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Saul Destroys the Amalekites

15 One day Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel. Now listen to his message. The Lord All-Powerful says: ‘When the Israelites came out of Egypt, the Amalekites tried to stop them from going to Canaan. I saw what the Amalekites did. Now go fight against the Amalekites. You must completely destroy the Amalekites and everything that belongs to them. Don’t let anything live; you must kill all the men and women and all of their children and little babies. You must kill all of their cattle and sheep and all of their camels and donkeys.’”

Saul gathered the army together at Telaim. There were 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 other men, including the men from Judah. Then Saul went to the city of Amalek and waited in the valley. He said to the Kenites, “Go away! Leave the Amalekites. Then I won’t destroy you with the Amalekites. You showed kindness to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.” So the Kenites left the Amalekites.

Saul defeated the Amalekites. He fought them and chased them all the way from Havilah to Shur, at the border of Egypt. Agag was the king of the Amalekites. Saul captured Agag alive. Saul let Agag live, but he killed all the men in Agag’s army. Saul and the Israelite soldiers felt bad about destroying everything. So they let Agag live. They also kept the fat cattle, the best sheep, and the lambs. They kept everything that was worth keeping. They didn’t want to destroy those things. They destroyed only what was not worth keeping.

Samuel Tells Saul About His Sin

10 Then Samuel received this message from the Lord: 11 “Saul has stopped following me, so I am sorry that I made him king. He is not doing what I tell him.” Samuel became angry and cried to the Lord all night.

12 Samuel got up early the next morning and went to meet Saul. But the people told Samuel, “Saul went to Carmel. He went there to set up a stone monument to honor himself. Then he left there and went down to Gilgal.”

So Samuel went to Saul. Saul had just offered the first part of the things he took from the Amalekites as a burnt offering to the Lord.[a] 13 When Samuel came near to Saul, Saul greeted him and said, “The Lord bless you! I have obeyed the Lord’s commands.”

14 But Samuel said, “Then what is that sound I hear? Why do I hear sheep and cattle?”

15 Saul said, “The soldiers took them from the Amalekites. They saved the best sheep and cattle to burn as sacrifices to the Lord your God. But we destroyed everything else.”

16 Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Let me tell you what the Lord told me last night.”

Saul answered, “Tell me what he said.”

17 Samuel said, “In the past you didn’t think that you were important, but the Lord chose you to be the king. So you became the leader of the tribes of Israel. 18 The Lord sent you on a special mission. He said, ‘Go and destroy all the Amalekites. They are evil people. Destroy them all! Fight them until they are completely finished.’ 19 So why didn’t you listen to the Lord? You did what the Lord said is wrong because you wanted to keep what you took in battle.”

20 Saul said, “But I did obey the Lord! I went where the Lord sent me. I destroyed all the Amalekites. I brought back only one—their king Agag. 21 And the soldiers took the best sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God at Gilgal.”

22 But Samuel answered, “Which pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obeying his commands? It is better to obey the Lord than to offer sacrifices to him. It is better to listen to him than to offer the fat from rams. 23 Refusing to obey is as bad as the sin of sorcery. Being stubborn and doing what you want is like the sin of worshiping idols. You refused to obey the Lord’s command, so he now refuses to accept you as king.”

24 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I did not obey the Lord’s commands, and I did not do what you told me. I was afraid of the people, and I did what they said. 25 Now I beg you, forgive me for doing this sin. Come back with me, so I may worship the Lord.”

26 But Samuel said to Saul, “I won’t go back with you. You rejected the Lord’s command, and now the Lord rejects you as king of Israel.”

27 When Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught Samuel’s robe. The robe tore. 28 Samuel said to Saul, “In this same way the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today. He has given the kingdom to one of your friends, a man who is a better person than you. 29 The one who lives forever, the God of Israel, does not lie and will not change his mind. He is not like a man who is always changing his mind.”

30 Saul answered, “All right, I sinned! But please come back with me. Show me some respect in front of the leaders and the Israelites. Come back with me so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32 Samuel said, “Bring King Agag of the Amalekites to me.”

