1 Samuel
1-3 Saul Pursues David Again 4-7 David Can Kill Saul 8-15 David Speaks to Saul 16-22 Saul Speaks to David
Saul Pursues David Again

1Now when Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there [was] a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave.

Saul, however, did not leave him alone. When he is told where David is, he forms an army of three thousand of the best soldiers to go out with them in search of David. Saul tirelessly continues his attempts to eliminate David.

Looking for David Saul enters a cave at the sheepfolds on the way to relieve himself. There are many caves, which seem to serve as sheepfold, where the shepherd can take his sheep to protect them from the heat. God’s providence brings Saul to the cave where David and his men have hidden.


David Can Kill Saul

4The men of David said to him, “Behold, [this is] the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. 5It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s [robe]. 6So he said to his men, “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.” 7David persuaded his men with [these] words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on [his] way.

The men of David say to him that this is his chance to get rid of his and also their enemy. They see Saul against the light of the cave opening in this humiliating position and think that for David this is a sign of the LORD to kill him and become king.

For them it is clearly His hand that guides things in this way. However, this conclusion is drawn too quickly. Not in all prosperity should we see an opportunity to save ourselves from a tricky situation. We must also be open to the possibility that it is a temptation of Satan.

David does not accept the suggestion of his men. He keeps himself under control and therefore also his six hundred men. He does something else. He cuts off a piece of the royal robe. When he has done so, conscience bothers him, that is, his conscience speaks. He does not kill Saul, but he does touch his dignity. That alone makes his conscience speak.

He does not take Saul’s entire robe, for he is waiting for the time when God will clothe him with the royal robe. It is much better to wait for the time of God than to take the initiative and thus anticipate God’s time. The latter is always to damage and shame, the former to blessing and honor.

When David is back with his men, he explains to them why he did not kill Saul. David is all alone with his six hundred men. They would all have loved to have personally killed Saul. But see how David speaks of Saul. He still calls him “my lord”. Saul is still his lord and also God’s anointed king. In speaking this way David keeps his men from killing the anointed king of God. His words show that all royal dignity can be found with David.


David Speaks to Saul

8Now afterward David arose 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 prostrated himself. 9David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you’? 10Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the LORD had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but [my eye] had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. 12May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you. 13As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness’; but my hand shall not be against you. 14After whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, a single flea? 15The LORD therefore be judge and decide between you and me; and may He see and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”

When David has calmed his men, he leaves the cave and calls after Saul. It is impressive to see the attitude of David against Saul and how he speaks to him. Despite all the disappearance of the dignity of the kingship of Saul, David continues to honor him as his lord and pays him his respects by bowing before him. He also calls Saul “my father”. It is the opportunity for David, through this event, to show Saul his mind against the false accusations made against him.

He doesn’t even talk about Saul’s attitude towards him. He generously ignores that. He talks about the people who talk to Saul and influence him. It doesn’t make Saul less responsible, but it shows how David tries to win Saul’s heart. David wants to convince Saul that he doesn’t want to destroy him.

He does not boast that he got Saul in his hands, but says that the LORD had given him in his hand. He could have killed him. He tells Saul that his men even strongly urged him to do so, but he didn’t do it. As undeniable proof of his words he shows Saul the edge of his robe. That should convince him that David has nothing bad against him in the sense.

In David’s actions we find a foundation for the lives of the Christian who is wronged. David does not want to take the matter between Saul and him into his own hands. He surrenders it into the hand of the LORD (1Pet 2:2323and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;). That hand will meet Saul if he continues like this. David points out to Saul what comes of wickedness. He leaves revenge to the LORD and does not exercise it himself (Rom 12:1919Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God], for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.). The retaliation will come from Him. He sees himself as completely insignificant, a dead dog, a single flea.

After he has said this of himself, David hands over his case once more to the LORD and lets Him decide. He is convinced that the LORD sees it and will look after his cause. The LORD will do him justice and make him stay out of the hand of Saul.


Saul Speaks to David

16When David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I; for you have dealt well with me, while I have dealt wickedly with you. 18You have declared today that you have done good to me, that the LORD delivered me into your hand and [yet] you did not kill me. 19For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safely? May the LORD therefore reward you with good in return for what you have done to me this day. 20Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21So 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.” 22David swore to Saul. And Saul went to his home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

When David has spoken, we hear Saul’s reaction. The heart of Saul is really touched. He calls David “my son”, but further it has no effect. There is no repentance to God. Saul weeps, but there is no repentance. It is just a mood condition, an emotion without depth.

Saul acknowledges what David said. He calls David more righteous than himself and wishes him the reward of the LORD. He acknowledges the good that David did him and that he owes his life to David. He admits that David will become king, something he knows for a long time, for that is how it was pronounced by Jonathan (1Sam 23:1717Thus he said to him, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.”). However, it is a forced recognition that leads to even greater hatred.

Saul asks as a favor of David that he will not exterminate his descendants. David swears he will not. However, he knows Saul well enough not to go to town with him. The ways of David and Saul continue separately.

Faith is not naive. So we can be grateful if the persecution ceases, but we cannot follow the enemy to his house and start to feel at home in the same rest of the world. It does not change the world in terms of the hatred it has for the children of God. Following the enemy will change the believer, but in a negative sense.


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