1 Samuel 26-28 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
David Again Lets Saul Live
26 Once again,[a] some people from Ziph went to Gibeah to talk with Saul. “David has a hideout on Mount Hachilah near Jeshimon out in the desert,” they told him.
2 Saul took three thousand of Israel’s best soldiers and went to look for David there in Ziph Desert. 3 Saul set up camp on Mount Hachilah, which is across the road from Jeshimon. But David was hiding out in the desert.
When David heard that Saul was following him, 4 he sent some spies to find out if it was true. 5 Then he sneaked up to Saul’s camp. He noticed that Saul and his army commander Abner the son of Ner were sleeping in the middle of the camp, with soldiers sleeping all around them. 6 David asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Joab’s brother Abishai,[b] “Which one of you will go with me into Saul’s camp?”
“I will!” Abishai answered.
7 That same night, David and Abishai crept into the camp. Saul was sleeping, and his spear was stuck in the ground not far from his head. Abner and the soldiers were sound asleep all around him.
8 Abishai whispered, “This time God has let you get your hands on your enemy! I’ll pin him to the ground with one thrust of his own spear.”
9 “Don’t kill him!” David whispered back. “The Lord will punish anyone who kills his chosen king. 10 As surely as the Lord lives, the Lord will kill Saul, or Saul will die a natural death or be killed in battle. 11 But I pray that the Lord will keep me from harming his chosen king. Let’s grab his spear and his water jar and get out of here!”
12 David took the spear and the water jar, then left the camp. None of Saul’s soldiers knew what had happened or even woke up—the Lord had made all of them fall sound asleep. 13 David and Abishai crossed the valley and went to the top of the next hill, where they were at a safe distance. 14 “Abner!” David shouted toward Saul’s army. “Can you hear me?”
Abner shouted back. “Who dares disturb the king?”
15 “Abner, what kind of a man are you?” David replied. “Aren’t you supposed to be the best soldier in Israel? Then why didn’t you protect your king? Anyone who went into your camp could have killed him tonight.[c] 16 You’re a complete failure! I swear by the living Lord that you and your men deserve to die for not protecting the Lord’s chosen king. Look and see if you can find the king’s spear and the water jar that were near his head.”
17 Saul could tell it was David’s voice, and he called out, “David, my son! Is that you?”
“Yes it is, Your Majesty. 18 Why are you after me? Have I done something wrong, or have I committed a crime? 19 Please listen to what I have to say. If the Lord has turned you against me, maybe a sacrifice will make him change his mind. But if some people have turned you against me, I hope the Lord will punish them! They have forced me to leave the land that belongs to the Lord and have told me to worship foreign gods.[d] 20 Don’t let me die in a land far away from the Lord. I’m no more important than a flea! Why should the king of Israel hunt me down as if I were a bird in the mountains?”
21 “David, you had the chance to kill me today. But you didn’t. I was very wrong about you. It was a terrible mistake for me to try to kill you. I’ve acted like a fool, but I’ll never try to harm you again. You’re like a son to me, so please come back.”
22 “Your Majesty, here’s your spear! Have one of your soldiers come and get it. 23 The Lord put you in my power today, but you are his chosen king and I wouldn’t harm you. The Lord rewards people who are faithful and live right. 24 I saved your life today, and I pray that the Lord will protect me and keep me safe.”
25 “David, my son, I pray that the Lord will bless you and make you successful!”
David in Philistia
Saul went back home. David also left, 27 1 but he thought to himself, “One of these days, Saul is going to kill me. The only way to escape from him is to go to Philistia. Then I’ll be outside of Israel, and Saul will give up trying to catch me.”
2-3 David and his six hundred men went across the border to stay in Gath with King Achish the son of Maoch. His men brought their families with them. David brought his wife Ahinoam whose hometown was Jezreel, and he also brought his wife Abigail who had been married to Nabal from Carmel. 4 When Saul found out that David had run off to Gath, he stopped trying to catch him.
5 One day, David was talking with Achish and said, “If you are happy with me, then let me live in one of the towns in the countryside. I’m not important enough to live here with you in the royal city.”
