David fled from the city of Gath and went to a cave near the town of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of the family heard that he was there, they joined him. 2People who were oppressed or in debt or dissatisfied went to him, about 400 men in all, and he became their leader.
3David went on from there to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come and stay with you until I find out what God is going to do for me.” 4So David left his parents with the king of Moab, and they stayed there as long as David was hiding in the cave.
5Then the prophet Gad came to David and said, “Don't stay here; go at once to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
6One day Saul was in Gibeah, sitting under a tamarisk tree on a hill, with his spear in his hand, and all his officers were standing round him. He was told that David and his men had been found, 7and he said to his officers, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Do you think that David will give fields and vineyards to all of you, and make you officers in his army? 8Is that why you are plotting against me? Not one of you told me that my own son had made an alliance with David. No one is concerned about me or tells me that David, one of my own men, is at this moment looking for a chance to kill me, and that my son has encouraged him!”
Doeg was standing there with Saul's officers, and he said, “I saw David when he went to Ahimelech son of Ahitub in Nob. 10Ahimelech asked the LORD what David should do, and then he gave David some food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”
11So King Saul sent for the priest Ahimelech and all his relatives, who were also priests in Nob, and they came to him. 12Saul said to Ahimelech, “Listen, Ahimelech!”
“At your service, sir,” he answered.
13Saul asked him, “Why are you and David plotting against me? Why did you give him some food and a sword, and consult God for him? Now he has turned against me and is waiting for a chance to kill me!”
14Ahimelech answered, “David is the most faithful officer you have! He is your own son-in-law, captain of22.14 Some ancient translations captain of; Hebrew he turned to. your bodyguard, and highly respected by everyone in the royal court. 15Yes, I consulted God for him, and it wasn't the first time.22.15 Yes, I consulted… time; or Now, have I done something wrong today by consulting God for him? Not at all! As for plotting against you, Your Majesty must not accuse me or anyone else in my family. I don't know anything about this matter!”
16The king said, “Ahimelech, you and all your relatives must die.” 17Then he said to the guards standing near him, “Kill the LORD's priests! They conspired with David and did not tell me that he had run away, even though they knew it all along.” But the guards refused to lift a hand to kill the LORD's priests. 18So Saul said to Doeg, “You kill them!” — and Doeg killed them all. On that day he killed 85 priests who were qualified to carry the ephod. 19Saul also ordered all the other inhabitants of Nob, the city of priests, to be put to death: men and women, children and babies, cattle, donkeys, and sheep — they were all killed.
20But Abiathar, one of Ahimelech's sons, escaped, and went and joined David. 21He told him how Saul had slaughtered the priests of the LORD. 22David said to him, “When I saw Doeg there that day, I knew that he would be sure to tell Saul. So I am responsible22.22 Some ancient translations I am responsible; Hebrew I have turned. for the death of all your relatives. 23Stay with me and don't be afraid. Saul wants to kill both you and me, but you will be safe with me.”
231David heard that the Philistines were attacking the town of Keilah and were stealing the newly harvested corn. 2So he asked the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines?”
“Yes,” the LORD answered. “Attack them and save Keilah.”
3But David's men said to him, “We have enough to be afraid of here in Judah; it will be much worse if we go to Keilah and attack the Philistine forces!” 4So David consulted the LORD again, and the LORD said to him, “Go and attack Keilah, because I will give you victory over the Philistines.” 5So David and his men went to Keilah and attacked the Philistines; they killed many of them and took their livestock. And that was how David saved the town.
6When Abiathar son of Ahimelech escaped and joined David in Keilah, he took the ephod with him.
7Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has put him in my power. David has trapped himself by going into a walled town with fortified gates.” 8So Saul called his troops to war, to march against Keilah and besiege David and his men.
9When David heard that Saul was planning to attack him, he said to the priest Abiathar, “Bring the ephod here.” 10Then David said, “LORD, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come to Keilah and destroy it on account of me, your servant. 11Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to Saul? Will Saul really come, as I have heard? LORD, God of Israel, I beg you to answer me!”
The LORD answered, “Saul will come.”
12“And will the citizens of Keilah hand my men and me over to Saul?” David asked again.
