1 Samuel 23

1 David heard that the Philistines attacked the town of Keilah. They robbed the threshing floors of the newly harvested grain.

2 He asked Jehovah: »Shall I go and attack the Philistines?« Jehovah answered: »Yes, Attack them and save Keilah.«

3 David’s men said to him: »We have enough to be afraid of here in Judah. It will be worse if we go to Keilah and attack the Philistine forces!«

4 David consulted Jehovah once again, and Jehovah said to him: »Go attack Keilah! I will give you victory over the Philistines.«

5 David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. They drove off their livestock, and overwhelmingly defeated them. So David rescued the people who lived in Keilah.

6 When Ahimelech’s son Abiathar fled to David at Keilah, Abiathar brought a priestly ephod with him.

7 When Saul was told that David went to Keilah, Saul said: »God has delivered him into my hands. He has trapped himself by going into a city which has a gate with a double door held shut by a bar.«

8 So Saul called all the troops to go to war. They wanted to blockade Keilah, where David and his men were.

9 David learned that Saul was planning to harm him. He told the priest Abiathar: »Bring the ephod!«

10 Then David said: »Jehovah God of Israel, I have actually heard that Saul is going to come to Keilah and destroy the city on account of me.

11 »Will the citizens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come here as I have heard? Jehovah God of Israel, please tell me.« Jehovah answered: »He will come.«

12 »Will the citizens of Keilah hand my men and me over to Saul?« David asked. Jehovah answered: »They will hand you over.«

13 David and his men, about six hundred in all, left Keilah. They went wherever they could go. Then Saul was told: »David has escaped from Keilah! So he gave up the campaign.«

14 David lived in fortified camps in the desert. He lived in fortified camps in the mountains of the desert of Ziph. Saul was always searching for him. But God did not let him capture David.

15 David was afraid because Saul had come to kill him at Horesh in the desert of Ziph.

16 Jonathan went to see David. God helped him encourage David.

17 »Do not be afraid,« Jonathan said. »My father Saul will never get his hands on you. In fact, you are going to be the next king of Israel. I will be your highest official. Even my father knows it is true.«

18 They both promised Jehovah that they would always be loyal to each other. Then Jonathan went home while David stayed at Horesh.

19 Some people from the town of Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah. They said: »Your Majesty, David has a hideout not far from us! It is near Horesh. It is somewhere on Mount Hachilah south of Jeshimon.

20 »We know how much you want to capture him. Come to our territory and we will make sure you catch him.«

21 Saul answered: »May Jehovah 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. Be sure to bring back a report to me right away. Then I will go with you. 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. They were in a desolate valley in the southern part of the Judean wilderness.

25 Saul and his men set out to look for David. David 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. They were 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 Saul stopped pursuing David and went to fight the Philistines. That is why that place is called Separation Hill.

29 From there David went to stay in the fortified camps of En Gedi.