1 Samuel 22-23 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
People Join David
22 When David escaped from the town of Gath, he went to Adullam Cave. His brothers and the rest of his family found out where he was, and they followed him there. 2 A lot of other people joined him too. Some were in trouble, others were angry or in debt, and David was soon the leader of four hundred men.
3 David left Adullam Cave and went to the town of Mizpeh in Moab, where he talked with the king of Moab. “Please,” David said, “let my father and mother stay with you until I find out what God will do with me.” 4 So he brought his parents to the king of Moab, and they stayed with him while David was in hiding.
5 One day the prophet Gad told David, “Don’t stay here! Go back to Judah.” David then left and went to Hereth Forest.
Saul Kills the Priests of the Lord
6 Saul was sitting under a small tree on top of the hill at Gibeah when he heard that David and his men had been seen. Saul was holding his spear, and his officers were standing in front of him. 7 He told them:
Listen to me! You belong to the Benjamin tribe,[a] so if that son of Jesse ever becomes king, he won’t give you fields or vineyards. He won’t make you officers in charge of thousands or hundreds as I have done. 8 But you’re all plotting against me! Not one of you told me that my own son Jonathan had made an agreement with him. Not one of you cared enough to tell me that Jonathan had helped one of my officers[b] rebel. Now that son of Jesse is trying to ambush me.
9 Doeg the Edomite was standing with the other officers and spoke up, “When I was in the town of Nob, I saw that son of Jesse. He was visiting the priest Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. 10 Ahimelech talked to the Lord for him, then gave him food and the sword that had belonged to Goliath the Philistine.”
11 Saul sent a message to Ahimelech and his whole family of priests at Nob, ordering them to come to him. When they came, 12 Saul told them, “Listen to me, you son of Ahitub.”
“Certainly, Your Majesty,” Ahimelech answered.
13 Saul demanded, “Why did you plot against me with that son of Jesse? You helped him rebel against me by giving him food and a sword, and by talking with God for him. Now he’s trying to ambush me!”
14 “Your Majesty, none of your officers is more loyal than David!” Ahimelech replied. “He’s your son-in-law and the captain of your bodyguard. Everyone in your family respects him. 15 This isn’t the first time I’ve talked with God for David, and it’s never made you angry before! Please don’t accuse me or my family like this. I have no idea what’s going on!”
16 “Ahimelech,” Saul said, “you and your whole family are going to die.”
17 Saul shouted to his bodyguards, “These priests of the Lord helped David! They knew he was running away, but they didn’t tell me. Kill them!”
But the king’s officers would not attack the priests of the Lord.
18 Saul turned to Doeg, who was from Edom, and said, “Kill the priests!”
On that same day, Doeg killed eighty-five priests. 19 Then he attacked the town of Nob, where the priests had lived, and he killed everyone there—men, women, children, and babies. He even killed their cattle, donkeys, and sheep.
Only Abiathar Escapes from Nob
20 Ahimelech’s son Abiathar was the only one who escaped. He ran to David 21 and told him, “Saul has murdered the priests at Nob!”
22 David answered, “That day when I saw Doeg, I knew he would tell Saul! Your family died because of me. 23 Stay here. Isn’t the same person trying to kill both of us? Don’t worry! You’ll be safe here with me.”
David Rescues the Town of Keilah
23 One day some people told David, “The Philistines keep attacking the town of Keilah and stealing grain from the threshing place.”
2 David asked the Lord, “Should I attack these Philistines?”
“Yes,” the Lord answered. “Attack them and rescue Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said, “Look, even here in Judah we’re afraid of the Philistines. We will be terrified if we try to fight them at Keilah!”[c]
4 David asked the Lord about it again. “Leave right now,” the Lord answered. “I will give you victory over the Philistines at Keilah.”
5 David and his men went there and fiercely attacked the Philistines. They killed many of them, then led away their cattle, and rescued the people of Keilah.
6-8 Meanwhile, Saul heard that David was in Keilah. “God has let me catch David,” Saul said. “David is trapped inside a walled town where the gates can be locked.” Saul decided to go there and surround the town, in order to trap David and his men. He sent messengers who told the towns and villages, “Send men to serve in Saul’s army!”
By this time, Abiathar had joined David in Keilah and had brought along everything he needed to get answers from God.
9 David heard about Saul’s plan to capture him, and he told Abiathar, “Let’s ask God what we should do.”
10 David prayed, “Lord God of Israel, I was told that Saul is planning to come here. What should I do? Suppose he threatens to destroy the town because of me. 11 Would the leaders of Keilah turn me over to Saul? Or is he really coming? Please tell me, Lord.”
“Yes, he will come,” the Lord answered.
12 David asked, “Would the leaders of Keilah hand me and my soldiers over to Saul?”
“Yes, they would,” the Lord answered.
13 David and his six hundred men got out of there fast and started moving from place to place. Saul heard that David had left Keilah, and he decided not to go after him.
Jonathan Says David Will Be King
14 David stayed in hideouts in the hill country of Ziph Desert. Saul kept searching, but God never let Saul catch him.
15 One time, David was at Horesh in Ziph Desert. He was afraid because[d] Saul had come to the area to kill him. 16 But Jonathan went to see David, and God helped him encourage David. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan said. “My father Saul will never get his hands on you. In fact, you’re going to be the next king of Israel, and I’ll be your highest official. Even my father knows it’s true.”
18 They both promised the Lord that they would always be loyal to each other. Then Jonathan went home, but David stayed at Horesh.
David Escapes from Saul
19 Some people from the town of Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Your Majesty, David has a hideout not far from us! It’s near Horesh, somewhere on Mount Hachilah south of Jeshimon.[e] 20 If you come, we will help you catch him.”
21 Saul told them:
You’ve done me a big favor, and I pray that the Lord will bless you. 22 Now please do just a little more for me. Find out exactly where David is, as well as where he goes, and who has seen him there. I’ve been told that he’s very tricky. 23 Find out where all his hiding places are and come back when you’re sure. Then I’ll go with you. If he is still in the area, or anywhere among the clans of Judah, I’ll find him.
24 The people from Ziph went back ahead of Saul, and they found out that David and his men were still south of Jeshimon in the Maon Desert. 25 Saul and his army set out to find David. But David heard that Saul was coming, and he went to a place called The Rock, one of his hideouts in Maon Desert.
Saul found out where David was and started closing in on him. 26 Saul was going around a hill on one side, and David and his men were on the other side, trying to get away. Saul and his soldiers were just about to capture David and his men, 27 when a messenger came to Saul and said, “Come quickly! The Philistines are attacking Israel and taking everything.”
28 Saul stopped going after David and went back to fight the Philistines. That’s why the place is called “Escape Rock.”
29 David left and went to live in the hideouts at En-Gedi.
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