1 Samuel 23

David saves the town called Keilah

1 The Philistines were attacking the town called Keilah. And they were taking away the grain when the Israelites had just brought it in. Someone told David about this. 2 So David asked the Lord, ‘Should I go and attack these Philistines?’

23:2The town called Keilah was about 29 kilometres (18 miles) south-west of Jerusalem. And it was about 5 kilometres (3 miles) from the cave of Adullam (22:1).

The Lord answered him, ‘Go and attack the Philistines. Save Keilah.’

3 But David's men said to him, ‘We are afraid here in Judah. We will be more afraid if we attack the Philistine army at Keilah.’

4 So David asked the Lord again. The Lord answered, ‘Go to Keilah. I will help you to win the fight with the Philistines.’ 5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They fought the Philistines and they killed many of them. Also, they took all their animals. So David saved the people who lived in Keilah. 6 (When Abiathar the son of Ahimelech ran away, he came to David at Keilah. And he brought the ephod with him.)

Saul runs after David

7 Someone told Saul that David was now at Keilah. Saul said, ‘God has given David to me. David has gone into a town that has a strong gate. He cannot leave.’ 8 So Saul caused all his soldiers to join him. They prepared to go to Keilah and to attack David and his men.

23:8Keilah had a wall round it. The only way to go in and out of the town was through a gate.

9 Somebody told David that Saul was preparing to attack him. David said to Abiathar, ‘Bring the ephod here.’ 10 David prayed, ‘Lord, you are the God of Israel. I am your servant. Somebody has told me that Saul is preparing to come to Keilah. He wants to destroy this town because I am here. 11 Will the people in Keilah give me to Saul? Will Saul really come here? Lord, God of Israel, I am your servant so please tell me.’

The Lord answered, ‘Saul will come.’

12 David asked the Lord again, ‘Will the people in Keilah give me and my men to Saul?’

And the Lord said, ‘They will.’

13 So David and his 600 men left Keilah. They had to move from one place to another all the time. People told Saul that David had left Keilah. So Saul did not go there.

14 David stayed in the safe places in the desert. He also stayed in the hills in the desert places at Ziph. Saul looked for David every day. But God did not let Saul get David.

15 David was at Horesh in the empty places near Ziph. And somebody told him that Saul was coming to kill him. 16 Jonathan, Saul's son, went to visit David at Horesh. He told David that God would help him to be strong. 17 Jonathan said to David, ‘Do not be afraid. My father will not hurt you. My father knows that you will be the next king of Israel. I will be your most important officer.’ 18 Jonathan and David said a promise together with the Lord. Then Jonathan went to his home. David stayed at Horesh.

23:18Ziph was in David's home country of Judah.

19 Some people from Ziph went to visit Saul at Gibeah. They said to Saul, ‘David is hiding among us. He is on the hill at Hakilah. He is there in the safe place at Horesh. It is south of Jeshimon. 20 Now, King Saul, you can come to our land at any time. We must help you to catch David.’

21 Saul replied, ‘I ask the Lord that he will be good to you. I ask him because you are helping me. 22 Return to your homes and make sure about David. Find out where he usually stays. Find the people who have seen him there. People have told me that David is very clever. 23 Find all the places where he hides. Then return. Tell me everything that you have discovered. Then I will come with you. I will find David if he is still near here. I will look all through the land of Judah for him.’

24 So the people returned to Ziph before Saul. David and his men were in the desert of Maon. This was south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men started to look for David. Somebody told David about this. He and his men stayed in the desert called Maon and they went to a big rock. Somebody told Saul about this. He and his men went to the Maon desert to find David.

26 Saul and his men were going along one side of the mountain. David and his men were on the other side of the mountain. They were trying to hide from Saul. Saul and his army were getting nearer to David and his men. They were all round David and his men. They wanted to catch them. 27 But a man came and he gave this message to Saul, ‘Come quickly. The Philistines are attacking our land.’ 28 So Saul stopped running after David. Instead, Saul went to fight the Philistines. So people call that place ‘The rock where they got away safely’.

29 David left that place and he lived in the safe places at En Gedi.