A three-act play: Adapted by Douglas James Kinney
(Note: Most scripture references taken from the NIV. All others from the Old King James.)
|Cast in order of appearance|
|Samuel:||High priest and prophet of God|
|David son of Jesse:||Psalmist and future king of Israel|
|Jonathan:||Saul's son and David's best friend|
|Young Lad:||A servant of Jonathan|
|Saul:||King of Israel|
|Abner:||Captain of the host of Saul's army|
|Ahimelech:||Priest at Nob|
|Doeg the Edomite:||One of Saul's men|
|Abiathar:||Priest and son of Ahimelech|
|Two Priests of God:||Relatives of Ahimelech|
|Three of Saul's men:|
|Abishai:||One of David's men|
|The Witch of Endor:|
|Abigail:||One of David's wives|
|Mephibosheth:||Son of Jonathan|
Samuel is sitting at a long table studying God's word. Enter David who bows in reverence.
|David:||Blessed be Samuel beloved high priest and prophet of God.|
|Samuel:||And blessings be upon you, David son of Jesse. Come sit down. What brings you here to Ramah?
(David rises and sits down opposite Samuel.)
|David:||King Saul and his men seek to kill me, and I have come here to seek counsel from the Lord.|
|Samuel:||How do you know that Saul seeks to kill you? Have you done something to offend the king that is worthy of death?|
|David:||I have done nothing and yet he has tried to kill me three times!|
|Samuel:||Tell me all that has happened.|
After I slew Goliath, I found favor in the eyes of the king. He took me in as his own son and did not let me return to my father's house. He gave me a high rank in his army, and whatever he asked of me I did it for him gladly.
One day, as I was playing psalms for the king, I sensed an evil presence in the room. Looking up, I saw Saul about to hurl his spear at me. This happened twice, and both times I eluded him. It was then that I knew he wanted to kill me. He sent me away, giving me command over a thousand men. In all we did we had great success for the Lord was with us. For avenging his enemies, the king gave me his daughter Michal's hand in marriage, and I became a son-in-law to the king. In every way I have been a loyal servant to the king.
But one day Jonathan warned me that his father, Saul, was looking for a chance to kill me! I hid myself while Jonathan went to reason with his father on my behalf. Jonathan assured me that Saul had sworn an oath to the Lord not to harm me in any way. I returned to Saul's house to serve him as before. Once again, as I was playing my harp, he hurled his spear at me. But again I escaped. I went to Michal, but she warned me that Saul had men watching the house who planned to kill me in the morning. She let me escape through a window, and that's when I came here to seek counsel of the Lord.
|Samuel:||My son, have no fear, for the Lord is with you.|
|David:||But who am I that I should be king? I am only a poor man and little known.|
|Samuel:||The Lord has chosen you, David, and he has rejected Saul.|
|David:||But why has the Lord rejected Saul?|
Because of his rebellion against the Lord. Saul disobeyed the Lord when he allowed the people to keep some of the sheep and cattle of the Amalekites against the Lord's command. He tried to justify his disobedience by sacrificing some of the sheep and cattle to the Lord, but the Lord delights in obedience rather than sacrifice. Hear me, David! And let this be a lesson to you-
"To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and, arrogance is like the evil of idolatry." - (I Samuel 15:22-23)
Because Saul rejected the word of the Lord, he has been rejected as king of Israel. The Lord has departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from God has come upon him. The Lord has now chosen you to be king. Saul knows this and he is afraid of you. That is why he seeks to kill you.
|David:||But what have I done? What is my crime? How will I escape the hands of Saul and his men?|
The Lord will guide you. Walk in his ways and he will order your steps. Do not try to harm Saul for he was the Lord's anointed and he is in the Lord's hands. As we all are. This is a time of testing for you, David. But if you trust in the Lord, he will deliver you. Obey the Lord's commands and he will order your steps. You must go now, for Saul and his men will surely look for you here. But remember, David- "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."
Scene 2. (1 Samuel 20)
David has fled from Naioth at Ramah and has come to his best friend, Jonathan, Saul's son. Jonathan is sitting at a long table. David is pacing the floor.
|David:||What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he is trying to take my life?|
|Jonathan:||(Jumping out of his seat) God forbid! You are not going to die! Behold. My father doesn't do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide his from me? It is not so!|
|David:||Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes and has said to himself, "Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved." Yet as surely as the Lord lives, and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.|
|Jonathan:||You know that my soul is knit with yours. Whatever you ask of me I will do for you.|
|David:||I have an idea. Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. If your father misses me at all, tell him, "David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because the annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan." If he says, "Very well, " then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. As for you, show kindness to your servant for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?|
|Jonathan:||Never!. If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn't I tell you?|
|David:||Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?
