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Saul’s Final Pursuit of David

26 The people of Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah. “David is hiding at the hill of Hachilah near Jeshimon,” they said.

Saul went to the desert of Ziph, taking with him 3,000 of Israel’s best-trained men to search for David. Saul camped by the road at the hill of Hachilah near Jeshimon, but David stayed in the desert. When he realized Saul had come to the desert for him, David sent spies to confirm that Saul had arrived.

Then David went to the place where Saul had camped. David saw the place where Saul and Ner’s son Abner, the commander of the army, were lying. Saul was lying in the camp, and the troops were camped around him.

David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai, who was Zeruiah’s son and Joab’s brother, “Who will go with me to Saul in the camp?”

Abishai answered, “I’ll go with you.”

So David and Abishai went among Saul’s troops that night. Saul was lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying around him. Abishai said to David, “Today Elohim has turned your enemy over to you. Please let me nail him to the ground with one stab of the spear. I won’t have to do it twice!”

“Don’t kill him!” David told Abishai. “No one has ever attacked Yahweh’s anointed king and remained free of guilt. 10 I solemnly swear, as Yahweh lives,” David added, “Yahweh will strike him. Either his time will come when he’ll die naturally, or he’ll go into battle and be swept away. 11 It would be unthinkable for me to attack Yahweh’s anointed king. But please take that spear near his head and that jar of water, and let’s go.”

12 David took the spear and the jar of water near Saul’s head, and they left. All of them were asleep. No one saw them, knew about it, or woke up. Yahweh had made them fall into a deep sleep.

13 David went over to the other side and stood on top of the hill some distance away. (There was a wide space between them.) 14 Then David called to the troops and to Ner’s son Abner. “Won’t you answer, Abner?” he asked.

“Who is calling the king?” Abner asked.

15 David asked Abner, “Aren’t you a man? Is there anyone like you in Israel? Then why didn’t you guard your master, the king? Someone came to kill His Royal Majesty. 16 What you’ve done isn’t good. I solemnly swear, as Yahweh lives, you are dead men. You didn’t guard your master, Yahweh’s anointed king. Look at the king’s spear and the jar of water that were near his head.”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice. “Is that your voice, my servant David?” he asked.

“It is my voice, Your Royal Majesty,” David answered. 18 “Why are you pursuing me?” he added. “What have I done? What crime have I committed? 19 Your Majesty, please listen to my words. If Yahweh has turned you against me, let him be satisfied with an offering. But if mere mortals have turned you against me, let them be cursed by Yahweh. They have prevented me from having a share of Yahweh’s inheritance. ‘Go and serve other gods,’ they tell me. 20 Don’t let my blood fall to the ground, away from Yahweh’s presence. The king of Israel has come to search for one flea like someone hunting a partridge in the hills.”

21 “My servant David,” Saul said, “I have sinned. Come back. I will not harm you again, because you valued my life today. I’ve acted like a fool and made a terrible mistake.”

22 David responded, “Here’s the king’s spear. One of the young men should come over and get it. 23 Yahweh will reward any person who is righteous and faithful. Yahweh handed you over to me today, but I refused to attack Yahweh’s anointed king. 24 As I placed great value on your life today, may Yahweh place great value on my life and rescue me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said, “Blessed are you, my servant David. You will accomplish many things and certainly will succeed.”

So David went his way, while Saul returned home.