David again refuses to kill Saul
1 Some men from Ziph went to visit Saul at Gibeah. They said to him, ‘David is hiding on Hakilah hill, which is across the valley from Jeshimon.’
2 So Saul went to the desert of Ziph to look for David. He took 3,000 strong Israelite soldiers with him. 3 Saul and his men arrived at Hakilah hill, near Jeshimon, where David was hiding. They put up their tents beside the road. David heard the news that Saul had followed him into the desert. 4 So David sent some men to see if that was true. They discovered that Saul had arrived at Hakilah.
5 One night, David went secretly to Saul's camp. Saul was asleep in the middle of the tents. The leader of his army, Ner's son Abner, was with him. He was asleep too. The army was all around them. David could see all this.
6 David spoke to two of his men. One of them was Ahimelech, a Hittite man. The other man was Abishai, who was Joab's brother (Zeruiah was their mother). David asked them, ‘Which one of you will go down into Saul's camp with me?’
26:6Zeruiah was David's older sister.
Abishai said, ‘I will come with you.’
7 So David and Abishai went among Saul's army that night. They saw that Saul was asleep in the middle of the camp. He had pushed his spear into the ground near his head. Abner and the army were asleep around Saul. 8 Abishai said to David, ‘Tonight God has given your enemy into your power. I will push Saul's spear through his body and fix him to the ground. I will only have to do it once to kill him. I will not need to do it again.’
9 But David said to Abishai, ‘Do not kill Saul. He is the man that the Lord has chosen to be Israel's king. Anyone who attacks him will be guilty of a sin. 10 I know that the Lord himself will kill Saul one day. Saul may die when he has reached the age to die. Or someone may kill him in a battle. He will certainly come to his end. 11 But I ask the Lord to stop me from hurting him, because he is the Lord's chosen king. Take the spear and the jar of water that are near Saul's head. We must leave here now!’
12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from beside Saul's head. Then they left. Nobody saw them. Nobody knew that they had been in the camp. Nobody woke up. Saul's soldiers continued to sleep because the Lord caused it to happen.
13 David and Abishai then went across the valley to the other side of the hill. David stood on the top of the hill. He was far away from Saul's soldiers. 14 David shouted to Saul's army and to Ner's son, Abner, ‘Abner, wake up! Answer me!’
Abner replied, ‘Who is shouting to wake up the king? Who are you?’
15 David said to Abner, ‘Are you really the bravest soldier in Israel? You should have kept the king safe. Someone came into your camp to kill your master. 16 You have not done your job well. You and your men have not protected your master, who is the Lord's chosen king. As surely as the Lord lives, you all deserve to die. The king's spear and his water pot were beside his head. Look where they are now!’
17 Saul recognized David's voice. He said, ‘Is that you David, my son?’
David answered, ‘Yes, my master and my king, it is my voice that you can hear.’
18 David also said, ‘Why are you chasing after me, my master? What have I done that is wrong? Why am I guilty? 19 My master and my king, please listen to me. Has the Lord made you angry with me? If that is true, a sacrifice to him may change his thoughts. But if men have made you turn against me, I ask the Lord to curse them. They have chased me out of the land that belongs to the Lord's people. They have said to me, “Go away and worship other gods!” 20 Do not let me die a long way away from the Lord's home. You are the king of Israel and I am like a small fly. But you are trying to catch me! You are like someone who is looking for a wild bird in the mountains!’
21 Then Saul said, ‘I have done a bad thing. Return home, David, my son. You chose not to kill me today, because you knew the value of my life. So I will not hurt you again. I have done foolish things. I have made a big mistake.’
22 David said, ‘Here is your own spear. Send one of your young men here to fetch it for you. 23 The Lord wants everyone to do what is right and true. He blesses people who live like that. The Lord put you under my power today. But I would not agree to hurt the Lord's chosen king. 24 Today I knew that your life is valuable. In the same way, I pray that the Lord will know that my life is valuable. I pray that he will keep me safe through all danger.’
25 Then Saul said to David, ‘I pray that the Lord will bless you, my son. I know that you will do great things.’
So David left there and Saul returned to his home.