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1 Samuel 23 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

David Rescues the Town of Keilah

23 One day some people told David, “The Philistines keep attacking the town of Keilah and stealing grain from the threshing place.”

David asked the Lord, “Should I attack these Philistines?”

“Yes,” the Lord answered. “Attack them and rescue Keilah.”

But David’s men said, “Look, even here in Judah we’re afraid of the Philistines. We will be terrified if we try to fight them at Keilah!”[a]

David asked the Lord about it again. “Leave right now,” the Lord answered. “I will give you victory over the Philistines at Keilah.”

David and his men went there and fiercely attacked the Philistines. They killed many of them, then led away their cattle, and rescued the people of Keilah.

6-8 Meanwhile, Saul heard that David was in Keilah. “God has let me catch David,” Saul said. “David is trapped inside a walled town where the gates can be locked.” Saul decided to go there and surround the town, in order to trap David and his men. He sent messengers who told the towns and villages, “Send men to serve in Saul’s army!”

By this time, Abiathar had joined David in Keilah and had brought along everything he needed to get answers from God.

David heard about Saul’s plan to capture him, and he told Abiathar, “Let’s ask God what we should do.”

10 David prayed, “Lord God of Israel, I was told that Saul is planning to come here. What should I do? Suppose he threatens to destroy the town because of me. 11 Would the leaders of Keilah turn me over to Saul? Or is he really coming? Please tell me, Lord.”

“Yes, he will come,” the Lord answered.

12 David asked, “Would the leaders of Keilah hand me and my soldiers over to Saul?”

“Yes, they would,” the Lord answered.

13 David and his six hundred men got out of there fast and started moving from place to place. Saul heard that David had left Keilah, and he decided not to go after him.

Jonathan Says David Will Be King

14 David stayed in hideouts in the hill country of Ziph Desert. Saul kept searching, but God never let Saul catch him.

15 One time, David was at Horesh in Ziph Desert. He was afraid because[b] Saul had come to the area to kill him. 16 But Jonathan went to see David, and God helped him encourage David. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan said. “My father Saul will never get his hands on you. In fact, you’re going to be the next king of Israel, and I’ll be your highest official. Even my father knows it’s true.”

18 They both promised the Lord that they would always be loyal to each other. Then Jonathan went home, but David stayed at Horesh.

David Escapes from Saul

19 Some people from the town of Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Your Majesty, David has a hideout not far from us! It’s near Horesh, somewhere on Mount Hachilah south of Jeshimon.[c] 20 If you come, we will help you catch him.”

21 Saul told them:

You’ve done me a big favor, and I pray that the Lord will bless you. 22 Now please do just a little more for me. Find out exactly where David is, as well as where he goes, and who has seen him there. I’ve been told that he’s very tricky. 23 Find out where all his hiding places are and come back when you’re sure. Then I’ll go with you. If he is still in the area, or anywhere among the clans of Judah, I’ll find him.

24 The people from Ziph went back ahead of Saul, and they found out that David and his men were still south of Jeshimon in the Maon Desert. 25 Saul and his army set out to find David. But David heard that Saul was coming, and he went to a place called The Rock, one of his hideouts in Maon Desert.

Saul found out where David was and started closing in on him. 26 Saul was going around a hill on one side, and David and his men were on the other side, trying to get away. Saul and his soldiers were just about to capture David and his men, 27 when a messenger came to Saul and said, “Come quickly! The Philistines are attacking Israel and taking everything.”

28 Saul stopped going after David and went back to fight the Philistines. That’s why the place is called “Escape Rock.”

29 David left and went to live in the hideouts at En-Gedi.

Footnotes:

  1. 23.3 Keilah: Keilah was probably not controlled by Israelites at this time.
  2. 23.15 He. . . because: Or “He saw that.”
  3. 23.19 Jeshimon: A place in the desert near the southern border of Judah.

1 Samuel 23 New International Version (NIV)

David Saves Keilah

23 When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired 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 inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand. So 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 Abiathar son of Ahimelek had brought the ephod 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, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates and bars.” 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 Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod. 10 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 surrender me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord said, “They will.”

13 So David and his men, 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 wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands.

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

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

21 Saul replied, “The Lord bless you for your concern 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 track 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, in the Arabah south of Jeshimon. 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 Saul 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 strongholds of En Gedi.[c]

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 23:15 Or he was afraid because
  2. 1 Samuel 23:28 Sela Hammahlekoth means rock of parting.
  3. 1 Samuel 23:29 In Hebrew texts this verse (23:29) is numbered 24:1.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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