SynopsisOnly a chapter ago Saul repented of trying to kill David, and yet in this passage he’s back to trying to kill David again. David is in the Desert of Ziph, and the Ziphites report it to Saul. Saul brings his army after David, and when David hears that Saul is after him again he sends out some scouts to confirm it, which they do.
That night, David and a man named Abishai sneak into Saul’s camp—which isn’t too hard, since the LORD has caused everyone to fall into a deep sleep. They come to where Saul is sleeping, with his spear and his water jug nearby, and Abishai volunteers to kill Saul for David. But David forbids it; Saul is the LORD’s anointed, and you can’t kill the LORD’s anointed without incurring guilt:
But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (verses 9–11)
So they do, and sneak back out of the camp.
David and Abishai then go to a hill, fairly far away from Saul’s camp (but still within shouting distance), and then starts teasing Abner, the leader of Saul’s army. He asks Abner why he didn’t protect his king, and why he let someone into the king’s camp without stopping him. And as proof, he asks Abner where the king’s spear and water jug are.
Saul hears this conversation, and steps in.
Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is that your voice, David my son?”
David replied, “Yes it is, my lord the king.” And he added, “Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done, and what wrong am I guilty of? Now let my lord the king listen to his servant’s words. If the LORD has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, men have done it, may they be cursed before the LORD! They have now driven me from my share in the LORD’s inheritance and have said, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ Now do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the LORD. The king of Israel has come out to look for a flea—as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
As usual—you know the drill by now—Saul repents, and tells David that he won’t try to harm him again. So David returns Saul’s spear, and reiterates to Saul that because Saul is the LORD’s anointed, David will not lay a hand on him. David then goes back on his way, and Saul returns home. Again.