Agag came to Samuel. Agag was tied with chains and thought, “Surely he won’t kill me.”[b]

33 But Samuel said to Agag, “Your sword took babies from their mothers. So now, your mother will have no children.” And Samuel cut Agag to pieces before the Lord at Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel left and went to Ramah. And Saul went up to his home in Gibeah. 35 After that Samuel never saw Saul again. Samuel was very sad for Saul. And the Lord was very sorry that he had made Saul king of Israel.

Samuel Goes to Bethlehem

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you feel sorry for Saul? I have rejected him as king of Israel. Fill your horn[c] with oil and go to Bethlehem. I am sending you to Jesse who lives in Bethlehem, because I have chosen one of his sons to be the new king.”

But Samuel said, “If I go, Saul will hear the news and try to kill me.”

The Lord said, “Go to Bethlehem. Take a young calf with you and tell them, ‘I have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice. Then I will show you what to do. You must anoint the person I show you.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him to do and went to Bethlehem. The elders of Bethlehem shook with fear. They met Samuel and asked, “Do you come in peace?”

Samuel answered, “Yes, I come in peace. I come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. Prepare yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Samuel prepared Jesse and his sons. Then he invited them to come and share the sacrifice.

When Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the man who the Lord has chosen.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Eliab is tall and handsome, but don’t judge by things like that. God doesn’t look at what people see. People judge by what is on the outside, but the Lord looks at the heart. Eliab is not the right man.”

Then Jesse called his second son, Abinadab. Abinadab walked by Samuel. But Samuel said, “No, this is not the man who the Lord chose.”

Then Jesse told Shammah to walk by Samuel. But Samuel said, “No, the Lord did not choose this man, either.”

10 Jesse showed seven of his sons to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these men.”

11 Then he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Jesse answered, “No, I have another son—my youngest, but he is out taking care of the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him. Bring him here. We won’t sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 Jesse sent someone to get his youngest son. This son was a good-looking, healthy[d] young man. He was very handsome.

The Lord said to Samuel, “Get up and anoint him. He is the one.”

13 Samuel took the horn with the oil in it, and poured the special oil on Jesse’s youngest son in front of his brothers. The Spirit of the Lord came on David with great power from that day on. Then Samuel went back home to Ramah.

An Evil Spirit Bothers Saul

14 The Lord’s Spirit left Saul. Then the Lord sent an evil spirit to Saul that caused him much trouble. 15 Saul’s servants said to him, “An evil spirit from God is bothering you. 16 Give us the command and we will look for someone who can play the harp. If the evil spirit from God comes on you, this person will play music for you. Then you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his servants, “Find someone who plays music well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants said, “There is a man named Jesse living in Bethlehem. I saw Jesse’s son. He knows how to play the harp. He is also a brave man and fights well. He is smart and handsome, and the Lord is with him.”

19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse. They told Jesse, “You have a son named David. He takes care of your sheep. Send him to me.”

20 So Jesse got some things as a gift for Saul. Jesse got a donkey, some bread and a leather bag full of wine, and a young goat. He gave them to David and sent him to Saul. 21 So David went to Saul and stood in front of him. Saul loved David very much. David became the helper who carried Saul’s weapons. 22 Saul sent a message to Jesse. “Let David stay and serve me. I like him very much.”

23 Any time the evil spirit from God came on Saul, David would take his harp and play it. The evil spirit would leave Saul and he would begin to feel better.

Goliath Challenges Israel

17 The Philistines gathered their armies together for war. They met at Socoh in Judah. Their camp was between Socoh and Azekah, at a town called Ephes Dammim.

Saul and the Israelite soldiers also gathered together. Their camp was in the Valley of Elah. Saul’s soldiers were lined up and ready to fight the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill. The Israelites were on the other hill. The valley was between them.

The Philistines had a champion fighter named Goliath, who was from Gath. He was over 9 feet[e] tall. Goliath came out of the Philistine camp. He had a bronze helmet on his head. He wore a coat of armor that was made like the scales on a fish. This armor was made of bronze and weighed about 125 pounds.[f] Goliath wore bronze protectors on his legs. He had a bronze javelin tied on his back. The wooden part of his spear was as big as a weaver’s rod. The spear’s blade weighed 15 pounds.[g] Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying Goliath’s shield.

