This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 5 (of 8) in Section 7: "The First Centuries In The Promised Land".
Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
1 Samuel chapter 19 (NIV)
19 Word came to Saul: "David is in Naioth at Ramah"; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, the Spirit of God came upon Saul's men and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied.
22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, "Where are Samuel and David?" "Over in Naioth at Ramah," they said. 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his robes and also prophesied in Samuel's presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"
1 Samuel chapter 20 (NLT)
1 David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. "What have I done?" he exclaimed. "What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?" 2 "That's not true!" Jonathan protested. "I'm sure he's not planning any such thing, for he always tells me everything he's going to do, even the little things. I know he wouldn't hide something like this from me. It just isn't so!"
3 Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, "Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, 'I won't tell Jonathan - why should I hurt him?' But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD and by your own soul!"
4 "Tell me what I can do!" Jonathan exclaimed.
5 David replied, "Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I've always eaten with your father on this occasion, but tomorrow I'll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day. 6 If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice. 7 If he says, 'Fine!' then you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, then you will know he was planning to kill me. 8 Show me this kindness as my sworn friend - for we made a covenant together before the LORD - or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don't betray me to him!"
9 "Never!" Jonathan exclaimed. "You know that if I had the slightest notion my father was planning to kill you, I would tell you at once."
10 Then David asked, "How will I know whether or not your father is angry?"
11 "Come out to the field with me," Jonathan replied. And they went out there together.
1 Samuel chapter 20 (NIV)
12 Then Jonathan said to David: "By the LORD , the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father is inclined to harm you, may the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family-not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David's enemies from the face of the earth."
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the LORD call David's enemies to account." 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
18 Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I say to him, 'Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,' then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrows are beyond you,' then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed-remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever."
24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David's place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean-surely he is unclean."
27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David's place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?"
28 Jonathan answered, "David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, 'Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.' That is why he has not come to the king's table."
30 Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!"
32 "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?" Jonathan asked his father.
33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father's shameful treatment of David.
35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, "Run and find the arrows I shoot." As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan's arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, "Isn't the arrow beyond you?" 38 Then he shouted, "Hurry! Go quickly! Don't stop!" The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing of all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, "Go, carry them back to town."
41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together-but David wept the most. 42 Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD , saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.' "
Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
1 Samuel chapter 21 (CEV)
1 David went to see Ahimelech, a priest who lived in the town of Nob. Ahimelech was trembling with fear as he came out to meet David. "Why are you alone?" Ahimelech asked. "Why isn't anyone else with you?"
2 "I'm on a mission for King Saul," David answered. "He ordered me not to tell anyone what the mission is all about, so I had my soldiers stay somewhere else. 3 Do you have any food you can give me? Could you spare five loaves of bread?"
4 "The only bread I have is the sacred bread," the priest told David. "You can have it if your soldiers didn't sleep with women last night."
5 "Of course we didn't sleep with women," David answered. "I never let my men do that when we're on a mission. They have to be acceptable to worship God even when we're on a regular mission, and today we're on a special mission."
6 The only bread the priest had was the sacred bread that he had taken from the place of worship after putting out the fresh loaves. So he gave it to David.
7 It so happened that one of Saul's officers was there, worshiping the LORD that day. His name was Doeg the Edomite, and he was the strongest of Saul's shepherds.
8 David asked Ahimelech, "Do you have a spear or a sword? I had to leave so quickly on this mission for the king that I didn't bring along my sword or any other weapons."
9 The priest answered, "The only sword here is the one that belonged to Goliath the Philistine. You were the one who killed him in Elah Valley, and so you can take his sword if you want to. It's wrapped in a cloth behind the statue."
"It's the best sword there is," David said. "I'll take it!"
10 David kept on running from Saul that day until he came to Gath, where he met with King Achish. 11The officers of King Achish were also there, and they asked Achish, "Isn't David a king back in his own country? Don't the Israelites dance and sing, `Saul has killed a thousand enemies; David has killed ten thousand enemies'?"
12 David thought about what they were saying, and it made him afraid of Achish. 13So right there in front of everyone, he pretended to be insane. He acted confused and scratched up the doors of the town gate, while drooling in his beard.
14 "Look at him!" Achish said to his officers. "You can see he's crazy. Why did you bring him to me? 15 I have enough crazy people without your bringing another one here. Keep him away from my palace!"
1 Samuel chapter 22 (TEV)
1 David fled from the city of Gath and went to a cave near the town of Adullam. When his brothers and the rest of the family heard that he was there, they joined him. 2 People who were oppressed or in debt or dissatisfied went to him, about four hundred men in all, and he became their leader.
