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1 Samuel 26 Good News Translation (GNT)

David Spares Saul's Life Again

26 Some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah and told him that David was hiding on Mount Hachilah at the edge of the Judean wilderness. Saul went at once with three thousand of the best soldiers in Israel to the wilderness of Ziph to look for David, and camped by the road on Mount Hachilah. David was still in the wilderness, and when he learned that Saul had come to look for him, he sent spies and found out that Saul was indeed there. He went at once and located the exact place where Saul and Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, slept. Saul slept inside the camp, and his men camped around him.

Then David asked Ahimelech the Hittite, and Abishai the brother of Joab (their mother was Zeruiah), “Which of you two will go to Saul's camp with me?”

“I will,” Abishai answered.

So that night David and Abishai entered Saul's camp and found Saul sleeping in the center of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the troops were sleeping around him. Abishai said to David, “God has put your enemy in your power tonight. Now let me plunge his own spear through him and pin him to the ground with just one blow—I won't have to strike twice!”

But David said, “You must not harm him! The Lord will certainly punish whoever harms his chosen king. 10 By the living Lord,” David continued, “I know that the Lord himself will kill Saul, either when his time comes to die a natural death or when he dies in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should try to harm the one whom the Lord has made king! Let's take his spear and his water jar, and go.” 12 So David took the spear and the water jar from right beside Saul's head, and he and Abishai left. No one saw it or knew what had happened or even woke up—they were all sound asleep, because the Lord had sent a heavy sleep on them all.

13 Then David crossed over to the other side of the valley to the top of the hill, a safe distance away, 14 and shouted to Saul's troops and to Abner, “Abner! Can you hear me?”

“Who is that shouting and waking up the king?” Abner asked.

15 David answered, “Abner, aren't you the greatest man in Israel? So why aren't you protecting your master, the king? Just now someone entered the camp to kill your master. 16 You failed in your duty, Abner! I swear by the living Lord that all of you deserve to die, because you have not protected your master, whom the Lord made king. Look! Where is the king's spear? Where is the water jar that was right by his head?”

17 Saul recognized David's voice and asked, “David, is that you, my son?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” David answered. 18 And he added, “Why, sir, are you still pursuing me, your servant? What have I done? What crime have I committed? 19 Your Majesty, listen to what I have to say. If it is the Lord who has turned you against me, an offering to him will make him change his mind; but if some people have done it, may the Lord's curse fall on them. For they have driven me out from the Lord's land to a country where I can only worship foreign gods. 20 Don't let me be killed on foreign soil, away from the Lord. Why should the king of Israel come to kill a flea like me? Why should he hunt me down like a wild bird?”

21 Saul answered, “I have done wrong. Come back, David, my son! I will never harm you again, because you have spared my life tonight. I have been a fool! I have done a terrible thing!”

22 David replied, “Here is your spear, Your Majesty. Let one of your men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards those who are faithful and righteous. Today he put you in my power, but I did not harm you, whom the Lord made king. 24 Just as I have spared your life today, may the Lord do the same to me and free me from all troubles!”

25 Saul said to David, “God bless you, my son! You will succeed in everything you do!”

So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.

Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

1 Samuel 26 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

David Spares Saul’s Life a Second Time

26 Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “David is in hiding on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon.”[a] So Saul rose and went down to the Wilderness of Ziph, with three thousand chosen men of Israel, to seek David in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is opposite Jeshimon[b] beside the road. But David remained in the wilderness. When he learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, David sent out spies, and learned that Saul had indeed arrived. Then David set out and came to the place where Saul had encamped; and David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.

Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai went to the army by night; there Saul lay sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the army lay around him. Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand today; now therefore let me pin him to the ground with one stroke of the spear; I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him down; or his day will come to die; or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lord forbid that I should raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now take the spear that is at his head, and the water jar, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear that was at Saul’s head and the water jar, and they went away. No one saw it, or knew it, nor did anyone awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.