(A brief pause as Jonathan ponders the question)
|Jonathan:||Come, let's go out into the field.
(They both go into the neighboring field.)
|Jonathan:||By the Lord, the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed towards you, will I not send you word and let you know? But if my father is inclined to harm you, may the Lord deal with me be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. But show me unfailing kindness like that of the Lord as long as I live, so that I may not be killed. Do not ever cut off your kindness from my family, not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David's enemies from the face of the earth. As surely as the Lord lives I establish this covenant with the house of David. May the Lord call David's enemies to account. (A brief pause) And now you, David, whom I love even as my own flesh, reaffirm your oath to me.|
|David:||As the Lord lives, I reaffirm this covenant with Jonathan and all of his house, that I will show him and his family unfailing kindness, like that of the Lord, as long as I live.
(They embrace, and then refrain from embracing.)
|Jonathan:||Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began. Wait by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as thought I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy and say, "Go, find the arrows." If I say to him, "Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here," then come, because as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. But, if I say to the boy, "Look, the arrows are beyond you, " then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. And about the matter you and I discussed. remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.|
(They embrace again. Exit Jonathan leaving David alone. David recites Psalm 23.)
|David:||The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness For his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley Of the Shadow of death, I will fear no evil, For you are with me; your rod and your staff They comfort me. You prepare a table before me In the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me All the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Scene 3 (1 Samuel 20:27-34)
Saul's camp. Saul is sitting at a long table with Abner, the captain of the hosts. They are eating. Jonathan is also present but he is very pensive and disinterested in his food. David's seat is empty.
|Saul:||Tell me, Jonathan my son, why hasn't the son of Jesse come to the meal either yesterday or today?|
|Jonathan:||David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, "Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me go away to see my brethren." That is why he has not come to the king's table.|
|Saul:||(Rising from his seat, his anger flaring) You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!|
|Jonathan:||Why should he be put to death? What has he done?
(Saul picks up his spear and hurls it at Jonathan, but Jonathan ducks and Saul misses. Jonathan in turn rises from the table in fierce anger. Exit Jonathan, leaving Saul alone with Abner. Saul slowly sits down and regains his composure, then speaks.)
As the Lord lives - surely David the son of Jesse must die.
Scene 4 (Samuel 20:35-41)
A field. Enter Jonathan, stage left, with a young lad. Jonathan is carrying a bow and arrow.
|Jonathan:||Run and find the arrows I shoot.
(The young lad runs off state (right) indicating he is off in the distance. Jonathan shoots an arrow in the same direction.)
|Jonathan:||(Calling out to the young lad) Isn't the arrow beyond you? (Shouting) Hurry! Go quickly! Don't stop!
(The young lad returns with the arrow. Jonathan then gives his weapons to him.)
|Jonathan:||Go - carry them back to town.
(Exit young lad, stage left, leaving Jonathan alone. Enter David, stage right. He bows three times, with his face to the ground as he approaches Jonathan. David and Jonathan embrace. They weep together but David weeps the most?)
Scene 5 (1 Samuel 21)
Ahimelech the priest is praying unto God. His son, Abiathar, is also present. They hear someone approaching.
|Ahimelech:||Who goes there?
(Enter David, who bows in reverence.)
|David:||It is I, David.
(Ahimelech trembles in fear.)
|Ahimelech:||Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?|
|David:||The king charged me with a certain matter and said to me, "No one is to know anything about your mission and your instructions." As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread or whatever you can find.|
|Ahimelech:||I don't have any ordinary bread on hand. However, there is some consecrated bread here, provided the men have kept themselves from women.|
|David:||Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual whenever I set out. The men's things are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!
(Ahimelech gathers consecrated bread and gives it to David, who eats some immediately out of hunger. Enter Doeg, one of Saul's men, who talks quietly with Abiathar.)
|David:||Don't you have a spear or a sword here? I haven't brought my sword or any other weapon because the king's business was urgent.|
|Ahimelech:||I have one sword, the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah. It is wrapped in cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.|
|David:||There is none like it; give it to me.
(Ahimelech brings out the sword wrapped in cloth. David takes off the cloth unveiling the rather large sword of Goliath.)
|David:||A large sword indeed, but it was no match for the God of Israel. The Lord bless you Ahimelech, and now I must go attend to my mission.|
(Laying hands on David) The Lord bless you, David, and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine on you.
