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1 Samuel 21-22 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

David Flees to Nob

21 David went to the priest Ahimelech at Nob. Ahimelech was afraid to meet David, so he said to him, “Why are you alone and no one is with you?”

David answered the priest Ahimelech, “The king gave me a mission, but he told me, ‘Don’t let anyone know anything about the mission I’m sending you on or what I have ordered you to do.’ I have stationed my young men at a certain place. Now what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread or whatever can be found.”

The priest told him, “There is no ordinary bread on hand. However, there is consecrated bread, but the young men may eat it[a] only if they have kept themselves from women.”

David answered him, “I swear that women are being kept from us, as always when I go out to battle. The young men’s bodies[b] are consecrated even on an ordinary mission, so of course their bodies are consecrated today.” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, for there was no bread there except the Bread of the Presence that had been removed from the presence of the Lord. When the bread was removed, it had been replaced with warm bread.

One of Saul’s servants, detained before the Lord, was there that day. His name was Doeg the Edomite, chief of Saul’s shepherds.

David said to Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword on hand? I didn’t even bring my sword or my weapons since the king’s mission was urgent.”

The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here, wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want to take it for yourself, then take it, for there isn’t another one here.”

“There’s none like it!” David said. “Give it to me.”

David Flees to Gath

10 David fled that day from Saul’s presence and went to King Achish of Gath. 11 But Achish’s servants said to him, “Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Don’t they sing about him during their dances:

Saul has killed his thousands,
but David his tens of thousands?”

12 David took this to heart[c] and became very afraid of King Achish of Gath, 13 so he pretended to be insane in their presence. He acted like a madman around them,[d] scribbling[e] on the doors of the city gate and letting saliva run down his beard.

14 “Look! You can see the man is crazy,” Achish said to his servants. “Why did you bring him to me? 15 Do I have such a shortage of crazy people that you brought this one to act crazy around me? Is this one going to come into my house?”

Saul’s Increasing Paranoia

22 So David left Gath and took refuge in the cave of Adullam. When David’s brothers and his father’s whole family heard, they went down and joined him there. In addition, every man who was desperate, in debt, or discontented rallied around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.

From there David went to Mizpeh of Moab where he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother stay with you until I know what God will do for me.” So he left them in the care of the king of Moab, and they stayed with him the whole time David was in the stronghold.

Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Don’t stay in the stronghold. Leave and return to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Saul heard that David and his men had been discovered. At that time Saul was in Gibeah, sitting under the tamarisk tree at the high place. His spear was in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. Saul said to his servants, “Listen, men of Benjamin: Is Jesse’s son going to give all of you fields and vineyards? Do you think he’ll make all of you commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? That’s why all of you have conspired against me! Nobody tells me[f] when my own son makes a covenant with Jesse’s son. None of you cares about me or tells me[g] that my son has stirred up my own servant to wait in ambush for me, as is the case today.”

Then Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered: “I saw Jesse’s son come to Ahimelech son of Ahitub at Nob. 10 Ahimelech inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions. He also gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

Slaughter of the Priests

11 The king sent messengers to summon the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub, and his father’s whole family, who were priests in Nob. All of them came to the king. 12 Then Saul said, “Listen, son of Ahitub!”

“I’m at your service, my lord,” he said.

13 Saul asked him, “Why did you and Jesse’s son conspire against me? You gave him bread and a sword and inquired of God for him, so he could rise up against me and wait in ambush, as is the case today.”

14 Ahimelech replied to the king: “Who among all your servants is as faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard, and honored in your house. 15 Was today the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Please don’t let the king make an accusation against your servant or any of my father’s family, for your servant didn’t have any idea[h] about all this.”

16 But the king said, “You will die, Ahimelech—you and your father’s whole family!”

17 Then the king ordered the guards standing by him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord because they sided with David. For they knew he was fleeing, but they didn’t tell me.”[i] But the king’s servants would not lift a hand to execute the priests of the Lord.

18 So the king said to Doeg, “Go and execute the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite went and executed the priests himself. On that day, he killed eighty-five men who wore linen ephods. 19 He also struck down Nob, the city of the priests, with the sword—both men and women, infants and nursing babies, oxen, donkeys, and sheep.

20 However, one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub escaped. His name was Abiathar, and he fled to David. 21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew that Doeg the Edomite was there that day and that he was sure to report to Saul. I myself am responsible for[j] the lives of everyone in your father’s family. 23 Stay with me. Don’t be afraid, for the one who wants to take my life wants to take your life. You will be safe with me.”

Footnotes:

  1. 21:4 DSS; MT omits may eat it
  2. 21:5 Lit vessels
  3. 21:12 Lit David placed these words in his heart
  4. 21:13 Lit madman in their hand
  5. 21:13 LXX reads drumming
  6. 22:8 Lit No one uncovers my ear
  7. 22:8 Lit or uncovers my ear
  8. 22:15 Lit didn’t know a thing, small or large
  9. 22:17 Lit didn’t uncover my ear
  10. 22:22 LXX, Syr, Vg; MT reads I myself turn in
Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.

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