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1 Samuel 26-28 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. 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. 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, he sent spies and discovered that Saul had definitely arrived.

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. 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.

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.

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.”

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.

David serves the Philistine Achish

27 David thought, One day I will be destroyed by Saul’s power. The best thing for me to do is to escape to Philistine territory. Then Saul will give up looking for me in Israelite territory, and I will escape his power. So David set out with his six hundred soldiers and went to Achish, Maoch’s son and Gath’s king. David and his soldiers stayed there at Gath with Achish. Each man had his family with him, and David had his two wives, Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he didn’t pursue him anymore.

Then David said to Achish, “If you approve of me, please give me a place in one of the towns in the country so I can live there. Why should I, your servant, live in the capital city with you?” So Achish gave the town of Ziklag to David at that time. That’s why Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah until now. David lived in the Philistine countryside for a total of one year and four months.

David and his soldiers went out on raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. They were the people who lived in the land from Telam[c] to Shur all the way to the land of Egypt. When David attacked an area, he wouldn’t leave anyone alive, man or woman. He would take the sheep, the cattle, the donkeys, the camels, and the clothes and would then go back to Achish. 10 When Achish asked, “Where did you raid today?”[d] David would say, “The southern plain of Judah,” or “The southern plain of the Jerahmeelites,” or “The southern plain of the Kenites.” 11 David never spared a man or woman so they could be brought back alive to Gath. “Otherwise,” he said, “they might talk about us, and say, ‘David did this or that.’” So this was David’s practice during the entire time he lived in the Philistine countryside.

12 Achish trusted David, thinking, David has alienated himself so badly from his own people in Israel that he’ll serve me forever.

28 At that time, the Philistines gathered their troops for war to fight against Israel. Achish said to David, “Count on you and your soldiers marching out with me in the army.”

“Excellent,” David answered Achish. “Now you’ll see for yourself what your servant can do.”

“Excellent,” Achish replied. “I will make you my permanent bodyguard.”

Saul and the woman of En-dor

Now Samuel had died, and all Israel mourned him and buried him in Ramah, his hometown. And Saul had banned all mediums and diviners from the land.

The Philistines gathered their forces and advanced to camp at Shunem. Saul gathered all Israel, and they camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was so afraid that his heart beat wildly. When Saul questioned the Lord, the Lord didn’t answer him—not by dreams, not by the Urim, and not by the prophets. So Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who communicates with ghosts! I’ll then go to her and ask by using her techniques.”[e]

“There is such a medium in En-dor,” his servants replied.

So Saul disguised himself, dressing in different clothes. Then he and two men set out, going to the woman at nighttime.

“Please call up a ghost for me! Bring me the one I specify,” Saul said.

“Listen,” the woman said to him, “you know what Saul has done, how he has banned all mediums and diviners from the land. What are you doing? Trying to get me killed?”

10 But Saul promised to her by the Lord, “As surely as the Lord lives, you won’t get into trouble for this.”

11 So the woman said, “Who do you want me to bring up for you?”

“Bring up Samuel,” he said.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed at Saul, “Why have you tricked me? You are Saul!”

13 “Don’t be afraid!” the king said to her. “What do you see?”

The woman said to Saul, “I see a god[f] coming up from the ground.”

14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked her.

“An old man is coming up,” she said. “He’s wrapped in a robe.” Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed low out of respect, nose to the ground.

15 “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Samuel asked Saul.

“I’m in deep trouble!” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has turned away from me and no longer answers me by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what I should do.”

16 “Why do you ask me,” Samuel said, “since the Lord has turned away from you and has become your enemy?[g] 17 The Lord has done to you[h] exactly what he spoke through me: The Lord has ripped the kingdom out of your hands and has given it to your friend David. 18 The Lord has done this very thing to you today because you didn’t listen to the Lord’s voice and didn’t carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 The Lord will now hand over both you and Israel to the Philistines. And come tomorrow, you and your sons will be with me![i] The Lord will hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines.”

20 Saul immediately fell full length on the ground, utterly terrified at what Samuel had said. He was weak because he hadn’t eaten anything all day or night. 21 The woman approached Saul, and after seeing how scared he was, she said, “Listen, your servant has obeyed you. I risked my life and did what you told me to do. 22 Now it’s your turn to listen to me, your servant. Let me give you a bit of food. Eat it, then you’ll have the strength to go on your way.”

23 But Saul refused. “I can’t eat!” he said. But his servants and the woman urged him to do so, and so he did. He got up off the ground and sat on a couch. 24 The woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly butchered it.[j] She took flour, kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread. 25 She served this to Saul and his servants, and they ate. They got up and left that very night.


  1. 1 Samuel 26:20 Cf 24:14; LXX my life
  2. 1 Samuel 26:20 Or a caller, Heb sounds like verb to shout or call in 26:14.
  3. 1 Samuel 27:8 LXX; MT from long ago
  4. 1 Samuel 27:10 DSS (4QSama), LXX
  5. 1 Samuel 28:7 Or through her or by her
  6. 1 Samuel 28:13 Or I see gods or I see divine figures
  7. 1 Samuel 28:16 LXX is with your neighbor; cf 15:28; 28:17
  8. 1 Samuel 28:17 LXX; MT The Lord himself has done just what
  9. 1 Samuel 28:19 LXX you and your sons will fall in battle.
  10. 1 Samuel 28:24 Or sacrificed it
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible


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