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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 26


Men from Ziph came to Saul in Gibeah, reporting that David was hiding on the hill of Hachilah at the edge of the wasteland.


So Saul went off down to the desert of Ziph with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph.


Saul camped beside the road on the hill of Hachilah, at the edge of the wasteland. David, who was living in the desert, saw that Saul had come into the desert after him


and sent out scouts, who confirmed Saul's arrival.


David himself then went to the place where Saul was encamped and examined the spot where Saul and Abner, son of Ner, the general, had their sleeping quarters. Saul's were within the barricade, and all his soldiers were camped around him.


David asked Ahimelech the Hittite, and Abishai, son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, "Who will go down into the camp with me to Saul?" Abishai replied, "I will."


So David and Abishai went among Saul's soldiers by night and found Saul lying asleep within the barricade, with his spear thrust into the ground at his head and Abner and his men sleeping around him.


Abishai whispered to David: "God has delivered your enemy into your grasp this day. Let me nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I will not need a second thrust!"


But David said to Abishai, "Do not harm him, for who can lay hands on the LORD'S anointed and remain unpunished?


As the LORD lives," David continued, "it must be the LORD himself who will strike him, whether the time comes for him to die, or he goes out and perishes in battle.


But the LORD forbid that I touch his anointed! Now take the spear which is at his head and the water jug, and let us be on our way."


So David took the spear and the water jug from their place at Saul's head, and they got away without anyone's seeing or knowing or awakening. All remained asleep, because the LORD had put them into a deep slumber.


Going across to an opposite slope, David stood on a remote hilltop at a great distance from Abner, son of Ner, and the troops.


He then shouted, "Will you not answer, Abner?" And Abner answered, "Who is it that calls me?"


David said to Abner: "Are you not a man whose like does not exist in Israel? Why, then, have you not guarded your lord the king when one of his subjects went to kill the king, your lord?


This is no creditable service you have performed. As the LORD lives, you people deserve death because you have not guarded your lord, the LORD'S anointed. Go, look: where are the king's spear and the water jug that was at his head?"


Saul recognized David's voice and asked, "Is that your voice, my son David?" David answered, "Yes, my lord the king."


He continued: "Why does my lord pursue his servant? What have I done? What evil do I plan?


1 Please, now, let my lord the king listen to the words of his servant. If the LORD has incited you against me, let an offering appease him; but if men, may they be cursed before the LORD, because they have exiled me so that this day I have no share in the LORD'S inheritance, but am told: 'Go serve other gods!'


Do not let my blood flow to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. For the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea as if he were hunting partridge in the mountains."


Then Saul said: "I have done wrong. Come back, my son David, I will not harm you again, because you have held my life precious today. Indeed, I have been a fool and have made a serious mistake."


But David answered: "Here is the king's spear. Let an attendant come over to get it.


The LORD will reward each man for his justice and faithfulness. Today, though the LORD delivered you into my grasp, I would not harm the LORD'S anointed.


As I valued your life highly today, so may the LORD value my life highly and deliver me from all difficulties."


Then Saul said to David: "Blessed are you, my son David! You shall certainly succeed in whatever you undertake." David went his way, and Saul returned to his home.



1 [19] The Lord's inheritance: the land of Israel ( Deut 32:8-9) under the Lord's special protection, where he could be freely worshiped.

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