The Story of David and Saul

While Saul was yet king, the Philistines came forth once more to fight the children of Israel. And Saul and his men went out to meet them. There were two high hills on each side of a deep vale, and from these two hills the foemen fought.

The Philistines had on their side a man who was more than ten feet high. He wore a coat of mail, and was bound with brass from head to foot, so that no sword or spear could wound him.

And he cried out to Saul’s men, Choose a man from your midst and let him come down to me. If he can fight with me and kill me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him then you must serve us. I dare you to send a man to fight with me.

When Saul and his men heard these words they were in great fear, for there was no one in their ranks who would dare fight with such a giant.

And each morn and eve, for more than a month, this great man, whose name was Goliath, drew near Saul and his troops and dared them to send a man out to fight him.

Now when the war broke out three of Jesse’s sons went with Saul, but David went back to Bethlehem to feed sheep.

And Jesse said to David, Take this parched corn and these ten loaves of bread, and run down to camp and bring me back word how thy brothers are.

And David rose up the next morn, and found some one to take care of his sheep, and went as his father told him.

And he came to the camp just as the men were on their way to the fight, and the air was filled with their shouts.

And he left the goods he had brought in the care of a man, and ran in the midst of the troops, and spoke to his three brothers.

And while he stood there, Goliath came out from the ranks of the Philistines, and dared some one to fight with him.

And David heard his words. And the men of Israel fled from his face. And David heard them speak of what would be done to the man who should kill him; for the king would give him great wealth, and set him in a high place.

And David spoke to the men near him, and made use of strong words.

And his brothers told him to go home and take care of his sheep, for it was just a trick of his to come up to camp that he might see the fight.

David said, I have done no wrong! and the men to whom he spoke went and told Saul what he had said. And Saul sent for him, but did not know that he was the same one who used to play on the harp for him.

And David told Saul he would go out and fight the great man from Gath. And Saul said, Thou art but a youth, and he has been a man of war all his days.

Then David told Saul how he had fought with and slain the wild beasts that came out of the woods to eat up the lambs of his flock. And, said he, this man is no more than a wild beast, and the Lord will save me from him as he did from the paw of the lion and the bear.

And Saul said, Go, and the Lord go with thee. And Saul put on him a coat of mail, and clothed him in brass from head to foot, and hung a sword at his side. But David took them all off, and said, I have not tried them, and cannot use them.

And he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in a bag that he wore. And his sling was in his hand when he drew near to Goliath.

Goliath came near to David, and when he saw what a youth he was, he drew up his head with great scorn.

David ran to meet him, and put his hand in his bag and drew forth a stone, and slung it, and struck Goliath on the forehead with such force that the stone sank in through the bone and he fell on his face to the earth.

Then David ran and stood on Goliath, and drew his sword from its sheath, and slew him and cut off his head.

And when the Philistines saw that the man in whom they had put their trust was dead they fled.

And David came back from the fight with the head of Goliath in his hand, and was brought to Saul.

And Saul would not let David go back to his own home, but made him stay with him. And Jonathan fell in love with him, and to show his love, took off all the rich clothes he had on and put them on David, and gave him his sword, his bow, and his belt. And David did as Saul told him, and all who saw him were pleased with him, and Saul put him at the head of his men of war.

But when King Saul and his men went through the towns on their way back from the fight, the folks came out and sang and danced to praise them for what they had done.

But they said more in praise of David than of Saul, and when Saul heard it he was wroth, and from that day ceased to be David’s friend.

The next day David stood near Saul with his harp in his hand to play him some sweet tunes. And Saul held a spear in his hand, and he cast it at David so that it would go through him and pin him to the wall. But David saw it and took a step one side, and it did him no harm.

Twice was this done, and when Saul found that he could not hurt David, he was in great fear of him, for he knew the Lord was with him. So he drove David from his house, and sent men to lay in wait to kill him.

But David fled from them and ran to the place where Jonathan was, and said to him, What have I done that the king seeks my life?

Now Jonathan did not know that the king meant to kill David, so he said to him, Thou shalt not die. My father would have told me if he meant to kill thee. But David said it was true.

The next day was to be a feast day, and the king would look for David to come and eat with him. But David was in such fear of Saul that he did not care to go, and begged Jonathan to let him hide himself for three days. If the king asks where I am, said David, tell him that thou did’st give me leave to go home.

Jonathan told David that at the end of the three days he should come and hide in the field near a rock that was there. And Jonathan said he would shoot three arrows as if he took aim at a mark. And he would send a lad out to pick them up. And if he said to the lad, Go, find them, they are on this side of thee, then David might know that all was at peace and the king would do him no harm. But if he should cry out that the darts were beyond the lad, then David would know that he must flee, for the king meant to do him harm.

