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1 Samuel 23:1--24:22

Context
David Delivers the City of Keilah

23:1 They told David, “The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors.” 23:2 So David asked the Lord, “Should I go and strike down these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”

23:3 But David’s men said to him, “We are afraid while we are still here in Judah! What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” 23:4 So David asked the Lord once again. But again the Lord replied, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”

23:5 So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them. 1  David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.

David Eludes Saul Again

23:6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod. 2  23:7 When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered 3  him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates.” 4  23:8 So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men. 5 

23:9 When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him, 6  he told Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!” 23:10 Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning 7  to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 23:11 Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, please inform your servant!”

Then the Lord said, “He will come down.” 23:12 David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul’s hand?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you over.”

23:13 So David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another. 8  When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition. 23:14 David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the desert of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time, 9  but God did not deliver David 10  into his hand. 23:15 David realized 11  that Saul had come out to seek his life; at that time David was in Horesh in the desert of Ziph.

23:16 Then Jonathan son of Saul left and went to David at Horesh. He encouraged him 12  through God. 23:17 He said to him, “Don’t be afraid! For the hand of my father Saul cannot find you. You will rule over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul realizes this.” 23:18 When the two of them had made a covenant before the Lord, David stayed on at Horesh, but Jonathan went to his house.

23:19 Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? 23:20 Now at your own discretion, 13  O king, come down. Delivering him into the king’s hand will be our responsibility.”

23:21 Saul replied, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. 23:22 Go and make further arrangements. Determine precisely 14  where he is 15  and who has seen him there, for I am told that he is extremely cunning. 23:23 Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information. 16  Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will find him 17  among all the thousands of Judah.”

23:24 So they left and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 23:25 Saul and his men went to look for him. 18  But David was informed and went down to the rock and stayed in the desert of Maon. When Saul heard about it, he pursued David in the desert of Maon. 23:26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, while David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, but Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men so they could capture them. 23:27 But a messenger came to Saul saying, “Come quickly, for the Philistines have raided the land!”

23:28 So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. Therefore that place is called Sela Hammahlekoth. 19  23:29 (24:1) 20  Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.

David Spares Saul’s Life

24:1 (24:2) When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, they told him, “Look, David is in the desert of En Gedi.” 24:2 So Saul took three thousand select men from all Israel and went to find 21  David and his men in the region of 22  the rocks of the mountain goats. 23  24:3 He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. 24 

Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. 24:4 David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” 25  So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 24:5 Afterward David’s conscience bothered him 26  because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 24:6 He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, 27  by extending my hand against him. After all, 28  he is the Lord’s chosen one.” 29  24:7 David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down 30  the road.

24:8 Afterward David got up and went out of the cave. He called out after Saul, “My lord, O king!” When Saul looked behind him, David kneeled down and bowed with his face to the ground. 24:9 David said to Saul, “Why do you pay attention when men say, ‘David is seeking to do you harm’? 24:10 Today your own eyes see how the Lord delivered you – this very day – into my hands in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I had pity 31  on you and said, ‘I will not extend my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s chosen one.’ 32  24:11 Look, my father, and see the edge of your robe in my hand! When I cut off the edge of your robe, I didn’t kill you. So realize and understand that I am not planning 33  evil or rebellion. Even though I have not sinned against you, you are waiting in ambush to take my life. 24:12 May the Lord judge between the two of us, and may the Lord vindicate me over you, but my hand will not be against you. 24:13 It’s like the old proverb says: ‘From evil people evil proceeds.’ But my hand will not be against you. 24:14 Who has the king of Israel come out after? Who is it that you are pursuing? A dead dog? A single flea? 24:15 May the Lord be our judge and arbiter. May he see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands!”

