Map of En-Gedi
Map of Ein-gedi. Hidden oasis by the Dead Sea where David hid from King Saul who was trying to kill him.
David's hideout: En-Gedi
Stealing King Saul's body
Stealing King Saul's body
SAUL’S POSITION OVERRUNPhilistines attacked Saul’s Israelite army and sent the warriors running for their lives. Many died on Mount Gilboa. Philistines began to overrun King Saul’s position. They killed three of his sons there: Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua.
Saul falls on his swordPhilistines pushed hard, and soon the archers got Saul in range. They hit him and wounded him badly. Saul told the soldier in charge of his armor and weapons, “Finish this. Take your sword and drive it through me. I don’t want pagan Philistines to use me for target practice before they kill me,” The terrified soldier refused. So, Saul picked up his own sword and fell on it. When the soldier saw the king was dead, he fell on his sword, too. He died with his king. Saul and his three sons and his weapons man all died the same day.
THE KING IS DEADNews of Israel’s defeat spread. Many Israelites emptied their towns because they knew the Philistines were coming to take them. These included Israelites beyond the north side of the Jezreel valley and Israelites east of the Jordan River. Philistines moved into those homes. The story is in 1 Samuel 31. For other Bible versions, see Bible Gateway.
Philistines go to war with Israel
Philistines prep for war with Israel
King Saul and three sons will die in the battlePhilistines assembled their armies at Aphek. Israel’s warriors gathered at Jezreel Spring. Philistine rulers led their armies into the camp, marching them in companies of 100 or battalions of 1,000. King Achish’s army from Gath arrived last, with David’s army marching at the rear.
Shocked to see David marching with PhilistinesPhilistine commanders were shocked to see David there, with his men. They said, “Are you kidding? Hebrews? What are they doing here? That’s David, one of Saul’s men.” King Achish said, “Not anymore. He’s with me now. He defected over a year ago. And he has never given me any reason to doubt him.” Philistine commanders didn’t buy it. Furious, they told Achish, “Send that guy back to wherever you had him. We don’t want him up here in the battle. He might turn on us. If he gave our heads to Saul, that would go a long way to restoring their friendship. This is the guy who got the Hebrews dancing as they sang:
Song of David, not so much of King SaulSaul killed a thousand men. David, a thousand times ten.
David an "angel"Achish told David, “I know you’re an honest man. I’d swear it. In all the time you’ve been with me, I’ve seen you do nothing wrong. If it were up to me, I’d take you into battle alongside me and my men. But the other rulers won’t let me. So go back peacefully. Don’t cause a scene or do anything to upset the Philistine rulers.” David said, “I don’t understand this. What have I done wrong? Name one thing in all the time I’ve been with you. Why am I suddenly not fit to fight the enemies of my king?” Achish said, “David, as far as I’m concerned, you’re as righteous as an angel. But the commanders don’t want you in this fight. They said, ‘He’s not going into the battle with us. Period.’ Spend the night here, but I want you to leave at dawn. Take your men back to their regular duties.”
David skips the battleDavid and his men left for Philistine territory early the next morning. But the Philistine armies marched up to Jezreel. 1 Samuel 29
Death of King Saul
Death of King Saul
Battle of Mount GilboaKing Saul obsessed over catching David, his rival in Israel's popularity contest among the heroes. He overlooked the real enemy, the one that caused the death of King Saul. Saul dies in a battle against a massive Philistine army that invades the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel. Saul rallies his army of volunteers and stages them on the crest of the Gilboa mountains. When he looks down into the valley and sees the size of the army coming against his crew, he knows it's all over. But he makes a night trip to a medium in the village of Endor. He had to cross the open valley to do that, risking capture. He told the woman to conjure up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel. It was common for kings in the ancient Middle East to consult the gods before going into battle. Like Saul, they wanted to know how the battle would end. Samuel tells the king that by sundown, Saul and his sons would be with Samuel in the place of the dead. Saul went back to the camp, refusing to eat or gather strength for the battle. He knew it was lost. Three of his sons fall, presumably defending the position of the king, their father. David's best friend, Jonathan, was among the sons of Saul who died.
King Saul dies, falling on his swordSaul was gravely wounded in the battle. He fell on his sword. The day after the battle, Philistines came to strip the corpses of valuables. That’s when they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and spread word of his death to other Philistine towns and idol temples throughout the land. The Philistines put Saul’s armor on display in the temple of their god Astarte. Then they hung his body on Beth-shan’s city wall.
Israelites steal the bodies and bury themIsraelites across the Jordan River at the town of Jabesh in Gilead heard what the Philistines did to Saul. Brave men from there traveled at night to Beth-shan. Secretly, they retrieved the bodies of Saul and his sons. They carried them back to Jabesh and cremated them there. They took the bones that were left and buried them under a tamarisk tree in Jabesh and mourned him by fasting for seven days. The story appears in 1 Samuel 28-31. To compare The Casual English Bible with others, see Bible Gateway.
