with the spear and in the ground”
  6. 1 Samuel 26:8 Literally “one occurrence”
  7. 1 Samuel 26:8 Literally “I will not repeat for him”
  8. 1 Samuel 26:9 Or “kill”
  9. 1 Samuel 26:10 Literally “The life of Yahweh”
  10. 1 Samuel 26:10 Literally “if surely”
  11. 1 Samuel 26:10 Literally “will be carried away”
  12. 1 Samuel 26:11 Literally “Far be it from me from Yahweh”
  13. 1 Samuel 26:12 Literally “there was not anyone seeing and there was not anyone knowing and there was not anyone awakening”
  14. 1 Samuel 26:15 Or “to kill”
  15. 1 Samuel 26:16 Literally “the life of Yahweh”
  16. 1 Samuel 26:16 Literally “you are sons of death”
  17. 1 Samuel 26:19 Literally “it is the sons of humankind”
  18. 1 Samuel 26:19 Literally “to the face of”
  19. 1 Samuel 26:20 Literally “from before”
  20. 1 Samuel 26:21 Literally “have gone greatly astray”
  21. 1 Samuel 26:22 Or “servants”
  22. 1 Samuel 26:25 Literally “you will do many things and also always you will prevail”