Scene 6 (1 Samuel 22)
In a cave. David is alone on his knees praying Psalm 142.
|David:||I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; Before him I tell my trouble.
When my spirit grows faint within me, It is you who know the way. In the path where I walk Men have hidden a snare for me. Look to my right and see; No one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; No one cares for my life.
I cry to you, Oh Lord; I say, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living." Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; Rescue me from those who pursue me, For they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, That I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me Because of your goodness to me. Selah.
(There is a moment of silence. David hears someone approaching outside the cave. Startled, he gets up, quickly grabbing the sword next to him.)
|David:||Who goes there?|
|Abishai:||(A voice from off stage) It is I, Abishai.
(David puts down his sword.)
(Enter Abishai. David and Abishai embrace.)
|Abishai:||It is good to see that you are safe. I have spread the word to your brethren and all your father's house that you are here. And there are many men who are eager to serve you. Some of them are on their way as we speak.|
|David:||Blessed be the Lord, who is faithful to answer the prayers of his children. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him! Come, Abishai, Let us break bread together and glorify the Lord.
(David gives Abishai some of the consecrated bread, and they break bread together.)
|Abishai:||Where did you get this bread and this mighty sword?|
|David:||I visited Ahimelech the priest, and he blessed me with them. The sword is that of Goliath. From there I went to Achish, king of Gath, to seek refuge. But his servants said to him, "Isn't this David, the king of the land? Isn't he the one they sing about in their dances, saying, Saul has slain his thousands And David his ten thousands?" I took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish, king of Gath, so I acted insane in his presence, making marks on the doors of the gates and letting saliva run down my face. You should have seen me. I was quite the madman. But the Lord delivered me. Come - let us exalt his name together.
(David recites Psalm 34 – when he pretended to be insane before Achish, who drove him away, and he left.)
|David:||I will bless the Lord the at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; Let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; Let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord and he answered me; He delivered me from my fears. Those who look to him are radiant Their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those Who fear his name, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man that takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, For those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life And desires to see many good days, Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous And his ears are attentive to their cry; The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, To cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
A righteous man may have many troubles, But the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects all his bones, Not one of them will be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked; The foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems his servants; No one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.
|Abishai:||Blessed be the Lord God of Israel!
End of Act I
Saul's camp. Saul is underneath a tree with his spear by his side. He has fallen asleep but he is restless and talking in his sleep. Apparently, he is having a bad dream.
|Saul:||The sin of rebellion is the sin of witchcraft. The sin of rebellion..is the sin of witchcraft.. Witchcraft.rebellion..but it was the peopleSamuel. Samuel.Sam(Improvise)|
|Together:||Blessed be Saul, king of Israel.
(Saul stands up.)
|Doeg:||It is reported that David was seen in the forest of Hareth with an army of about 400 men, most of them being debtors and the discontented of the land.|
|Saul:||Listen, men of Benjamin! Will the son of Jesse give all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make all of you commanders of hundreds? Is that why you have all conspired against me? No on tells me when my son makes a covenant with the son of Jesse. None of you is concerned about me or tells me that my son has incited my servant to lie in wait for me, as he does today?|
|Doeg:||I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, at Nob. Ahimelech inquired of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom David did slay.|
|Saul:||(Annoyed) So he did slay Goliath, does he seek to slay me also with Goliath's sword? Send for the priest Ahimelech, son of Ahitub, and his father's whole family who are the priests at Nob and bring them to me!
(Exit Doeg and the men. Enter Abner)
|Abner:||Blessed be king Saul. I have important news concerning the Philistines. It is reported that they are planning to attack Keilah.|
|Saul:||The Philistines can wait! Right now we have enemies within our own camp.|
|Abner:||Why does the king spend so much time hunting David? Has he not been a loyal servant to you? Did he not slay Goliath? If he has done anything worthy of death will not the Lord punish him?|
|Saul:||Do you also seek to conspire with David? Do you seek to join David and Ahimelech the priest in rebelling against me?|
|Abner:||Ahimelech has rebelled?|
|Saul:||He has conspired with David by giving him provisions and the sword of Goliath. He has rebelled and the sin of rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft!
(Enter Doeg and three of Saul's men who are leading Ahimelech and 3 other priests before Saul. One of Ahimelech's sons, Abiathar, is among them, but he trails behind.)
|Saul:||Listen now, son of Ahitub.|
|Ahimelech:||Yes, my lord.
