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1 Samuel 26

David again refuses to kill Saul

1 Some men from Ziph went to visit Saul at Gibeah. They said, ‘David is hiding on the hill called Hachilah which is across the valley from Jeshimon.’

2 So Saul went to the desert of Ziph to look for David. Saul chose 3000 Israelite men to go with him. 3 Saul and his men came to the hill called Hachilah They put their tents next to the road. This was the side away from Jeshimon. But David stayed in the desert. Then somebody told David that Saul had followed him there. 4 So David sent some men to see if that was true. They discovered that Saul was at Hachilah.

5 David went to the place where Saul was staying. Saul was asleep in the middle of the tents. The army was round him. Abner, who was the son of Ner, was the leader of Saul's army. He was asleep too.

6 David spoke to Ahimelech and Abishai. Ahimelech came from the Hittite tribe. Abishai was Joab's brother and Zeruiah was their mother. David said, ‘Will one of you come down among Saul's army with me?’

Abishai said, ‘I will come with you.’

7 So David and Abishai went among Saul's tents that night. Saul was asleep in the middle of the army. He had put his spear into the ground near his head. Abner and the army were asleep round Saul. 8 Abishai said to David, ‘Tonight God has given your enemy to you. I will push the spear through Saul and into the ground under him. I will only have to do it once to kill him. I will not need to do it twice.’

9 But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not kill Saul. The LORD anointed Saul as king. If anyone attacks Saul, that will be a sin. 10 I know that the LORD himself will kill Saul. Saul will die either when his time has come or in a fight. 11 The LORD anointed Saul. So I pray that the LORD will not let me hurt him. Take the spear and the pot of water that is near Saul's head. Then we will leave.’

12 So David took the spear and the pot of water that were near Saul's head. Then they left. Nobody saw them. Nobody knew what had happened. Nobody woke up. The men continued to sleep because the LORD caused it to happen.

13 David and Abishai went across the valley to the other side of the hill. David went to the top of the hill. He was a long way away from Saul's soldiers. 14 David shouted to Saul's army. He shouted to Abner, who was the son of Ner, ‘Abner, can you hear me?’

Abner replied, ‘Who is shouting to the king? Who are you?’

15 David replied to Abner, ‘Are you really a great man in Israel? You should have kept your master, the king, safe. Someone came among your tents to kill your master the king. 16 You have failed to keep him safe. I know that you and your men ought to die. The LORD anointed Saul as king. You have not kept him safe from his enemy. The king's spear and water pot were near his head. Where are they now?’

17 Saul recognised David's voice. Saul said, ‘Is that you David, my son?’

David answered, ‘Yes my master and my king. I am David.’ 18 David also said, ‘Why are you running after me, my master? What have I done? Have I done something that is wrong? 19 My master and my king, please listen to me. Has the LORD made you angry with me? If that is true, we can give an offering to him. And that will give pleasure to him. Or have men made you angry with me? If they have, I want the LORD to do bad things to them. They have caused me to leave the land that the LORD God gave to me. They want me to go and to worship other gods. 20 Do not let me die a long way away from the LORD's covenant box. The king of Israel is looking for someone who is like a little insect! You are like someone who is looking for one small bird in the mountains!’

21 Then Saul said, ‘I have sinned. Return, David, my son. You did not kill me today. I will never hurt you again. I have been like a fool. I have done something that was wrong.’

22 David said, ‘Here is your spear. Send one of your young men here to take it from me. 23 The LORD wants every person to do what is right and true. Then he gives gifts to them. The LORD gave you to me today. But I would not hurt the king that the LORD anointed. 24 I did not want to kill you today. I pray that the LORD will want to keep me alive. And so he will save me from all trouble.’

25 Then Saul said to David, ‘I pray that the LORD will bless you, my son. You will do great things and you will do many good things.’

So David continued to go on his journey and Saul returned to his home.