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1 Samuel 8-25 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Israel Demands a King

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me,[a] from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

10 So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15 He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16 He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle[b] and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.” Samuel then said to the people of Israel, “Each of you return home.”

Saul Chosen to Be King

There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish son of Abiel son of Zeror son of Becorath son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. He had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he; he stood head and shoulders above everyone else.

Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, had strayed. So Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the boys with you; go and look for the donkeys.” He passed through the hill country of Ephraim and passed through the land of Shalishah, but they did not find them. And they passed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he passed through the land of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

When they came to the land of Zuph, Saul said to the boy who was with him, “Let us turn back, or my father will stop worrying about the donkeys and worry about us.” But he said to him, “There is a man of God in this town; he is a man held in honor. Whatever he says always comes true. Let us go there now; perhaps he will tell us about the journey on which we have set out.” Then Saul replied to the boy, “But if we go, what can we bring the man? For the bread in our sacks is gone, and there is no present to bring to the man of God. What have we?” The boy answered Saul again, “Here, I have with me a quarter shekel of silver; I will give it to the man of God, to tell us our way.” (Formerly in Israel, anyone who went to inquire of God would say, “Come, let us go to the seer”; for the one who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) 10 Saul said to the boy, “Good; come, let us go.” So they went to the town where the man of God was.

11 As they went up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” 12 They answered, “Yes, there he is just ahead of you. Hurry; he has come just now to the town, because the people have a sacrifice today at the shrine. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him, before he goes up to the shrine to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, since he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those eat who are invited. Now go up, for you will meet him immediately.” 14 So they went up to the town. As they were entering the town, they saw Samuel coming out toward them on his way up to the shrine.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed to Samuel: 16 “Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be ruler over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have seen the suffering of[c] my people, because their outcry has come to me.” 17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord told him, “Here is the man of whom I spoke to you. He it is who shall rule over my people.” 18 Then Saul approached Samuel inside the gate, and said, “Tell me, please, where is the house of the seer?” 19 Samuel answered Saul, “I am the seer; go up before me to the shrine, for today you shall eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is on your mind. 20 As for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, give no further thought to them, for they have been found. And on whom is all Israel’s desire fixed, if not on you and on all your ancestral house?” 21 Saul answered, “I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”

22 Then Samuel took Saul and his servant-boy and brought them into the hall, and gave them a place at the head of those who had been invited, of whom there were about thirty. 23 And Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion I gave you, the one I asked you to put aside.” 24 The cook took up the thigh and what went with it[d] and set them before Saul. Samuel said, “See, what was kept is set before you. Eat; for it is set[e] before you at the appointed time, so that you might eat with the guests.”[f]

So Saul ate with Samuel that day. 25 When they came down from the shrine into the town, a bed was spread for Saul[g] on the roof, and he lay down to sleep.[h] 26 Then at the break of dawn[i] Samuel called to Saul upon the roof, “Get up, so that I may send you on your way.” Saul got up, and both he and Samuel went out into the street.

Samuel Anoints Saul

27 As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.” 10 Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him; he said, “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people Israel. You shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their enemies all around. Now this shall be the sign to you that the Lord has anointed you ruler[j] over his heritage: When you depart from me today you will meet two men by Rachel’s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has stopped worrying about them and is worrying about you, saying: What shall I do about my son?’ Then you shall go on from there further and come to the oak of Tabor; three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three kids, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. They will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from them. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim,[k] at the place where the Philistine garrison is; there, as you come to the town, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the shrine with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre playing in front of them; they will be in a prophetic frenzy. Then the spirit of the Lord will possess you, and you will be in a prophetic frenzy along with them and be turned into a different person. Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you. And you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; then I will come down to you to present burnt offerings and offer sacrifices of well-being. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

Saul Prophesies

As he turned away to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart; and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When they were going from there[l] to Gibeah,[m] a band of prophets met him; and the spirit of God possessed him, and he fell into a prophetic frenzy along with them. 11 When all who knew him before saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 A man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When his prophetic frenzy had ended, he went home.[n]

14 Saul’s uncle said to him and to the boy, “Where did you go?” And he replied, “To seek the donkeys; and when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 Saul said to his uncle, “He told us that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingship, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Saul Proclaimed King

17 Samuel summoned the people to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them,[o] “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said, ‘No! but set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.”

