David escapes to cave of Adullam, where he becomes leader of 400 family members, debtors and other discontents. He then dwells in Moab, before the prophet Gad tells him to go to Hareth forest. Saul accuses his aides of treason, so Doeg the Edomite tells Saul he saw David at Nob. Doeg kills 85 priests and many citizens at Nob in retaliation. Abiathar, the only son of Ahimelech to survive, flees to David and is protected by him.
David fights with Philistines at Keilah in Judah. Saul’s forces besiege Keilah, but David flees before the men of Keilah deliver him into Saul’s hands. David hides in the wilderness of Ziph. David and Jonathan meet again, and reaffirm their covenant. The Ziphites betray David to Saul. Saul pursues David to the wilderness of Maon; David hides at a rock and is encircled, but then Saul’s forces are recalled by a Philistine threat.
Saul hunts David in Engedi. Without knowing, Saul comes to a cave where David and his men are hiding. David restrains himself and his men from killing Saul (who is the Lord’s anointed), and secretly cuts off a part of his robe. David reveals himself to Saul, and is honoured for his mercy. Saul asks David to swear that he will not cut off Saul’s descendents when he becomes king.
Samuel dies, and is buried at Ramah. David requests ‘favour’ for protecting Nabal’s sheep against Philistine raiders. Nabal refuses, so Abigail, Nabal’s wife, secretly gives David gifts of bread, wine, sheep, grain, raisins and figs, and intercedes, averting bloodshed. God strikes Nabal dead ten days later. David marries Abigail, and also Ahinoam of Zezreel. Saul has given Michal, his daughter and David’s wife, to another.
The Ziphites betray David again. David and Abishai the Hittite creep into Saul’s camp, and steal his spear and jug from his tent. David chides Abner, Saul’s bodyguard, saying he is worthy of death. David appeals to Saul (the Lord’s anointed) once more, whereupon Saul repents.