So David hid himself in the field; and when the feast day came Saul sat down to eat with his back to the wall. And he saw that David was not in his place, but said not a word. The next day when he found David was not in his place, Saul said to his son, Why comes not David to eat these two days?

Jonathan said that David pled so hard for leave to go home to his own folks, that he had told him to go, and that was why he was not at the feast.

Then Saul was in a great rage, and said to his son, As long as David lives thou canst not be a king. Send for him, and bring him here that he may be put to death.

And Jonathan said, Why should he be slain? What hath he done?

Saul threw his spear at Jonathan. And the young man knew by this that the king meant to kill David. So the next morn the king’s son went out to the field, and took a lad with him. And he said, Run now, and pick up the arrows that I shoot.

And as he ran, Jonathan sent a dart o’er his head; and when the lad came to the place where it fell, the king’s son cried out, It is beyond thee. Make haste, and stay not.

David heard these words and knew that he must flee, for if Saul caught him he would kill him.

The lad brought the darts to Jonathan, and did not know why the king’s son had shot them and called out to him as he did. And Jonathan gave him his bow and arrows, and sent him back to town with them.

As soon as the lad was gone, David came out from the place where he was hid, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. Then he rose and threw his arms round Jonathan’s neck, and the two friends wept as if their hearts would break.

Then David fled from Saul, and hid in the woods and caves.

Saul went out with a large force of men to seek David on the rocks where the wild goats fed. And Saul came to a cave, and went in to lie down and rest.

David and his men were in the cave, but Saul could not see them. And the men wished to kill Saul; but David would not let them. While he was there David stole up to Saul and cut off a piece of his robe. And Saul did not know it.

When Saul went out of the cave, David went out after him and cried out, My lord and my king!

And when Saul looked back, David bowed down to him with his face to the earth. And he told Saul to pay no heed to those who said he meant to harm the king. For if he had sought to kill Saul he might have done so that day while he was in the cave. And David showed Saul the piece of his robe he had cut off.

And some bade me kill thee, said David, but I would not, for thou art my lord and my king. Then David held up the piece of cloth he had cut from Saul’s robe, and said, Since I was so near thee as to cut this off and did not kill thee, thou may’st know that I have no wish to harm thee. Yet thou dost hunt for me to kill me. Let the Lord judge ‘twixt thee and me, and save me from thy hand, and save thee as he will, for I will not harm thee.

When Saul heard David speak thus, all hate went out of his heart, and he wept as he said, Thou hast done good to me for the wrongs I did thee, and may the Lord bless thee for it. Now I know that thou wilt some day be the king of Israel.

And Saul went home, and David and his men went back to the cave.

But David knew that he could not trust Saul, so he fled to the land of the Philistines, and he and his men dwelt there in the town of Gath for the space of a year and four months.

While he was there, the Philistines went out to fight with Saul once more, and when he saw what a host of them there was, his heart shook with fear. He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord did not come to him in dreams, or speak one word to him.

Samuel was dead, and the Lord had said it was a sin to go to a witch, or a seer, to find out the things that would take place, and Saul had sent all these folks out of the land.

But now he was in such a strait that he felt he must have help of some sort. And one of his men told him there was at Endor a witch who could work strange charms, and foretell what was to take place. So the king drest himself so that he would not be known, and went at night with two of his men to see the witch of Endor. And he said to her, Bring me up him whom I shall name to thee.

And the witch said to him, Dost thou not know that Saul has sent all those that work charms out of the land? And why dost thou set a snare for my life, so that I will be put to death?

And Saul said, As the Lord lives there shall no harm come to thee for this thing.

Then the witch said, Whom shall I bring up to thee? And he said, Bring me Samuel.

So the witch made strange signs and spoke strange words, and swept her wand round and round. And when she saw the form of Samuel rise up, she cried with a loud voice, Why did’st thou not tell me the truth? for thou art Saul!

And the king said, Have no fear. What did’st thou see?

And the witch said, I saw an old man with a cloak round him.

And Saul knew it was Samuel, and bowed his face to the ground. And Samuel said, Why hast thou brought me up? And Saul told him that he was in a great strait, that God had left him, and did not come to him in dreams or by the hand of wise men, and he thought that Samuel might tell him what to do.

Samuel said, Why then dost thou ask of me if the Lord hath left thee? He hath done to thee just as he said he would. Thy reign is at an end, and David shall rule in thy stead. And he told Saul that the next day he and his sons would be dead, and Israel in the hands of the foes.

