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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents


 

 

SAUL'S ADVENTURE IN THE CAVE

ABOUT this time David heard that the Philistines had marched into the land of Judah and were laying wast the fields around the city of Keilah, for it was now harvest-time. He and his followers went against them and defeated them, and they stayed with the people of Keilah until they had [142] securely gathered all of their grain and fruits. The fame of this exploit reached Saul's ears, and he was glad to know that David was in Keilah, and said, "God hath now put him into my hands, since He hath obliged him to come into a city that hath walls and gates and bars."

So he commanded his army to set upon Keilah suddenly, and when they had besieged and taken it to kill David. But God revealed to David that he would be slain if he remained in that city, for the people of Keilah would give him up in order to make their peace with Saul. So he took his four hundred men and retired into a desert near the city, called Engedi. When Saul heard that David had fled, he did not go to Keilah after him. From the desert David went to the land of the Ziphites, where he lived in a wood. Here Jonathan came to him and spoke kindly to him, and told him to be hopeful of the future. And David and Jonathan made a solemn covenant of friendship, promising never to harm each other, after which Jonathan returned to his own home.

Now the men of Ziph, to please Saul, informed him that David was with them, and said they would help the king to capture him. But David learned of their evil designs, and he fled to a great rock which was in a wilderness near the city of Maon, and after that he removed to a cave in the country of Engedi.

Saul took three thousand men and went o Engedi in search of him. And Saul came to the cave in which David and his men were hidden, but he did not know they were there. It was very long and broad, and a good many men could hide in it. Saul went alone into the cave. While he was there, David's men wanted him to rise and slay him. But David would not do this but he went up softly behind Saul, and cut off a piece of his robe. When Saul rose and left the cave, David followed and called to him by name.

Saul recognized the voice, and turned round.

Then David bowed down to the ground, and asked Saul [143] why he had listened to the wicked men who told lies about him, and who said that it was his desire to slay the king.

"For if I wished to kill thee," said David, "I could easily have done so just now, for when I cut off the skirt of thy garment, I could as easily have done the same to thy head." And David held up the piece he had cut from Saul's robe. Saul then knew the danger he had been in, and was so touched by the generosity of David that he wept. And he said, "Thou hast shown this day that thou art a righteous man. And now I know well that some day the Lord will make thee king of Israel. Promise me, therefore, that thou wilt not destroy my family after I am dead, but wilt forgive the injuries I have done thee." And David promised that he would not, and Saul went back to his own kingdom.

Shortly after, Samuel died, and all the children of Israel came to Ramah to see him buried, and they wept for him a great number of days.


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