20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its families, and the family of the Matrites was taken by lot. Finally he brought the family of the Matrites near man by man,[p] and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the Lord, “Did the man come here?”[q] and the Lord said, “See, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and brought him from there. When he took his stand among the people, he was head and shoulders taller than any of them. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one whom the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship; and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people back to their homes. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went warriors whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” They despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Now Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the Gadites and the Reubenites. He would gouge out the right eye of each of them and would not grant Israel a deliverer. No one was left of the Israelites across the Jordan whose right eye Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had not gouged out. But there were seven thousand men who had escaped from the Ammonites and had entered Jabesh-gilead.[r]

Saul Defeats the Ammonites

11 About a month later,[s] Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us, and we will serve you.” But Nahash the Ammonite said to them, “On this condition I will make a treaty with you, namely that I gouge out everyone’s right eye, and thus put disgrace upon all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite that we may send messengers through all the territory of Israel. Then, if there is no one to save us, we will give ourselves up to you.” When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul, they reported the matter in the hearing of the people; and all the people wept aloud.

Now Saul was coming from the field behind the oxen; and Saul said, “What is the matter with the people, that they are weeping?” So they told him the message from the inhabitants of Jabesh. And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one. When he mustered them at Bezek, those from Israel were three hundred thousand, and those from Judah seventy[t] thousand. They said to the messengers who had come, “Thus shall you say to the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead: ‘Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have deliverance.’” When the messengers came and told the inhabitants of Jabesh, they rejoiced. 10 So the inhabitants of Jabesh said, “Tomorrow we will give ourselves up to you, and you may do to us whatever seems good to you.” 11 The next day Saul put the people in three companies. At the morning watch they came into the camp and cut down the Ammonites until the heat of the day; and those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

12 The people said to Samuel, “Who is it that said, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Give them to us so that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “No one shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has brought deliverance to Israel.”

14 Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed offerings of well-being before the Lord, and there Saul and all the Israelites rejoiced greatly.

Samuel’s Farewell Address

12 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to you in all that you have said to me, and have set a king over you. See, it is the king who leads you now; I am old and gray, but my sons are with you. I have led you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me[u] and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from the hand of anyone.” He said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who[v] appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore take your stand, so that I may enter into judgment with you before the Lord, and I will declare to you[w] all the saving deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your ancestors. When Jacob went into Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them,[x] then your ancestors cried to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought forth your ancestors out of Egypt, and settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God; and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of King Jabin of[y] Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10 Then they cried to the Lord, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served the Baals and the Astartes; but now rescue us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak,[z] and Jephthah, and Samson,[aa] and rescued you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you lived in safety. 12 But when you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ though the Lord your God was your king. 13 See, here is the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; 15 but if you will not heed the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.[ab] 16 Now therefore take your stand and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that the wickedness that you have done in the sight of the Lord is great in demanding a king for yourselves.” 18 So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.

19 All the people said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; 21 and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. 22 For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Saul’s Unlawful Sacrifice

13 Saul was . . .[ac] years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two[ad] years over Israel.

Saul chose three thousand out of Israel; two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin; the rest of the people he sent home to their tents. Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba; and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear!” When all Israel heard that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines, the people were called out to join Saul at Gilgal.

The Philistines mustered to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude; they came up and encamped at Michmash, to the east of Beth-aven. When the Israelites saw that they were in distress (for the troops were hard pressed), the people hid themselves in caves and in holes and in rocks and in tombs and in cisterns. Some Hebrews crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people began to slip away from Saul.[ae] So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the offerings of well-being.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Samuel arrived; and Saul went out to meet him and salute him. 11 Samuel said, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “When I saw that the people were slipping away from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines were mustering at Michmash, 12 I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down upon me at Gilgal, and I have not entreated the favor of the Lord’; so I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. The Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, 14 but now your kingdom will not continue; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart; and the Lord has appointed him to be ruler over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 15 And Samuel left and went on his way from Gilgal.[af] The rest of the people followed Saul to join the army; they went up from Gilgal toward Gibeah of Benjamin.[ag]

Preparations for Battle

Saul counted the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16 Saul, his son Jonathan, and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin; but the Philistines encamped at Michmash. 17 And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies; one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18 another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the mountain[ah] that looks down upon the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

19 Now there was no smith to be found throughout all the land of Israel; for the Philistines said, “The Hebrews must not make swords or spears for themselves”; 20 so all the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen their plowshares, mattocks, axes, or sickles;[ai] 21 The charge was two-thirds of a shekel[aj] for the plowshares and for the mattocks, and one-third of a shekel for sharpening the axes and for setting the goads.[ak] 22 So on the day of the battle neither sword nor spear was to be found in the possession of any of the people with Saul and Jonathan; but Saul and his son Jonathan had them.