(We see Abiathar slowly inching stage left.)
|Saul:||Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and inquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me as he does this day?
(Abiathar now hides without anyone noticing.)
|Ahimelech:||Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king's son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard, and highly respected in your household? Was that day the first time I inquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father's family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.|
|Saul:||You will surely die, Ahimelech, you and your father's whole family. (Addressing Abner) Turn and kill the priests of the Lord, because they too have sided with David. They knew he was fleeing, yet they did not tell me.
(Abner does nothing, not willing to kill the priests. Saul turns to Doeg.)
|Saul:||Doeg, I order you to strike down the priests!
(Doeg kills the priests with his sword.)
|Saul:||(To Doeg) Go to Nob, the city of priests and kill both men and women, children and infants, cattle, donkeys, and sheep – spare none alive!
(Exit all leaving Ahimelech and the others lying dead. Abiathar comes out of hiding, weeping for his father's death. He kneels down beside his father and holds him.)
|Abiathar:||Oh my father, what has possessed King Saul to do this evil thing? I must go and find David and tell him what Saul has done.
Scene 2 (1 Samuel 23:14-18)
David is in the desert of Ziph with Abiathar, who is mourning his father's death. David has been victorious in his battle against the Philistines at Keilah and once again he has escaped from the hand of Saul. David is praying and thanking God.
|David:||Oh Lord God of Israel. I thank you for giving us the victory against the Philistines at Keilah and for protecting me from the hand of Saul. Lord, hear my prayer that I offer unto you.
(David looks over and sees Abiathar in mourning. He goes over to him and puts his arm around him to comfort
|David:||Oh Abiathar, as I told you before I feel that I am responsible for the death of your father's whole family. I knew that day when I visited your father that Doeg the Edomite would surely tell Saul. Again I say, stay with me and don't be afraid, for the ones who seek your life seek mine also. You are safe here with me. Let me comfort you with the words of the psalm I wrote about Doeg.
(David recites Psalm 52)
|David:||Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, You who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? Your tongue plots destruction; It is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking truth. Selah!
You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin; He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah.
The righteous will see and fear; They will laugh at him, saying, "Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth, and grew strong by destroying others!" But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; In your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.
|Abiathar:||Blessed be David the psalmist and all his house. When I hear your psalms they comfort my soul as if the Sprit of God guides your pen. May the Lord preserve your psalms forever! You are a man after God's own heart, and you are not responsible for the deaths of my father and his whole house. Their blood is on the hands of Saul and Doeg. Surely God shall repay Saul and Doeg for what they have done. As for my father and his house they now rest with God.
(A brief pause..Enter Jonathan.)
(David and Jonathan embrace.)
|David:||Where have you been, Jonathan? So much has happened since we last spoke. What brings you here? How did you find me?|
|Jonathan:||I heard that you were here in Horesh in the desert of Ziph, for the Ziphites have told my father where you are and I've come to warn you.|
|David:||The Ziphites! Do they also conspire against me? Even complete strangers are my enemies?|
|Jonathan:||Don't be afraid. My father will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.|
|David:||Your words comfort me. But your father still hunts me like a wild animal. Will he kill me and my house as he did the priests at Nob? Has he gone mad? Stay here with us, Jonathan, and you will be second in command even today.|
|Jonathan:||I would like to stay, but I must return to my father's house. I am of more use to you there so I can relay messages to you. Come - before I go let us renew our covenant before the Lord.|
|David:||As the Lord lives, my covenant with Jonathan and his house will stand forever.|
|Jonathan:||As the Lord lives, my covenant with the House of David will stand forever.|
(They embrace. Exit Jonathan. Enter Abishai.)
|David:||Abishai, gather the men. Saul has discovered where we are, so we must leave as soon as possible.
(Fade out) .
Scene 3 (1 Samuel 24)
David is in a cave, praying Psalm 54, which he wrote when the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, "Is not David hiding among us?" Abiathar is present.
|David:||Save me, Oh God, by your name; Vindicate me by your might. Hear my prayer, Oh God; Listen to the words of my mouth. Strangers are attacking me; Ruthless men seek my life, Men without regard for God. Selah. Surely God is my help; The Lord is the one who sustains me. Let evil recoil on those who slander me; In you faithfulness destroy them. I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, Oh Lord, for it is good, For he has delivered me from all my troubles, And my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.|
|Abiathar:||Another beautiful psalm of David! I hope you are writing these psalms down somewhere, so your children's children may hear them one day.|
|David:||Give thanks, Abiathar. When things settle down you can put them together in a book for me.