When Saul heard these words he fell down in a swoon, for he had had no food for a day and a night.

And the witch brought bread and bade him eat, that he might have strength to go on his way. And Saul and his men ate of the food, and went their way that night.

Now the lords of the Philistines brought all their troops to a place called Aphek. And the king of Gath went there, and took David and his men with him. But the lords of the Philistines would not have the Jews in their midst lest they should turn on them and give them into the hands of king Saul.

So David and his men had to leave the camp, and the Philistines went out to fight, and the men of Israel fled from them with great loss. The king’s three sons were slain, and an arrow struck Saul and gave him a bad wound.

And Saul said to the man who bore his shield, Draw thy sword and put me to death. But the man did not dare to kill his king. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it, and thus died by his own hand. And when the man saw that Saul was dead, he fell on his sword and died with him.

And when it was known that Saul and his sons were dead, the Jews fled from that part of the land, and the Philistines went to live there.

In the course of a few years David was made king of Israel, and then went to live at Jerusalem. He went to war, and took spoils of rich kings, and the Lord was with him, for he sought to do that which was right and just.

David had two sons: Solomon and Absalom.

And in all the land there was no man with such a fine face and form as Absalom, and he won much praise for his good looks. And he had a thick growth of long hair. But Absalom had a bad heart, and his sins made David weep. But he did not scold Absalom as he should have done, for the king was fond of his son, and so Absalom went on from bad to worse.

He told what he would do when he was king, and made friends with those who thought it a fine thing to be on good terms with the king’s son.

When he was two-score years of age, Absalom said to the king, Let me, I pray thee, go up to Hebron to pay my vows.

And David told him to go. But it was not to serve the Lord that Absalom went, but to have himself made king instead of David. And he took ten score men with him, who did not know why or where they went, and sent spies all through the land to speak in his praise and urge that he be made king.

And when David heard of it he said to his men, Rise, let us flee from this place, lest Absalom come and put us to death.

And they all fled from Jerusalem, and went to hide in some lone place. And when Absalom came to Jerusalem he went to one of David’s friends and asked him what he should do to be made king. Ahithophel, who had once been a friend of David, and had now gone with the king’s son, had said that he would go out with a large force and come up with David when he was weak and faint, so that he would be in a great fright. Those who were with David would flee, and he would soon put the king to death. Then, of course, Absalom would be king.

But Absalom would not do this till he had heard what Hushai said. Now Hushai was a true friend of David, and he told Absalom to take more men than Ahithophel had said, for he thought that would give David a chance to get out of the way. And Hushai sent two young men to tell David not to stop on the plains that night, but to cross the Jordan, lest he and all who were with him should be put to death.

But a boy saw the two sons of the highpriest who were on their way to David, and went and told Absalom. And the priest’s sons ran to a house near by, and hid in the well. And the woman who kept the house spread corn on top so that no one could see that a well was there.

And when Absalom’s men came in and asked the woman where the priest’s sons were, she said they had gone on past the brook Kedron. And when the two could not be found the men went back.

Then the priest’s sons came up out of the well, and made haste to give to David the word that Hushai had sent. And at dawn David and all his men crossed Jordan.

As soon as Absalom had all the men he thought he would need, he set out to fight with David. And David drew up his men in line, and put Joab at their head. And the king said, I will go out with you. But the men said he should not; so David staid by the gate and saw them go out to the fight, and bade them be kind to Absalom for his sake.

The fight took place in a wood. Absalom rode on a mule, and as the mule passed ‘neath a great oak, Absalom’s head caught in a branch, and he hung in mid air, while the mule went off down the road.

And a man saw it and told Joab. And Joab said, Why did’st thou not kill him? And the man said he would not kill the king’s son, for he had heard David ask them to be kind to him.

But Joab said, I cannot waste time with thee. And he took three darts in his hand and thrust them through Absalom, so that he died. And he was thrown into a pit that was in the wood, and a great heap of stones was piled on him. And all the men who had been with him went back to their tents.

David sat in the gate, and when men came back with news of the fight, he would ask of each one, Is Absalom safe? And at last one of them said, May all the king’s foes be as this young man is. Then David knew that Absalom was dead, and he went to his own room and wept.

And he cried out with a loud voice, O, my son, Absalom; my son, my son Absalom! I would that God had let me die in thy stead, O, Absalom, my son, my son!

David was king for two-score years, and was an old man when he died and had hosts of friends. And when he felt that his death was near, he bade his men take Solomon to a place called Gihon, and pour oil on his head. Then they were to blow the horn and cry out. God save King Solomon.

And this was done; and when David died, Solomon sat on his throne and ruled Israel.