David and the Holy Bread
1 Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech came to meet David trembling and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no one with you?” 2And David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has charged me with a matter and said to me, ‘Let no one know anything of the matter about which I send you, and with which I have charged you.’ I have made an appointment with the young men for such and such a place. 3Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.” 4And the priest answered David, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread—if the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5And David answered the priest, “Truly 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 an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?” 6So the priest gave him the holy bread, for there was no bread there but 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.
7Now 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 herdsmen.
8Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” 9And the priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down in the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here.” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me.”
David Flees to Gath
10And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. 11And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,
‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”
12And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. 13So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. 14Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? 15Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”
David at the Cave of Adullam
1David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. 2And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul,1 gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.
3And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay2 with you, till I know what God will do for me.” 4And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. 5Then the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not remain in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.
Saul Kills the Priests at Nob
6Now Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him. Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. 7And Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, people of Benjamin; 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, 8that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant 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 at this day.” 9Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, 10and he inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
11Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests who were at Nob, and all of them came to the king. 12And Saul said, “Hear now, son of Ahitub.” And he answered, “Here I am, my lord.” 13And Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread and a sword and have inquired of God for him, so that he has risen against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” 14Then Ahimelech answered the king, “And who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law, and captain over3 your bodyguard, and honored in your house? 15Is today the first time that I have inquired of God for him? No! Let not the king impute anything to his servant or to all the house of my father, for your servant has known nothing of all this, much or little.” 16And the king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house.” 17And the king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and they knew that he fled and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put out their hand to strike the priests of the Lord. 18Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike the priests.” And Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore the linen ephod. 19And Nob, the city of the priests, he put to the sword; both man and woman, child and infant, ox, donkey and sheep, he put to the sword.
20But one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped and fled after David. 21And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22And David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. 23Stay with me; do not be afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life. With me you shall be in safekeeping.”
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David Saves the City of Keilah
1Now they told David, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are robbing the threshing floors.” 2Therefore David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” And the Lord said to David, “Go and attack the Philistines and save Keilah.” 3But David's men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4Then David inquired of the Lord again. And the Lord answered him, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” 5And David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines and brought away their livestock and struck them with a great blow. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
6When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech had fled to David to Keilah, he had come down with an ephod in his hand. 7Now it was told Saul that David had come to Keilah. And Saul said, “God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” 8And Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. 9David knew that Saul was plotting harm against him. And he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod here.” 10Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account. 11Will the men of Keilah surrender me into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, the God of Israel, please tell your servant.” And the Lord said, “He will come down.” 12Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will surrender you.” 13Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah, and they went wherever they could go. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up the expedition. 14And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.
Saul Pursues David
15David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16And Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
19Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh, on the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? 20Now come down, O king, according to all your heart's desire to come down, and our part shall be to surrender him into the king's hand.” 21And Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. 22Go, make yet more sure. Know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. 23See therefore and take note of all the lurking places where he hides, 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.” 24And they arose and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.
Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. 26Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” 28So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape.1 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi.
- 1 23:28 Or Rock of Divisions
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David Spares Saul's Life
1When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. 3And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.1 Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's robe. 5And afterward David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe. 6He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord's anointed.” 7So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
8Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 9And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? 10Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you.2 I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed.’ 11See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”
16As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. 20And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.” 22And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
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The Death of Samuel
1Now Samuel died. And all Israel assembled and mourned for him, and they buried him in his house at Ramah.
David and Abigail
Then David rose and went down to the wilderness of Paran. 2And there was a man in Maon whose business was in Carmel. The man was very rich; he had three thousand sheep and a thousand goats. He was shearing his sheep in Carmel. 3Now the name of the man was Nabal, and the name of his wife Abigail. The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; he was a Calebite. 4David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. 5So 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. 6And thus you shall greet him: ‘Peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have. 7I 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. 8Ask your young men, and they will tell you. Therefore let my young men find favor in your eyes, for we come on a feast day. Please give whatever you have at hand to your servants and to your son David.’”
9When David's young men came, they said all this to Nabal in the name of David, and then they waited. 10And Nabal answered David's servants, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse? There are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters. 11Shall I take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who come from I do not know where?” 12So David's young men turned away and came back and told him all this. 13And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword!” And every man of them strapped on his sword. David also strapped on his sword. And about four hundred men went up after David, while two hundred remained with the baggage.
14But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal's wife, “Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master, and he railed at them. 15Yet the men were very good to us, and we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them. 16They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. 17Now therefore know this and consider what you should do, for harm is determined against our master and against all his house, and he is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”
18Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves and two skins of wine and five sheep already prepared and five seahs1 of parched grain and a hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs, and laid them on donkeys. 19And she said to her young men, “Go on before me; behold, I come after you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20And as she rode on the donkey and came down under cover of the mountain, behold, David and his men came down toward her, and she met them. 21Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. 22God do so to the enemies of David2 and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.”
23When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. 24She fell at his feet and said, “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal3 is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 26Now then, my lord, as the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, because the Lord has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 27And now let this present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord is fighting the battles of the Lord, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the Lord your God. And the lives of your enemies he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30And when the Lord has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince4 over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord working salvation himself. And when the Lord has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.”
32And David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! 33Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from working salvation with my own hand! 34For as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male.” 35Then David received from her hand what she had brought him. And he said to her, “Go up in peace to your house. See, I have obeyed your voice, and I have granted your petition.”
36And Abigail came to Nabal, and behold, he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until the morning light. 37In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. 38And about ten days later the Lord struck Nabal, and he died.
39When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Blessed be the Lord who has avenged the insult I received at the hand of Nabal, and has kept back his servant from wrongdoing. The Lord has returned the evil of Nabal on his own head.” Then David sent and spoke to Abigail, to take her as his wife. 40When the servants of David came to Abigail at Carmel, they said to her, “David has sent us to you to take you to him as his wife.” 41And she rose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, “Behold, your handmaid is a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.” 42And Abigail hurried and rose and mounted a donkey, and her five young women attended her. She followed the messengers of David and became his wife.
43David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim.
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Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.