1 Samuel Chapter 20 to 22 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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David and Jonathan Make an Agreement

20  David ran away from the camps near Ramah. David went to Jonathan and asked him, “What have I done wrong? What is my crime? Why is your father trying to kill me?” 2Jonathan answered, “That can’t be true! My father isn’t trying to kill you! My father doesn’t do anything without first telling me. It doesn’t matter if it is very important or just a small thing, my father always tells me. Why would my father refuse to tell me that he wants to kill you? No, it is not true!” 3But David answered, “Your father knows very well that I am your friend. Your father said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know about it. If he knows, he will tell David.’ But as sure as you and the Lord are alive, I am very close to death!” 4Jonathan said to David, “I will do anything you want me to do.” 5Then David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon Feast.* I am supposed to eat with the king. But let me hide in the field until the evening. 6If your father notices I am gone, tell him, ‘David wanted to go home to Bethlehem. His family is having its own feast for this monthly sacrifice. David asked me to let him run down to Bethlehem and join his family.’ 7If your father says, ‘Fine,’ then I am safe. But if your father becomes angry, then you will know that he wants to hurt me. 8Jonathan, be kind to me. I am your servant. You have made an agreement with me before the Lord. If I am guilty, then you may kill me yourself! But don’t take me to your father.” 9Jonathan answered, “No, never! If I learn that my father plans to hurt you, then I will warn you.” 10David said, “Who will warn me if your father says bad things to you?” 11Then Jonathan said, “Come, let’s go out into the field.” So Jonathan and David went together into the field. 12Jonathan said to David, “I make this promise before the Lord, the God of Israel. I promise that I will learn how my father feels about you. I will learn if he feels good about you or not. Then, in three days, I will send a message to you in the field. 13If my father wants to hurt you, I will let you know. I will let you leave in safety. May the Lord punish me if I don’t do this. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14Be kind to me as long as I live. And after I die, 15don’t ever stop showing your kindness to my family. The Lord will destroy all your enemies from the earth. 16If at that time Jonathan’s family must be separated from David, then let it happen. May the Lord punish David’s enemies.” 17Then Jonathan asked David to repeat his promise of love for him. Jonathan did this because he loved David as much as he loved himself. 18Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon Feast.* Your seat will be empty, so my father will see that you are gone. 19On the third day, go to the same place you hid when this trouble began. Wait by that hill. 20On the third day, I will go to that hill and act like I am shooting at a target. I will shoot some arrows. 21Then I will tell the boy to go find the arrows. If everything is fine, then I will tell the boy, ‘You went too far! The arrows are closer to me. Come back and get them.’ If I say that, then you can come out of hiding. I promise, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe. There is no danger. 22But if there is trouble, then I will say to the boy, ‘The arrows are farther away. Go get them.’ If I say that, then you must leave. The Lord is sending you away. 23Remember this agreement between you and me. The Lord is our witness forever!” 24Then David hid in the field.

Saul’s Attitude at the Feast

The time for the New Moon Feast* came, and the king sat down to eat. 25The king sat next to the wall where he usually sat. Jonathan sat across from Saul. Abner sat next to Saul. But David’s place was empty. 26That day Saul said nothing. He thought, “Maybe something happened to David so that he is not clean.*” 27On the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why didn’t Jesse’s son come to the New Moon Feast* yesterday or today?” 28Jonathan answered, “David asked me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29He said, ‘Let me go. Our family is having a sacrifice* in Bethlehem. My brother ordered me to be there. Now if I am your friend, please let me go and see my brothers.’ That is why David has not come to the king’s table.” 30Saul was very angry with Jonathan. He said to Jonathan, “You are the son of a slave woman who refuses to obey. {And you are just like her.} I know you are on David’s side! You bring shame to yourself and to your mother. 31As long as Jesse’s son lives, you’ll never be king and have a kingdom. Now, bring David to me! He is a dead man!” 32Jonathan asked his father, “Why should David be killed? What did he do wrong?” 33But Saul threw his spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. So Jonathan knew that his father wanted very much to kill David. 34Jonathan became angry and left the table. Jonathan was so upset and angry at his father that Jonathan refused to eat any food on the second day of the feast. Jonathan was angry because Saul humiliated him and because Saul wanted to kill David.

