1 Samuel 26 Common English Bible (CEB)
David spares Saul’s life a second time
26 The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah. “David is hiding on Hachilah’s hill, which faces Jeshimon,” they said. 2 So Saul got up and went down to the Ziph wilderness to look for David there. He had three thousand handpicked soldiers from Israel with him. 3 Saul camped on Hachilah’s hill opposite Jeshimon beside the road, but David stayed in the wilderness. When David learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4 he sent spies and discovered that Saul had definitely arrived.
5 So David got up and went to the place where Saul camped, and saw the place where Saul and Abner, Ner’s son and Saul’s general, were sleeping. Saul was sleeping inside the camp with the troops camped all around him. 6 David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Joab’s brother Abishai, Zeruiah’s son, “Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?”
“I’ll go down with you,” Abishai answered.
7 So David and Abishai approached the troops at night and found Saul lying there, asleep in the camp, with his spear stuck in the ground by his head. Abner and the army were sleeping all around him.
8 Abishai said to David, “God has handed your enemy over to you today! Let me pin him to the ground with my spear. One stroke is all I need! I won’t need a second.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t kill him! No one can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and go unpunished. 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” David continued, “it will be the Lord who will strike him down, or his day will come and he will die, or he’ll fall in battle and be destroyed. 11 The Lord forbid that I lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed! But go ahead and take the spear by Saul’s head and the water jug and let’s go!” 12 So David took the spear and the water jug that were by Saul’s head, and he and Abishai left. No one saw them, no one knew they were there, and no one woke up. All of them remained asleep because a deep sleep from the Lord had come over them.
13 David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of a hill with considerable distance between them. 14 Then David shouted to the army and to Abner, Ner’s son, “Abner! Aren’t you going to answer me?”
“Who are you to shout to the king?” Abner asked.
15 David answered Abner, “You are a man, aren’t you? And you have no equal in Israel, right? Then why haven’t you kept watch over your master the king? One of the soldiers came to kill your master the king. 16 What you’ve done is terrible! As surely as the Lord lives, all of you are dead men because you didn’t keep close watch over your master, the Lord’s anointed. Have a look around! Where are the king’s spear and the water jug that were by his head?”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “David, my son, is that your voice?”
David said, “Yes it is, my master the king. 18 Why,” David continued, “is my master chasing me, his servant? What have I done and what wrong am I guilty of? 19 My master the king, please listen to what your servant has to say. If it is the Lord who has incited you against me, then let him accept an offering! But if human beings have done it, then let them be cursed before the Lord because they have now driven me off, keeping me from sharing in the Lord’s inheritance. ‘Go!’ they tell me. ‘Worship other gods!’ 20 Don’t let my blood spill on the ground apart from the Lord’s presence, because the king of Israel has come out looking for a single flea[a] like someone hunting a partridge[b] in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned! David, my son, come back! Because you considered my life precious today, I won’t harm you again. I have acted foolishly and have made a huge mistake.”
22 “Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Allow one of your servants to come over and get it. 23 Remember: The Lord rewards every person for their righteousness and loyalty, and I wasn’t willing to lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed, even though the Lord handed you over to me today. 24 And just as I considered your life valuable today, may the Lord consider my life valuable, and may he deliver me from all trouble.”
25 Then Saul said to David, “Bless you, David, my son! You will accomplish much and will certainly succeed.” Then David went on his way, but Saul went back home.