Reading 82/341, 1 Samuel 21-24

[A] David has come a long way from the shepherd boy who struck down Goliath to prove that there was a God in Israel. There is no greater symbol of this than his taking up the sword of Goliath. He was once to small for such weapons and defeated them with small stones.
[B] David's respect for the anointed of the Lord, even when he is threatened by him, is a continuing theme.

...1 Samuel...

Then David came to Nob to Ahimelech the priest, and Ahimelech came to meet David trembling, and said to him, “Why are you alone, and no man with you?” David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has commanded me with a matter, and has said to me, ‘Let no man know anything of the matter about which I send you, and what I have commanded you’, and I have made an appointment with some young men at such and such a place. Now therefore what do you have on hand? Put five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever there is here.” The priest answered David, and said, “I have no common bread on hand, but there is holy bread, but only if the young men have kept themselves from women.” David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is but an ordinary journey. How much more then today shall their vessels be holy?” So the priest gave him holy bread, for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which was removed from before the Lord, and replaced with hot bread on the day when it was taken away. Now a certain man of the servants of Saul was there that day, detained before the Lord, and his name was Doeg the Edomite, the chief of Saul’s herdsmen. David said to Ahimelech, “Is there not here a spear or sword on hand? For I have not brought my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king's business required haste.” The priest said, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod, if you will take that, take it, for there is no other except that here.” David said, “There is none like that; give it me.”

David arose, and fled that day for fear of Saul, and went to Achish the king of Gath. The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing one to another about him in dances, saying, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, David his ten thousands?’” David laid up these words in his heart and was very afraid of Achish, king of Gath. He changed his behavior before them, and pretended to be insane in their hands, and scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle fall down on his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?” David therefore departed there, and escaped to the cave of Adullam, and when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered themselves to him, and he became captain over them, and there were with him about four hundred men. David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab, and he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, until I know what God will do for me.” He brought them before the king of Moab, and they lived with him all the while that David was in the stronghold. The prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go into the land of Judah.” Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hereth.

Saul heard that David was discovered, and the men who were with him, now Saul was sitting in Gibeah, under the tamarisk tree on the height with his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him. Saul said to his servants who stood about him, “Hear now, you Benjamites: will the son of Jesse give each of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds, that all of you have conspired against me? No one discloses to me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse, and there is none of you who is sorry for me, or discloses to me that my son has stirred up my servant against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” Then answered Doeg the Edomite, who stood by the servants of Saul, and said, “I saw the son of Jesse coming to Nob, to Ahimelech the son of Ahitub. He inquired of the Lord for him, and gave him food, and gave him the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” Then the king sent to summon Ahimelech the priest, the son of Ahitub, and all his father's house, the priests who were in Nob, and they all came to the king. Saul said, “Hear now, you son of Ahitub.” He answered, “Here I am, my lord.” Saul said to him, “Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, in that you have given him bread, and a sword, and have inquired of God for him, that he should rise against me, to lie in wait, as at this day?” Then Ahimelech answered the king, and said, “Who among all your servants is so faithful as David, who is the king's son-in-law, and is taken into your council, and is honorable in your house? Have I today begun to inquire of God for him? Far be it from me, do not let the king impute anything to his servant, nor to all the house of my father, for your servant knows nothing of all this, neither less nor more.” The king said, “You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you, and all your father's house.” The king said to the guard who stood about him, “Turn, and kill the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew that he fled, and did not disclose it to me.” But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall on the priests of the Lord. The king said to Doeg, “You turn, and fall on the priests.” Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell on the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five persons who wore a linen ephod. Nob, the city of the priests, he struck with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and nursing babies, and oxen and donkeys and sheep, with the edge of the sword. One of the sons of Ahimelech, the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. Abiathar told David that Saul had slain the Lord's priests. David said to Abiathar, “I knew on that day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, that he would surely tell Saul. I have occasioned the death of all the persons of your father's house. Abide you with me, Be not afraid, for he who seeks my life seeks your life; with me you shall be safe.”

Now they told David, saying, “Behold, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and are robbing the threshing floors.” Therefore David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go and strike these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, and strike the Philistines, and save Keilah.” David's men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” Then David inquired of the Lord yet again. The Lord answered him, and said, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.” David and his men went to Keilah, and fought with the Philistines, and brought away their livestock, and killed them with a great slaughter. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah. It happened, when Abiathar the son of Ahimelech fled to David to Keilah, that he came down with an ephod in his hand. It was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars.” Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men. David knew that Saul was devising mischief against him, and he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring here the ephod.” Then said David, “O Lord, God of Israel, your servant has surely heard that Saul seeks to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake. Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, God of Israel, I beg you, tell your servant.” The Lord said, “He will come down.” Then said David, “Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you up.” Then David and his men, who were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went wherever they could go. It was told to Saul that David was escaped from Keilah, and he gave up going there.

David abode in the desert in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the desert of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life, and David was in the desert of Ziph at Horesh. Jonathan, Saul's son, arose, and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. He said to him, “Be not afraid, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you, and you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you, and that also Saul my father knows.” The two made a covenant before the Lord, and David dwelt at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Does not David hide himself with us in the strongholds in the wood, in the hill of Hachilah, which is south of Jeshimon? Now therefore, O king, come down, according to all the desire of your soul to come down, and our part shall be to deliver him up into the king's hand.” Saul said, “Blessed be you by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. Please go make yet more sure, and know and see the place where his foot is, and who has seen him there, for it is told me that he is very cunning. See therefore, and take note of all the lurking places where he hides himself, and come again to me with sure information, and I will go with you, and it shall happen, if he is in the land, that I will search him out among all the thousands of Judah.” They arose, and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the Arabah on the south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men went to seek him. When David was told, he went down to the rock, and stayed in the desert of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the desert of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain, and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, there came a messenger to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid on the land.” So Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines. Therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth [Escape Rock].

David went up from there, and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi. It happened, when Saul returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, “Behold, David is in the desert of En Gedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men in the rocks of the wild goats. He came to the sheep pens by the way, where was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave. The men of David said to him, “Behold, the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose, and cut off a corner of Saul's robe secretly. It happened afterward, that David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord's anointed.” So David checked his men with these words, and did not allow them to rise against Saul. Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way. David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, “My lord the king.” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and paid homage. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to men's words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm?’ Behold, this day your eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered you today into my hand in the cave, and some told me kill you, but I spared you, and I said, ‘I will not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord's anointed.’ Moreover, my father, behold, yes, see the corner of your robe in my hand. In that I cut off the corner of your robe, and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor treason in my hand. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt after my life to take it. The Lord judge between me and you, and the Lord avenge me of you, but my hand shall not be against you. As says the proverb of the ancients, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’, but my hand shall not be on you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! The Lord therefore judge and give sentence between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.” It came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. You have declared this day how that you have dealt well with me, because when the Lord had delivered me up into your hand, you did not kill me. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. Now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear now therefore to me by the Lord, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house.” David swore to Saul. Saul went home; but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

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