David and Jonathan Say Goodbye

35The next morning Jonathan went out to the field. He went to meet David just like they agreed to do. Jonathan brought a little boy with him. 36Jonathan said to the boy, “Run. Go find the arrows I shoot.” The boy began to run, and Jonathan shot the arrows over his head. 37The boy ran to the place where the arrows fell. But Jonathan called, “The arrows are farther away!” 38Then Jonathan shouted, “Hurry! Go get them! Don’t just stand there!” The boy picked up the arrows and brought them back to his master. 39The boy knew nothing about what went on. Only Jonathan and David knew. 40Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy. Then Jonathan told the boy, “Go back to town.” 41The boy left, and David came out from the place he was hiding on the other side of the hill. David bowed with his face to the ground in front of Jonathan. David bowed three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other. They both cried together, but David cried more than Jonathan. 42Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace. We used the Lord’s name and promised to be friends. We said that the Lord will be the witness between us and our descendants* forever.”

New Moon Feast The first day of the Jewish month. This was a special day of rest and worship. The people met together and shared in the fellowship offerings like those described in Lev. 7:16–21. clean Or, “acceptable.” Pure or able to be used in worshiping God. See Lev. 11–15 for the Old Testament rules about clean and unclean things. sacrifice(s) A gift to God. Usually it was a special animal that was killed and burned on an altar. descendants A person’s children and their future families.

David Goes to See Ahimelech the Priest

21 Then David went away, and Jonathan went back to the town. 2David went to the town named Nob* to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech went out to meet David. Ahimelech was afraid for David. Ahimelech asked David, “Why are you alone? Why isn’t anyone with you?” 3David answered Ahimelech, “The king gave me a special order. He told me, ‘Don’t let anyone know about this mission. No person must know what I told you to do.’ I told my men where to meet me. 4Now, what food do you have with you? Give me five loaves of bread or whatever you have to eat.” 5The priest said to David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread here, but I do have some of the Holy Bread.* Your officers can eat it if they have not had sexual relations with any women.”* 6David answered the priest, “We have not been with any women. My men keep their bodies holy every time we go out to fight, even on ordinary missions.* And this is especially true today, when our work is so special.” 7There was no bread except the Holy Bread.* So the priest gave David that bread. This was the bread that the priests put on the holy table before the Lord. Each day they took this bread away and put fresh bread in its place. 8One of Saul’s officers was there that day. He was Doeg the Edomite. Doeg was the leader of Saul’s shepherds.* Doeg had been kept there before the Lord.* 9David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword here? The king’s business is very important. I had to leave quickly, and I didn’t bring my sword or any other weapon.” 10The priest answered, “The only sword here is the sword of Goliath the Philistine. It is the sword you took from him when you killed him in the Valley of Elah. That sword is behind the ephod,* wrapped in a cloth. You may take it if you want to.” David said, “Give it to me. There is no sword like Goliath’s sword!”

David Runs Away to the Enemy at Gath

11That day David ran away from Saul. David went to Achish king of Gath. 12Achish’s officers {did not like this. They} said, “This is David, the king of the land {of Israel}. He is the person the Israelites sing about. They dance and sing this song about him: “Saul has killed thousands of enemies. But David has killed tens of thousands!” 13David paid close attention to what they said. David was afraid of Achish, king of Gath. 14So David pretended to be crazy in front of Achish and his officers. While David was with them he acted like a crazy man. He spat on the doors of the gate. He let spit fall down his beard. 15Achish said to his officers, “Look at the man! He is crazy! Why did you bring him to me? 16I have enough crazy men. I don’t need you to bring this man to my house to act crazy in front of me! Don’t let this man come into my house again!”

