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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Chapter 26

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1 a Cf. 23.19 and note. The Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and said, “David is hiding in the hill of Hachilah facing Jeshimon.” 2Saul went down at once to the wilderness of Ziph, together with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the wilderness of Ziph, 3and Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah which faces Jeshimon, by the road. When David, who was then living in the wilderness, learned that Saul had come after him into the wilderness, 4David sent out scouts and made sure that Saul had come. 5David went at once to the place where Saul had encamped, and David saw the spot where Saul and his army commander, Abner son of Ner, lay asleep. Saul lay asleep inside the barricade b Meaning of Heb. uncertain; cf. 17.20 . and the troops were posted around him.

6David spoke up and asked Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah, Joab's brother, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai answered, “I will go down with you.” 7So David and Abishai approached the troops by night, and found Saul fast asleep inside the barricade, b Meaning of Heb. uncertain; cf. 17.20 . his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the troops sleeping around him. 8And Abishai said to David, “God has delivered your enemy into your hands today. Let me pin him to the ground with a single thrust of the spear. I will not have to strike him twice.” 9But David said to Abishai, “Don't do him violence! No one can lay hands on the LORD's anointed with impunity.” 10And David went on, “As the LORD lives, the LORD Himself will strike him down, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go down to battle and perish. 11But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD's anointed! Just take the spear and the water jar at his head and let's be off.” 12So David took away the spear and the water jar at Saul's head, and they left. No one saw or knew or woke up; all remained asleep; a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them.

13David crossed over to the other side and stood afar on top of a hill; there was considerable distance between them. 14And David shouted to the troops and to Abner son of Ner, “Abner, aren't you going to answer?” And Abner shouted back, “Who are you to shout at the king?” 15And David answered Abner, “You are a man, aren't you? And there is no one like you in Israel! So why didn't you keep watch over your lord the king? For one of [our] troops came to do violence to your lord the king. 16You have not given a good account of yourself! As the LORD lives, [all of] you deserve to die, because you did not keep watch over your lord, the LORD's anointed. Look around, where are the king's spear and the water jar that were at his head?”

17Saul recognized David's voice, and he asked, “Is that your voice, my son David?” And David replied, “It is, my lord king.” 18And he went on, “But why does my lord continue to pursue his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? 19Now let my lord the king hear his servant out. If the LORD has incited you against me, let Him be appeased a Cf. Amos 5.21 . by an offering; but if it is men, may they be accursed of the LORD! For they have driven me out today, so that I cannot have a share in the LORD's possession, but am told, ‘Go and worship other gods.’ 20Oh, let my blood not fall to the ground, away from the presence of the LORD! For the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea—as if he were hunting a partridge in the hills.”

21And Saul answered, “I am in the wrong. Come back, my son David, for I will never harm you again, seeing how you have held my life precious this day. Yes, I have been a fool, and I have erred so very much.” 22David replied, “Here is Your Majesty's spear. Let one of the young men come over and get it. 23And the LORD will requite every man for his right conduct and loyalty—for this day the LORD delivered you into my b So many mss.; other mss. and editions omit. hands and I would not raise a hand against the LORD's anointed. 24And just as I valued your life highly this day, so may the LORD value my life and may He rescue me from all trouble.” 25Saul answered David, “May you be blessed, my son David. You shall achieve, and you shall prevail.”

David then went his way, and Saul returned home.


a Cf. 23.19 and note.

b Meaning of Heb. uncertain; cf. 17.20 .

a Cf. Amos 5.21 .

b So many mss.; other mss. and editions omit.

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