(Enter Abishai. He is alarmed.)
|David:||What is it, Abishai?|
|Abishai:||It is Saul and his men. They are close by! Saul is approaching the cave!
(David, Abishai, and Abiathar hide in the sides of the cave. Enter Saul who lies down to rest.)
|Abishai:||(In a soft voice) This is the day the Lord spoke of when he said to you, "I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish."
(Saul is now asleep. David creeps up and cuts off a corner of Saul's robe and then returns to his men.)
|Abishai:||Why did you not kill Saul? Shall I go and finish the job?|
|David:||The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord's anointed, or lift my hand against him - for he is the anointed of the Lord.
(Saul again starts to talk in his sleep.)
|Saul:||Rebellion! Witchcraft! SamuelThe sin of rebellion. The sin of witchcraft.Samuel, where are you? It was the people..rebel.(Ad lib).|
|Abishai:||What is he saying?|
|Abiathar:||He calls out for Samuel.
(Saul awakens, obviously shaken and not knowing what David has done. He leaves the cave. David follows Saul outside the cave and cries out to him.)
|David:||My lord the king!
(Saul stops and turns around and David prostrates himself with his face to the ground.)
|David:||Why do you listen when men say, "David is bent on harming you,"? This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, "I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord's anointed." See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your rob, but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. May the Lord judge between you and me. May the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the saying goes, "From evildoers come evil deeds." So my hand will not touch you. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? May the Lord be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it. May he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.|
|Saul:||Is that your voice, David, my son? You are more righteous than I. You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly. You have just now told me of the good you did to me; the Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me. When a man finds his enemy, does he let him go away unharmed? May the Lord reward you well for the way you have treated me today. I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. Now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father's family.|
|David:||I swear this oath to you as I did to your son, Jonathan, that as the Lord lives I will not cut off your descendents or wipe your name from your father's family! May the Lord bless you and keep you.|
|Saul:||And the Lord cause his face to shine upon you."
(Exit Saul. David returns to the cave.)
|Abishai:||I will go keep watch. (Exit Abishai)|
|David:||Come, Abiathar, let us pray.
(David and Abiathar kneel to pray. David recites Psalm 57.)
Have mercy on me, Oh God, have mercy on me. For in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; Selah. God sends his love and faithfulness. I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts – men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. Be exalted, Oh God, above the heavens; Let your glory be over all the earth! They spread a net for my feet – I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path – But they have fallen into it themselves. Selah. My heart is steadfast, Oh God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken at dawn. I will praise you, Oh Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, Oh God, above the heavens; Let your glory be over the whole earth!
(A brief pause. Enter Abishai with news of Samuel's death.)
|Abishai:||Blessed be David, son of Jesse. I bring you sad news that Samuel the high priest and prophet of God has died and is to be buried at his home in Ramah.
(David and Abiathar tear their garments as a gesture of mourning.)
|David:||Oh Samuel, beloved high priest and prophet of God, who anointed me with oil at Ramah. Come, we must go and mourn the death of Samuel.
Scene 4 (1 Samuel 26:7-25 & 27:1)
Saul's camp. Saul lies sleeping with his spear stuck in the ground near his head. Abner, Doeg and three of Saul's men are lying around him. Once again Saul is restless and talking in his sleep.
|Saul:||Rebellionsin.of .witchcraft..(Ad lib).
(Enter David and Abishai who are spying on the camp from the side of the stage.)
|David:||So, it is true! Saul still pursues my life. Why is he so busy trying to kill me while neglecting the affairs of Israel? Does he not know the Philistines plot to destroy Israel?|
|Abishai:||That I do not know, but I do know that today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now, let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won't strike him twice.
(Abishai readies his spear to throw at Saul, but David rebukes him.)
|David:||Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the Lord lives, the Lord himself will strike him. Either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed. Now, let's get the spear and the water jug that are near his head and let's go.
(Abishai and David sneak up to get the spear and water jug. Just as they are in the midst of the camp Saul cries out in his sleep.)
(David and Abishai are startled and nearly drop the spear and water jug making for a humorous scene. However, they do not wake up Saul and his men. Exit David and Abishai.)
|David:||(From off stage) Aren't you going to answer me, Abner?
(Abner awakens, startled. He stands up and grabs his sword.)
|Abner:||Who are you who calls to the king?
