David Delivers the City of Keilah
They told David, “The Philistines are fighting in Keilah and are looting the threshing floors.” So David asked the Lord, “Should I go and strike down these Philistines?” The Lord said to David, “Go, strike down the Philistines and deliver Keilah.”
But David’s men said to him, “We are afraid while we are still here in Judah! What will it be like if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?” So David asked the Lord once again. But again the Lord replied, “Arise, go down to Keilah, for I will give the Philistines into your hand.”
So David and his men went to Keilah and fought the Philistines. He took away their cattle and thoroughly defeated them. David delivered the inhabitants of Keilah.
David Eludes Saul Again
Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech had fled to David at Keilah, he had brought with him an ephod. When Saul was told that David had come to Keilah, Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he has boxed himself into a corner by entering a city with two barred gates.” So Saul mustered all his army to go down to Keilah and besiege David and his men.
When David realized that Saul was planning to harm him, he told Abiathar the priest, “Bring the ephod!” Then David said, “O Lord God of Israel, your servant has clearly heard that Saul is planning to come to Keilah to destroy the city because of me. Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down as your servant has heard? O Lord God of Israel, please inform your servant!”
Then the Lord said, “He will come down.” David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah deliver me and my men into Saul’s hand?” The Lord said, “They will deliver you over.”
So David and his men, who numbered about six hundred, set out and left Keilah; they moved around from one place to another. When told that David had escaped from Keilah, Saul called a halt to his expedition. David stayed in the strongholds that were in the desert and in the hill country of the desert of Ziph. Saul looked for him all the time, but God did not deliver David into his hand. David realized that Saul had come out to seek his life; at that time David was in Horesh in the desert of Ziph.
Then Jonathan son of Saul left and went to David at Horesh. He encouraged him through God. He said to him, “Don’t be afraid! For the hand of my father Saul cannot find you. You will rule over Israel, and I will be your second in command. Even my father Saul realizes this.” When the two of them had made a covenant before the Lord, David stayed on at Horesh, but Jonathan went to his house.
Then the Ziphites went up to Saul at Gibeah and said, “Isn’t David hiding among us in the strongholds at Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, south of Jeshimon? Now at your own discretion, O king, come down. Delivering him into the king’s hand will be our responsibility.”
Saul replied, “May you be blessed by the Lord, for you have had compassion on me. Go and make further arrangements. Determine precisely where he is and who has seen him there, for I am told that he is extremely cunning. Locate precisely all the places where he hides and return to me with dependable information. Then I will go with you. If he is in the land, I will find him among all the thousands of Judah.”
So they left and went to Ziph ahead of Saul. Now David and his men were in the desert of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. Saul and his men went to look for him. But David was informed and went down to the rock and stayed in the desert of Maon. When Saul heard about it, he pursued David in the desert of Maon. Saul went on one side of the mountain, while David and his men went on the other side of the mountain. David was hurrying to get away from Saul, but Saul and his men were surrounding David and his men so they could capture them. But a messenger came to Saul saying, “Come quickly, for the Philistines have raided the land!”
So Saul stopped pursuing David and went to confront the Philistines. Therefore that place is called Sela Hammahlekoth. Then David went up from there and stayed in the strongholds of En Gedi.