But when they got up early the following day, Dagon was again lying on the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and his two hands were sheared off and were lying at the threshold. Only Dagon’s body was left intact. 1
So they assembled 1 all the leaders of the Philistines and asked, “What should we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They replied, “The ark of the God of Israel should be moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
So they assembled 1 all the leaders of the Philistines and said, “Get the ark of the God of Israel out of here! Let it go back to its own place so that it won’t kill us 2 and our 3 people!” The terror 4 of death was throughout the entire city; God was attacking them very severely there. 5
So Saul 1 crossed through the hill country of Ephraim, passing through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. So they crossed through the land of Shaalim, but they were not there. Then he crossed through the land of Benjamin, and still they did not find them.
Saul said, “Let’s go down after the Philistines at night; we will rout 1 them until the break of day. 2 We won’t leave any of them alive!” 3 They replied, “Do whatever seems best to you.” 4 But the priest said, “Let’s approach God here.”
But the army said to Saul, “Should Jonathan, who won this great victory in Israel, die? May it never be! As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of his head will fall to the ground! For it is with the help of God that he has acted today.” So the army rescued Jonathan from death. 1
1 Then Saul said to David, “Here’s my oldest daughter, Merab. I want to give her to you in marriage. Only be a brave warrior 2 for me and fight the battles of the Lord.” For Saul thought, “There’s no need for me to raise my hand against him. Let it be the hand of the Philistines!”
Saul replied, “Here is what you should say to David: ‘There is nothing that the king wants as a price for the bride except a hundred Philistine foreskins, so that he can be avenged of his 1 enemies.’” (Now Saul was thinking that he could kill David by the hand of the Philistines.)
Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and this son of Jesse? You gave 1 him bread and a sword and inquired of God on his behalf, so that he opposes 2 me and waits in ambush, as is the case today!”
David thought to himself, 1 “One of these days I’m going to be swept away by the hand of Saul! There is nothing better for me than to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of searching for me through all the territory of Israel and I will escape from his hand.”
Neither man nor woman would David leave alive so as to bring them back to Gath. He was thinking, “This way they can’t tell on us, saying, ‘This is what David did.’” Such was his practice the entire time 1 that he lived in the country of the Philistines.
So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothing and left, accompanied by two of his men. They came to the woman at night and said, “Use your ritual pit to conjure up for me the one I tell you.” 1
But Asahel 1 refused to turn aside. So Abner struck him in the abdomen with the back end of his 2 spear. The spear came out his back; Asahel 3 collapsed on the spot and died there right before Abner. 4 Everyone who now comes to the place where Asahel fell dead pauses in respect. 5
Abner said to David, “Let me leave so that I may go and gather all Israel to my lord the king so that they may make an agreement 1 with you. Then you will rule over all that you desire.” So David sent Abner away, and he left in peace.
David said to him, “Don’t be afraid, because I will certainly extend kindness to you for the sake of Jonathan your father. You will be a regular guest at my table.” 1
David said to the messenger, “Tell Joab, ‘Don’t let this thing upset you. 1 There is no way to anticipate whom the sword will cut down. 2 Press the battle against the city and conquer 3 it.’ Encourage him with these words.” 4
She replied, “In that case, 1 let the king invoke the name of 2 the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head 3 will fall to the ground.”
Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 1
The Lord has punished you for 1 all the spilled blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you rule. Now the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. Disaster has overtaken you, for you are a man of bloodshed!”
But the soldiers replied, 1 “You should not do this! 2 For if we should have to make a rapid retreat, they won’t be too concerned about us. 3 Even if half of us should die, they won’t be too concerned about us. But you 4 are like ten thousand of us! So it is better if you remain in the city for support.”