(Saul and the rest of the men are now awakened. The men stand up with their weapons drawn and look around to see where the voice is coming from. Saul remains sitting.)
|David:||Are you not a man? And who is like you in Israel? Why did you not guard your lord the king? Someone came to destroy your lord the king. What you have done is not good! As surely as the Lord lives, you and your men deserve to die, because you did not guard your master, the Lord's anointed. Look around you. Where are the king's spear and water jug that were near his head?
(They look around and see that the spear and water jug are gone.)
|Saul:||Is that your voice, David my son?
(Saul motions the men to put down their weapons.)
|David:||Yes, it is, my lord the king. Why is my lord pursuing his servant? What have I done and what wrong am I guilty of? Now let my lord the king listen to his servant's words. If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, men have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord! They have now driven me from my share in the Lord's inheritance and have said, "Go serve other gods." Now, do not let my blood fall to the ground far from the presence of the Lord. The king of Israel has come to look for a flea, as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.|
|Saul:||I have sinned. Come back, David, my son. Because you have considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly.|
|David:||Here is the king's spear. (David tosses Saul's spear on stage.) Let one of your young men come over and get it. The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The Lord delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay my hand on the Lord's anointed. As surely as I valued your life today, so may the Lord value me life and deliver me from all trouble.
(One of Saul's men retrieves the spear.)
|Saul:||May you be blessed, my son, David. You will do great things and surely triumph.
(Exit Saul and his men. Enter David with Abishai.)
|David:||One of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul. The best thing I can do is to escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will give up searching for me anywhere in Israel, and I will slip out of his hand. Let us go and gather up the men for tomorrow we will pay a visit to Achish, son of Maoch, king of Gath.|
|Abishai:||But what about the last time you saw King Achish and you pretended to be insane in his presence? You acted like a madman, spitting on yourself and making marks on the doors of the gates.
(David mimics the way he acted insane, and they both laugh.)
|David:||Yes, well you have a point there. I did act like a madman in his presence. But that was sometime ago and we will have to hope he doesn't remember. Come, we have much to do before we leave.
(Exit David and Abishai.)
End of Act
II (Possible Intermission)
Saul's camp. We see Saul alone on his knees beside a table praying to God. He is struggling through his prayer.
|Saul:||Oh, Lord, God of Israel, hear my prayer.Help me in this time of trouble, for my enemies, the Philistines, have encamped around me with a mighty army and terror has filled my heart Lord, forgive me for my disobedience, for taking the spoil from the Amalekites. Oh Lord, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words. I feared the people and obeyed their voice Now, therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return to me, that I may worship you. My soul is disturbed, and an evil spirit torments me!.Oh Lord, why won't you answer me? God of Israel, why are you silent?
(Saul breaks out in tears. There is a brief moment of silence as he regains his composure. Saul then gets up to his feet and sits at the end of the able with his head in his hands. Enter Abner, with Doeg the Edomite. Both of them bow before Saul.)
|Abner/Doeg:||Blessed be Saul, king of Israel:
(Saul remains silent with his head in his hands. Abner and Doeg rise to their feet.)
|Abner:||You have summoned us, oh king. Tell us what troubles you that your countenance is so saddened?|
|Saul:||You know very well what troubles me, Abner.|
|Abner:||Is it David, the son of Jesse?|
|Saul:||David? He is the least of my troubles. Besides, I have neither seen nor heard from David in months!|
|Abner:||Surely you are not troubled by the Philistines encamped at Shunem?|
(Defensively) Of course not!
(Abner and Doeg look at each other, puzzled.)
|Doeg:||Then what is it that troubles the king? Please tell us. Do you still mourn the death of Samuel?|
|Saul:||Samuel? Yes. I still mourn the death of Samuel, for I have inquired of the Lord concerning the Philistines but he has not answered me, either by a dream, or by the Urim, or by the prophets. (Grievously) If only Samuel were still alive! Samuel would always hear from the Lord and give me counsel. If only there was some way to speak to Samuel.|
|Abner:||Can a man come back from the dead? Is Samuel the Lord our God? Was he the only prophet and priest of the Lord? Surely there are other prophets and priests that can inquire of the Lord for you concerning this matter. Even if you don't hear from God we must have faith that the Lord will deliver the Philistines into our hands.|
|Saul:||Have you not seen the number of the Philistines encamped at Shunem with your own eyes? Do we have a Samson among us who will slay two thousand with a donkey's jawbone? Shall we not seek counsel before we fight them?|
|Doeg:||But from whom shall we seek counsel?|
|Saul:||Find me a woman who is a medium that I may go and inquire of her.|
|Abner:||A medium? You want us to find you a witch? Was it not you, oh King, who expelled all the mediums and the spiritists out of the land according to the Levitical law written by Moses?|
|Saul:||Yes, Abner, and God forbid that I would ever seek counsel from a witch! I intend to seek counsel from Samuel, whom the medium can summon for me.|
|Abner:||But where will we find one? I myself saw to it that they were expelled from the land.|
|Doeg:||There is one in Endor. (Brief pause)|
|Saul:||Very well then, tomorrow night you will take me to see this Witch of Endor. We will wear disguises so that neither she nor anyone else will recognize us.
