1 Samuel 21-24

Chapter 21

David flees to Nob, where he lies to the priest to obtain food and weapons. The priest tells him he and his men can have the Holy bread if they have not been with any women recently. (Sure wouldn’t want the Holy bread contaminated.) David feigns mental illness to illicit sympathy from Israel’s enemies, in the hope that they will protect him from Saul. I guess Yahweh’s OK with all this deceit. Why doesn’t Yahweh just protect David from Saul?

Chapter 22

The sordid story continues. Someone rats on the priest in Nob who gave David the food and weapons, resulting in Saul ordering the killing of 85 priests, plus their families—men and women, children and babies—and all the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats. Saul is becoming a homicidal maniac.

Chapter 23

Saul’s madness rages on. David and his mob of rebel soldiers rescue a town from the Philistines, but rather than thank him, Saul uses the opportunity to try to trap David in the walled town. But David learns of the plan (the story doesn’t say how) and escapes into the wilderness. He and Saul play cat-and-mouse for a while in the mountains.

Chapter 24

David and Saul in the cave

David and Saul in the cave

This chapter begins with a Hollywood moment. While hunting David, Saul chooses to ‘relieve himself’ (‘cover his feet’, in the quaint Elizabethan prose of the KJV) in the very cave in which David and his men are hiding. But rather than kill Saul while he has the chance, David merely snips a piece off his robe. He then confronts Saul with it and makes a syrupy speech about how he could have killed him but didn’t, because he is honorable etc. Predictably, Saul breaks down and cries, and talks about how David is a better man because he has repaid good for evil. And Saul will never try to harm David again. Gag. Do we believe this? I’m skeptical.

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