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1 Samuel 23-24 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Deliverance at Keilah

23 It was reported to David: “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and raiding the threshing floors.”

So David inquired of the Lord: “Should I launch an attack against these Philistines?”

The Lord answered David, “Launch an attack against the Philistines and rescue Keilah.”

But David’s men said to him, “Look, we’re afraid here in Judah; how much more if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!”

Once again, David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord answered him: “Go at once to Keilah, for I will hand the Philistines over to you.” Then David and his men went to Keilah, fought against the Philistines, drove their livestock away, and inflicted heavy losses on them. So David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah. Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, and he brought an ephod with him.

When it was reported to Saul that David had gone to Keilah, he said, “God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself by entering a town with barred gates.” Then Saul summoned all the troops to go to war at Keilah and besiege David and his men.

When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.”

10 Then David said, “Lord God of Israel, Your servant has heard that Saul intends to come to Keilah and destroy the town because of me. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come down as Your servant has heard? Lord God of Israel, please tell Your servant.”

The Lord answered, “He will come down.”

12 Then David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?”

“They will,” the Lord responded.

13 So David and his men, numbering about 600, left Keilah at once and moved from place to place. When it was reported to Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he called off the expedition. 14 David then stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul searched for him every day, but God did not hand David over to him.

A Renewed Covenant

15 David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in Horesh when he saw that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 Then Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God, 17 saying, “Don’t be afraid, for my father Saul will never lay a hand on you. You yourself will be king over Israel, and I’ll be your second-in-command. Even my father Saul knows it is true.” 18 Then the two of them made a covenant in the Lord’s presence. Afterward, David remained in Horesh, while Jonathan went home.

David’s Narrow Escape

19 Some Ziphites came up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is[a] hiding among us in the strongholds in Horesh on the hill of Hachilah south of Jeshimon. 20 Now, whenever the king wants to come down, let him come down. Our part will be to hand him over to the king.”

21 “May you be blessed by the Lord,” replied Saul, “for you have taken pity on me. 22 Go and check again. Investigate and watch carefully where he goes[b] and who has seen him there; they tell me he is extremely cunning. 23 Look and find out all the places where he hides. Then come back to me with accurate information, and I’ll go with you. If it turns out he really is in the region, I’ll search for him among all the clans[c] of Judah.” 24 So they went to Ziph ahead of Saul.

Now David and his men were in the wilderness near Maon in the Arabah south of Jeshimon, 25 and Saul and his men went to look for him. When David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. Saul heard of this and pursued David there.

26 Saul went along one side of the mountain and David and his men went along the other side. Even though David was hurrying to get away from Saul, Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. 27 Then a messenger came to Saul saying, “Come quickly, because the Philistines have raided the land!” 28 So Saul broke off his pursuit of David and went to engage the Philistines. Therefore, that place was named the Rock of Separation. 29 [d]From there David went up and stayed in the strongholds of En-gedi.

David Spares Saul

24 When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness near En-gedi.” So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s choice men and went to look for David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. When Saul came to the sheep pens along the road, a cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself.[e] David and his men were staying in the back of the cave, so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’” Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.

Afterward, David’s conscience bothered[f] him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.[g] He said to his men, “I swear before the Lord: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed. I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” With these words David persuaded[h] his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul.

Then Saul left the cave and went on his way. After that, David got up, went out of the cave, and called to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed to the ground in homage. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of people who say, ‘Look, David intends to harm you’? 10 You can see with your own eyes that the Lord handed you over to me today in the cave. Someone advised me to kill you, but I[i][j] took pity on you and said: I won’t lift my hand against my lord, since he is the Lord’s anointed. 11 See, my father! Look at the corner of your robe in my hand, for I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. Look and recognize that there is no evil or rebellion in me. I haven’t sinned against you even though you are hunting me down to take my life.

12 “May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. 13 As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ My hand will never be against you. 14 Who has the king of Israel come after? What are you chasing after? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the Lord be judge and decide between you and me. May He take notice and plead my case and deliver[k] me from you.”

16 When David finished saying these things to him, Saul replied, “Is that your voice, David my son?” Then Saul wept aloud 17 and said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have done what is good to me though I have done what is evil to you. 18 You yourself have told me today what good you did for me: when the Lord handed me over to you, you didn’t kill me. 19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him go unharmed?[l] May the Lord repay you with good for what you’ve done for me today.

20 “Now I know for certain you will be king, and the kingdom of Israel will be established[m] in your hand. 21 Therefore swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.” 22 So David swore to Saul. Then Saul went back home, and David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 23:19 Lit Is David not . . . Jeshimon?
  2. 1 Samuel 23:22 Lit watch his place where his foot will be
  3. 1 Samuel 23:23 Or thousands
  4. 1 Samuel 23:29 1Sm 24:1 in Hb
  5. 1 Samuel 24:3 Lit to cover his feet
  6. 1 Samuel 24:5 Lit David’s heart struck
  7. 1 Samuel 24:5 Some Hb mss, LXX, Syr, Vg; other Hb mss omit robe
  8. 1 Samuel 24:7 Or restrained
  9. 1 Samuel 24:10 LXX, Syr, Tg; MT reads she or it
  10. 1 Samuel 24:10 Or my eye
  11. 1 Samuel 24:15 Lit render a verdict for
  12. 1 Samuel 24:19 Lit go on a good way
  13. 1 Samuel 24:20 Or will flourish

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