Each day Goliath would come out and shout a challenge to the Israelite soldiers. He would say, “Why are all of your soldiers lined up ready for battle? You are Saul’s servants. I am a Philistine. So choose one man and send him to fight me. If that man kills me, he wins and we Philistines will become your slaves. But if I kill your man, then I win, and you will become our slaves. You will have to serve us.”

10 The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel. I dare you to send me one of your men and let us fight.”

11 Saul and the Israelite soldiers heard what Goliath said, and they were very afraid.

David Goes to the Battle Front

12 [h] David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was from the Ephrathah family in Bethlehem, Judah. Jesse had eight sons. In Saul’s time Jesse was an old man. 13 Jesse’s three oldest sons went with Saul to the war. The first son was Eliab, the second was Abinadab, and the third was Shammah. 14 David was the youngest son. The three oldest sons were in Saul’s army, 15 but David left Saul from time to time to take care of his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.

16 The Philistine came out every morning and evening and stood before the Israelite army. Goliath insulted Israel like this for 40 days.

17 One day Jesse said to his son David, “Take this basket[i] of cooked grain and these ten loaves of bread to your brothers in the camp. 18 Also take these ten pieces of cheese for the officer who commands your brothers’ group of 1000 soldiers. See how your brothers are doing. Bring back something to show me your brothers are all right. 19 Your brothers are with Saul and all the Israelite soldiers in the Valley of Elah. They are there to fight against the Philistines.”

20 Early in the morning, David had another shepherd take care of the sheep while he took the food and left as Jesse had told him to. David drove their wagon to the camp. The soldiers were going out to their battle positions just as David arrived. The soldiers began shouting their war cry. 21 The Israelites and Philistines were lined up and ready for battle.

22 David left the food with the man who kept supplies. Then he ran to the place where the Israelite soldiers were and asked about his brothers. 23 While David was talking with his brothers, the Philistine champion fighter came out from the Philistine army. This was Goliath, the Philistine from Gath. Goliath shouted things against Israel as usual. David heard what he said.

24 The Israelite soldiers saw Goliath and ran away. They were all afraid of him. 25 One of the Israelite men said, “Did you see that man? Look at him! He comes out each day and makes fun of Israel. Whoever kills him will get rich. King Saul will give him a lot of money. Saul will also let his daughter marry the man who kills Goliath. He will also make that man’s family free from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What did he say? What is the reward for killing this Philistine and taking away this shame from Israel? Who is this Goliath anyway? He is only some foreigner,[j] nothing but a Philistine. Why does he think he can speak against the army of the living God?”

27 So the Israelite told David about the reward for killing Goliath. 28 David’s oldest brother Eliab heard David talking with the soldiers and became angry. Eliab asked David, “Why did you come here? Who did you leave those few sheep with in the desert? I know why you came down here. You didn’t want to do what you were told to do. You just wanted to come down here to watch the battle.”

29 David said, “What did I do now? I didn’t do anything wrong! I was only talking.” 30 He turned to some other people and asked them the same questions. They gave him the same answers as before.

31 Some men heard David talking. They took David to Saul and told him what David had said. 32 David said to Saul, “People shouldn’t let Goliath discourage them. I am your servant. I will go fight this Philistine.”

33 Saul answered, “You can’t go out and fight against this Philistine. You’re not even a soldier![k] Goliath has been fighting in wars since he was a boy.”

34 But David said to Saul, “There were times when I was taking care of my father’s sheep that wild animals came to take some sheep from the flock. Once there was a lion and another time, a bear. 35 I chased that wild animal, attacked it, and took the sheep from its mouth. The wild animal jumped on me, but I caught it by the fur under its mouth. And I hit it and killed it. 36 I killed both a lion and a bear like that! And I will kill that foreigner, Goliath, just like them. Goliath will die because he made fun of the army of the living God. 37 The Lord saved me from the lion and the bear. He will also save me from this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go and may the Lord be with you.” 38 Saul put his own clothes on David. He put a bronze helmet on David’s head and armor on his body. 39 David put on the sword and tried to walk around. He tried to wear Saul’s uniform, but David was not used to all those heavy things.

