1 Samuel 24-25 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
David Lets Saul Live
24 When Saul got back from fighting off the Philistines, he heard that David was in the desert around En-Gedi. 2 Saul led three thousand of Israel’s best soldiers out to look for David and his men near Wild Goat Rocks at En-Gedi. 3 There were some sheep pens along the side of the road, and one of them was built around the entrance to a cave. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself.
David and his men were hiding at the back of the cave. 4 They whispered to David, “The Lord told you he was going to let you defeat your enemies and do whatever you want with them. This must be the day the Lord was talking about.”
David sneaked over and cut off a small piece[a] of Saul’s robe, but Saul didn’t notice a thing. 5 Afterwards, David was sorry that he had even done that, 6-7 and he told his men, “Stop talking foolishly. We’re not going to attack Saul. He’s my king, and I pray that the Lord will keep me from doing anything to harm his chosen king.”
Saul left the cave and started down the road. 8 Soon, David also got up and left the cave. “Your Majesty!” he shouted from a distance.
Saul turned around to look. David bowed down very low 9 and said:
Your Majesty, why do you listen to people who say that I’m trying to harm you? 10 You can see for yourself that the Lord gave me the chance to catch you in the cave today. Some of my men wanted to kill you, but I wouldn’t let them do it. I told them, “I will not harm the Lord’s chosen king!” 11 Your Majesty, look at what I’m holding. You can see that it’s a piece of your robe. If I could cut off a piece of your robe, I could have killed you. But I let you live, and that should prove I’m not trying to harm you or to rebel. I haven’t done anything to you, and yet you keep trying to ambush and kill me.
12 I’ll let the Lord decide which one of us has done right. I pray that the Lord will punish you for what you’re doing to me, but I won’t do anything to you. 13 An old proverb says, “Only evil people do evil things,” and so I won’t harm you.
14 Why should the king of Israel be out chasing me, anyway? I’m as worthless as a dead dog or a flea. 15 I pray that the Lord will help me escape and show that I am in the right.
16 “David, my son—is that you?” Saul asked. Then he started crying 17 and said:
David, you’re a better person than I am. You treated me with kindness, even though I’ve been cruel to you. 18 You’ve told me how you were kind enough not to kill me when the Lord gave you the chance. 19 If you really were my enemy, you wouldn’t have let me leave here alive. I pray that the Lord will give you a big reward for what you did today.
20 I realize now that you will be the next king, and a powerful king at that. 21 Promise me with the Lord as your witness, that you won’t wipe out my descendants. Let them live to keep my family name alive.
22 So David promised, and Saul went home. David and his men returned to their hideout.
Abigail Keeps David from Killing Innocent People
2-3 Nabal was a very rich man who lived in Maon. He owned three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, which he kept at Carmel.[d] His wife Abigail was sensible and beautiful, but he was from the Caleb clan[e] and was rough and mean.
4 One day, Nabal was in Carmel, having his servants cut the wool from his sheep. David was in the desert when he heard about it. 5-6 So he sent ten men to Carmel with this message for Nabal:
I hope that you and your family are healthy and that all is going well for you. 7 I’ve heard that you are cutting the wool from your sheep.
When your shepherds were with us in Carmel, we didn’t harm them, and nothing was ever stolen from them. 8 Ask your shepherds, and they’ll tell you the same thing.
My servants are your servants, and you are like a father to me. This is a day for celebrating,[f] so please be kind and share some of your food with us.
9 David’s men went to Nabal and gave him David’s message, then they waited for Nabal’s answer.
10 This is what he said:
Who does this David think he is? That son of Jesse is just one more slave on the run from his master, and there are too many of them these days. 11 What makes you think I would take my bread, my water, and the meat that I’ve had cooked for my own servants[g] and give it to you? Besides, I’m not sure that David sent you![h]
12 The men returned to their camp and told David everything Nabal had said.
13 “Everybody get your swords!” David ordered.