“They will,” the LORD answered.
13So David and his men — about 600 in all — left Keilah at once and kept on the move. When Saul heard that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up his plan.
14David stayed in hiding in the hill country, in the wilderness near Ziph. Saul was always trying to find him, but God did not hand David over to him. 15David saw that Saul was out to kill him.
David was at Horesh, in the wilderness near Ziph. 16Jonathan went to him there and encouraged him with assurances of God's protection, 17saying to him, “Don't be afraid. My father Saul won't be able to harm you. He knows very well that you are the one who will be the king of Israel and that I will be next in rank to you.” 18
The two of them made a sacred promise of friendship to each other. David stayed at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding in our territory at Horesh on Mount Hachilah, in the southern part of the Judean wilderness. 20We know, Your Majesty, how much you want to capture him; so come to our territory, and we will make sure that you catch him.”
21Saul answered, “May the LORD bless you for being so kind to me! 22Go and make sure once more; find out for certain where he is and who has seen him there. I hear that he is very cunning. 23Find out exactly the places where he hides, and be sure to bring back a report to me straight away. Then I will go with you, and if he is still in the region, I will hunt him down, even if I have to search the whole land of Judah.”
24So they left and returned to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in a desolate valley in the southern part of the Judean wilderness. 25Saul and his men set out to look for David, but he heard about it and went to a rocky hill in the wilderness of Maon and stayed there. When Saul heard about this, he went after David. 26Saul and his men were on one side of the hill, separated from David and his men, who were on the other side. They were hurrying to get away from Saul and his men, who were closing in on them and were about to capture them. 27Just then a messenger arrived and said to Saul, “Come back at once! The Philistines are invading the country!” 28So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to fight the Philistines. That is why that place is called Separation Hill. 29David left and went to the region of Engedi, where he stayed in hiding.
241When Saul came back from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David was in the wilderness near Engedi. 2Saul took 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel and went looking for David and his men east of Wild Goat Rocks. 3
He came to a cave close to some sheep pens by the road and went in to relieve himself. It happened to be the very cave in which David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. 4They said to him, “This is your chance! The LORD has told you that he would put your enemy in your power and you could do to him whatever you wanted to.” David crept over and cut off a piece of Saul's robe without Saul's knowing it. 5But then David's conscience began to trouble him, 6
and he said to his men, “May the LORD keep me from doing any harm to my master, whom the LORD chose as king! I must not harm him in the least, because he is the king chosen by the LORD!” 7So David convinced his men that they should not attack Saul.
Saul got up, left the cave, and started on his way. 8Then David went out after him and called to him, “Your Majesty!” Saul turned round, and David bowed down to the ground in respect 9and said, “Why do you listen to people who say that I am trying to harm you? 10You can see for yourself that just now in the cave the LORD put you in my power. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I felt sorry for you and said that I would not harm you in the least, because you are the one whom the LORD chose to be king. 11Look, my father, look at the piece of your robe I am holding! I could have killed you, but instead I only cut this off. This should convince you that I have no thought of rebelling against you or of harming you. You are hunting me down to kill me, even though I have not done you any wrong. 12May the LORD judge which one of us is wrong! May he punish you for your action against me, for I will not harm you in the least. 13You know the old saying, ‘Evil is done only by evil people.’ And so I will not harm you. 14
Look at what the king of Israel is trying to kill! Look at what he is chasing! A dead dog, a flea! 15The LORD will judge, and he will decide which one of us is wrong. May he look into the matter, defend me, and save me from you.”
16When David had finished speaking, Saul said, “Is that really you, David my son?” And he started crying. 17Then he said to David, “You are right, and I am wrong. You have been so good to me, while I have done such wrong to you! 18Today you have shown how good you are to me, because you did not kill me, even though the LORD put me in your power. 19How often does a man catch his enemy and then let him get away unharmed? The LORD bless you for what you have done to me today! 20Now I am sure that you will be king of Israel and that the kingdom will continue under your rule. 21But promise me in the LORD's name that you will spare my descendants, so that my name and my family's name will not be completely forgotten.” 22David promised that he would.
Then Saul went back home, and David and his men went back to their hiding place.