David at Keilah
1 People told David, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against the city of Keilah. They are robbing grain from the threshing floors.”
2 David asked the LORD, “Should I go and fight these Philistines?”
The LORD answered David, “Yes, go attack the Philistines. Save Keilah.”
3 But David’s men said to him, “Look, our men are afraid here in Judah. Just think how afraid we will be if we go to Keilah, where the Philistine army is lined up and ready for battle.”
David again asked the LORD. And the LORD answered David, “Go down to Keilah. I will help you defeat the Philistines.” 5
So David and his men went to Keilah. David’s men fought the Philistines. They defeated them and took their cattle. In this way David saved the people of Keilah. 6
(When Abiathar ran away to David, Abiathar took an ephod with him.*
7 People told Saul that David was now at Keilah. Saul said, “God has given David to me. David trapped himself when he went into a city surrounded by a wall with gates and bars to lock them.” 8 Saul called all his army together for battle. They prepared to go down to Keilah to attack David and his men.
9 David learned that Saul was making plans against him. David then said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod.”
10 David prayed, “LORD, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul plans to come to Keilah and destroy the town because of me. 11 Will Saul come to Keilah? Will the people of Keilah give me to Saul? LORD, God of Israel, I am your servant. Please tell me!”
The LORD answered, “Saul will come.”
12 Again David asked, “Will the people of Keilah give me and my men to Saul?”
The LORD answered, “They will.”
13 So David and his men left Keilah. There were about 600 men who went with David. They kept moving from place to place. Saul learned that David had escaped from Keilah, so he did not go to that city.
Saul Chases David
David went into the desert of Ziph and stayed in the mountains and fortresses there. Saul looked for David the whole time, but the Lord†
didn’t let Saul catch him.
15 David was at Horesh in the desert of Ziph. He was afraid because Saul was coming to kill him. 16 But Saul’s son Jonathan went to see David at Horesh and encouraged him to have a stronger faith in God. 17 Jonathan told David, “Don’t be afraid. My father Saul won’t hurt you. You will become the king of Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father knows this.”
18 Jonathan and David both made an agreement before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, and David stayed at Horesh.
The People of Ziph Tell Saul
19 Some people from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and told him, “David is hiding in our area. He is at the fortresses of Horesh on Hakilah Hill, south of Jeshimon. 20 Now, King, come down any time you want. It is our duty to give David to you.”
21 Saul answered, “May the LORD bless you for helping me. 22 Go and learn more about David. Keep track of where he goes and who goes to see him. I am told that David is smart and that he is trying to trick me. 23 Find all the hiding places that David uses. Then come back to me and tell me everything. Then I’ll go with you. If David is in the area, I will find him, even if I must go to every family group in Judah.”
24 So those people went back to Ziph before Saul.
David and his men were in the desert of Maon, south of Jeshimon. 25 Saul and his men went to look for David, but the people warned him. They told David that Saul was looking for him. So David then went down to “The Rock” in the desert of Maon. Saul heard that David had gone there, so Saul went to that place to find him.
26 Saul was on one side of the mountain. David and his men were on the other side of the same mountain. David was moving as quickly as possible to get away from Saul. But Saul and his soldiers were going around the mountain to cut them off and trap David and his men.
27 Then a messenger arrived and told Saul, “Come quickly! The Philistines are attacking.”
So Saul stopped chasing David and went to fight the Philistines. That is why people call this place “Slippery Rock.”‡ 29
David left the desert of Maon and went to the fortresses near En Gedi.