22 So David left there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of his father’s family 1 learned about it, they went down there to him. 2 All those who were in trouble or owed someone money or were discontented 2 gathered around 3 him, and he became their leader. He had about four hundred men with him.
3 Then David went from there to Mizpah in Moab, where he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother stay 4 with you until I know what God is going to do for me.” 4 So he had them stay with the king of Moab; they stayed with him the whole time 5 that David was in the stronghold. 5 Then Gad the prophet said to David, “Don’t stay in the stronghold. Go to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
6 But Saul found out the whereabouts of David and the men who were with him. 6 Now Saul was sitting at Gibeah under the tamarisk tree at an elevated location with his spear in hand and all his servants stationed around him. 7 Saul said to his servants who were stationed around him, “Listen up, you Benjaminites! Is Jesse’s son giving fields and vineyards to all of you? Or is he making all of you 7 commanders and officers? 8 8 For all of you have conspired against me! No one informs me 9 when my own son makes an agreement with this son of Jesse! Not one of you feels sorry for me or informs me that my own son has commissioned my own servant to hide in ambush against me, as is the case today!”
9 But Doeg the Edomite, who had stationed himself with the servants of Saul, replied, “I saw this son of Jesse come to Ahimelech son of Ahitub at Nob. 10 He inquired of the Lord for him and gave him provisions. He also gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
11 Then the king arranged for a meeting with the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub and all the priests of his father’s house who were at Nob. They all came to the king. 12 Then Saul said, “Listen, son of Ahitub.” He replied, “Here I am, my lord.” 13 Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and this son of Jesse? You gave 10 him bread and a sword and inquired of God on his behalf, so that he opposes 11 me and waits in ambush, as is the case today!”
14 Ahimelech replied to the king, “Who among all your servants is faithful like David? He is the king’s son-in-law, the leader of your bodyguard, and honored in your house! 15 Was it just today that I began to inquire of God on his behalf? Far be it from me! The king should not accuse 12 his servant or any of my father’s house. For your servant is not aware of all this – not in whole or in part!” 13
16 But the king said, “You will surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father’s house! 17 Then the king said to the messengers 14 who were stationed beside him, “Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, for they too have sided 15 with David! They knew he was fleeing, but they did not inform me.” But the king’s servants refused to harm 16 the priests of the Lord.
18 Then the king said to Doeg, “You turn and strike down the priests!” So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck down the priests. He killed on that day eighty-five 17 men who wore the linen ephod. 19 As for Nob, the city of the priests, he struck down with the sword men and women, children and infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep – all with the sword.
20 But one of the sons of Ahimelech son of Ahitub escaped and fled to David. His name was Abiathar. 21 Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord. 22 Then David said to Abiathar, “I knew that day when Doeg the Edomite was there that he would certainly tell Saul! I am guilty 18 of all the deaths in your father’s house! 23 Stay with me. Don’t be afraid! Whoever 19 seeks my life is seeking your life as well. You are secure with me.”
23 They told David, “The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors.” 2 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go and strike down these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said to him, “We are afraid while we are still here in Judah! What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 4 So David asked the Lord once again. But again the Lord replied, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”
5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them. 1 David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.
6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod. 2 7 When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered 3 him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates.” 4 8 So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men. 5
9 When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him, 6 he told Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!” 10 Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning 7 to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, please inform your servant!”
Then the Lord said, “He will come down.” 12 David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul’s hand?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you over.”
13 So David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another. 8 When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition. 14 David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the desert of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time, 9 but God did not deliver David 10 into his hand. 15 David realized 11 that Saul had come out to seek his life; at that time David was in Horesh in the desert of Ziph.
16 Then Jonathan son of Saul left and went to David at Horesh. He encouraged him 12 through God. 17 He said to him, “Don’t be afraid! For the hand of my father Saul cannot find you. You will rule over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul realizes this.” 18 When the two of them had made a covenant before the Lord, David stayed on at Horesh, but Jonathan went to his house.
19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 20 Now at your own discretion, 13 O king, come down. Delivering him into the king’s hand will be our responsibility.”
21 Saul replied, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. 22 Go and make further arrangements. Determine precisely 14 where he is 15 and who has seen him there, for I am told that he is extremely cunning. 23 Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information. 16 Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will find him 17 among all the thousands of Judah.”
24 So they left and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men went to look for him. 18 But David was informed and went down to the rock and stayed in the desert of Maon. When Saul heard about it, he pursued David in the desert of Maon. 26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, while David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, but Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men so they could capture them. 27 But a messenger came to Saul saying, “Come quickly, for the Philistines have raided the land!”
28 So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. Therefore that place is called Sela Hammahlekoth. 19 29 20 Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.
24 When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, they told him, “Look, David is in the desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand select men from all Israel and went to find 1 David and his men in the region of 2 the rocks of the mountain goats. 3 3 He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. 4
Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. 4 David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” 5 So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward David’s conscience bothered him 6 because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, 7 by extending my hand against him. After all, 8 he is the Lord’s chosen one.” 9 7 David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down 10 the road.
8 Afterward David got up and went out of the cave. He called out after Saul, “My lord, O king!” When Saul looked behind him, David kneeled down and bowed with his face to the ground. 9 David said to Saul, “Why do you pay attention when men say, ‘David is seeking to do you harm’? 10 Today your own eyes see how the Lord delivered you – this very day – into my hands in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I had pity 11 on you and said, ‘I will not extend my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s chosen one.’ 12 11 Look, my father, and see the edge of your robe in my hand! When I cut off the edge of your robe, I didn’t kill you. So realize and understand that I am not planning 13 evil or rebellion. Even though I have not sinned against you, you are waiting in ambush to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between the two of us, and may the Lord vindicate me over you, but my hand will not be against you. 13 It’s like the old proverb says: ‘From evil people evil proceeds.’ But my hand will not be against you. 14 Who has the king of Israel come out after? Who is it that you are pursuing? A dead dog? A single flea? 15 May the Lord be our judge and arbiter. May he see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands!”
16 When David finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” Then Saul wept loudly. 14 17 He said to David, “You are more innocent 15 than I, for you have treated me well, even though I have tried to harm you! 18 You have explained today how you have treated me well. The Lord delivered me into your hand, but you did not kill me. 19 Now if a man finds his enemy, does he send him on his way in good shape? May the Lord repay you with good this day for what you have done to me. 20 Now look, I realize that you will in fact be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 So now swear to me in the Lord’s name 16 that you will not kill 17 my descendants after me or destroy my name from the house of my father.”
22 David promised Saul this on oath. 18 Then Saul went to his house, and David and his men went up to the stronghold.