Jonathan Surprises and Routs the Philistines

23 Now a garrison of the Philistines had gone out to the pass of Michmash. 14 One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree that is at Migron; the troops that were with him were about six hundred men, along with Ahijah son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, son of Phinehas son of Eli, the priest of the Lord in Shiloh, carrying an ephod. Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. In the pass,[al] by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.

Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” His armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that your mind inclines to.[am] I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.”[an] Then Jonathan said, “Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. 10 But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.” 11 So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, “Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12 The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor-bearer, saying, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 13 Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer following after him. The Philistines[ao] fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer, coming after him, killed them. 14 In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre[ap] of land. 15 There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.

16 Saul’s lookouts in Gibeah of Benjamin were watching as the multitude was surging back and forth.[aq] 17 Then Saul said to the troops that were with him, “Call the roll and see who has gone from us.” When they had called the roll, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there. 18 Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark[ar] of God here.” For at that time the ark[as] of God went with the Israelites. 19 While Saul was talking to the priest, the tumult in the camp of the Philistines increased more and more; and Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20 Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle; and every sword was against the other, so that there was very great confusion. 21 Now the Hebrews who previously had been with the Philistines and had gone up with them into the camp turned and joined the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22 Likewise, when all the Israelites who had gone into hiding in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were fleeing, they too followed closely after them in the battle. 23 So the Lord gave Israel the victory that day.

The battle passed beyond Beth-aven, and the troops with Saul numbered altogether about ten thousand men. The battle spread out over the hill country of Ephraim.

Saul’s Rash Oath

24 Now Saul committed a very rash act on that day.[at] He had laid an oath on the troops, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before it is evening and I have been avenged on my enemies.” So none of the troops tasted food. 25 All the troops[au] came upon a honeycomb; and there was honey on the ground. 26 When the troops came upon the honeycomb, the honey was dripping out; but they did not put their hands to their mouths, for they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard his father charge the troops with the oath; so he extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. 28 Then one of the soldiers said, “Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ And so the troops are faint.” 29 Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

31 After they had struck down the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon, the troops were very faint; 32 so the troops flew upon the spoil, and took sheep and oxen and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the troops ate them with the blood. 33 Then it was reported to Saul, “Look, the troops are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood.” And he said, “You have dealt treacherously; roll a large stone before me here.”[av] 34 Saul said, “Disperse yourselves among the troops, and say to them, ‘Let all bring their oxen or their sheep, and slaughter them here, and eat; and do not sin against the Lord by eating with the blood.’” So all of the troops brought their oxen with them that night, and slaughtered them there. 35 And Saul built an altar to the Lord; it was the first altar that he built to the Lord.

Jonathan in Danger of Death

36 Then Saul said, “Let us go down after the Philistines by night and despoil them until the morning light; let us not leave one of them.” They said, “Do whatever seems good to you.” But the priest said, “Let us draw near to God here.” 37 So Saul inquired of God, “Shall I go down after the Philistines? Will you give them into the hand of Israel?” But he did not answer him that day. 38 Saul said, “Come here, all you leaders of the people; and let us find out how this sin has arisen today. 39 For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, even if it is in my son Jonathan, he shall surely die!” But there was no one among all the people who answered him. 40 He said to all Israel, “You shall be on one side, and I and my son Jonathan will be on the other side.” The people said to Saul, “Do what seems good to you.” 41 Then Saul said, “O Lord God of Israel, why have you not answered your servant today? If this guilt is in me or in my son Jonathan, O Lord God of Israel, give Urim; but if this guilt is in your people Israel,[aw] give Thummim.” And Jonathan and Saul were indicated by the lot, but the people were cleared. 42 Then Saul said, “Cast the lot between me and my son Jonathan.” And Jonathan was taken.

