1 Samuel 26
David sneaks into Saul’s camp
Saul chases David into the desert1Some men from the town of Ziph  went to Saul at Gibeah. They told him, “David is hiding on Hachilah Hill near Jeshimon  in Ziph Desert.” 2Saul took 3,000 of his best warriors down to the Ziph Desert, to find David.
3Saul camped at the last known position of David, on Hachilah Hill near Jeshimon, by the trail. But David had moved deeper into the desert. David got word that Saul had come after him. 4So he sent out scouts, who confirmed the report.
5David went to see Saul’s camp for himself. He discovered where Saul was going to sleep that night, beside Israel’s military commander, Abner the son of Ner. Saul fell asleep there, inside the camp.
David sneaks into Saul’s camp6David went back to his camp and called in two of his best warriors: Ahimelech the Hittite along with Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah.  He asked them, “Who will come with me into Saul’s camp?” Abishai said, “I will. I’ll go with you.”
7David and Abishai slipped into Saul’s camp under the cover of night. Saul lay there sleeping beside Abner, in the middle of the army’s encampment. Saul had a spear stuck in the ground by his head. 8Abishai whispered to David, “God has given you this gift. Let me accept it for you. I’ll pin him to the ground with a single thrust. It won’t take two.”
9But David said, “No, we’re not going to kill him. Who has any right to kill the ruler God has chosen? 10The LORD will kill him when it’s time. Or he may die in battle. 11But there’s no way on earth I’ll lift a finger to hurt the man the LORD anointed as our ruler. We can, however, borrow his spear. Let’s take his water jar, too.”
12So David took the spear and water jar. No one saw them come or go because everyone in the camp was asleep. And the LORD made sure they fell into a deep sleep.
David to Saul: Rise and shine13David retreated to a distant hill and stood on top. 14That morning, David yelled across the valley to Abner. He said, “Hey there, Abner! Are you going to answer me?” Abner said, “Who are you and what do you think you’re doing talking so the king can hear you?”
15David said, “Aren’t you the top soldier? Why didn’t you put a guard on your king last night? Someone came into your camp to kill him. 16You did a stinker of a job as a bodyguard. As sure as the good LORD lives, you should die. You were responsible for protecting the man God anointed as our ruler. But you didn’t even post a guard. Go see if you can find the king’s spear or the water jar he kept beside his head.”
17Saul could tell it was David voice. He said, “Is that you talking, my son David?” David answered, “Yes it’s me doing the talking, my king and ruler. 18Why do you chase me? I’m your servant? What have I done? How have I hurt you? 19Let me say this. If the LORD has led you into this chase, give him an offering to settle the matter. But if people have talked you into hunting me, may the LORD make their lives miserable. Because they’ve made life miserable for me. They have forced me to leave my home and my land. And they have driven me to places where people worship other gods. 20Don’t spill my blood onto ground outside of the land the LORD gave us. Our king has come this far to chase a single flea. Or are you hunting partridges in the hills? That’s what it feels like, and I’m the partridge.”
King Saul apologizes21Saul said, “I made a big mistake. Come back home, my son David. I’ll never try to hurt you again. I can’t believe how foolish I’ve been. This was a terrible mistake.”
22David said, “I’ve got your spear. Send over one of your men and I’ll return it. 23The LORD takes good care of people who are devoted to him and who do the right thing. The LORD put you at my mercy today. And I showed you mercy. I refused to hurt the man God anointed as our ruler. 24Just as I value your life, may the LORD value mine and save me from the troubles I continue to face.”
25Saul said, “May the LORD be kind to you, my son David. You’re going to accomplish a lot in your life, and you’ll succeed at what you do.” David went back to his men and Saul returned home.
Ziph is usually linked to a ruin called Tell Ziph, roughly 25 miles (40 km) south of Saul’s capital in Gibeah, a little more than a day’s march. The Desert of Ziph, or Wilderness of Ziph as some translations say, was the wasteland around the city.
Location of Jeshimon is unknown.
Zeruiah was David’s older sister. That made David the uncle of Abishai. David was also the uncle of Joab, his military commander (1 Chronicles 2).
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