Scene 2 (1 Samuel 28:8-25)
The Witch of Endor's tent. We see the Witch of Endor dressed in black, sweeping up her house with a traditional witch's broom. There is a couch on an angle facing the audience. She pauses as if she sees a vision.
|Witch:||I see three men approaching. It looks like we'll have a few visitors. (There is a knock at her door.)|
|Witch:||Enter! I've been expecting you.
(Enter Saul, Abner, Doeg, all in disguise.)
|Saul:||(Worried about his identity being known) You've been expecting us? Who told you we were coming here?|
|Witch:||No one told me. I have my ways of knowing such things. Now, sit down..sit down, and tell me what it is I can do for you.
(They sit the couch opposite the witch.)
|Saul:||I want you to consult a spirit for me and bring up for me the one I name.|
|Witch:||Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?|
|Saul:||As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this.|
|Witch:||Whom shall I bring up for you?|
|Saul:||Bring up Samuel.
(The Witch goes into a trance chanting and muttering some strange incantations. Enter Samuel, who rises up from behind the couch. The witch is startled and she jumps, surprised to see him.)
|Witch:||(At the top of her voice.) Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!|
|Saul:||Don't be afraid. What do you see?|
|Witch:||I see a spirit coming up out of the ground.|
|Saul:||What does he look like?|
|Witch:||An old man wearing a robe is coming up.
(Saul prostrates himself with his face to the ground before Samuel. Abner and Doeg follow his example, as does the Witch. All are very much afraid.)
|Samuel:||Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?
(Saul is now trembling, as are the others.)
|Saul:||I am in great distress. The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams, so I have called on you to tell me what to do.|
|Samuel:||Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors – to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both you and Israel to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines.
(Saul falls full length on the ground, trembling in fear. Exit Samuel, who disappears behind the couch. The witch rises and comes over to Saul. Abner and Doeg remain prostrate – still very frightened. When the witch starts speaking, Abner and Doeg slowly rise, making sure the coast is clear. Saul remains face down.)
|Witch:||Look. Your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now, please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have the strength to go on your way.|
|Saul:||I will not eat.|
|Abner:||Saul, you have not eaten all day. Eat something to regain your strength.|
|Doeg:||Yes, Saul. We need our strength. Let us accept her offering.|
|Witch:||I have a fattened calf. I can prepare it in no time at all.|
|Saul:||All right. I will try to eat something.
(Saul starts to rise. Abner and Doeg help him up, for he is weak. Saul sits on the couch. Abner and Doeg stand by his side as the witch goes to prepare the calf. There is a moment of silence as Saul stares off reflecting on what just happened.)
(In an audible whisper) The sin of rebellion – is as the sin of witchcraft.
Scene 3 (2 Samuel 1)
David's camp at Ziklag. David is recounting his latest adventures to his wife, Abigail. Also present are Abiathar and Abishai.
|David:||So, there we were, marching with the Philistines into battle against my own people! We were in quite a predicament for I had pledged my loyalty to King Achish and he had been good to me. Yet, how could I fight against my own people? I trusted in the Lord, that he would deliver me from this dilemma. At the last minute, King Achish summoned me and told me that the Philistine commanders refused to let me march into battle with them. I guess for fear that I would turn against them. We left in the morning and came here to Ziklag, which we found had been burned with fire by the Amalekites. They had also taken our wives and our children captive. We lifted up our voices to God and wept until we had no more power to weep. The people were bitter on account of their sons and daughters being taken captive and they spoke of stoning me! I was greatly distressed but again I found strength in the Lord and he confirmed to me that we should pursue the Amalekites. He would give them into our hand and we would rescue the people. When we found their camp, we fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day and none of them escaped - except 400 who rode off on camels. Praise God! We recovered everything - nothing was lacking. But of all I recovered, you, Abigail, are by far the most precious.
(Abigail and David embrace)
|Abigail:||Let us hear a psalm, David. Lead us in praises to our Lord, the God of Israel.|
Yes, David. Let us hear a psalm!