David said to Saul, “I can’t fight in these things. I’m not used to them.” So David took them all off. 40 He took his walking stick in his hand and went to find five smooth stones from the stream. He put the five stones in his shepherd’s bag and held his sling in his hand. Then he went out to meet the Philistine.

David Kills Goliath

41 The Philistine slowly walked closer and closer to David. Goliath’s helper walked in front of him, carrying a large shield. 42 Goliath looked at David with disgust. He saw that David was only a handsome, healthy[l] boy.[m] 43 Goliath said to David, “What is that stick for? Did you come to chase me away like a dog?” Then Goliath used the names of his gods to say curses against David. 44 He said to David, “Come here, and I’ll feed your body to the birds and wild animals.”

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come to me using sword, spear, and javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel. You have said bad things about him. 46 Today the Lord will let me defeat you. I will kill you. I will cut off your head and feed your body to the birds and wild animals. And we will do the same thing to all the other Philistines too. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel. 47 All the people gathered here will know that the Lord doesn’t need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to the Lord, and he will help us defeat all of you.”

48 Goliath the Philistine started to attack David. He slowly walked closer and closer toward David, but David ran out to meet Goliath.

49 David took out a stone from his bag. He put it in his sling and swung the sling. The stone flew from the sling and hit Goliath right between the eyes. The stone sank deep into his head, and Goliath fell to the ground—face down.

50 So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and one stone! He hit the Philistine and killed him. David didn’t have a sword, 51 so he ran and stood beside the Philistine. Then David took Goliath’s own sword out of its sheath and used it to cut off his head. That is how David killed the Philistine.

When the other Philistines saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran. 52 The soldiers of Israel and Judah shouted and started chasing the Philistines. The Israelites chased them all the way to the city limits of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. They killed many of the Philistines. Their bodies were scattered along the Shaaraim road all the way to Gath and Ekron. 53 After chasing the Philistines, the Israelites came back to the Philistine camp and took many things from that camp.

54 David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he kept the Philistine’s weapons at home.

Saul Begins to Fear David

55 Saul watched David go out to fight Goliath. Saul spoke to Abner, the commander of the army. “Abner, who is that young man’s father?”

Abner answered, “I swear I don’t know, sir.”

56 King Saul said, “Find out who his father is.”

57 When David came back after killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul. David was still holding the Philistine’s head.

58 Saul asked him, “Young man, who is your father?”

David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse, from Bethlehem.”


  1. 1 Samuel 15:12 Saul had just offered … Lord This is from the ancient Greek version.
  2. 1 Samuel 15:32 Surely … kill me The ancient Greek version has “This treatment is worse than death.”
  3. 1 Samuel 16:1 horn An animal’s horn is hollow and often used like a bottle.
  4. 1 Samuel 16:12 healthy The Hebrew word means “red,” “ruddy,” or “red-haired.”
  5. 1 Samuel 17:4 over 9 feet Literally, “6 cubits and 1 span” (2.9 m). Josephus, most copies of the ancient Greek version, and a Hebrew scroll from Qumran all have “4 cubits and 1 span.” This is 6' 6" (2 m) for the short cubit or 7' 7" (2.33 m) for the long cubit.
  6. 1 Samuel 17:5 125 pounds Literally, “5000 shekels” (57.5 kg).
  7. 1 Samuel 17:7 15 pounds Literally, “600 shekels” (6.9 kg).
  8. 1 Samuel 17:12 The oldest copies of the ancient Greek version do not have 17:12-31, 41, 48b, 50, 55-58; 18:1-5, 10-11, 17-19, 29b-30.
  9. 1 Samuel 17:17 basket Literally, “ephah.”
  10. 1 Samuel 17:26 foreigner Literally, “uncircumcised.” This means a person who did not share in the agreement God made with Israel. See “circumcise, circumcision” in the Word List. Also in verse 36.
  11. 1 Samuel 17:33 You’re not even a soldier Or “You are only a boy!” The Hebrew word for “boy” often means “servant” or “the helper who carries a soldier’s weapons.”
  12. 1 Samuel 17:42 healthy The Hebrew word means “red,” “ruddy,” or “red-haired.”
  13. 1 Samuel 17:42 boy Or “teenager” or “soldier’s helper.”

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