43 Then Saul said to Jonathan, “Tell me what you have done.” Jonathan told him, “I tasted a little honey with the tip of the staff that was in my hand; here I am, I will die.” 44 Saul said, “God do so to me and more also; you shall surely die, Jonathan!” 45 Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great victory in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground; for he has worked with God today.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, and he did not die. 46 Then Saul withdrew from pursuing the Philistines; and the Philistines went to their own place.

Saul’s Continuing Wars

47 When Saul had taken the kingship over Israel, he fought against all his enemies on every side—against Moab, against the Ammonites, against Edom, against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines; wherever he turned he routed them. 48 He did valiantly, and struck down the Amalekites, and rescued Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.

49 Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malchishua; and the names of his two daughters were these: the name of the firstborn was Merab, and the name of the younger, Michal. 50 The name of Saul’s wife was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. And the name of the commander of his army was Abner son of Ner, Saul’s uncle; 51 Kish was the father of Saul, and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel.

52 There was hard fighting against the Philistines all the days of Saul; and when Saul saw any strong or valiant warrior, he took him into his service.

Saul Defeats the Amalekites but Spares Their King

15 Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

So Saul summoned the people, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand foot soldiers, and ten thousand soldiers of Judah. Saul came to the city of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. Saul said to the Kenites, “Go! Leave! Withdraw from among the Amalekites, or I will destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites withdrew from the Amalekites. Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. He took King Agag of the Amalekites alive, but utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the cattle and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was valuable, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed.

Saul Rejected as King

10 The word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not carried out my commands.” Samuel was angry; and he cried out to the Lord all night. 12 Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, and Samuel was told, “Saul went to Carmel, where he set up a monument for himself, and on returning he passed on down to Gilgal.” 13 When Samuel came to Saul, Saul said to him, “May you be blessed by the Lord; I have carried out the command of the Lord.” 14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears, and the lowing of cattle that I hear?” 15 Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the cattle, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 16 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me last night.” He replied, “Speak.”

17 Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go, utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” 20 Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But from the spoil the people took sheep and cattle, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” 22 And Samuel said,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    as in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice,
    and to heed than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination,
    and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
    he has also rejected you from being king.”

24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” 26 Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this very day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 Moreover the Glory of Israel will not recant[ax] or change his mind; for he is not a mortal, that he should change his mind.” 30 Then Saul[ay] said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the Lord.

32 Then Samuel said, “Bring Agag king of the Amalekites here to me.” And Agag came to him haltingly.[az] Agag said, “Surely this is the bitterness of death.”[ba] 33 But Samuel said,

“As your sword has made women childless,
    so your mother shall be childless among women.”

And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.

34 Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord was sorry that he had made Saul king over Israel.

David Anointed as King

16 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.”[bb] But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

David Plays the Lyre for Saul

14 Now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him, “See now, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the lyre; and when the evil spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will feel better.” 17 So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me someone who can play well, and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a warrior, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence; and the Lord is with him.” 19 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse, and said, “Send me your son David who is with the sheep.” 20 Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine, and a kid, and sent them by his son David to Saul. 21 And David came to Saul, and entered his service. Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

David and Goliath

17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle; they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the Israelites gathered and encamped in the valley of Elah, and formed ranks against the Philistines. The Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six[bc] cubits and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.[bd] 13 The three eldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle; the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest; the three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 Jesse said to his son David, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers; 18 also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See how your brothers fare, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the Israelites, when they saw the man, fled from him and were very much afraid. 25 The Israelites said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. The king will greatly enrich the man who kills him, and will give him his daughter and make his family free in Israel.” 26 David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 The people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done for the man who kills him.”

28 His eldest brother Eliab heard him talking to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David. He said, “Why have you come down? With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart; for you have come down just to see the battle.” 29 David said, “What have I done now? It was only a question.” 30 He turned away from him toward another and spoke in the same way; and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul; and he sent for him. 32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the Lord be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, striking down the Philistine and killing him; there was no sword in David’s hand. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine; he grasped his sword, drew it out of its sheath, and killed him; then he cut off his head with it.

When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 The troops of Israel and Judah rose up with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath[be] and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 The Israelites came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armor in his tent.

55 When Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?” Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” 56 The king said, “Inquire whose son the stripling is.” 57 On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

Jonathan’s Covenant with David

18 When David[bf] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.[bg] And the women sang to one another as they made merry,

“Saul has killed his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands.”

