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.
251Samuel died, and all the Israelites came together and mourned for him. Then they buried him at his home in Ramah.
After this, David went to the wilderness of Paran. 2-3There was a man of the clan of Caleb named Nabal, who was from the town of Maon, and who owned land near the town of Carmel. He was a very rich man, the owner of 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats. His wife Abigail was beautiful and intelligent, but he was a mean, bad-tempered man.
Nabal was shearing his sheep in Carmel, 4and David, who was in the wilderness, heard about it, 5so he sent ten young men with orders to go to Carmel, find Nabal, and give him his greetings. 6He instructed them to say to Nabal: “David sends you greetings, my friend, with his best wishes for you, your family, and all that is yours. 7He heard that you were shearing your sheep, and he wants you to know that your shepherds have been with us and we did not harm them. Nothing that belonged to them was stolen all the time they were at Carmel. 8Just ask them, and they will tell you. We have come on a feast day, and David asks you to receive us kindly. Please give what you can to us your servants and to your dear friend David.”
9David's men delivered this message to Nabal in David's name. Then they waited there, 10and Nabal finally answered, “David? Who is he? I've never heard of him! The country is full of runaway slaves nowadays! 11I'm not going to take my bread and water, and the animals I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give them to people who come from I don't know where!”
12David's men went back to him and told him what Nabal had said. 13“Buckle on your swords!” he ordered, and they all did. David also buckled on his sword and left with about 400 of his men, leaving 200 behind with the supplies.
14One of Nabal's servants said to Nabal's wife Abigail, “Have you heard? David sent some messengers from the wilderness with greetings for our master, but he insulted them. 15Yet they were very good to us; they never bothered us, and all the time we were with them in the fields, nothing that belonged to us was stolen. 16They protected us day and night the whole time we were with them looking after our flocks. 17Please think this over and decide what to do. This could be disastrous for our master and all his family. He is so pigheaded that he won't listen to anybody!”
18Abigail quickly collected 200 loaves of bread, two leather bags full of wine, five roasted sheep, seventeen kilogrammes of roasted grain, a hundred bunches of raisins, and 200 cakes of dried figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19Then she said to the servants, “You go on ahead and I will follow you.” But she said nothing to her husband.
20She was riding her donkey round a bend on a hillside when suddenly she met David and his men coming towards her. 21David had been thinking, “Why did I ever protect that fellow's property out here in the wilderness? Not a thing that belonged to him was stolen, and this is how he pays me back for the help I gave him! 22May God strike me25.22 One ancient translation me; Hebrew my enemies. dead if I don't kill every last one of those men before morning!”
23When Abigail saw David, she quickly dismounted and threw herself on the ground 24at David's feet, and said to him, “Please, sir, listen to me! Let me take the blame. 25Please, don't pay any attention to Nabal, that good-for-nothing! He is exactly what his name means — a fool!25.25 a fool: This is the meaning of the Hebrew name Nabal. I wasn't there when your servants arrived, sir. 26It is the LORD who has kept you from taking revenge and killing your enemies. And now I swear to you by the living LORD that your enemies and all who want to harm you will be punished like Nabal. 27Please, sir, accept this present I have brought you, and give it to your men. 28Please forgive me, sir, for any wrong I have done. The LORD will make you king, and your descendants also, because you are fighting his battles; and you will not do anything evil25.28 you will not do anything evil; or no evil will happen to you. as long as you live. 29If anyone should attack you and try to kill you, the LORD your God will keep you safe, as someone guards a precious treasure. As for your enemies, however, he will throw them away, as someone hurls stones with a sling. 30And when the LORD has done all the good things he has promised you and has made you king of Israel, 31then you will not have to feel regret or remorse, sir, for having killed without cause or for having taken your own revenge. And when the LORD has blessed you, sir, please do not forget me.”
32David said to her, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me! 33Thank God for your good sense and for what you have done today in keeping me from the crime of murder and from taking my own revenge. 34The LORD has kept me from harming you. But I swear by the living God of Israel that if you had not hurried to meet me, all of Nabal's men would have been dead by morning!” 35Then David accepted what she had brought him and said to her, “Go back home and don't worry. I will do what you want.”
