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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 23


David received information that the Philistines were attacking Keilah and plundering the threshing floors.


So he consulted the LORD, inquiring, "Shall I go and defeat these Philistines?" The LORD answered, "Go, for you will defeat the Philistines and rescue Keilah."


But David's men said to him: "We are afraid here in Judah. How much more so if we go to Keilah against the forces of the Philistines!"


Again David consulted the LORD, who answered, "Go down to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your power."


David then went with his men to Keilah and fought with the Philistines. He drove off their cattle and inflicted a severe defeat on them, and thus rescued the inhabitants of Keilah.


Abiathar, son of Ahimelech, who had fled to David, went down with David to Keilah, taking the ephod with him.


When Saul was told that David had entered Keilah, he said: "God has put him in my grip. Now he has shut himself in, for he has entered a city with gates and bars."


Saul then called all the people to war, in order to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.


When David found out that Saul was planning to harm him, he said to the priest Abiathar, "Bring forward the ephod."


David then said: "O LORD God of Israel, your servant has heard a report that Saul plans to come to Keilah, to destroy the city on my account.


Will they hand me over? And now: will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O LORD God of Israel, tell your servant." The LORD answered, "He will come down."


David then asked, "Will the citizens of Keilah deliver me and my men into the grasp of Saul?" And the LORD answered, "Yes."


So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and wandered from place to place. When Saul was informed that David had escaped from Keilah, he abandoned the expedition.


David now lived in the refuges in the desert, or in the barren hill country near Ziph. Though Saul sought him continually, the LORD did not deliver David into his grasp.


David was apprehensive because Saul had come out to seek his life; but while he was at Horesh in the barrens near Ziph,


Saul's son, Jonathan, came down there to David and strengthened his resolve in the LORD.


He said to him: "Have no fear, my father Saul shall not lay a hand to you. You shall be king of Israel and I shall be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this."


They made a joint agreement before the LORD in Horesh, where David remained, while Jonathan returned to his home.


Some of the Ziphites went up to Saul in Gibeah and said, "David is hiding among us, now in the refuges, and again at Horesh, or on the hill of Hachilah, south of the wasteland.


Therefore, whenever the king wishes to come down, let him do so. It will be our task to deliver him into the king's grasp."


Saul replied: "The LORD bless you for your sympathy toward me.


Go now and make sure once more! Take note of the place where he sets foot" (for he thought, perhaps they are playing some trick on me).


"Look around and learn in which of all the various hiding places he is holding out. Then come back to me with sure information, and I will go with you. If he is in the region, I will search him out among all the families of Judah."


So they went off to Ziph ahead of Saul. At this time David and his men were in the desert below Maon, in the Arabah south of the wasteland.


When Saul and his men came looking for him, David got word of it and went down to the gorge in the desert below Maon. Saul heard of this and pursued David into the desert below Maon.


As Saul moved along one rim of the gorge, David and his men took to the other. David was in anxious flight to escape Saul, and Saul and his men were attempting to outflank David and his men in order to capture them,


when a messenger came to Saul, saying, "Come quickly, because the Philistines have invaded the land."


Saul interrupted his pursuit of David and went to meet the Philistines. This is how that place came to be called the Gorge of Divisions.





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