They all strapped on their swords. Two hundred men stayed behind to guard the camp, but the other four hundred followed David.
14-16 Meanwhile, one of Nabal’s servants told Abigail:
David’s men were often nearby while we were taking care of the sheep in the fields. They were very good to us, they never hurt us, and nothing was ever stolen from us while they were nearby. With them around day or night, we were as safe as we would have been inside a walled city.
David sent some messengers from the desert to wish our master well, but he shouted insults at them. 17 He’s a bully who won’t listen to anyone.
Isn’t there something you can do? Please think of something! Or else our master and his family and everyone who works for him are all doomed.
18 Abigail quickly got together two hundred loaves of bread, two large clay jars of wine, the meat from five sheep, a large sack of roasted grain, a hundred handfuls of raisins, and two hundred handfuls of dried figs. She loaded all the food on donkeys 19 and told her servants, “Take this on ahead, and I’ll catch up with you.” She didn’t tell her husband Nabal what she was doing.
20 Abigail was riding her donkey on the path that led around the hillside, when suddenly she met David and his men heading straight at her.
21 David had just been saying, “I surely wasted my time guarding Nabal’s things in the desert and keeping them from being stolen! I was good to him, and now he pays me back with insults. 22 I swear that by morning, there won’t be a man or boy left from his family or his servants' families. I pray that God will punish me[i] if I don’t do it!”
23 Abigail quickly got off her donkey and bowed down in front of David. 24 Then she said:
Sir, please let me explain! 25 Don’t pay any attention to that good-for-nothing Nabal. His name means “fool,” and it really fits him!
I didn’t see the men you sent, 26-27 but please take this gift of food that I’ve brought and share it with your followers. The Lord has kept you from taking revenge and from killing innocent people. But I hope your enemies and anyone else who wants to harm you will end up like Nabal. I swear this by the living Lord and by your life.
28 Please forgive me if I say a little more. The Lord will always protect you and your family, because you fight for him. I pray that you won’t ever do anything evil as long as you live. 29 The Lord your God will keep you safe when your enemies try to kill you. But he will snatch away their lives quicker than you can throw a rock from a sling.
30 The Lord has promised to do many good things for you, even to make you the ruler of Israel. The Lord will keep his promises to you, 31 and now your conscience will be clear, because you won’t be guilty of taking revenge and killing innocent people.
When the Lord does all those good things for you, please remember me.
32 David told her:
I praise the Lord God of Israel! He must have sent you to meet me today. 33 And you should also be praised. Your good sense kept me from taking revenge and killing innocent people. 34 If you hadn’t come to meet me so quickly, every man and boy in Nabal’s family and in his servants' families would have been killed by morning. I swear by the living Lord God of Israel who protected you that this is the truth.
35 David accepted the food Abigail had brought. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You can go home now. I’ll do what you asked.”
36 Abigail went back home and found Nabal throwing a party fit for a king. He was very drunk and feeling good, so she didn’t tell him anything that night. 37 But when he sobered up the next morning, Abigail told him everything that had happened. Nabal had a heart attack, and he lay in bed as still as a stone. 38 Ten days later, the Lord took his life.
39-40 David heard that Nabal had died. “I praise the Lord!” David said. “He has judged Nabal guilty for insulting me. The Lord kept me from doing anything wrong, and he made sure that Nabal hurt only himself with his own evil.”
David and Abigail Are Married
Abigail was still at Carmel. So David sent messengers to ask her if she would marry him.
41 She bowed down and said, “I would willingly be David’s slave and wash his servants' feet.”
42 Abigail quickly got ready and went back with David’s messengers. She rode on her donkey, while five of her servant women walked alongside. She and David were married as soon as she arrived.
43 David had earlier married Ahinoam from the town of Jezreel, so both she and Abigail were now David’s wives.[j] 44 Meanwhile, Saul had arranged for Michal[k] to marry Palti the son of Laish, who came from the town of Gallim.
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