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1 Samuel 26

Listen to 1 Samuel 26

David Spares Saul Again

1 1Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, "Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?"
2 So Saul arose and went down to 2the wilderness of Ziph with 3three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
3 And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness,
4 David sent out spies and learned that Saul had come.
5 Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with 4Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within 5the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.
6 Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab's brother 6Abishai the son of Zeruiah, 7"Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?" And Abishai said, "I will go down with you."
7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within 8the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground 9at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him.
8 Then said Abishai to David, 10"God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice."
9 But David said to Abishai, "Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand 11against the LORD's anointed and be guiltless?"
10 And David said, 12"As the LORD lives, 13the LORD will strike him, or 14his day will come to die, 15or he will go down into battle and perish.
11 16The LORD forbid that I should put out my hand against the LORD's anointed. But take now the spear that is 17at his head and the jar of water, and let us go."
12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because 18a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen upon them.
13 Then David went over to the other side and stood far off on the top of the hill, with a great space between them.
14 And David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, "Will you not answer, Abner?" Then Abner answered, "Who are you who calls to the king?"
15 And David said to Abner, "Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord.
16 This thing that you have done is not good. 19As the LORD lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD's anointed. And now see where the king's spear is and the jar of water that was 20at his head."
17 Saul recognized David's voice and said, 21"Is this your voice, my son David?" And David said, "It is my voice, my lord, O king."
18 And he said, 22"Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands?
19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the LORD who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the LORD, 23for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in 24the heritage of the LORD, saying, 'Go, serve other gods.'
20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the LORD, for the king of Israel has come out to seek 25a single flea like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains."
21 Then Saul said, 26"I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake."
22 And David answered and said, "Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it.
23 27The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the LORD gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the LORD's anointed.
24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the LORD, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation."
25 Then Saul said to David, "Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will 28succeed in them." So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.

1 Samuel 26 Commentary

Chapter 26

Saul goes after David, who again spares Saul's life. (1-12) David exhorts Saul. (13-20) Saul acknowledges his sin. (21-25)

Verses 1-12 How soon do unholy hearts lose the good impressions convictions have made upon them! How helpless were Saul and all his men! All as though disarmed and chained, yet nothing is done to them; they are only asleep. How easily can God weaken the strongest, befool the wisest, and baffle the most watchful! David still resolved to wait till God thought fit to avenge him on Saul. He will by no means force his way to the promised crown by any wrong methods. The temptation was very strong; but if he yielded, he would sin against God, therefore he resisted the temptation, and trusted God with the event.

Verses 13-20 David reasoned seriously and affectionately with Saul. Those who forbid our attendance on God's ordinances, do what they can to estrange us from God, and to make us heathens. We are to reckon that which exposes us to sin the greatest injury that can be done us. If the Lord stirred thee up against me, either in displeasure to me, taking this way to punish me for my sins against him, or in displeasure to thee, if it be the effect of that evil spirit from the Lord which troubles thee; let Him accept an offering from us both. Let us join in seeking peace, and to be reconciled with God by sacrifice.

Verses 21-25 Saul repeated his good words and good wishes. But he showed no evidence of true repentance towards God. David and Saul parted to meet no more. No reconciliation among men is firm, which is not founded in an cemented by peace with God through Jesus Christ. In sinning against God, men play the fool, and err exceedingly. Many obtain a passing view of these truths, who hate and close their eyes against the light. Fair professions do not entitle those to confidence who have long sinned against the light, yet the confessions of obstinate sinners may satisfy us that we are in the right way, and encourage us to persevere, expecting our recompence from the Lord alone.

Cross References 28

  • 1. 1 Samuel 23:19; See Psalms 54
  • 2. 1 Samuel 23:14
  • 3. 1 Samuel 24:2
  • 4. 1 Samuel 14:50; 1 Samuel 17:55; 2 Samuel 2:8
  • 5. 1 Samuel 17:20
  • 6. 2 Samuel 2:18; 2 Samuel 3:39; 2 Samuel 16:10; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Chronicles 2:16
  • 7. [Judges 7:9-11]
  • 8. [See ver. 5 above]
  • 9. ver. 11, 16
  • 10. [1 Samuel 24:4, 18]
  • 11. ver. 11, 16, 23; 1 Samuel 24:6, 10; [2 Samuel 1:16]
  • 12. [Ruth 3:13]
  • 13. [1 Samuel 25:38]
  • 14. [Genesis 47:29; Deuteronomy 31:14]
  • 15. 1 Samuel 31:6
  • 16. 1 Samuel 24:6
  • 17. ver. 7, 16
  • 18. Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12
  • 19. [Ruth 3:13]
  • 20. ver. 7, 11
  • 21. 1 Samuel 24:16
  • 22. 1 Samuel 24:9, 11
  • 23. [Psalms 120:5]
  • 24. 2 Samuel 14:16; 2 Samuel 20:19; 2 Samuel 21:3
  • 25. 1 Samuel 24:14
  • 26. 1 Samuel 15:24; [1 Samuel 24:17, 18]
  • 27. [Psalms 7:8; Psalms 18:20]
  • 28. [Genesis 32:28]

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates that Saul, upon the information of the Ziphites, went out again with an armed force to seek David, 1Sa 26:1-3; of which David having intelligence, and of the place where he pitched, came with one of his men and reconnoitred his camp, and finding Saul and his men asleep, took away his spear, and the cruse of water at his head, and departed, without taking away his life, though solicited to it by his servant, 1Sa 26:4-12; which spear and cruse of water he produced to the reproach of Abner, Saul's general, and as a testimony of his sincere regard to Saul, and that he had no design upon his life, 1Sa 26:13-20; of which Saul being convinced, blessed David, and returned home again, 1Sa 26:21-25.

1 Samuel 26 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.