3 David went on from there to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, "Please let my father and mother come and stay with you until I find out what God is going to do for me." 4 So David left his parents with the king of Moab, and they stayed there as long as David was hiding out in the cave.
5 Then the prophet Gad came to David and said, "Don't stay here; go at once to the land of Judah." So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.
6 One day Saul was in Gibeah, sitting under a tamarisk tree on a hill, with his spear in his hand, and all his officers were standing around him. He was told that David and his men had been located, 7 and he said to his officers, "Listen, men of Benjamin! Do you think that David will give fields and vineyards to all of you, and make you officers in his army? 8 Is that why you are plotting against me? Not one of you told me that my own son had made an alliance with David. No one is concerned about me or tells me that David, one of my own men, is right now looking for a chance to kill me, and that my son has encouraged him!"
9 Doeg was standing there with Saul's officers, and he said, "I saw David when he went to Ahimelech son of Ahitub in Nob. 10 Ahimelech asked the Lord what David should do, and then he gave David some food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine."
11 So King Saul sent for the priest Ahimelech and all his relatives, who were also priests in Nob, and they came to him. 12 Saul said to Ahimelech, "Listen, Ahimelech!"
"At your service, sir," he answered.
13 Saul asked him, "Why are you and David plotting against me? Why did you give him some food and a sword, and consult God for him? Now he has turned against me and is waiting for a chance to kill me!"
14 Ahimelech answered, "David is the most faithful officer you have! He is your own son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard, and highly respected by everyone in the royal court. 15 Yes, I consulted God for him, and it wasn't the first time. As for plotting against you, Your Majesty must not accuse me or anyone else in my family. I don't know anything about this matter!"
16 The king said, "Ahimelech, you and all your relatives must die."
17 Then he said to the guards standing near him, "Kill the Lord's priests! They conspired with David and did not tell me that he had run away, even though they knew it all along." But the guards refused to lift a hand to kill the Lord's priests. 18 So Saul said to Doeg, "You kill them!"-and Doeg killed them all. On that day he killed eighty-five priests .... 19 Saul also had all the other inhabitants of Nob, the city of priests, put to death: men and women, children and babies, cattle, donkeys, and sheep-they were all killed.
20 But Abiathar, one of Ahimelech's sons, escaped, and went and joined David. 21 He told him how Saul had slaughtered the priests of the Lord. 22 David said to him, "When I saw Doeg there that day, I knew that he would be sure to tell Saul. So I am responsible for the death of all your relatives. 23 Stay with me and don't be afraid. Saul wants to kill both you and me, but you will be safe with me."
1 Samuel chapter 23 (TEV)
1 David heard that the Philistines were attacking the town of Keilah and were stealing the newly harvested grain. 2 So he asked the Lord, "Shall I go and attack the Philistines?"
"Yes," the Lord answered. "Attack them and save Keilah."
3 But David's men said to him, "We have enough to be afraid of here in Judah; it will be much worse if we go to Keilah and attack the Philistine forces!"
4 So David consulted the Lord again, and the Lord said to him, "Go and attack Keilah, because I will give you victory over the Philistines." 5 So David and his men went to Keilah and attacked the Philistines; they killed many of them and took their livestock. And so it was that David saved the town. 6 When Abiathar son of Ahimelech escaped and joined David in Keilah, he took the ephod with him.
7 Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, "God has put him in my power. David has trapped himself by going into a walled town with fortified gates." 8 So Saul called his troops to war, to march against Keilah and besiege David and his men. 9 When David heard that Saul was planning to attack him, he said to the priest Abiathar, "Bring the ephod here." 10 Then David said, "Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come to Keilah and destroy it on account of me, your servant. 11 Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to Saul? Will Saul really come, as I have heard? Lord, God of Israel, I beg you to answer me!"
The Lord answered, "Saul will come."
12 "And will the citizens of Keilah hand my men and me over to Saul?" David asked again.
"They will," the Lord answered.
13 So David and his men-about six hundred in all-left Keilah at once and kept on the move.
When Saul heard that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up his plan.
14 David stayed in hiding in the hill country, in the wilderness near Ziph. Saul was always trying to find him, but God did not turn David over to him. 15 David saw that Saul was out to kill him.
