1 Samuel 24

David Spares Saul

1 When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, "David is in the wilderness near En-gedi."
2 So Saul took 3,000 of Israel's choice men[a] and went to look for David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats.
3 When Saul came to the sheep pens along the road, a cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself.[b] David and his men were staying in the back of the cave,
4 so they said to him, "Look, this is the day the Lord told you about: 'I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.'" Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul's robe.
5 Afterwards, David's conscience bothered[c] him because he had cut off the corner of Saul's robe.[d]
6 He said to his men, "I swear before the Lord: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed. [I will never] lift my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed."[e]
7 With these words David persuaded[f] his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and went on his way.
8 After that, David got up, went out of the cave, and called to Saul, "My lord the king!" When Saul looked behind him, David bowed to the ground in homage.
9 David said to Saul, "Why do you listen to the words of people who say, 'Look, David intends to harm you'?
10 You can see with your own eyes that the Lord handed you over to me today in the cave. [Someone] advised [me] to kill you, but I[g] took pity on you and said: I won't lift my hand against my lord, since he is the Lord's anointed.
11 See, my father! Look at the corner of your robe in my hand, for I cut it off, but I didn't kill you. Look and recognize that there is no evil or rebellion in me. I haven't sinned against you even though you are hunting me down to take my life.
12 "May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you.[h]
13 As the old proverb says, 'Wickedness comes from wicked people.'[i] My hand will never be against you.
14 Who has the king of Israel come after? What are you chasing after? A dead dog? A flea?[j]
15 May the Lord be judge and decide between you and me. May He take notice and plead my case and deliver[k] me from you."
16 When David finished saying these things to him, Saul replied, "Is that your voice, David my son?" Then Saul wept aloud
17 and said to David, "You are more righteous than I, for you have done what is good to me though I have done what is evil to you.[l]
18 You yourself have told me today what good you did for me: when the Lord handed me over to you, you didn't kill me.
19 When a man finds his enemy, does he let him go unharmed?[m][n]May the Lord repay you with good for what you've done for me today.
20 "Now I know for certain you will be king, and the kingdom of Israel will be established[o] in your hand.[p]
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."
22 So David swore to Saul. Then Saul went back home, and 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.

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 24

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