36Abigail went back to Nabal, who was at home having a feast fit for a king. He was drunk and in a good mood, so she did not tell him anything until the next morning. 37Then, after he had sobered up, she told him everything. He suffered a stroke and was completely paralysed. 38Some ten days later the LORD struck Nabal and he died.
39When David heard that Nabal had died, he said, “Praise the LORD! He has taken revenge on Nabal for insulting me and has kept me his servant from doing wrong. The LORD has punished Nabal for his evil.”
Then David sent a proposal of marriage to Abigail. 40His servants went to her at Carmel and said to her, “David sent us to take you to him to be his wife.”
41Abigail bowed down to the ground and said, “I am his servant, ready to wash the feet of his servants.” 42She rose quickly and mounted her donkey. Accompanied by her five maids, she went with David's servants and became his wife.
43David had married Ahinoam from Jezreel, and now Abigail also became his wife. 44
Meanwhile, Saul had given his daughter Michal, who had been David's wife, to Palti son of Laish, who was from the town of Gallim.
Some men from Ziph came to Saul at Gibeah and told him that David was hiding on Mount Hachilah at the edge of the Judean wilderness. 2Saul went at once with 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel to the wilderness of Ziph to look for David, 3and camped by the road on Mount Hachilah. David was still in the wilderness, and when he learnt that Saul had come to look for him, 4he sent spies and found out that Saul was indeed there. 5He went at once and located the exact place where Saul and Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul's army, slept. Saul slept inside the camp, and his men camped round him.
6Then David asked Ahimelech the Hittite, and Abishai the brother of Joab (their mother was Zeruiah), “Which of you two will go to Saul's camp with me?”
“I will,” Abishai answered.
7So that night David and Abishai entered Saul's camp and found Saul sleeping in the centre of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the troops were sleeping round him. 8Abishai said to David, “God has put your enemy in your power tonight. Now let me plunge his own spear through him and pin him to the ground with just one blow — I won't have to strike twice!”
9But David said, “You must not harm him! The LORD will certainly punish whoever harms his chosen king. 10By the living LORD,” David continued, “I know that the LORD himself will kill Saul, either when his time comes to die a natural death or when he dies in battle. 11
The LORD forbid that I should try to harm the one whom the LORD has made king! Let's take his spear and his water jar, and go.” 12So David took the spear and the water jar from just beside Saul's head, and he and Abishai left. No one saw it or knew what had happened or even woke up — they were all sound asleep, because the LORD had sent a heavy sleep on them all.
13Then David crossed over to the other side of the valley to the top of the hill, a safe distance away, 14and shouted to Saul's troops and to Abner, “Abner! Can you hear me?”
“Who is that shouting and waking up the king?” Abner asked.
15David answered, “Abner, aren't you the greatest man in Israel? So why aren't you protecting your master, the king? Just now someone entered the camp to kill your master. 16You failed in your duty, Abner! I swear by the living LORD that all of you deserve to die, because you have not protected your master, whom the LORD made king. Look! Where is the king's spear? Where is the water jar that was beside his head?”
17Saul recognized David's voice and asked, “David, is that you, my son?”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” David answered. 18And he added, “Why, sir, are you still pursuing me, your servant? What have I done? What crime have I committed? 19Your Majesty, listen to what I have to say. If it is the LORD who has turned you against me, an offering to him will make him change his mind; but if human beings have done it, may the LORD's curse fall on them. For they have driven me out from the LORD's land to a country where I can only worship foreign gods. 20Don't let me be killed on foreign soil, away from the LORD. Why should the king of Israel come to kill a flea like me? Why should he hunt me down like a wild bird?”
21Saul answered, “I have done wrong. Come back, David, my son! I will never harm you again, because you have spared my life tonight. I have been a fool! I have done a terrible thing!”
22David replied, “Here is your spear, Your Majesty. Let one of your men come over and get it. 23The LORD rewards those who are faithful and righteous. Today he put you in my power, but I did not harm you, whom the LORD made king. 24Just as I have spared your life today, may the LORD do the same to me and free me from all troubles!”
25Saul said to David, “God bless you, my son! You will succeed in everything you do!”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned home.