24:16 When David finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” Then Saul wept loudly. 34  24:17 He said to David, “You are more innocent 35  than I, for you have treated me well, even though I have tried to harm you! 24:18 You have explained today how you have treated me well. The Lord delivered me into your hand, but you did not kill me. 24:19 Now if a man finds his enemy, does he send him on his way in good shape? May the Lord repay you with good this day for what you have done to me. 24:20 Now look, I realize that you will in fact be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 24:21 So now swear to me in the Lord’s name 36  that you will not kill 37  my descendants after me or destroy my name from the house of my father.”

24:22 David promised Saul this on oath. 38  Then Saul went to his house, and David and his men went up to the stronghold.

1 tn Heb “and struck them down with a great blow.”

2 tn Heb “an ephod went down in his hand.”

3 tn The MT reading (“God has alienated him into my hand”) in v. 7 is a difficult and uncommon idiom. The use of this verb in Jer 19:4 is somewhat parallel, but not entirely so. Many scholars have therefore suspected a textual problem here, emending the word נִכַּר (nikkar, “alienated”) to סִכַּר (sikkar, “he has shut up [i.e., delivered]”). This is the idea reflected in the translations of the Syriac Peshitta and Vulgate, although it is not entirely clear whether they are reading something different from the MT or are simply paraphrasing what for them too may have been a difficult text. The LXX has “God has sold him into my hands,” apparently reading מַכַר (makar, “sold”) for MT’s נִכַּר. The present translation is a rather free interpretation.

4 tn Heb “with two gates and a bar.” Since in English “bar” could be understood as a saloon, it has been translated as an attributive: “two barred gates.”

5 tn Heb “So Saul mustered all his army for battle to go down to Keilah to besiege against David and his men.”

6 tn Heb “Saul was planning the evil against him.”

7 tn Heb “seeking.”

8 tn Heb “they went where they went.”

9 tn Heb “all the days.”

10 tn Heb “him”; the referent (David) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

11 tn Heb “saw.”

12 tn Heb “strengthened his hand.”

13 tn Heb “to all the desire of your soul.”

14 tn Heb “know and see.” The expression is a hendiadys. See also v. 23.

15 tn Heb “his place where his foot is.”

16 tn Heb “established.”

17 tn Heb “I will search him out.”

18 tn Heb “to search.”

19 sn The name הַמַּחְלְקוֹת סֶלַע (Sela Hammakhleqoth) probably means “Rock of Divisions” in Hebrew, in the sense that Saul and David parted company there (cf. NAB “Gorge of Divisions”; TEV “Separation Hill”). This etymology assumes that the word derives from the Hebrew root II חלק (khlq, “to divide”; HALOT 322 s.v. II חלק). However, there is another root I חלק, which means “to be smooth or slippery” (HALOT 322 s.v. I חלק). If the word is taken from this root, the expression would mean “Slippery Rock.”

20 sn Beginning with 23:29, the verse numbers through 24:22 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 23:29 ET = 24:1 HT, 24:1 ET = 24:2 HT, 24:2 ET = 24:3 HT, etc., through 24:22 ET = 24:23 HT. With 25:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

21 tn Heb “to search [for].”

22 tn Heb “upon the face of.”

23 tn Or “the region of the Rocks of the Mountain Goats,” if this expression is understood as a place name (cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV).

24 tn Heb “to cover his feet,” an idiom (euphemism) for relieving oneself (cf. NAB “to ease nature”).

25 tn Heb “is good in your eyes.”

26 tn Heb “the heart of David struck him.”

27 tn Heb “anointed.”

28 tn Or “for.”

29 tn Heb “anointed.”

30 tn Heb “went on.”

31 tn Heb “it had pity,” apparently with the understood subject being “my eye,” in accordance with a common expression.

32 tn Heb “anointed.”

33 tn Heb “there is not in my hand.”

34 tn Heb “lifted his voice and wept.”

35 tn Or “righteous” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV); NAB “you are in the right”; NLT “are a better man than I am.”

36 tn Heb “by the Lord.”

37 tn Heb “cut off.”

38 tn Heb “and David swore an oath to Saul.”



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