1 Samuel 24

David Spares Saul’s Life

1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.”
2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats.
3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.
4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said[a] to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.
6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”
7 With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground.
9 He said to Saul, “Why do you listen when men say, ‘David is bent on harming you’?
10 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 lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’
11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.
12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.
13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.
14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?
15 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.”
16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that your voice, David my son?” And he wept aloud.
17 “You are more righteous than I,” he said. “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.
18 You have just now told me about the good you did to me; the LORD delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me.
19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him get away unharmed? May the LORD reward you well for the way you treated me today.
20 I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands.
21 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill off my descendants or wipe out my name from my father’s family.”
22 So David gave his oath to Saul. Then Saul returned home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.

1 Samuel 24 Commentary

Chapter 24

David spares Saul's life. (1-7) David shows his innocence. (8-15) Saul acknowledges his fault. (16-22)

Verses 1-7 God delivered Saul into David's hand. It was an opportunity given to David to exercise faith and patience. He had a promise of the kingdom, but no command to slay the king. He reasons strongly, both with himself and with his men, against doing Saul any hurt. Sin is a thing which it becomes us to startle at, and to resist temptations thereto. He not only would not do this bad thing himself, but he would not suffer those about him to do it. Thus he rendered good for evil, to him from whom he received evil for good; and was herein an example to all who are called Christians, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.

Verses 8-15 David was falsely charged with seeking Saul's hurt; he shows Saul that God's providence had given him opportunity to do it. And it was upon a good principle that he refused to do it. He declares his fixed resolution never to be his own avenger. If men wrong us, God will right us, at farthest, in the judgment of the great day.

Verses 16-22 Saul speaks as quite overcome with David's kindness. Many mourn for their sins, who do not truly repent of them; weep bitterly for them, yet continue in love and in league with them. Now God made good to David that word on which he had caused him to hope, that he would bring forth his righteousness as the light, ( Psalms 37:6 ) . Those who take care to keep a good conscience, may leave it to God to secure them the credit of it. Sooner or later, God will force even those who are of the synagogue of Satan to know and to own those whom he has loved. They parted in peace. Saul went home convinced, but not converted; ashamed of his envy to David, yet retaining in his breast that root of bitterness; vexed that when at last he had found David, he could not find in his heart to destroy him, as he had designed. Malice often seems dead when it is only asleep, and will revive with double force. Yet, whether the Lord bind men's hands, or affect their hearts, so that they do not hurt us, the deliverance is equally from him; it is an evidence of his love, and an earnest of our salvation, and should make us thankful.

Cross References 40

  • 1. S Joshua 15:62; 1 Samuel 23:28-29
  • 2. 1 Samuel 26:2
  • 3. Psalms 57 Title; Psalms 142 Title
  • 4. Judges 3:24
  • 5. 1 Samuel 25:28-30
  • 6. 2 Samuel 4:8; 1 Samuel 23:17; 1 Samuel 26:8
  • 7. ver 10,11
  • 8. 1 Samuel 26:9; 2 Samuel 24:10
  • 9. S Genesis 26:11; S 1 Samuel 12:3; 1 Samuel 26:11
  • 10. S 1 Samuel 20:41; 1 Samuel 25:23-24
  • 11. 1 Samuel 26:19
  • 12. 1 Samuel 20:1
  • 13. S ver 4
  • 14. S ver 4
  • 15. Psalms 7:3
  • 16. 1 Samuel 25:28
  • 17. Psalms 35:7
  • 18. S Genesis 31:36; 1 Samuel 23:14,23; 1 Samuel 26:20
  • 19. S 1 Samuel 20:1
  • 20. S Genesis 16:5; Genesis 31:53; S 1 Samuel 25:38; S Job 9:15; Job 5:8
  • 21. S Numbers 31:3; Judges 11:27; 1 Samuel 26:10
  • 22. Matthew 7:20
  • 23. S 1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 9:8
  • 24. 1 Samuel 26:20
  • 25. ver 12
  • 26. S Genesis 16:5
  • 27. Psalms 35:1,23; Isaiah 49:25; Micah 7:9
  • 28. Psalms 26:1; Psalms 35:24; Psalms 43:1; Psalms 50:4; Psalms 54:1; Psalms 135:14
  • 29. Psalms 119:134,154
  • 30. 1 Samuel 26:17
  • 31. Genesis 38:26; 1 Samuel 26:21
  • 32. Matthew 5:44
  • 33. S Exodus 9:27
  • 34. 1 Samuel 26:23
  • 35. S Ruth 2:12; S 2 Chronicles 15:7
  • 36. S 1 Samuel 20:31; 1 Samuel 23:17
  • 37. S 1 Samuel 13:14
  • 38. Genesis 21:23; S Genesis 47:31; S 1 Samuel 18:3; 2 Samuel 21:1-9
  • 39. S 1 Samuel 20:14-15
  • 40. 1 Samuel 23:29

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "“Today the " Lord"is saying"

Chapter Summary


Saul being returned from following the Philistines, renews his pursuit after David, 1Sa 24:1,2; and they meeting in a cave, where David had the opportunity of taking away the life of Saul, which his men pressed him to, yet only cut off the skirt of his robe, 1Sa 24:3-8; which, calling after him, he held up to him to convince him he had his life in his hands, but spared it, 1Sa 24:9,10; upon which he very pathetically reasons with him about the unreasonableness and unrighteousness of his pursuit after him, to take away his life, 1Sa 24:11-15; which so affected Saul, that he confessed he was more righteous than he, and owned that the kingdom would be his, and only desired him to swear to him not to cut off his offspring, which David did, and so they parted, 1Sa 24:16-22.

1 Samuel 24 Commentaries

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