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The Philistines Prepare for War

28 Later, the Philistines gathered their armies to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “Do you understand that you and your men must go with me to fight against Israel?”

David answered, “Certainly, then you can see for yourself what I can do.”

Achish said, “Fine, I will make you my permanent bodyguard.”

Saul and the Woman at Endor

After Samuel died, all the Israelites mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his hometown.

Saul had removed the mediums and fortunetellers from Israel.

The Philistines prepared for war. They came to Shunem and made their camp at that place. Saul gathered all the Israelites together and made his camp at Gilboa. Saul saw the Philistine army, and he was afraid. His heart pounded with fear. He prayed to the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him. God did not talk to Saul in dreams. God did not use the Urim to give him an answer, and God did not use prophets to speak to Saul. Finally, Saul said to his officers, “Find me a woman who is a medium. Then I can go ask her what will happen.”

His officers answered, “There is a medium at Endor.[a]

That night, Saul put on different clothes so that no one would know who he was. Then Saul and two of his men went to see the woman. Saul said to her, “I want you to bring up a ghost who can tell me what will happen in the future. You must call for the ghost of the person I name.”

But the woman said to him, “You know that Saul forced all the mediums and fortunetellers to leave the land of Israel. You are trying to trap me and kill me.”

10 Saul used the Lord’s name to make a promise to the woman. He said, “As surely as the Lord lives, you won’t be punished for doing this.”

11 The woman asked, “Who do you want me to bring up for you?”

Saul answered, “Bring up Samuel.”

12 And it happened—the woman saw Samuel and screamed. She said to Saul, “You tricked me! You are Saul.”

13 The king said to the woman, “Don’t be afraid! What do you see?”

The woman said, “I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.[b]

14 Saul asked, “What does he look like?”

The woman answered, “He looks like an old man wearing a special robe.”

Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down. His face touched the ground. 15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why did you bother me? Why did you bring me up?”

Saul answered, “I am in trouble! The Philistines have come to fight me, and God has left me. God won’t answer me anymore. He won’t use prophets or dreams to answer me, so I called you. I want you to tell me what to do.”

16 Samuel said, “The Lord left you and is now your enemy, so why are you asking me for advice? 17 The Lord used me to tell you what he would do, and now he is doing what he said he would do. He is tearing the kingdom out of your hands and giving it to your neighbor, David. 18 The Lord was angry with the Amalekites and told you to destroy them. But you did not obey him. That’s why the Lord is doing this to you today. 19 The Lord will let the Philistines defeat you and the army of Israel today. Tomorrow, you and your sons will be here with me.”

20 Saul quickly fell to the ground and lay stretched out there. Saul was afraid because of what Samuel said. Saul was also very weak because he had not eaten any food all that day and night.

21 The woman came over to Saul and saw how afraid he was. She said, “Look, I am your servant. I have obeyed you. I risked my life and did what you told me to do. 22 Please, listen to me. You need to eat. Let me get you some food. Then you will have enough strength to go on your way.”

23 But Saul refused. He said, “I won’t eat.”

Saul’s officers joined the woman and begged him to eat. Finally, Saul listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the bed. 24 The woman had a calf that she had been fattening. She quickly killed the calf. She took some flour and pressed it with her hands. Then she baked some bread without yeast. 25 The woman put the food before Saul and his officers and they ate. Then they got up and left during the night.

David Can’t Come With Us

29 Meanwhile, the Philistines had gathered all of their army camps at Aphek. The Israelites were camped by the spring near Jezreel. The Philistine rulers were marching in divisions of 100 and 1000 men. David and his men were at the back with Achish.

The Philistine captains asked, “What are these Hebrews doing here?”

Achish told the Philistine captains, “This is David. He was one of Saul’s officers, but he has been with me for a long time. I found nothing wrong in David since the time he left Saul and came to me.”

But the Philistine captains were angry with Achish. They said, “Send him back. Let him go back to the city you gave him, but he can’t go into battle with us. As long as he is here, we have an enemy in our own camp. He would make his king happy by killing our men. Isn’t David the one the Israelites sing about? They dance and sing this song:

‘Saul has killed thousands of enemies,
    but David has killed tens of thousands.’”

So Achish called David and said, “As surely as the Lord lives, you are loyal to me. I would be pleased to have you serve in my army. I haven’t found anything wrong with you since the day you came to me. The Philistine rulers also think you are a good man.[c] Go back in peace. Don’t do anything against the Philistine rulers.”

David asked, “What have I done wrong? Have you found anything wrong with me since the day I came to you? So why won’t you let me go to fight the enemies of my lord the king?”

Achish answered, “I believe that you are a good man. You are like an angel from God. But the Philistine captains still say, ‘David can’t go with us into battle.’ 10 Early in the morning, you and your men should go back to the city I gave you. Don’t pay attention to the bad things the captains say about you. You are a good man, but you must leave as soon as there is enough light in the morning.”

11 So David and his men got up early in the morning and went back to the country of the Philistines, and the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

The Amalekites Attack Ziklag

30 As soon as David and his men arrived at Ziklag on the third day, they saw that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag. The Amalekites invaded the Negev area, attacked Ziklag, and burned the city. They took all the women in Ziklag, both young and old, as prisoners. They didn’t kill anyone; they only took them as prisoners.

When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found the city burning. Their wives, sons, and daughters were all gone. The Amalekites had taken them. David and the other men in his army cried loudly until they were too weak to cry anymore. The Amalekites had taken David’s two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, who had been the wife of Nabal from Carmel.