Nob A city near Ranah where many priests lived. See 1 Sam.22:19. Holy Bread This was the special bread that was put in the Holy Tent. It is also called “shewbread” or “the bread of the Presence.” Normally, only the priests should eat this bread. See Lev. 24:5–9. Your officers … women This would make the men unclean and not able to eat any food that had been made holy by offering it to God. See Lev. 7:21,15:1–33. My men … missions See 2 Sam. 11:11 and the rules in Deut. 23:9–14. Holy Bread This was the special bread that was put in the Holy Tent. It is also called “shewbread” or “the bread of the Presence.” Normally, only the priests should eat this bread. See Lev. 24:5–9. shepherds Or, “messengers.” kept there before the Lord This might mean that Doeg was there as part of a special promise to God or some other religious reason. Or it might mean he was being held there because of some crime, such as accidentally killing a man. ephod A special coat a man wore to show that he was a priest or a priest’s helper.

David Goes to Different Places

22 David left Gath. David ran away to the cave* of Adullam. David’s brothers and relatives heard that David was at Adullam. They went to see David there. 2Many people joined David. There were men who were in some kind of trouble. And there were men who owed a lot of money. And there were men who were just not satisfied with life. All those kinds of people joined David, and David became their leader. David had about 400 men with him. 3David left Adullam and went to Mizpah in Moab. David said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God is going to do to me.” 4So David left his parents with the king of Moab. David’s parents stayed with the king of Moab as long as David was at the fort. 5But the prophet Gad said to David, “Don’t stay in the fort. Go to the land of Judah.” So David left and went to Hereth Forest.

Saul Destroys Ahimelech’s Family

6Saul heard that his people had learned about David and his men. Saul was sitting under the tree on the hill at Gibeah. Saul had his spear in his hand. All of his officers were standing around him. 7Saul said to his officers that were standing around him, “Listen, men of Benjamin! Do you think the son of Jesse (David) will give you fields and vineyards? Do you think David will promote you and make you officers over 1,000 men and officers over 100 men? 8You men are plotting against me! You made secret plans. Not one of you told me about my son Jonathan. Not one of you told me that he made an agreement with the son of Jesse! Not one of you cares about me! Not one of you told me that my son Jonathan encouraged David. Jonathan told my servant David to hide and attack me! And that is what David is doing now!” 9Doeg the Edomite was standing there with Saul’s officers. Doeg said, “I saw Jesse’s son (David) at Nob. David came to see Ahimelech son of Ahitub. 10Ahimelech prayed to the Lord for David. Ahimelech also gave David food. And Ahimelech gave David the sword of Goliath the Philistine.” 11Then King Saul ordered some men to bring the priest to him. Saul told them to bring Ahimelech son of Ahitub and all his relatives. Ahimelech’s relatives were priests at Nob. All of them came to the king. 12Saul said to Ahimelech, “Listen now, son of Ahitub.” Ahimelech answered, “Yes, sir.” 13Saul said to Ahimelech, “Why did you and Jesse’s son (David) make secret plans against me? You gave David bread and a sword! You prayed to God for him. And right now, David is waiting to attack me!” 14Ahimelech answered, “David is very faithful to you. Not one of your other officers is as faithful as David. David is your own son-in-law. And David is the captain of your bodyguards. Your own family respects David. 15That was not the first time I prayed to God for David. Not at all. Don’t blame me or any of my relatives. We are your servants. I know nothing about what is happening.” 16But the king said, “Ahimelech, you and all your relatives must die!” 17Then the king told the guards at his side, “Go and kill the priests of the Lord. Do this because they are on David’s side also. They knew David was running away, but they didn’t tell me!” But the king’s officers refused to hurt the priests of the Lord. 18So the king gave the order to Doeg. Saul said, “Doeg, you go kill the priests.” So Doeg the Edomite went and killed the priests. That day Doeg killed 85 men who were priests.* 19Nob was the city of the priests. Doeg killed all the people of Nob. Doeg used his sword and killed men, women, children and small babies. And Doeg killed their cows, donkeys, and sheep. 20But Abiathar escaped. Abiathar was the son of Ahimelech. Ahimelech was the son of Ahitub. Abiathar ran away and joined David. 21Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests. 22Then David told Abiathar, “I saw Doeg the Edomite at Nob that day. And I knew he would tell Saul! I am responsible for the death of your father’s family. 23Stay with me. Don’t be afraid. Why? Because the man (Saul) who tried to kill you is the same man who wants to kill me. I will protect you if you stay with me.”

cave Or possibly, “fortress.” priests Literally, “men who wore the linen ephod.”

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