13 Then David went over to the other side, and stood on top of a hill far away, with a great distance between them. 14 David called to the army and to Abner son of Ner, saying, “Abner! Will you not answer?” Then Abner replied, “Who are you that calls to the king?” 15 David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy your lord the king. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord’s anointed. See now, where is the king’s spear, or the water jar that was at his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice, and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he added, “Why does my lord pursue his servant? For what have I done? What guilt is on my hands? 19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering; but if it is mortals, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out today from my share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the ground, away from the presence of the Lord; for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea, like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have done wrong; come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, because my life was precious in your sight today; I have been a fool, and have made a great mistake.” 22 David replied, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for his righteousness and his faithfulness; for the Lord gave you into my hand today, but I would not raise my hand against the Lord’s anointed. 24 As your life was precious today in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he rescue me from all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 26:1 Or opposite the wasteland
  2. 1 Samuel 26:3 Or opposite the wasteland
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.

1 Samuel 26 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

26 The people from Zif went to Sha’ul in Giv‘ah and said, “David is hiding himself on Hakhilah Hill, across from Yeshimon.” Then Sha’ul set out and went down to the Zif Desert with three thousand men chosen from Isra’el, to search for David in the Zif Desert. Sha’ul pitched camp on Hakhilah Hill, across from Yeshimon, near the road. David was staying in the desert, and he saw that Sha’ul was coming into the desert after him. So David dispatched spies and determined that Sha’ul had definitely come.

David set out and went to where Sha’ul had pitched his camp. He saw where Sha’ul and Avner the son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping. Sha’ul was lying inside the barricade with the troops asleep all around him. David said to Achimelekh the Hitti and Avishai the son of Tz’ruyah, Yo’av’s brother, “Who will go down with me to Sha’ul in the camp?” Avishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Avishai went to the soldiers by night. Sha’ul was lying there asleep inside the barricade. His spear was stuck in the ground next to his head, with Avner and the troops asleep all around him. Avishai said to David, “God has handed your enemy over to you today; so now, please, let me pin him to the ground with just one stroke of the spear. I won’t strike him a second time.” But David said to Avishai, “Don’t destroy him! Nobody can raise his hand against Adonai’s anointed without becoming guilty!” 10 David then added, “As Adonai lives, Adonai will strike him down, or the day will come for him to die, or he will go down to battle and be swept away. 11 Adonai forbid that I should raise my hand against Adonai’s anointed! But now, we’ll take the spear by his head and the jug of water, and get out of here.” 12 So David took the spear and the water jug from Sha’ul’s head and got away. Nobody saw or knew about it, and no one awoke, because they were all asleep — a deep sleep from Adonai had fallen over them.

13 David crossed to the other side and climbed to the top of the distant ridge, leaving a considerable space between them. 14 Then David called out to the troops and to Avner the son of Ner. “Avner! Aren’t you going to answer?” Avner answered, “Who are you, calling to the king?” 15 David said to Avner, “Aren’t you the brave one! Who is there in Isra’el to compare with you? So why haven’t you kept watch over your lord the king? Someone came in to kill the king, your lord! 16 It’s not good, what you’ve done! As Adonai lives, you deserve to die; because you didn’t keep watch over your lord, Adonai’s anointed. And now, see where the king’s spear is, and the jug of water that was next to his head!”

17 Sha’ul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” David said, “It is my voice, my lord king!” 18 and continued, “Why is my lord chasing his servant? What have I done? What evil am I planning? 19 Please, now, may my lord the king hear what his servant is saying. If it is Adonai who has stirred you up against me, let him receive an offering. But if it’s human beings, then a curse on them before Adonai! — because, as things stand today, they have driven me out, so that I can no longer share in Adonai’s inheritance — they’ve said, ‘Go, serve other gods!’ 20 Now don’t let my blood fall on the ground away from the presence of Adonai. The king of Isra’el has gone out in search of a single flea, as if he were hunting partridge in the mountains!”

