English Revised Version
David Again Spares Saul
1And the Ziphites came unto Saul to Gibeah, saying, Doth not David hide himself in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert? 2Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. 3And Saul pitched in the hill of Hachilah, which is before the desert, by the way. But David abode in the wilderness, and he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness. 4David therefore sent out spies, and understood that Saul was come of a certainty. 5And David arose, and came to the place where Saul had pitched: and David beheld the place where Saul lay, and Abner the son of Ner, the captain of his host: and Saul lay within the place of the wagons, and the people pitched round about him.
6Then answered David and said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, brother to Joab, saying, Who will go down with me to Saul to the camp? And Abishai said, I will go down with thee. 7So David and Abishai came to the people by night: and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the place of the wagons, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head: and Abner and the people lay round about him. 8Then said Abishai to David, God hath delivered up thine enemy into thine hand this day: now therefore let me smite him, I pray thee, with the spear to the earth at one stroke, and I will not smite him the second time. 9And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can put forth his hand against the LORD'S anointed, and be guiltless? 10And David said, As the LORD liveth, the LORD shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall go down into battle, and perish. 11The LORD forbid that I should put forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed: but now take, I pray thee, the spear that is at his head, and the cruse of water, and let us go. 12So David took the spear and the cruse of water from Saul's head; and they gat them away, and no man saw it, nor knew it, neither did any awake: for they were all asleep; because a deep sleep from the LORD was fallen upon them.
David Reproves Abner
13Then David went over to the other side, and stood on the top of the mountain afar off; a great space being between them: 14and David cried to the people, and to Abner the son of Ner, saving, Answerest thou not, Abner? Then Abner answered and said, Who art thou that criest to the king? 15And David said to Abner, Art not thou a valiant man? and who is like thee in Israel? wherefore then hast thou not kept watch over thy lord the king? for there came one of the people in to destroy the king thy lord. 16This thing is not good that thou hast done. As the LORD liveth, ye are worthy to die, because ye have not kept watch over your lord, the LORD'S anointed. And now, see, where the king's spear is, and the cruse of water that was at his head.
17And Saul knew David's voice, and said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And David said, It is my voice, my lord, O king. 18And he said, Wherefore doth my lord pursue after his servant? for what have I done? or what evil is in mine hand? 19Now therefore, I pray thee, let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it be the LORD that hath stirred thee up against me, let him accept an offering: but if it be the children of men, cursed be they before the LORD; for they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the inheritance of the LORD, saying, Go, serve other gods. 20Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the LORD: for the king of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains.
Saul Acknowledges his Sin
21Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my life was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly. 22And David answered and said, Behold the spear, O king! let then one of the young men come over and fetch it. 23And the LORD shall render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: forasmuch as the LORD delivered thee into my hand today, and I would not put forth mine hand against the LORD'S anointed. 24And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation. 25Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do mightily, and shalt surely prevail. So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.