David moves in with the Philistines
David moves in with the Philistines
King Saul finally stops hunting himDavid and his followers eventually find relief from King Saul's relentless pursuit by turning to the enemies Saul has been unable to defeat, the Philistines. Israelites had infantry, but Philistines had countless infantry and a chariot corps of 3,000 chariots and 6,000 horses. Saul decided not to follow David into the coastal plains of Philistine territory, and certainly not into the Philistine town of Gath, where David went. It seems odd David would go there for safety, to the hometown of the Philistine hero David killed in mortal combat, Goliath. But the city king, Achish, welcomed him as a powerful ally and a fellow enemy of Saul. That's what the king thought. He was mistaken.
David the raiderDavid and his men made a living as raiders. They raided enemies of Israel and friends of the Philistines. They raided enemies of Israel: people from Geshur, Gezer, and Amalek who had settled in the southern territory between Telam and Shur, near Egypt. When David and his men attacked a community, they killed all the people. But they kept the livestock and gave it to King Achish: sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels. They gave him stolen clothing as well. King Achish would respond to the gifts by asking, “Who’d you raid today?” David would lie and say he raided Israel or their allies: “We raided the Negev land in Judah.” “We raided the Jerahmeel families in the Negev.” “We raided Kenites in the Negev.” No victims could dispute David. He killed them all. David kept pitching his lies to the king, one raid after another. He did this for as long as he lived among the Philistines. Achish thought he had a solid ally in David—someone who would never move away. The king figured that after all those raids David made on his own people in Israel, they must hate his guts. The story is in 1 Samuel 27. To compare The Casual English Bible version with other translations, see Bible Gateway.
Map of David hiding in Maon Desert
Map of David hiding in the Maon Desert
Badlands of IsraelOn the run from King Saul in Gibeah, David moves his men south to the Maon wasteland. It's not wasted time. He meets and marries a widow, whose husband he almost murdered over an insult. David's men had been voluntarily looking after a team of shepherds caring for a huge flock owned by a rich man named Nabal. That's Hebrew for "fool," and he qualified.
Payday for the shepherdAt a shepherd's payday, which is the sheep-shearing season, David sent messengers to Nabal to ask for some food for the service they provided. Nabal, drunk from celebrating his good luck, essentially called David a runaway slave. When David's messengers returned with the insult, David told his men to arm themselves. They were going to kill Nabal's entire family. Nabal's wife, Abigail, intercepted David. She brought an apology and supplies:
- 200 loaves of bread,
- 2 large animal skins full of wine,
- 5 butchered sheep ready to cook,
- 1 50-pound (23-kg) sack of roasted grain 
- 100 clusters of raisins,
- 200 pressed cakes of dried figs.
I almost killed your familyDavid told Abigail, “Thank God, the LORD of Israel, for sending you to me today. Thanks for coming here and for bringing some common sense with you. You kept me from killing people so I could take revenge and save face. I’ll tell you something. As sure as the LORD lives, if you hadn’t come to meet me like this today, I would have killed every male in Nabal’s family by morning.” When Abigail returned home and told her husband he nearly died, he died. It sounds like he may have had a stroke, because he seemed to become paralyzed, dying so after. David married the widow, "beautiful and intelligent woman" (1 Samuel 25:3). For other Bible versions, see Bible Gateway.
David hides in Maon Desert
Saul kills all 85 priests at Nob
Saul kills priests at NobKing Saul wiped out an entire community of priests. He killed all 85 priests in Nob. David, on the run from King Saul, tricked those priests at Nob into giving him and some of this men food. They had no idea he had fallen out of favor with King Saul and that Saul was hunting him. When Saul found out the priests had helped him, here's what happened, reported in 1 Samuel 22:11-19.
Saul sends for the priests11Saul sent for the priest and his entire family. Everyone came. 12Saul told the priest, “Listen up, son of Ahitub.” The priest said, “I am here listening, my king.” 13Saul said, “Why are you helping my enemy, the son of Jesse? You gave him bread, a sword, and you took his requests to God. And now he’s leading a rebellion against me and trying to kill me. You helped him do that. Why?” 14Ahimelech said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about. What official or any other servant do you have who is more devoted to you than David? My goodness, he’s your son-in-law. When you give him a mission, he completes it quickly. Everyone in your family respects him. 15Besides, that wasn’t the first time I took one of his questions to God. So, I don’t understand why there’s a problem with this one. Please don’t think that me or my family opposes you. I don’t understand what you’re saying about us or David.”
Sentenced to death16“You’ll understand this,” the king said. “I sentence you and your family to death.” 17Saul ordered the nearby guards, “Kill the priests. They’re with David. They knew he was a fugitive. And they didn’t bother to tell me that he came to them.” The guards refused to kill priests of the LORD. 18So the king said, “Doeg, kill the priests.” Doeg killed 85 men who were dressed in the linen that priests wore. 19Then Doeg went to their town of Nob and killed the people and their livestock. He led the slaughter of men, women, children, babies, cattle, donkeys, and sheep. He killed them all with swords. 20One of Ahimelech’s sons escaped: Abiathar. He went to David. 21Abiathar told David that the king had killed his entire family, including all the priests of the LORD. Compare the story in other Bible translations at Bible Gateway.