Saul was very angry, for this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands; what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day on.

Saul Tries to Kill David

10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11 and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence, and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army. 14 David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.

David Marries Michal

17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab; I will give her to you as a wife; only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I will not raise a hand against him; let the Philistines deal with him.” 18 David said to Saul, “Who am I and who are my kinsfolk, my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?” 19 But at the time when Saul’s daughter Merab should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite as a wife.

20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. Saul was told, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time,[bh] “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘See, the king is delighted with you, and all his servants love you; now then, become the king’s son-in-law.’” 23 So Saul’s servants reported these words to David in private. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and of no repute?” 24 The servants of Saul told him, “This is what David said.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged on the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul planned to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 26 When his servants told David these words, David was well pleased to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David rose and went, along with his men, and killed one hundred[bi] of the Philistines; and David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Saul gave him his daughter Michal as a wife. 28 But when Saul realized that the Lord was with David, and that Saul’s daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy from that time forward.

30 Then the commanders of the Philistines came out to battle; and as often as they came out, David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his fame became very great.

Jonathan Intercedes for David

19 Saul spoke with his son Jonathan and with all his servants about killing David. But Saul’s son Jonathan took great delight in David. Jonathan told David, “My father Saul is trying to kill you; therefore be on guard tomorrow morning; stay in a secret place and hide yourself. I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you; if I learn anything I will tell you.” Jonathan spoke well of David to his father Saul, saying to him, “The king should not sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have been of good service to you; for he took his life in his hand when he attacked the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great victory for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced; why then will you sin against an innocent person by killing David without cause?” Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan; Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” So Jonathan called David and related all these things to him. Jonathan then brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.

Michal Helps David Escape from Saul

Again there was war, and David went out to fight the Philistines. He launched a heavy attack on them, so that they fled before him. Then an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. 10 Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear; but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. David fled and escaped that night.

11 Saul sent messengers to David’s house to keep watch over him, planning to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told him, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through the window; he fled away and escaped. 13 Michal took an idol[bj] and laid it on the bed; she put a net[bk] of goats’ hair on its head, and covered it with the clothes. 14 When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15 Then Saul sent the messengers to see David for themselves. He said, “Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may kill him.” 16 When the messengers came in, the idol[bl] was in the bed, with the covering[bm] of goats’ hair on its head. 17 Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this, and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” Michal answered Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go; why should I kill you?’”

David Joins Samuel in Ramah

18 Now David fled and escaped; he came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. He and Samuel went and settled at Naioth. 19 Saul was told, “David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David. When they saw the company of the prophets in a frenzy, with Samuel standing in charge of[bn] them, the spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also fell into a prophetic frenzy. 21 When Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they also fell into a frenzy. Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also fell into a frenzy. 22 Then he himself went to Ramah. He came to the great well that is in Secu;[bo] he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” And someone said, “They are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23 He went there, toward Naioth in Ramah; and the spirit of God came upon him. As he was going, he fell into a prophetic frenzy, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 He too stripped off his clothes, and he too fell into a frenzy before Samuel. He lay naked all that day and all that night. Therefore it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

The Friendship of David and Jonathan

20 David fled from Naioth in Ramah. He came before Jonathan and said, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin against your father that he is trying to take my life?” He said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. My father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me; and why should my father hide this from me? Never!” But David also swore, “Your father knows well that you like me; and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, or he will be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, there is but a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at the meal; but let me go, so that I may hide in the field until the third evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city; for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant; but if he is angry, then know that evil has been determined by him. Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a sacred covenant[bp] with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself; why should you bring me to your father?” Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was decided by my father that evil should come upon you, would I not tell you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?” 11 Jonathan replied to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

12 Jonathan said to David, “By the Lord, the God of Israel! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or on the third day, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13 But if my father intends to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan, and more also, if I do not disclose it to you, and send you away, so that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 If I am still alive, show me the faithful love of the Lord; but if I die,[bq] 15 never cut off your faithful love from my house, even if the Lord were to cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 Thus Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord seek out the enemies of David.” 17 Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him; for he loved him as he loved his own life.

