Old Testament

1 Samuel 23
David and the People of Keilah
231David was told, “Here's news! The Philistines are fighting against Keilah and plundering the threshing floors.”
2So David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go and strike these Philistines?”
The Lord said to David, “Go strike the Philistines and save Keilah.”
3But David's men said to him, “Look how afraid we are here in Judah! How much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines!”
4Then David inquired of the Lord again, and the Lord answered him, “Set out and go down to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand.”
5So David and his men went to Keilah and fought against the Philistines. He took away their livestock and struck a heavy blow against the Philistines. David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.
6(When Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled with David to Keilah, he had brought the special vest, which was in his possession.)
7When Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, he said, “God has delivered him into my hand, since David has trapped himself by entering a city that has barred gates.” 8Then Saul summoned all the fighting men to go down to Keilah to besiege David and his men.
9David knew that Saul was planning to harm him, so he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring the special vest here.” 10Then David said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, your servant has heard a specific report that Saul plans to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. 11Will the citzens of Keilah hand me over to him? Will Saul come down, as your servant has heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell your servant.”
The Lord said, “He will come down.”
12Then David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah hand me and my men over to Saul?”
The Lord said, “They will hand you over.”
13Then David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, immediately departed from Keilah and went wherever they could.[] When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he gave up his plan to go there.
David in the Wilderness of Ziph
14David stayed in the strongholds in the wilderness. He remained in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul searched for him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. 15David knew that Saul had come to seek his life.
David was at Horesh in the Wilderness of Ziph. 16Saul's son Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh. There he strengthened his hand in God. 17He said to him, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of my father Saul will not find you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18They both made a covenant before the Lord. Then David stayed at Horesh, and Jonathan returned home.
19Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Do you know that David is hiding near us in the strongholds at Horesh near the Hill of Hakilah, in the southern part of the badlands?[] 20So now, O King, come down! Come down whenever you wish to come, and our role will be to deliver him into the king's hand.”
21Saul said, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have sympathized with me. 22Go and make sure that you know exactly where he is and who has seen him there, for I have been told that he is very wily. 23Make sure that you know all the places where he hides. Then come back to me with solid information. Then I will come with you. If he is in the land, you can be sure that I will hunt him down among all the thousands of Judah.” 24So Saul's men set out and went to Ziph ahead of Saul.
Meanwhile David and his men were in the Wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah,[] south of the badlands.
David in the Wilderness of Maon
25Saul and his men went to look for David. When David was told about it, he went down to the rock and stayed in the Wilderness of Maon. When Saul heard that, he pursued David in the Wilderness of Maon. 26Saul was going along one side of the mountain, and David and his men were on the other side. David hurried to get away from Saul and his men, who were trying to surround David and his men in order to capture them. 27But a messenger came to Saul and said, “Hurry! Come back, because the Philistines have made a raid on the land!” 28So Saul turned back from pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. That is why that place is named Sela Hamahlekoth.[]
David and Saul at En Gedi
29Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.[]


  • 23:13 Literally they went around where they went around
  • 23:19 Hebrew Jeshimon, which means wasteland or badlands. A Jeshimon is worse than a midbar (wilderness). The Hebrew word Jeshimon is sometimes translated as a proper name Jeshimon.
  • 23:24 On the basis of Joshua 15:48–55, most maps show Maon in the highlands west of the Dead Sea, but this verse seems to refer to a location in the Great Rift that contains the Dead Sea, which is called the Arabah. Perhaps Arabah here simply means wilderness.
  • 23:28 Sela Hamahlekoth means cliff of parting.
  • 23:29 En Gedi means the spring of the goat kid.