David Spares Saul’s Life
24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the [a]Wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to search for David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 On the way he came to the [b]sheepfolds where there was a cave; and Saul went in to [c]relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the cave’s innermost recesses. 4 David’s men said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will hand over your enemy to you, and you shall do to him as seems good to you.’” Then David arose [in the darkness] and stealthily cut off the hem (edge) of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward, David’s [d]conscience bothered him because he had cut off the hem of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, since he is the anointed of the Lord.” 7 So David strongly rebuked his men with these words and did not let them rise up against Saul. Saul got up, left the cave and went on his way.
8 Then David also got up afterward and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and lay himself face down. 9 David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘David seeks to harm you?’ 10 Behold, your eyes have seen today how the Lord had given you into my hand in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not reach out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ 11 Look, my father! Indeed, see the hem of your robe in my hand! Since I cut off the hem of your robe and did not kill you, know and understand [without question] that there is no evil or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you; and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue [with three thousand men]? A dead dog, a single flea? 15 May the Lord be the judge and render judgment between me and you; and may He see and plead my cause and vindicate me by saving me from your hand.”(A)
16 When David had finished saying these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul raised his voice and wept. 17 He said to David, “You are more righteous and upright [in God’s eyes] than I; for you have done good to me, but I have done evil to you. 18 You have declared today the good that you have done to me, for when the Lord put me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away [e]unharmed? So may the Lord reward you with good in return for what you have done for me this day. 20 Now, behold, I know that you will certainly be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 So now swear to me by the Lord that you will not cut off my descendants after me and that you will not destroy my name from my father’s household (extended family).” 22 David gave Saul his oath; and Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the mountain stronghold.
- 1 Samuel 24:1 I.e. an oasis overlooking the Dead (Salt) Sea.
- 1 Samuel 24:3 This was a wall of stones that had been unearthed from the field and stacked on each other as an enclosure for the flocks. The wall probably was built from the mouth of the cave and back.
- 1 Samuel 24:3 Lit cover his feet, a euphemism for the squatting position that one would take, with the outer robe touching the ground and concealing one’s feet as a result.
- 1 Samuel 24:5 Lit heart struck him.
- 1 Samuel 24:19 Lit on a good road.