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A Soldier Who Spared His Enemy

Now when David was told, "The Philistines are fighting against Keilah
and are robbing the threshing-floors," he inquired of Jehovah, "Shall I
go and attack these Philistines?" Jehovah said to David, "Go, attack
the Philistines and save Keilah." But David's men said to him, "See, we
are afraid here in Judah; how much more will we be if we go to Keilah
against the armies of the Philistines?" When David again inquired of
Jehovah, Jehovah answered him, "Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will
give the Philistines into your hand." So David and his men went to
Keilah and fought with the Philistines and drove away their cattle and
killed a great many of them. In this way David delivered the people of

Now when Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech, fled to David in Keilah, he
came down with the priestly robe used in consulting Jehovah in his hand.
And when Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, "God
has given him into my power, for by entering a town that has doors and
bars he has let himself be trapped."

So Saul called all the people to arms to go down to Keilah to besiege
David and his men. But when David knew that Saul was plotting evil
against him, he said to Abiathar the priest, "Bring here the priestly
robe." Then David said, "O Jehovah, the God of Israel, thy servant has
surely heard that Saul is planning to come to Keilah, to destroy the
town because of me. Will Saul come down, as thy servant has heard? O
Jehovah, God of Israel, tell thy servant." Jehovah said, "He will come
down." Then David said, "Will the men of Keilah turn me and my men over
to Saul?" Jehovah said, "They will." Then David and his men, who were
about six hundred, left Keilah, and wandered from one place to another.
When it was reported to Saul that David had escaped from Keilah, he no
longer followed him. So David lived in the Wilderness of Ziph and stayed
in the mountain strongholds.

Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is not David hiding
in the hill country of Hachilah?" So Saul went down to the Wilderness of
Ziph with three thousand men of Israel to hunt for David. And Saul
camped in the hill country of Hachilah; but David stayed in the
wilderness. When David saw that Saul was following him into the
wilderness, he sent out scouts and learned that Saul had come to the
place just in front of him. David then arose and went to the place where
Saul had camped. And he saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son
of Ner, the commander of his army; and Saul was within the barricade,
and the people were camped about him.

Then David turned to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of
Zeruiah, Joab's brother, and said, "Who will go down with me to Saul's
camp?" Abishai said, "I will go with you." So David and Abishai came to
the people by night, and Saul was lying asleep inside the barricade,
with his spear stuck into the earth at his head and with Abner and the
soldiers lying about him.

Then Abishai said to David, "God has given your enemy to you to-day. Now
let me pin him to the earth with his spear at one stroke, for I will not
need to strike him twice!" David replied, "As surely as Jehovah lives,
either Jehovah will smite him, or his day will come to die, or he will
go down into battle and meet his end. Jehovah forbid that I should harm
him whom Jehovah has called to rule! But now take the spear that is at
his head and the jug of water, and let us go." So David took the spear
and the jug of water from Saul's head, and they departed. But no man saw
it or knew it, for they were all asleep, and no one awoke, for a deep
sleep from Jehovah had fallen upon them.

Then David went across and stood on the top of a hill at a distance with
a great space between them. And David called to the soldiers and to
Abner, the son of Ner, and said, "Do you make no answer, Abner?" Abner
answered, "Who are you that calls?" David said to Abner, "Are you not a
man, and who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept guard
over your lord the ruler of Israel? For one of the people came to
destroy your lord. You have not done what is right. As surely as Jehovah
lives you ought to be put to death, for you have not kept watch over
your master whom Jehovah has called to rule. Now see where his spear is
and his jug of water that was at his head."

Saul knew David's voice and said, "Is this your voice, my son David?"
David replied, "It is my voice, my lord." And he added, "Why is it that
my lord is following his servant? For what have I done? Or of what am I
guilty? Now therefore let my lord listen to me. If Jehovah has stirred
you up against me, let him accept an offering. But if men have stirred
you up against me, let them be cursed before Jehovah, for they have
driven me out to-day, saying, 'Go serve other gods,' so that I have no
share in the land which Jehovah has given to his people. May I not meet
my end far away from the presence of Jehovah, for the ruler of Israel
has come out to seek my life, as one hunts a partridge on the

Then Saul said, "I have done wrong. Come back, my son David, for I will
do you no more harm, for you have spared my life to-day. I have acted
foolishly and have made a great mistake." David answered, "Here is
Saul's spear! Let one of the young men come over and take it. May
Jehovah reward each one who does right and is faithful; for Jehovah gave
you to me to-day, but I would not harm one whom Jehovah had called to
rule. Just as your life was of great value in my sight so may my life be
of great value in Jehovah's sight, and may he deliver me from all

Then Saul said to David, "May you be blessed, my son David! You shall do
great deeds and shall surely succeed!" So David went his way, but Saul
returned home.

Next: Abigails Sensible Advice

Previous: The Cost Of A Lie

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