(David stands and recites Psalm 18. Note: If one finds this psalm too hard to memorize, it could be recited in part or another psalm may be substituted.)
|David:||I love you, Oh Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust. My buckler, and the horn of my salvation; And my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. The sorrows of death entangled me, And the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell coiled around me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; My cry came before him, into his ears.
Then the earth trembled and quaked, And the foundations of the mountains shook; They trembled because he was angry. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, And a consuming fire came from his mouth, Burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; Dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; He soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, His canopy around us – Dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence Clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightening. The Lord thundered from heaven; The voice of the most high resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, Great bolts of lighting routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed And the foundations of the earth laid bare At your rebuke, Oh Lord, At the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, From my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, But the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.
The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him And have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, To the blameless you show yourself blameless, To the pure you show yourself pure, But to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble But bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, Oh Lord, keep my lamp burning; My God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance a troop; With my God I can scale a wall. As for my God, his way is perfect; The word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? Is God who arms me with strength And makes my way perfect. He makes my feet as the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; My arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, And your right hand sustains me; You stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, So that my feet do not slip. I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back til they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; They fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; You made my adversaries bow at my feet. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, And I destroyed my foes. They cried for help. But there was no one to save them; To the Lord, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as dust borne on the wind; I poured them out like mud on the streets.
You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; You have made me the head of heathens; People I did not know are subject to me. As soon as they hear me, they obey me; Foreigners cringe before me. They all lose heart; They come trembling from their strongholds.
The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, Who subdues nations under me, Who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; From violent men you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you among the nations, Oh Lord, I will sing praises to your name. He gives his king great victories; He shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, To David and his descendants forever!
|Everyone:||Forever! (Shouts of praise. Improvise.)
(They are interrupted. Enter a man from Saul's camp with his clothes torn and with dust on his head as symbols of mourning. He has a crown and an armband in his hands. He falls on his face before David and pays him honor.)
Where have you come from?
(The man raises his head and speaks from his knees.)
|Man:||I have escaped form the Israelite camp.|
|David:||What happened? Tell me!|
|Man:||The men fled from battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.|
|David:||How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?|
I happened to be on Mt. Bilboa and there was Saul, leaning on his spear, with the chariots and riders almost upon him. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, and I said, "What can I do?" He asked me, "Who are you?" and I answered, "I am an Amalekite." Then he said to me, "Stand over me and kill me! I am in the throes of death, but I'm still alive." So I stood over him and killed him, because I knew that after he had fallen he could not survive. Then I took the crown that was on his head and the band on his arm and have brought them here to my lord.
(He places the crown and armband before David. David and company tear their clothes and begin to weep. There is a brief pause.)
|David:||Where are you from?|
|Man:||I am the son of an alien, an Amalekite.|
Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed? (Turns to Abishai) Go strike him down!
(Abishai strikes the man down with his sword and he dies. David then stands over the man.)
Your blood be on your own head. Your mouth testified against you when you said, "I killed the Lord's anointed."
(There is a moment of silence except for Abigail who still weeps silently. Then, addressing the audience, David delivers a eulogy for Saul and Jonathan.)
|David:||Your glory, Oh Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, Proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, Lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice. Oh mountains of Gilboa, May you have neither dew nor rain, Nor fields that yield offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled The shield of Saul – no longer rubbed with oil. From the blood of the slain, From the flesh of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back, The sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
Saul and Jonathan – In life they were loved and gracious, And in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions.
Oh daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, Who clothed you in scarlet and finery, Who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan, my brother; You were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful More wonderful than that of women.
How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!
(David bows his head.)
We see a man sitting at a table. Enter Abishai.
|Abishai:||Tell me, stranger, who are you that you sit at King David's table?|
|Mephibosheth:||My name is Mephibosheth and I am a son of Jonathan and a grandson of Saul, who used to be king of Israel. As you know, when a new king is crowned he oftentimes kills the relatives of the preceding king, for many of them could potentially be his enemies. When King David summoned me to his house I thought he would certainly kill me but instead he said, "Do not be afraid for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father, Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather, Saul, and you will always eat at my table." Then I replied, "What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?" For you see, I am crippled in both of my feet. But King David had mercy on me and he gave me all that belonged to my grandfather, Saul, and his family. He also granted me the honor to always eat at his table. Blessed be the house of David and the Lord God of Israel forever! For my lord the king has shown me mercy and that is why I sit here at the king's table. Not because of anything I have done, for I am not worthy. I sit here at the king's table by the grace of the kingby the grace. of the King.