Story Seven

 •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 5
FROM his meeting with Jŏń a-than, Dā́ vid went forth to be a wanderer, having no home as long as Sa̤ul lived. He went away so suddenly that he was without either bread to eat, or a sword for defense. On his way he called at a little city called Nŏb, where the Tabernacle was then standing, although the holy ark was still in another place by itself. The chief priest, Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch, was surprised to see Dā́ vid coming alone. Dā́ vid said to him, "The king has sent me upon an errand of which no one is to be told, and my men are to meet me in a secret place. Can you give me a few loaves of bread?”
"There is no bread here," said the priest, "except the holy bread from the table in the holy house. The priests have just taken it away to put new bread in its place.”
"Let me have that bread," said Dā́ vid, "for we are the Lord's, and are holy.”
So the priest gave Dā́ vid the holy bread, which was to be eaten by the priests alone. Dā́ vid said also, "Have you a spear, or a sword, which I can take with me? The king's errand was so sudden that I had no time to bring my weapons.”
"There is no sword here," said the priest, "except the sword of Gō̇˗lī́ ath of Gath, whom you slew in the valley of Ḗ lah. It is wrapped in a cloth, in the closet with the priest's robe. If you wish that sword, you can have it.”
"There is no sword like that," said Dā́ vid; "give it to me." So Dā́ vid took the giant's sword, and five loaves of bread, and went away. But where should he go? Nowhere in Sa̤ul's kingdom would he be safe; and he went down to live among his old enemies, the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝, on the plain.
But the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝ had not forgotten Dā́ vid, who had slain their great Gō̇-lī́ ath, and beaten them in many battles. They would have seized him and killed him; but Dā́ vid acted as though he was crazy. Then the king of the Phĭ˗lĭś tĭnes̝ said, "Let this poor crazy-man go! We do not want him here.”
And Da˗́ vid escaped from among them, and went to live in the wilderness of Jú̄ dah. He found a great cave, called the cave of Ā̇-dŭĺ lăm, and hid in it. Many people heard where he was, and from all parts of the land, especially from his own tribe of Jŭ́ dah, men who were not satisfied with the rule of King Sa̤ul, gathered around Dā́ vid. Soon he had a little army of four hundred men, who followed Dā́ vid as their captain.
All of these men with Dá̄vid were good fighters, and some of them were very brave in battle. Three of these men at one time wrought a great deed for Dā́ vid. While Dā́ vid was in the great cave, with his men, the Phĭ-lĭś tines̝ were holding the town of Bĕth=lĕ-hĕm, which had been Dā́ vid's home. Dā́ vid said one day: "How I wish that I could have a drink of the water from the well that is beside the gate of Bĕth=lĕ˗ hĕm!”
This was the well from which he had drawn water and drank when a boy; and it seemed to him that there was no water so good to his taste.
Those three brave men went out together, walked to Bĕth=lĕ-hĕm, fought their way through the Phĭ-lĭś tĭnes̝ who were on guard, drew a vessel of water from the well, and then fought their way back through the enemies.
But when they brought the water to Dā́ vid, he would not drink it. He said:
"This water was bought by the blood of three brave men. I will not drink it; but I will pour it out as an offering to the Lord, for it is sacred." So Dā́ vid poured out the water as a most precious gift to the Lord. Sa̤ul soon heard that Dā́ vid, with a band of men, was hiding among the mountains of Jū́ dah. One day while Sa̤ul was sitting in Ḡĭb́ e-ah, out of doors under a tree, with his nobles around him, he said, "You are men of my own tribe of Bĕń ja-mĭn, yet none of you will help me to find this son of Jĕś se, who has made an agreement with my own son against me, and who has gathered an army, and is waiting to rise against me. Is no one of you with me and against mine enemy?”
One man, whose name was Dṓ eg, an Ḗ dom-īte, said, "I was at the city of the priests some time ago, and saw the son of Jesse come to the chief priest, Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch; and the priest gave him loaves of bread and a sword." "Send for Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch and all the priests,” commanded King Sa̤ul; and they took all the priests as prisoners, eighty-five men in all, and brought them before King Sa̤ul. And Sa̤ul said to them, "Why have you priests joined with Dā́ vid, the son of Jĕś se, to rebel against me, the king? You have given him bread, and a sword, and have shown yourselves his friends.”
Then Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch, the priest, answered the king, "There is no one among all the king's servants as faithful as Dā́ vid; and he is the king's son-in-law, living in the palace, and sitting in the king's council. What wrong have I done in giving him bread? I knew nothing of any evil that he had wrought against the king.”
Then the king was very angry. He said, "You shall die, Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch, and all your father's family, because you have helped this man, my enemy. You knew that he was hiding from me, and did not tell me of him.”
And the king ordered his guards to kill all the priests. But they would not obey him, for they felt that it was a dreadful deed to lay hands upon the priests of the Lord. This made Sa̤ul all the more furious, and he turned to Dṓ eg, the Ḗ dom-īte, the man who had told of Dā́ vid's visit to the priest, and Saul said to Dṓ eg, "You are the only one among my servants who is true to me. Do you kill these priests who have been unfaithful to their king.”
And Dṓ eg, the Ḗ dom-īte, obeyed the king, and killed eighty-five men who wore the priestly garments. He went to the city of the priests, and killed all their wives and children, and burned the city.
One priest alone escaped, a young man named Ā̇-bī́ a-thār, the son of Ā̇-hĭḿ e-lĕch. He came to Dā́ vid with the terrible news, that Sa̤ul had slain all the priests, and he brought the high-priest's breastplate and his robes.
Dā́ vid said to him, "I saw this man Dṓ eg, the Ḗ dom-īte, there on that day, and I knew that he would tell Sa̤ul. Without intending to do harm, I have caused the death of all your father's house. Stay with me, and fear not. I will care for your life with my own.”
Ā̇-bī́ a-thär was now the high-priest, and he was with Dā́ vid, and not with Sa̤ul. All through the land went the news of Saul's dreadful deed, and everywhere the people began to turn from Saul, and to look toward Dā́ vid as the only hope of the nation.