New International Reader's Version

1 Samuel 26

Once Again David Doesn’t Kill Saul When He Has the Chance

1Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah. They said, “David is hiding on the hill of Hakilah. It faces Jeshimon.”

So Saul went down to the Desert of Ziph. He took 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel with him. They went to the desert to look for David. Saul set up his camp beside the road. It was on the hill of Hakilah facing Jeshimon. But David stayed in the desert. He saw that Saul had followed him there. So he sent out scouts. From them he learned that Saul had arrived.

Then David started out. He went to the place where Saul had camped. He saw where Saul and Abner were lying down. Saul was lying inside the camp. The army was camped all around him. Abner was commander of the army. He was the son of Ner.

Then David spoke to Ahimelek, the Hittite. He also spoke to Joab’s brother Abishai, the son of Zeruiah. He asked them, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?”

“I’ll go with you,” said Abishai.

So that night David and Abishai went into the camp. They found Saul lying asleep inside the camp. His spear was stuck in the ground near his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him.

Abishai said to David, “Today God has handed your enemy over to you. So let me pin him to the ground. I can do it with one jab of the spear. I won’t even have to strike him twice.”

But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! No one can do any harm to the Lord’s anointed king and not be guilty. 10 You can be sure that the Lord lives,” he said. “And you can be just as sure that the Lord himself will strike Saul down. Perhaps he’ll die a natural death. Or perhaps he’ll go into battle and be killed. 11 May the Lord keep me from doing anything to harm his anointed king. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head. Then let’s leave.”

12 So David took the spear and water jug that were near Saul’s head. Then he and Abishai left. No one saw them. No one knew about what they had done. In fact, no one even woke up. Everyone was sleeping. That’s because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.

13 David went across to the other side of the valley. He stood on top of a hill far away from Saul’s camp. There was a wide space between them. 14 He called out to the army and to Abner, the son of Ner. He said, “Abner! Aren’t you going to answer me?”

Abner replied, “Who is calling out to the king?”

15 David said, “You are a great soldier, aren’t you? There isn’t anyone else like you in Israel. So why didn’t you guard the king? He’s your master, isn’t he? Someone came into the camp to destroy him. 16 You didn’t guard him. And that isn’t good. You can be sure that the Lord lives. And you can be just as sure that you and your men must die. That’s because you didn’t guard your master. He’s the Lord’s anointed king. Look around you. Where are the king’s spear and water jug that were near his head?”

17 Saul recognized David’s voice. He said, “My son David, is that your voice?”

David replied, “Yes it is, King Saul, my master.” 18 He continued, “Why are you chasing me? What evil thing have I done? What am I guilty of? 19 King Saul, please listen to what I’m saying. Was it the Lord who made you angry with me? If it was, may he accept my offering. Was it people who made you angry at me? If it was, may the Lord see them cursed. They have driven me today from my share of the Lord’s land. By doing that, they might as well have said, ‘Go and serve other gods.’ 20 Don’t spill my blood on the ground far away from where the Lord lives. King Saul, you have come out to look for nothing but a flea. It’s as if you were hunting a partridge in the mountains.”

21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. My son David, come back. Today you thought my life was very special. So I won’t try to harm you again. I’ve really acted like a foolish person. I’ve made a huge mistake.”

22 “Here’s your spear,” David answered. “Send one of your young men over to get it. 23 The Lord rewards everyone for doing what is right and being faithful. He handed you over to me today. But I wouldn’t harm you. You are the Lord’s anointed king. 24 Today I thought your life had great value. In the same way, may the Lord think of my life as having great value. May he save me from all trouble.”

25 Then Saul said to David, “May the Lord bless you, David my son. You will do great things. You will also have great success.”

So David went on his way. And Saul returned home.