6 Achish gave David the town of Ziklag that same day, and Ziklag has belonged to the kings of Judah ever since.
7 David was in Philistia for a year and four months. 8 The Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites lived in the area from Telam to Shur[e] and on as far as Egypt, and David often attacked their towns. 9 Whenever David and his men attacked a town, they took the sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and the clothing, and killed everyone who lived there.
After he returned from a raid, David always went to see Achish, 10 who would ask, “Where did you attack today?”[f]
David would answer, “Oh, we attacked some desert town that belonged to the Judah tribe.” Sometimes David would say, “Oh, we attacked a town in the desert where the Jerahmeel clan lives” or “We attacked a town in the desert where the Kenites[g] live.” 11 That’s why David killed everyone in the towns he attacked. He thought, “If I let any of them live, they might come to Gath and tell what I’ve really been doing.”
David made these raids all the time he was in Philistia. 12 But Achish trusted David and thought, “David’s people must be furious with him. From now on he will have to take orders from me.”
Saul Talks with Samuel’s Ghost
28 1-3 Samuel had died some time earlier,[h] and people from all over Israel had attended his funeral in his hometown of Ramah.
Meanwhile, Saul had been trying to get rid of everyone who spoke with the spirits of the dead.[i] But one day the Philistines brought their soldiers together to attack Israel.
Achish told David, “Of course, you know that you and your men must fight as part of our Philistine army.”
David answered, “That will give you a chance to see for yourself just how well we can fight!”
“In that case,” Achish said, “you and your men will always be my bodyguards.”
4 The Philistines went to Shunem and set up camp. Saul called the army of Israel together, and they set up their camp in Gilboa. 5 Saul took one look at the Philistine army and started shaking with fear. 6 So he asked the Lord what to do. But the Lord would not answer, either in a dream or by a priest or a prophet. 7 Then Saul told his officers, “Find me a woman who can talk to the spirits of the dead. I’ll go to her and find out what’s going to happen.”
His servants told him, “There’s a woman at Endor who can talk to spirits of the dead.”
8 That night, Saul put on different clothing so nobody would recognize him. Then he and two of his men went to the woman, and asked, “Will you bring up the ghost of someone for us?”
9 The woman said, “Why are you trying to trick me and get me killed? You know King Saul has gotten rid of everyone who talks to the spirits of the dead!”
10 Saul replied, “I swear by the living Lord that nothing will happen to you because of this.”
11 “Who do you want me to bring up?” she asked.
“Bring up the ghost of Samuel,” he answered.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed. Then she turned to Saul and said, “You’ve tricked me! You’re the king!”
13 “Don’t be afraid,” Saul replied. “Just tell me what you see.”
She answered, “I see a spirit rising up out of the ground.”
14 “What does it look like?”
“It looks like an old man wearing a robe.”
Saul knew it was Samuel, so he bowed down low.
15 “Why are you bothering me by bringing me up like this?” Samuel asked.
“I’m terribly worried,” Saul answered. “The Philistines are about to attack me. God has turned his back on me and won’t answer any more by prophets or by dreams. What should I do?”
16 Samuel said:
If the Lord has turned away from you and is now your enemy, don’t ask me what to do. 17 I’ve already told you: The Lord has sworn to take the kingdom from you and give it to David. And that’s just what he’s doing! 18 When the Lord was angry with the Amalekites, he told you to destroy them, but you didn’t do it. That’s why the Lord is doing this to you. 19 Tomorrow the Lord will let the Philistines defeat Israel’s army, then you and your sons will join me down here in the world of the dead.
20 At once, Saul collapsed and lay stretched out on the floor, terrified at what Samuel had said. He was weak because he had not eaten anything since the day before.
21 The woman came over to Saul, and when she saw that he was completely terrified, she said, “Your Majesty, I listened to you and risked my life to do what you asked. 22 Now please listen to me. Let me get you a little something to eat. It will give you strength for your walk back to camp.”
23 “No, I won’t eat!”
But his officers and the woman kept on urging Saul, until he finally agreed. He got up off the floor and sat on the bed. 24 Right away the woman killed a calf that she had been fattening up. She cooked part of the meat and baked some thin bread.[j] 25 Then she served the food to Saul and his officers, who ate and left before daylight.
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