David hiding from King Saul
David hiding from King SaulAfter David killed the Philistine champion warrior, Goliath, Israel fell in love with its new hero. King Saul did not. Not in the long haul. He eventually grew so jealous that he wanted to kill David. But Saul's oldest son, Jonathan, was David's best friend. And he warned David when it was time to run. Here's the first part of the story, as it begins in 1 Samuel 19.
SAUL PLANS TO KILL DAVID1Saul wanted to kill David. So he discussed it with his officials and with his son Jonathan, who was David’s good friend. 2Jonathan told David. “My father Saul is looking for a way to kill you. Hide somewhere until tomorrow morning and stay alert. 3I’ll take a walk with my father in the field and will try to talk him out of doing this to you. I’ll let you know what he says.” 4Jonathan bragged up David to his father, King Saul. He said, “The king shouldn’t do anything wrong to David. He hasn’t done anything wrong to you. Everything he has done was to help you, not hurt you. 5He risked his life when he fought the Philistine champion. The LORD gave Israel a huge victory that day. You saw it. You cheered it. So, why would you murder this innocent man?” 6Saul took his son’s advice. And he promised, “As sure as the LORD lives, I’ll not kill David.” 7Jonathan told David about it and then brought him to Saul. David resumed his duties for the king.
SAUL THROWS A SPEAR AT DAVID AGAIN8War broke out again between Israel and the Philistines. David launched a crushing attack, and the Philistines ran away like before. 9Then a dark and depressing spirit got the best of Saul. David played music to calm the king, who sat with a spear in his hand. 10Saul threw the spear at David, who managed to dodge it. The spear lodged in the wall, and David left, escaping into the night.
MICHAL HELPS DAVID ESCAPE11Saul sent guards to watch David’s house that night. Saul wanted to kill him in the morning. David’s wife Michal told her husband, “If you don’t get away from here tonight, you’ll be killed in the morning.” 12Michal helped David escape down a high window. That’s how he got away. 13Michal took the statue of an idol and put it in their bed. She covered it with David’s clothes and some blankets. And she topped the idol’s head with goat hair... The story continues until Philistines kill Saul and most of his sons in a battle. Jonathan dies there, too (1 Samuel 31).
David hides from King Saul
Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king
Map of Ramah to Bethlehem to anoint David king of IsraelSamuel had a trip to make, from his hometown of Ramah, north of Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, a half-day's walk south. Here's part of the story, from 1 Samuel 16.
Story behind the mapThe LORD asked Samuel, “Why are you still mourning Saul? I fired him. He’s not the king anymore. What’s it going to take to get you past this? Put some olive oil in a container, an animal horn. Take it with you to Bethlehem. I want you to meet Jesse and his sons who live there. I have picked one of Jesse’s sons as king.” Samuel said, “If Saul hears about this, he’ll kill me.” But the LORD said, “Take a calf with you. Tell people you’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the LORD. Invite Jesse and his sons to the sacrificial meal. I’ll show you what to do. You’re going to use that olive oil to anoint the one I have chosen as king.” Samuel did what the LORD said. He went to Bethlehem. City leaders were afraid to ask why he came there. Shaking with fear they said, “Did you come in peace?” Samuel said, “Yes. I came to sacrifice this calf to the LORD. Ritually cleanse yourselves for worship and you can join me.” Samuel invited Jesse and his sons to the meal and led them through their cleansing rituals.
Sizing up Jesse's boysWhen Jesse and his boys arrived, Samuel was impressed by Jesse’s son Eliab. Samuel thought, “He has to be the one the LORD picked.” The LORD told Samuel, “Don’t judge this man by how good he looks or how tall he is. I didn’t pick him. I don’t judge people like humans do. They judge by what they can see on the outside. The LORD judges by what’s on the inside—the heart with its character, integrity, and courage."
Battle of Michmash
Battle of Michmash Before the Battle of Michmash began, Philistines and Israelites camped on opposite sides of a steep and normally dry riverbed that locals call a wadi (gulch). It was the Michmash Pass through that part of the hill country. King Saul's son, Jonathan, and one other soldier went down in the gorge and let Philistine sentries on Rocky Ridge above see them. Then the two of them climbed the hill and started killing the Philistines. They killed about 20 Philistines within the first 30 meters (yards) at the top of the ridge. Jonathan’s sudden and bold attack accompanied by an earthquake panicked the Philistines. Saul’s guards six miles (10 km) south at Gibeah saw the commotion from their post half a mile above sea level, 839 meters. That’s 200 meters higher than Michmash. King Saul hadn't ordered an attack. So he had to quickly count his soldiers to see who was missing. By the time he figures out it was his son who started the battle by engaging Philistine sentries, he attacks. Terrified Philistines run home to their cities by the sea. The story appears in 1 Samuel 14. To compare with other Bible translations, see Bible Gateway.