18 Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon; you will be missed, because your place will be empty. 19 On the day after tomorrow, you shall go a long way down; go to the place where you hid yourself earlier, and remain beside the stone there.[br] 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21 Then I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, collect them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go; for the Lord has sent you away. 23 As for the matter about which you and I have spoken, the Lord is witness[bs] between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid himself in the field. When the new moon came, the king sat at the feast to eat. 25 The king sat upon his seat, as at other times, upon the seat by the wall. Jonathan stood, while Abner sat by Saul’s side; but David’s place was empty.

26 Saul did not say anything that day; for he thought, “Something has befallen him; he is not clean, surely he is not clean.” 27 But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David’s place was empty. And Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the feast, either yesterday or today?” 28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem; 29 he said, ‘Let me go; for our family is holding a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your sight, let me get away, and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered his father Saul, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul threw his spear at him to strike him; so Jonathan knew that it was the decision of his father to put David to death. 34 Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food on the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, and because his father had disgraced him.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him was a little boy. 36 He said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is the arrow not beyond you?” 38 Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry, be quick, do not linger.” So Jonathan’s boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy knew nothing; only Jonathan and David knew the arrangement. 40 Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41 As soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap[bt] and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more.[bu] 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.’” He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city.[bv]

David and the Holy Bread

21 [bw] David came to Nob to the priest Ahimelech. Ahimelech came trembling to meet David, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” David said to the priest Ahimelech, “The king has charged me with a matter, and said to me, ‘No one must know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment[bx] with the young men for such and such a place. Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” The priest answered David, “I have no ordinary bread at hand, only holy bread—provided that the young men have kept themselves from women.” David answered the priest, “Indeed women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord, to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away.

Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord; his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s shepherds.

David said to Ahimelech, “Is there no spear or sword here with you? I did not bring my sword or my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste.” The priest said, “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 will take that, take it, for there is none here except that one.” David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

David Flees to Gath

10 David rose and fled that day from Saul; he went to King Achish of Gath. 11 The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of King Achish of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them; he pretended to be mad when in their presence.[by] He scratched marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David and His Followers at Adullam

22 David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; when his brothers and all his father’s house heard of it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. Those who were with him numbered about four hundred.

David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. He said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come[bz] to you, until I know what God will do for me.” He left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; leave, and go into the land of Judah.” So David left, and went into the forest of Hereth.

Saul Slaughters the Priests at Nob

Saul heard that David and those who were with him had been located. Saul was sitting at Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height, with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing around him. Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, you Benjaminites; will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds? Is that why all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a league with the son of Jesse, none of you is sorry for me or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today.” Doeg the Edomite, who was in charge of Saul’s servants, answered, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech son of Ahitub; 10 he inquired of the Lord for him, gave him provisions, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 The king sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and for all his father’s house, the priests who were at Nob; and all of them came to the king. 12 Saul said, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, by giving him bread and a sword, and by inquiring of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as he is doing today?”

14 Then Ahimelech answered the king, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David? He is the king’s son-in-law, and is quick[ca] to do your bidding, and is honored in your house. 15 Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? By no means! Do not let the king impute anything to his servant or to any member of my father’s house; for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” 16 The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house.” 17 The king said to the guard who stood around him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David; they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not raise their hand to attack the priests of the Lord. 18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You, Doeg, turn and attack the priests.” Doeg the Edomite turned and attacked the priests; on that day he killed eighty-five who wore the linen ephod. 19 Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep, he put to the sword.

20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I am responsible[cb] for the lives of all your father’s house. 23 Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me.”

David Saves the City of Keilah

23 Now they told David, “The Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.” David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” But David’s men said to him, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord again. The Lord answered him, “Yes, go down to Keilah; for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” So David and his men went to Keilah, fought with the Philistines, brought away their livestock, and dealt them a heavy defeat. Thus David rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.

When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he came down with an ephod in his hand. Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given[cc] him into my hand; for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. When David learned that Saul was plotting evil against him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10 David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11 And now, will[cd] Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, I beseech you, tell your servant.” The Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” The Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13 Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they wandered wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14 David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but the Lord[ce] did not give him into his hand.

David Eludes Saul in the Wilderness

15 David was in the Wilderness of Ziph at Horesh when he learned that[cf] Saul had come out to seek his life. 16 Saul’s son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord.[cg] 17 He said to him, “Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you; my father Saul also knows that this is so.” 18 Then the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.