21 Then Sha’ul said, “I have sinned. Come back, my son David. I won’t harm you any longer, because you regarded my life as precious today. Yes, I have behaved like a fool. I was altogether in the wrong.” 22 David answered, “Here is the king’s spear. Send one of the men over to bring it back. 23 Adonai will give every person a reward suited to his uprightness and faithfulness. Adonai put you in my power today, but I would not raise my hand against Adonai’s anointed. 24 Look: just as I put great value on your life today, so may my life be given great value by Adonai. May he deliver me from every kind of trouble!” 25 Sha’ul answered David, “Blessings on you, my son David! No question that you will accomplish everything you set out to do!” So David went on his way, and Sha’ul returned to his place.

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

1 Samuel 26 The Message (MSG)

Obsessed with a Single Flea

26 1-3 Some Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Did you know that David is hiding out on the Hakilah Hill just opposite Jeshimon?” Saul was on his feet in a minute and on his way to the wilderness of Ziph, taking three thousand of his best men, the pick of the crop, to hunt for David in that wild desert. He camped just off the road at the Hakilah Hill, opposite Jeshimon.

3-5 David, still out in the backcountry, knew Saul had come after him. He sent scouts to determine his precise location. Then David set out and came to the place where Saul had set up camp and saw for himself where Saul and Abner, son of Ner, his general, were staying. Saul was safely inside the camp, encircled by the army.

Taking charge, David spoke to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother: “Who will go down with me and enter Saul’s camp?”

Abishai whispered, “I’ll go with you.”

So David and Abishai entered the encampment by night, and there he was—Saul, stretched out asleep at the center of the camp, his spear stuck in the ground near his head, with Abner and the troops sound asleep on all sides.

Abishai said, “This is the moment! God has put your enemy in your grasp. Let me nail him to the ground with his spear. One hit will do it, believe me; I won’t need a second!”

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t you dare hurt him! Who could lay a hand on God’s anointed and even think of getting away with it?”

10-11 He went on, “As God lives, either God will strike him, or his time will come and he’ll die in bed, or he’ll fall in battle, but God forbid that I should lay a finger on God’s anointed. Now, grab the spear at his head and the water jug and let’s get out of here.”

12 David took the spear and water jug that were right beside Saul’s head, and they slipped away. Not a soul saw. Not a soul knew. No one woke up! They all slept through the whole thing. A blanket of deep sleep from God had fallen on them.

13-14 Then David went across to the opposite hill and stood far away on the top of the mountain. With this safe distance between them, he shouted across to the army and Abner son of Ner, “Hey, Abner! How long do I have to wait for you to wake up and answer me?”

Abner said, “Who’s calling?”

15-16 “Aren’t you in charge there?” said David. “Why aren’t you minding the store? Why weren’t you standing guard over your master the king, when a soldier came to kill the king your master? Bad form! As God lives, your life should be forfeit, you and the entire bodyguard. Look what I have—the king’s spear and water jug that were right beside his head!”

17-20 By now, Saul had recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that you, my son David?”

David said, “Yes, it’s me, O King, my master. Why are you after me, hunting me down? What have I done? What crime have I committed? Oh, my master, my king, listen to this from your servant: If God has stirred you up against me, then I gladly offer my life as a sacrifice. But if it’s men who have done it, let them be banished from God’s presence! They’ve expelled me from my rightful place in God’s heritage, sneering, ‘Out of here! Go get a job with some other god!’ But you’re not getting rid of me that easily; you’ll not separate me from God in life or death. The absurdity! The king of Israel obsessed with a single flea! Hunting me down—a mere partridge—out in the hills!”

21 Saul confessed, “I’ve sinned! Oh, come back, my dear son David! I won’t hurt you anymore. You’ve honored me this day, treating my life as most precious. And I’ve acted the fool—a moral dunce, a real clown.”

22-24 David answered, “See what I have here? The king’s spear. Let one of your servants come and get it. It’s God’s business to decide what to do with each of us in regard to what’s right and who’s loyal. God put your life in my hands today, but I wasn’t willing to lift a finger against God’s anointed. Just as I honored your life today, may God honor my life and rescue me from all trouble.”

25 Saul said to David, “Bless you, dear son David! Yes, do what you have to do! And, yes, succeed in all you attempt!”

Then David went on his way, and Saul went home.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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