David Spares Saul’s Life
24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”
As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the LORD put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
1 Samuel 24 Commentary
by Hank Workman
In the political age of which we live, we all have opinions about the current status of our country. We hold thoughts about the president, governors of states, local leadership. Let’s be honest, it’s ugly most of the time. In particular, Facebook is atrocious with people spewing opinions from every side of the leader’s ability or lack thereof. I know some who have completely deactivated their account simply because of the hate that is continually on the news-feed.
And I get it. Well, I get it to some degree. We all have our passionate beliefs about what leaders are doing or not doing. We have opinions about why they are in position or what they are bringing down upon Believers and rights. Mix into this the insanity of the political correctness of our times, which is out of control, people are using this social media opportunity to have a voice.
But the question as Believers in this world and the age of which we live: are we bringing honor to Jesus Christ through how we’re responding? I know, I know, some who read this will simply skim right over that question. But I think in particular as I look at David and his response to the madness of Saul, what did he do?
Saul has led a campaign against his own man. His insanity and driven hatred is beyond understanding as his determination to kill David has cost the country an incredible amount of money. In this chapter alone we read he has 3000 soldiers with him! 3000 soldiers on a mission to kill a man who has been committed to Saul regardless.
And so it happens, Saul who has not been able to find David at all, goes into a cave to go the bathroom. It just so happens, David is and his men are hiding there. Unnoticed, David crept up to where he was, cut a piece of his robe off and went back to safety. His own army of men had to have been frustrated, in fact, there was potential for a mutiny at this stage of the game. The very one who was causing them to be on the run, live in caves instead of in freedom was placed in David’s hands and he gave mercy.
And I’ll be honest, I’ve often thought about this story and how an opportunity was missed. Mercy was granted to a man who continued to do everything within his means to kill David and he should have taken the chance to end this once for all. But he didn’t. It’s his response that always hits me hard when I think along these lines: “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” (Verse 6)
David had respect for Saul even though he was trying to kill him. Although Saul was sinning and rebelling against God, David still respected the position God had placed him in as king. Paul wrote to the Romans in the 13th chapter about the fact that it was God who placed leaders in their position. And we may not know why they are there (think of the diabolical leaders Paul had to deal with in the Roman world!) he stated regardless we were to respect their position because God was in control. Check out that chapter if need be.
Daniel said: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes them.”Daniel 2:21
So consider a moment the state of which Daniel lived. He was in exile. He had no say even though in government, to the status of the crazy kings he served under. Daniel respected them, realized he was in exile but never swayed from his position in God. God used his integrity in the matter and did indeed use him with pagan leadership.
I don’t see a lot of integrity these days among Believers when it comes to our own opinions and how we handle the current political mess we’re all neck-deep in. That loss of integrity is affecting our witness. And let’s get real folks, Jesus himself spoke of, the book of Revelation reveals and yes Daniel’s own visions state that as the end of time comes, it will get far worse than we ever could imagine. We are in the onslaught of some pretty awful things there is no doubt.
We are living in exile. David respected the king even though he was out to kill him. Paul wrote we were to respect those in governing authority. Daniel reminds us that all kingdoms, kings themselves, rise and fall through His doing. Do we trust in God as the One who brings the end and rising up of kingdoms? Are we living in integrity before the skeptical world when it comes to how we handle the politics of today?
Did I step on toes? I kinda hope so. We are called to be the light in the darkness. Live in integrity. Bring glory to Jesus Christ in all things.
1 Samuel 24 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
David retreats with his men to the caves of the Wilderness of En Gedi. This was a strategic move and a very good one on David’s part. The canyon of En Gedi is a “tropical paradise” in the middle of the desert. The canyon has lots of caves and vegetation so it was perfect for a defensive strategy. It also would have provided David the ability to see enemies coming a long way off.
Saul just so happens to go relieve himself in the cave David is hiding in! Coincidence? No way. Essentially, David has the chance to easily and quickly end Saul’s life. The man who has been trying to kill him, not to mention going completely against God’s ways, is standing point-blank in front of him without his guards nearby. And yet, even when tempted by his own men, David will not commit murder.
Instead, David cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe. We read that and think, no big deal, it’s just a piece of clothing. No. David probably cut Saul’s tzitzit. A tzitzit was a very important part of Jewish life. In the Bible, the tzitzit would have referred to the corner or “fringe” of the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. For a king, the tzitzit and tallit would have been a status symbol, so by cutting Saul’s off, God used this metaphor as a picture of how David had spiritually cut Saul off from his authority as king.
In fact, when Saul finds out what David has done, look at what he says to him.
“Now I know for certain you will be king, and the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 Therefore swear to me by the LORD that you will not cut off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”1 Samuel 24:20-21 HCSB
Continuing with the theme of “cutting off,” Saul knows his days are numbered. He would have understood how this garment was an extension of an individual’s position and authority. Not only that, but David dealt mercifully with Saul, which indicated that David discerned the voice of God – something Saul refused to do.
In Psalm 37, David writes that a Kingdom-minded man does not take matters into his own hands. He waits and trusts the Lord.
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.Psalms 37:8-9 ESV
These words would mirror Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where he proclaimed the values of God’s Kingdom.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Matthew 5:5 ESV
It’s extremely tempting to sin in order to fulfill a perfectly legitimate promise that we know God has placed in our hearts. However, as David shows here, it is always wrong. There are so many who would justify killing Saul in this position and probably be affirmed. It seems “right” in our minds. David would not take this shortcut. He had a radical and obedient faith in God’s timing and his plan.