19 Then some Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding among us in the strongholds of Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon. 20 Now, O king, whenever you wish to come down, do so; and our part will be to surrender him into the king’s hand.” 21 Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord for showing me compassion! 22 Go and make sure once more; find out exactly where he is, and who has seen him there; for I am told that he is very cunning. 23 Look around and learn all the hiding places where he lurks, and come back to me with sure information. Then I will go with you; and if he is in the land, I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.” 24 So they set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.

David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men went to search for him. When David was told, he went down to the rock and stayed in the wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David into the wilderness of Maon. 26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, while Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them. 27 Then a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come; for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” 28 So Saul stopped pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape.[ch] 29 [ci] David then went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En-gedi.

David Spares Saul’s Life

24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to look for David and his men in the direction of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds beside the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself.[cj] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. The men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David went and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. Afterward David was stricken to the heart because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s cloak. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to raise my hand against him; for he is the Lord’s anointed.” So David scolded his men severely and did not permit them to attack Saul. Then Saul got up and left the cave, and went on his way.

Afterwards David also rose up and went out of the cave and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of those who say, ‘David seeks to do you harm’? 10 This very day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you into my hand in the cave; and some urged me to kill you, but I spared[ck] you. I said, ‘I will not raise my hand against my lord; for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your cloak in my hand; for by the fact that I cut off the corner of your cloak, and did not kill you, you may know for certain that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are hunting me to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you! May the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the ancient proverb says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you. May he see to it, and plead my cause, and vindicate me against you.”

16 When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 Today you have explained how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For who has ever found an enemy, and sent the enemy safely away? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20 Now I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me, and that you will not wipe out my name from my father’s house.” 22 So David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

Death of Samuel

25 Now Samuel died; and all Israel assembled and mourned for him. They buried him at his home in Ramah.

Then David got up and went down to the wilderness of Paran.