David was at Horesh, in the wilderness near Ziph. 16 Jonathan went to him there and encouraged him with assurances of God's protection, 17 saying to him, "Don't be afraid. My father Saul won't be able to harm you. He knows very well that you are the one who will be the king of Israel and that I will be next in rank to you." 18 The two of them made a sacred promise of friendship to each other. David stayed at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
Psalm 86 (NLT)
1 A prayer of David.
Psalm 86 (TEV)
1 Listen to me, Lord, and answer me, for I am helpless and weak.
2 Save me from death, because I am loyal to you; save me, for I am your servant and I trust in you.
3 You are my God, so be merciful to me; I pray to you all day long.
4 Make your servant glad, O Lord, because my prayers go up to you.
5 You are good to us and forgiving, full of constant love for all who pray to you.
6 Listen, Lord, to my prayer; hear my cries for help.
7 I call to you in times of trouble, because you answer my prayers.
8 There is no god like you, O Lord, not one has done what you have done.
9 All the nations that you have created will come and bow down to you; they will praise your greatness.
10 You are mighty and do wonderful things; you alone are God.
11 Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and I will obey you faithfully; teach me to serve you with complete devotion.
12 I will praise you with all my heart, O Lord my God; I will proclaim your greatness forever.
13 How great is your constant love for me! You have saved me from the grave itself.
14 Proud people are coming against me, O God; a cruel gang is trying to kill me- people who pay no attention to you.
15 But you, O Lord, are a merciful and loving God, always patient, always kind and faithful.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; strengthen me and save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.
17 Show me proof of your goodness, Lord; those who hate me will be ashamed when they see that you have given me comfort and help.
1 Samuel chapter 23 (TEV)
19 Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and said, "David is hiding out in our territory at Horesh on Mount Hachilah, in the southern part of the Judean wilderness. 20 We know, Your Majesty, how much you want to capture him; so come to our territory, and we will make sure that you catch him."
21 Saul answered, "May the Lord bless you for being so kind to me! 22 Go and make sure once more; find out for certain where he is and who has seen him there. I hear that he is very cunning. 23 Find out exactly the places where he hides, and be sure to bring back a report to me right away. Then I will go with you, and if he is still in the region, I will hunt him down, even if I have to search the whole land of Judah."
24 So they left and returned to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in a desolate valley in the southern part of the Judean wilderness. 25 Saul and his men set out to look for David, but he heard about it and went to a rocky hill in the wilderness of Maon and stayed there. When Saul heard about this, he went after David. 26 Saul and his men were on one side of the hill, separated from David and his men, who were on the other side. They were hurrying to get away from Saul and his men, who were closing in on them and were about to capture them. 27 Just then a messenger arrived and said to Saul, "Come back at once! The Philistines are invading the country!" 28 So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to fight the Philistines. That is why that place is called Separation Hill. 29 David left and went to the region of Engedi, where he stayed in hiding.
1 Samuel chapter 24 (TEV)
1 When Saul came back from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David was in the wilderness near Engedi. 2 Saul took three thousand of the best soldiers in Israel and went looking for David and his men east of Wild Goat Rocks. 3 He came to a cave close to some sheep pens by the road and went in to relieve himself. It happened to be the very cave in which David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. 4 They said to him, "This is your chance! The Lord has told you that he would put your enemy in your power and you could do to him whatever you wanted to."
David crept over and cut off a piece of Saul's robe without Saul's knowing it.
1 Samuel chapter 24 (NLT)
5 But then David's conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul's robe. 6 "The LORD knows I shouldn't have done it," he said to his men. "It is a serious thing to attack the LORD's anointed one, for the LORD himself has chosen him." 7 So David sharply rebuked his men and did not let them kill Saul.
After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 8 David came out and shouted after him, "My lord the king!" And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.
9 Then he shouted to Saul, "Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn't true. For the LORD placed you at my mercy back there in the cave, and some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, 'I will never harm him - he is the LORD's anointed one.' 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn't kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me. 12 The LORD will decide between us. Perhaps the LORD will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, 'From evil people come evil deeds.' So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing ... a dead dog or a flea? 15 May the LORD judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!"
16 Saul called back, "Is that really you, my son David?" Then he began to cry. 17 And he said to David, "You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 18 Yes, you have been wonderfully kind to me today, for when the LORD put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn't do it. 19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the LORD reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. 20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and Israel will flourish under your rule. 21 Now, swear to me by the LORD that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!"
22 So David promised, and Saul went home. But David and his men went back to their stronghold.
Psalm 142 (NLT)
1 A psalm of David, regarding his experience in the cave. A prayer.
I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD's mercy.
2 I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.
3 For I am overwhelmed, and you alone know the way I should turn.
Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me.
4 I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought!
No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me.
5 Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, "You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.
6 Hear my cry, for I am very low. Rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.
7 Bring me out of prison so I can thank you.
The godly will crowd around me, for you treat me kindly."
The next file in this section (Part 6), is entitled: "David's Last Years on the Run, and the Predictions of the Death of King Saul".
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials: