Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

David's Generosity

Forced to leave Keilah because he could no longer trust the people around him, David now fled into the wilderness, where Saul vainly sought him. Here David had a last interview with Jonathan, who assured him that he would in time be king over all Israel.

Then, still pursued by Saul, David fled on; and he would surely have been made prisoner, had not the king been turned aside by a sudden raid on the part of the Philistines. While Saul was waging war against these old foes, David made his way to Engedi.

But as soon as the war with the Philistines was ended, Saul resumed the pursuit of David, and, coming to Engedi, he stopped to rest in a cave. He slept there peacefully, little suspecting that the foe whom he had come to seek lay but a few feet from him.

While the king slept in the midst of his guard, David noiselessly stole out of the dark recesses of the cave where he had been hiding. He stole up to the sleeping king, and cut off a piece of the royal mantle, which he bore off as a trophy when he went away.

When Saul and his army were riding off on the morrow, David suddenly appeared at the mouth of the cave and showed him the piece of his garment. The young man urged that this was a good proof of his innocence, seeing that he had not tried to harm the king when it was in his power to do so.

Saul, touched by the generosity of David, who could so easily have killed him in his sleep, now gave up all thought of harming his son-in-law, and cried: "Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil."

David and Saul


As the pursuit was thus ended for the time being, David supported himself for a while by the gifts of neighboring farmers, whom, in exchange, he protected from the raids of their enemies. On one occasion David sent ten young men to the farm of Nabal, to ask for the usual provisions. But Nabal churlishly refused to give any, and would have been punished sorely by David and his angry troops, had not his wife, Abigail, hastened to appease their wrath.

She took an ample supply of food, and brought it to David in person; then, falling at his feet, she implored him to spare her husband and family. Pleased by her gifts, and touched by her beauty, David consented; and when Nabal died, he took Abigail for his wife, for Michal, the kingís daughter, had during his absence been given in marriage to another man.

The memory of Davidís generosity did not linger long in Saulís mind, so we soon hear of his starting out again to seize and kill David. But the young hero, accompanied by only one servant, slipped one night into the kingís camp and tent, and left it unseen, carrying off Saulís spear and cup.

When he reached a hill opposite the sleeping army, David raised his voice and awoke the sleepers. Then, holding up his trophies in full sight of them all, he again told Saul what he had done. As in the meeting at the cave of Engedi, Saul felt touched by Davidís kindness in sparing his life, and, instead of continuing the pursuit, went away, after he had sent one of his soldiers to get his spear and cup, as David bade him.

David and Saul never saw each other again, after this strange conversation from one hilltop to another; for, fearing that the king would again forget his solemn promise, David went away with all his followers to take refuge among his old enemies, the Philistines. They were so glad to get the help of so good a warrior that they gave him a city to live in. David dwelt here for about one year, fighting with great success against the Amalekites and other tribes, and bringing back much spoil.

The King of the Philistines was so pleased with his share of the booty that he treated David as a friend, and told him all his secrets. One day he even made known to him a plan which he had made to attack the Israelites, and asked him to join the army. David did not dare to refuse, but when the other Philistines heard what the king had done, they would not let David fight with them, and had him sent back to his town.