David and the Wife of Nabal

There was a man in Maon, whose property was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean; he was a Calebite. David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. So David sent ten young men; and David said to the young men, “Go up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. Thus you shall salute him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. I hear that you have shearers; now your shepherds have been with us, and we did them no harm, and they missed nothing, all the time they were in Carmel. Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your sight; for we have come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 8:8 Gk: Heb lacks to me
  2. 1 Samuel 8:16 Gk: Heb young men
  3. 1 Samuel 9:16 Gk: Heb lacks the suffering of
  4. 1 Samuel 9:24 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  5. 1 Samuel 9:24 Q Ms Gk: MT it was kept
  6. 1 Samuel 9:24 Cn: Heb it was kept for you, saying, I have invited the people
  7. 1 Samuel 9:25 Gk: Heb and he spoke with Saul
  8. 1 Samuel 9:25 Gk: Heb lacks and he lay down to sleep
  9. 1 Samuel 9:26 Gk: Heb and they arose early and at break of dawn
  10. 1 Samuel 10:1 Gk: Heb lacks over his people Israel. You shall . . . anointed you ruler
  11. 1 Samuel 10:5 Or the Hill of God
  12. 1 Samuel 10:10 Gk: Heb they came there
  13. 1 Samuel 10:10 Or the hill
  14. 1 Samuel 10:13 Cn: Heb he came to the shrine
  15. 1 Samuel 10:18 Heb to the people of Israel
  16. 1 Samuel 10:21 Gk: Heb lacks Finally . . . man by man
  17. 1 Samuel 10:22 Gk: Heb Is there yet a man to come here?
  18. 1 Samuel 10:27 Q Ms Compare Josephus, Antiquities VI.v.1 (68–71): MT lacks Now Nahash . . . entered Jabesh-gilead.
  19. 1 Samuel 11:1 Q Ms Gk: MT lacks About a month later
  20. 1 Samuel 11:8 Q Ms Gk: MT thirty
  21. 1 Samuel 12:3 Gk: Heb lacks Testify against me
  22. 1 Samuel 12:6 Gk: Heb lacks is witness, who
  23. 1 Samuel 12:7 Gk: Heb lacks and I will declare to you
  24. 1 Samuel 12:8 Gk: Heb lacks and the Egyptians oppressed them
  25. 1 Samuel 12:9 Gk: Heb lacks King Jabin of
  26. 1 Samuel 12:11 Gk Syr: Heb Bedan
  27. 1 Samuel 12:11 Gk: Heb Samuel
  28. 1 Samuel 12:15 Gk: Heb and your ancestors
  29. 1 Samuel 13:1 The number is lacking in the Heb text (the verse is lacking in the Septuagint).
  30. 1 Samuel 13:1 Two is not the entire number; something has dropped out.
  31. 1 Samuel 13:8 Heb him
  32. 1 Samuel 13:15 Gk: Heb went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin
  33. 1 Samuel 13:15 Gk: Heb lacks The rest . . . of Benjamin
  34. 1 Samuel 13:18 Cn Compare Gk: Heb toward the border
  35. 1 Samuel 13:20 Gk: Heb plowshare
  36. 1 Samuel 13:21 Heb was a pim
  37. 1 Samuel 13:21 Cn: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  38. 1 Samuel 14:4 Heb Between the passes
  39. 1 Samuel 14:7 Gk: Heb Do all that is in your mind. Turn
  40. 1 Samuel 14:7 Gk: Heb lacks so is mine
  41. 1 Samuel 14:13 Heb They
  42. 1 Samuel 14:14 Heb yoke
  43. 1 Samuel 14:16 Gk: Heb they went and there
  44. 1 Samuel 14:18 Gk the ephod
  45. 1 Samuel 14:18 Gk the ephod
  46. 1 Samuel 14:24 Gk: Heb The Israelites were distressed that day
  47. 1 Samuel 14:25 Heb land
  48. 1 Samuel 14:33 Gk: Heb me this day
  49. 1 Samuel 14:41 Vg Compare Gk: Heb 41 Saul said to the Lord, the God of Israel
  50. 1 Samuel 15:29 Q Ms Gk: MT deceive
  51. 1 Samuel 15:30 Heb he
  52. 1 Samuel 15:32 Cn Compare Gk: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  53. 1 Samuel 15:32 Q Ms Gk: MT Surely the bitterness of death is past
  54. 1 Samuel 16:6 Heb him
  55. 1 Samuel 17:4 MT: Q Ms Gk four
  56. 1 Samuel 17:12 Gk Syr: Heb among men
  57. 1 Samuel 17:52 Gk Syr: Heb Gai
  58. 1 Samuel 18:1 Heb he
  59. 1 Samuel 18:6 Or triangles, or three-stringed instruments
  60. 1 Samuel 18:21 Heb by two
  61. 1 Samuel 18:27 Gk Compare 2 Sam 3.14: Heb two hundred
  62. 1 Samuel 19:13 Heb took the teraphim
  63. 1 Samuel 19:13 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  64. 1 Samuel 19:16 Heb the teraphim
  65. 1 Samuel 19:16 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  66. 1 Samuel 19:20 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  67. 1 Samuel 19:22 Gk reads to the well of the threshing floor on the bare height
  68. 1 Samuel 20:8 Heb a covenant of the Lord
  69. 1 Samuel 20:14 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  70. 1 Samuel 20:19 Meaning of Heb uncertain
  71. 1 Samuel 20:23 Gk: Heb lacks witness
  72. 1 Samuel 20:41 Gk: Heb from beside the south
  73. 1 Samuel 20:41 Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  74. 1 Samuel 20:42 This sentence is 21.1 in Heb
  75. 1 Samuel 21:1 Ch 21.2 in Heb
  76. 1 Samuel 21:2 Q Ms Vg Compare Gk: Meaning of MT uncertain
  77. 1 Samuel 21:13 Heb in their hands
  78. 1 Samuel 22:3 Syr Vg: Heb come out
  79. 1 Samuel 22:14 Heb and turns aside
  80. 1 Samuel 22:22 Gk Vg: Meaning of Heb uncertain
  81. 1 Samuel 23:7 Gk Tg: Heb made a stranger of
  82. 1 Samuel 23:11 Q Ms Compare Gk: MT Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will
  83. 1 Samuel 23:14 Q Ms Gk: MT God
  84. 1 Samuel 23:15 Or saw that
  85. 1 Samuel 23:16 Compare Q Ms Gk: MT God
  86. 1 Samuel 23:28 Or Rock of Division; meaning of Heb uncertain
  87. 1 Samuel 23:29 Ch 24.1 in Heb
  88. 1 Samuel 24:3 Heb to cover his feet
  89. 1 Samuel 24:10 Gk Syr Tg Vg: Heb it (my eye) spared
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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