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 <<  1 Samuel 23 >> 

1The Philistines had launched an assault on Keilah and were plundering the threshing-floors. When this was reported to David,

2he consulted the LORD and asked whether he should go and attack these Philistines. The LORD answered, “Go, attack them, and relieve Keilah.”

3But David's men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much worse if we challenge the Philistine forces at Keilah!”

4David consulted the LORD once again and got the answer, “Go down at once to Keilah; I shall give the Philistines into your hands.”

5David and his men marched to Keilah, fought the Philistines, and carried off their livestock; they inflicted a heavy defeat on them and relieved the inhabitants of Keilah.

6When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled and joined David at Keilah, he brought an ephod with him.

7It was reported to Saul that David had entered Keilah, and he said, “God has put him into my hands; for he has walked into a trap by entering a walled town with its barred gates.”

8He called out all the army to march on Keilah and besiege David and his men.

9When David learnt how Saul planned his overthrow, he told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod,

10and then he prayed, “LORD God of Israel, I your servant have heard that Saul intends to come to Keilah and destroy the town because of me.

11Will the townspeople of Keilah surrender me to him? Will Saul come down as I have heard? LORD God of Israel, I pray you, tell your servant.” The LORD answered, “He will come.”

12David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” and the LORD answered, “They will.”

13At once David left Keilah with his men, who numbered about six hundred, and moved about from place to place. When it was reported to Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he called off the operation.

14David was living in the fastnesses of the wilderness of Ziph, in the hill-country, and though Saul went daily in search of him, God did not put him into his power.

15David was at Horesh in the wilderness of Ziph, when he learnt that Saul had come out to seek his life.

16Saul's son Jonathan came to David at Horesh and gave him fresh courage in God's name:

17“Do not be afraid,” he said; “my father's hand will not touch you. You will become king of Israel and I shall rank after you. This my father knows.”

18After the two of them had made a solemn compact before the LORD, David remained in Horesh and Jonathan went home.

19The Ziphites brought to Saul at Gibeah the news that David was in hiding among them in the fastnesses of Horesh on the hill of Hachilah, south of Jeshimon.

20“Let your majesty come down whenever you will,” they said, “and it will be our business to surrender him to you.”

21Saul replied, “The LORD's blessing on you; you have rendered me a service.

22Go now and make further enquiry, and find out exactly where he is and who saw him there. They tell me that he is crafty enough to outwit me.

23Find out which of his hiding-places he is using; then come back to me at such and such a place, and I shall go with you. So long as he stays in this country, I shall hunt him down, if I have to go through all the clans of Judah one by one.”

24They left for Ziph without delay, ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon.

25Saul set off with his men to look for him; but David got word of it and went down to a refuge in the rocks, and there he stayed in the wilderness of Maon. On hearing this, Saul went into the wilderness after him;

26he was on one side of the hill, David and his men on the other. While David and his men were trying desperately to get away, and Saul and his followers were closing in for the capture,

27a runner brought a message to Saul: “Come at once! The Philistines are invading the land.”

28Saul called off the pursuit of David and turned back to face the Philistines. This is why that place is called the Dividing Rock.

29David went up from there and lived in the fastnesses of En-gedi.

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