The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
News was brought to David that the Philistines were attacking Ceila, and plundering its threshing-floors.
So he consulted the Lord, asking whether he should go and attack these Philistines; and the Lord answered, attack them he should, and bring the townspeople relief.
But David’s followers protested, Here are we going in fear of our lives, even on the soil of Juda; and wouldst thou have us make our way to Ceila, and fight the army of the Philistines?
So David consulted the Lord again, and still the Lord said, Up, and to Ceila betake thee; I will give thee victory over the Philistines.
So David and his men marched there and made war on the Philistines, driving off their cattle; he defeated them with great loss, and the town was rid of them.
(It was here that Abiathar, son of Achimelech, took refuge with David; and he came bringing the sacred mantle with him.)
When news reached Saul that David had gone to Ceila, he thought, The Lord has put him at my mercy; he is shut in, now, by the barred gates of a city.
And he bade his whole army march down there and lay siege to David and his men;
but David, hearing of the secret plans that were being made for his hurt, would have Abiathar consult the sacred mantle.
Lord God of Israel, was David’s prayer, news has reached me that Saul is on his way to Ceila, to destroy the city that shelters me;
what if the townspeople should hand me over to him? Tell me, Lord God of Israel, is the report true that Saul is on his way down? It is true, the Lord answered.
Then David asked, Will the townspeople betray me and my companions into Saul’s hands? And the Lord answered, They will.
So David and his men, about six hundred strong, left Ceila and went back to their wandering life; and Saul, hearing that David had made good his escape from the town, said no more about his purposed attack.
After this, David must keep to desert fastnesses, and he made his home among the wooded hills in the wilderness of Ziph; and evermore Saul made search for him, but the Lord disappointed him of his prey.
David lay close in the woods of Ziph, well knowing that Saul was bent on taking his life.
And now Saul’s son Jonathan ventured out, and visited him there in the woods, to bid him God-speed;
Have no fear, said he, my father Saul will never find thee. Thou art destined to reign over Israel, and I to take the second place; my father Saul knows well that so it must be.
So they made a covenant between them, there in the Lord’s presence; and David lay close in the woods, while Jonathan went home again.
Meantime the men of Ziph betook themselves to Saul at Gabaa, and said to him, We have news of David for thee; he lies hidden in a forest stronghold on the slopes of Hachila, south of the desert.
Come, then, where thou mayest have thy dearest wish; we will undertake to hand him over to the royal custody.
The Lord’s blessing on you! answered Saul; here are men that feel for my wrongs.
Go and make your preparations carefully; take good heed to enquire where he has halted on his march and who has seen him there; he knows well enough that a skilful hunter is on his track.
Keep watch, and note all the lairs he lurks in; then come back to me with sure news, and I will go with you. Let him go to ground as he will, I will hunt him out among all the multitudes of Juda!
So they went back to Ziph to prepare the way for Saul, and found that David and his men were in the desert of Maon, on the low ground south of Jesimon.
When Saul and his followers came in pursuit, David had news of it, and took refuge in a rock-fastness, haunting still the desert of Maon; and through the desert of Maon Saul went in pursuit of him, learning that he was to be found there.
At last a time came when Saul was traversing one side of a mountain, while David and his men were on the opposite side. David had lost hope of slipping through Saul’s hands, now that Saul’s men had encircled his, ready to cut them off.
But a message reached Saul, Come with all speed; the Philistines have invaded the land.
Whereupon Saul must needs give up his pursuit of David, and go back to meet the Philistines. That is how the place came by the name it bears, the Sundering Rock.
The Holy Bible