In a cave at En Gedi, David spares Saul’s life. UPDATED.
VERSE 1. When Saul had returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of En Gedi.”
David is in the wilderness of En Gedi. It would be here that Saul caught up with David and nearly found him.
VERSE 2. Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats.
three thousand chosen men. This is excessive. It demonstrates Saul’s paranoia.
It happens yet again, two chapters later:
1 Samuel 26:2. Then Saul arose, and went down to the wilderness of Ziph, having three thousand chosen men of Israel with him, to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph.
VERSE 3. He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were staying in the innermost parts of the cave.
Saul went in to relieve himself. That is, he urinated. A few translations say this in a very indirect way:
King James Version. Saul went in to cover his feet.
Douay-Rheims Bible. Saul went, to ease nature.
In a few other verses, the King James Version uses the word “pisseth.”
VERSE 4. David’s men said to him, “Behold, the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’ ” Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe secretly.
David … cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe secretly. This would require great stealth.
VERSE 5. Afterward, David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
VERSE 6. He said to his men, “The LORD forbid 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.”
the LORD’s anointed. David had a grossly-exaggerated sense of God’s calling of Saul. For that reason, David makes tactical errors.
Back in the days of the prophet Samuel, the LORD God told the nation over and over again that it was NOT his will for them to have a king.
VERSE 7. So David checked his men with these words, and didn’t allow them to rise against Saul. Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
VERSE 8. David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and showed respect.
David bowed with his face to the earth. People in love with the One God should never bow to any human.
VERSE 9. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to men’s words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you?’
VERSE 10. Behold, today your eyes have seen how the LORD had delivered you today into my hand in the cave. Some urged me to kill you; but I spared you; and I said, I will not stretch out my hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’s anointed.
VERSE 11. Moreover, my father, behold, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for in that I cut off the skirt of your robe, and didn’t kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor disobedience in my hand, and I have not sinned against you, though you hunt for my life to take it.
my father. David calls Saul his father.
We Christians are to call no person our father:
Matthew 23:9. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven.
VERSE 12. May the LORD judge between me and you, and may the LORD avenge me of you; but my hand will not be on you.
VERSE 13. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness;’ but my hand will not be on you.
VERSE 14. Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea?
VERSE 15. May the LORD therefore be judge, and give sentence between me and you, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.”
deliver me out of your hand. David was not IN Saul’s hand.
VERSE 16. It came to pass, when David had finished speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is that your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. Saul was a very unstable person. He was far too unstable to be entrusted with the leadership of a nation.
VERSE 17. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have done good to me, whereas I have done evil to you.
You are more righteous than I. In a moment of temporary repentance, Saul acknowledges David’s righteousness.
VERSE 18. You have declared today how you have dealt well with me, because when the LORD had delivered me up into your hand, you didn’t kill me.
VERSE 19. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may the LORD reward you good for that which you have done to me today.
VERSE 20. Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.
VERSE 21. Swear now therefore to me 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.”
VERSE 22. David swore to Saul. Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.