1. Some men from Ziph went to Saul at Gibeah and said, 'Look, David is hiding on the Hill of Hachilah on the edge of the wastelands!'
2. So Saul set off and went down to the desert of Ziph, accompanied by three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph.
3. Saul pitched camp on the Hill of Hachilah, which is on the edge of the wastelands near the road. David was then living in the desert and saw that Saul had come after him into the desert.
4. Accordingly, David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed arrived.
5. Setting off, David went to the place where Saul had pitched camp. He saw the place where Saul and Abner son of Ner, commander of his army, had bedded down. Saul had bedded down inside the camp with the troops bivouacking round him.
6. Speaking to Ahimelech the Hittite and Abishai son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, David said, 'Who will come down with me to the camp, to Saul?' Abishai answered, 'I will go down with you.'
7. So in the dark David and Abishai made their way towards the force, where they found Saul lying asleep inside the camp, his spear stuck in the ground beside his head, with Abner and the troops lying round him.
8. Abishai then said to David, 'Today God has put your enemy in your power; so now let me pin him to the ground with his own spear. Just one stroke! I shall not need to strike him twice.'
9. David said to Abishai, 'Do not kill him, for who could raise his hand against Yahweh's anointed and go unpunished?
10. As Yahweh lives,' David said, 'Yahweh himself will strike him down: either the day will come for him to die, or he will go into battle and perish then.
11. Yahweh forbid that I should raise my hand against Yahweh's anointed! But now let us take the spear beside his head and the pitcher of water, and let us go away.'
12. David took the spear and the pitcher of water from beside Saul's head, and they made off. No one saw, no one knew, no one woke up; they were all asleep, because a torpor from Yahweh had fallen on them.
13. David crossed to the other side and halted on the top of the mountain a long way off; there was a wide space between them.
14. David then called out to the troops and to Abner son of Ner, 'Abner, why don't you answer?' Abner replied, 'Who is that calling?'
15. David said to Abner, 'Are you not a man? Who is your equal in Israel? Why, then, did you not guard the king your lord? One of the people came to kill the king your lord.
16. What you did was not well done. As Yahweh lives, you all deserve to die since you did not guard your lord, Yahweh's anointed. Look where the king's spear is now, and the pitcher of water which was beside his head!'
17. Recognising David's voice, Saul said, 'Is that your voice, my son David?' David replied, 'It is my voice, my lord king.
18. Why is my lord pursuing his servant?' he said. 'What have I done? What crime have I committed?
19. May my lord king now listen to his servant's words: if Yahweh has incited you against me, may he be appeased with an offering; but if human beings have done it, may they be accursed before Yahweh, since they have as effectively banished me today from sharing in Yahweh's heritage as if they had said, "Go and serve other gods!"
20. So I pray now that my blood shall not be shed on soil remote from Yahweh's presence, when the king of Israel has mounted an expedition to take my life, as one might hunt a partridge in the mountains!'
21. Saul replied, 'I have done wrong! Come back, my son David; I shall never harm you again, since today you have shown respect for my life. Yes, I have behaved like a fool, I have been profoundly in the wrong.'
22. In reply, David said, 'Here is the king's spear. Let one of the men come across and get it.
23. May Yahweh reward each as each has been upright and loyal. Today Yahweh put you in my power but I would not raise my hand against Yahweh's anointed.
24. As today I set great value by your life, so may Yahweh set great value by my life and deliver me from every tribulation!'
25. Saul then said, 'May you be blessed, my son David! In what you undertake, you will certainly succeed.' David then went on his way and Saul returned home.