All the men in the army were sad and angry because their sons and daughters were taken as prisoners. The men were talking about killing David with stones. This upset David very much, but he found strength in the Lord his God. David said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.” So Abiathar brought it.

Then David prayed to the Lord. “Should I chase the people who took our families? Will I catch them?”

The Lord answered, “Chase them. You will catch them, and you will save your families.”

David Finds an Egyptian Slave

9-10 David took the 600 men with him and went to Besor Ravine. About 200 of his men stayed there because they were too weak and tired to continue. But David and the other 400 men continued to chase the Amalekites.

11 David’s men found an Egyptian in a field and took him to David. They gave the Egyptian some water to drink and some food to eat. 12 The Egyptian had not had any food or water for three days and nights, so they gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins. He felt better after eating.

13 David asked the Egyptian, “Who is your master? Where do you come from?”

The Egyptian answered, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. Three days ago I got sick, and my master left me behind. 14 We had attacked the Negev area where the Kerethites[d] live. We also attacked Judah and the Negev area where Caleb’s people live. We burned Ziklag.”

15 David asked the Egyptian, “Will you lead me to the people who took our families?”

The Egyptian answered, “If you make a special promise before God, I will help you find them. But you must promise that you will not kill me or give me back to my master.”

David Defeats the Amalekites

16 The Egyptian led David to the Amalekites. They were lying around on the ground, eating and drinking. They were celebrating with the many things they had taken from the Philistines and from Judah. 17 David attacked them and killed them. They fought from sunrise until the evening of the next day. None of the Amalekites escaped, except for 400 young men who jumped onto their camels and rode away.

18 David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing. They found all the children and old people, all their sons and daughters, and all their valuables. They got back everything the Amalekites had taken. David brought everything back. 20 He took all the sheep and cattle. His men led these animals to the front of the group and said, “This is David’s prize.”

All Men Will Share Equally

21 David came to the 200 men who had stayed at Besor Ravine. These were the men who were too weak and tired to follow David. They came out to meet him and the soldiers who went with him. They greeted David and his army as they approached. 22 There were some troublemakers in the group who went with David who started complaining, “These 200 men didn’t go with us, so why should we give them any of the things we took. These men get nothing but their own wives and children.”

23 David answered, “No, my brothers. Don’t do that! Think about what the Lord gave us. He let us defeat the enemy that attacked us. 24 No one will listen to what you say. The share will be the same for the man who stayed with the supplies and for the man who went into battle. Everyone will share alike.” 25 David made this an order and rule for Israel. This rule continues even today.

26 When David got to Ziklag, he sent some of the things he took from the Amalekites to his friends, the leaders of Judah. David said, “Here is a present for you that we took from the Lord’s enemies.”

27 David sent some of the gifts to the leaders in Bethel, Ramoth in the Negev, Jattir, 28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa, 29 Racal, the cities of the Jerahmeelites and the cities of the Kenites, 30 Hormah, Bor Ashan, Athach, 31 and Hebron, and to all the other places where David and his men had stayed.

The Death of Saul

31 Meanwhile, the Philistines fought against the Israelites, and the Israelites ran from them. There were many dead bodies that fell at Mount Gilboa. The Philistines fought hard against Saul and his sons. They killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki Shua.

The battle grew even more intense around Saul. The archers closed in on Saul and wounded him with many arrows. Saul told the boy who carried his armor, “Take your sword and kill me or else these foreigners will do it and torment me as well!” But Saul’s helper was afraid and refused to kill him. So Saul took out his own sword and fell on it.

When the helper saw that Saul was dead, he took out his own sword, fell on it, and died there with Saul. So Saul, his three sons, and the boy who carried his armor all died together that day.

The Philistines Rejoice at Saul’s Death

The Israelites who lived on the other side of the valley saw the Israelite army running away. They saw that Saul and his sons were dead, so they left their cities and ran away. Then the Philistines came and lived in their cities.

The next day, the Philistines went back to take things from the dead bodies. They found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines cut off Saul’s head and took all his armor. They carried the news to the Philistines and to all the temples of their idols. 10 They put Saul’s armor in the temple of Ashtoreth. The Philistines also hung Saul’s body on the wall of Beth Shan.[e]

11 The people living in Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines did to Saul. 12 So all the soldiers of Jabesh went to Beth Shan. They marched all night, went to the wall of Beth Shan, and took down the bodies of Saul and his sons. Then they carried them to Jabesh. There the people of Jabesh burned the bodies of Saul and his three sons. 13 Later, they buried the bones of Saul and his three sons under the big tree in Jabesh. Then the people of Jabesh showed their sadness—they did not eat for seven days.


  1. 1 Samuel 28:7 Endor A town around the mountain from Shunem, where the Philistines were camped. Saul had to go around them to get to Endor.
  2. 1 Samuel 28:13 ground Or “Sheol, the place of death.”
  3. 1 Samuel 29:6 The Philistine … man This is from the ancient Greek version. The Philistine rulers were pleased with David. It was the Philistine army commanders who were against him. The standard Hebrew text has “The Philistine rulers do not think you are a good man.”
  4. 1 Samuel 30:14 Kerethites Or “people from Crete.” These were one of the groups of Philistines. Some of David’s best soldiers were Kerethites.
  5. 1 Samuel 31:10 Beth Shan Or possibly, “Beth Shean.” Also in verse 12.

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