Then David said to himself, “I shall be killed some day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up hope and search no more for me in all the land of Israel; and so I will escape from him.” David, therefore, with the six hundred men who were with him went over to Achish, king of Gath. And David and his men lived with Achish at Gath, each with his family. When Saul was told that David had fled to Gath, he gave up looking for him.
David said to Achish, “If now you will grant me the favor, give me a place in one of the towns in the open country, that I may live there; for why should your servant live in the royal city with you?” So Achish gave him Ziklag, and David lived in the open country of the Philistines a year and four months.
And David and his men went up and made a raid upon the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites; for these tribes live in the land which extends from Telem to the land of Egypt. As often as David made a raid on the land, he did not leave alive man or woman, but taking the sheep, the oxen, the asses, the camels, and the clothing, he returned and went to Achish. Then when Achish said, “Where have you made a raid to-day?” David answered, “Against the South Country of Judah, or against the South Country of the Jerahmeelites, or against the South Country of the Kenites.” And Achish trusted David, thinking, “He has made his people Israel hate him; therefore he will be my servant forever.”
Now in those days the Philistines gathered their forces to make war against Israel. And Achish said to David, “You and your men shall surely go with me in the army.” David replied, “You shall then know what your servant can do.” Achish said to David, “In that case I will make you the captain of my body-guard from this time on.”
Then the Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the fountain in Jezreel. When the rulers of the Philistines were marching past, by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were marching in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are those Hebrews doing here?” Achish said to them, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul the ruler of Israel, who has been with me these two years, and I have found no fault in him from the time that he came to me to the present?”
But the commanders of the Philistines were displeased and said to him, “Send the man back to the place where you had stationed him. Do not let him go down with us into battle, lest we have a foe in the camp; for how could this fellow better win back the favor of his master than with the heads of these men? Is not this the David of whom they sang to one another in the dances:
“‘Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands?’”
Then Achish called David and said to him, “As surely as Jehovah lives, you are upright, and your conduct toward me both in and out of the camp has been satisfactory, for I have found nothing wrong in you from the time that you came to me to the present; but you are not trusted by the other rulers. Go back home, therefore, in peace, that you may do nothing to displease the rulers of the Philistines.” David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day that I entered your service, that I may not go out and fight the enemies of my lord the king?” Achish answered, “I know that you are as faithful to me as an angel of God, but the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go with us into battle.’ Therefore, you and those who came with you are to rise early in the morning, and go to the place where I have stationed you. Do not plan any evil, for I trust you, but rise early in the morning and, as soon as it is light, depart.”
So David and his men arose early in the morning to return to the Philistine land, but the Philistines went up to Jezreel.
On the third day, when David and his men returned to Ziklag, the Amalekites had made a raid on the South Country and on Ziklag, and had attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, and had also carried away captive all who were in it, including the women and children. They had not killed any but had carried them away with them. Then David and the people who were with him wept aloud until they were no longer able to weep.
David was in great trouble, for the people spoke of stoning him, because they all felt bitter, having lost their sons and daughters: but David took courage, for he trusted in Jehovah his God. So David with his six hundred followers went on to the Brook Besor, where those who were too tired to cross the brook stayed behind.
They found there an Egyptian in the open field and brought him to David and gave him food to eat and water to drink. Then David said to him, “To whom do you belong, and where do you come from?” He replied, “I am an Egyptian lad, an Amalekite‘s servant, and my master left me behind because three days ago I fell sick. We marched into the South Country of the Cherethites and into that which belongs to Judah and into the South Country of Caleb, and Ziklag we destroyed by fire.” David said to him, “Will you guide me to this robber band?” He replied, “Swear to me by your God, that you will neither kill me nor turn me over to my master, and I will guide you to this band.”
When he had brought him down, the Amalekites were scattered over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. David fought against them from twilight to the evening of the next day, and only four hundred young men who were mounted on camels escaped.
So David took from the Amalekites all that they had carried away and rescued his two wives; nothing at all was missing. Then he took all the flocks and the herds and drove those animals before the people, and they said, “This is David’s spoil.”
When David came to the two hundred men who had been so faint that they could not follow him, all the wicked, mean fellows who went with him said, “Because these men did not go with us, let us not give them any of the spoil that we have taken, except that each man may take his wife and children and depart.” David answered, “My brothers, you shall not do so with that which Jehovah has given us, after he has saved our lives and given this robber band that attacked us into our power. Those who stay with the baggage shall have an equal share with those who fight.” So from that day to the present he made this a law and a rule in Israel.
When David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the leaders of Judah and to his relatives, saying, “See! a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of Jehovah.”