[1-Samuel 24:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN SAUL WAS RETURNED FROM
FOLLOWING THE PHILISTINES, THAT IT WAS TOLD HIM, SAYING, BEHOLD, DAVID IS
WILDERNESS OF ENGEDI.
[1-Samuel 24:2] THEN SAUL TOOK THREE THOUSAND CHOSEN MEN OUT OF ALL
ISRAEL, AND WENT TO SEEK DAVID AND HIS MEN UPON THE ROCKS OF THE WILD GOATS.
[1-Samuel 24:3] AND HE CAME TO THE SHEEPCOTES BY THE WAY, WHERE WAS A
CAVE; AND SAUL WENT IN TO COVER HIS FEET: AND DAVID AND HIS MEN REMAINED
THE SIDES OF THE CAVE.
Ben-Ephrat points out that this whole area is full of large caves and
that it was (and still is) the custom to keep sheep and goats close to such
caves for the sake of shelter when needed against the elements.
<<SAUL WENT IN TO COVER HIS FEET>>: To relieve himself
of the calls of
nature. I once read an article on Royalty and amongst other details it
mentioned the fact that they needed to train themselves to restraint
the need to go to the toilet. Another factor is that the king had
preserve the dignity of his office. When he had to do what he had to do
better that it was well out of the way of his followers, out of their
sight, and even preferably out of their knowledge. He would also be
advised to do what was needed as thoroughly as possible since being on campaign
he may not have been able to simply excuse himself whenever he felt the
He went into the cave, right in, out of sight and contact and he had
let it be known that he was not to be sought after for an indeterminate
[1-Samuel 24:4] AND THE MEN OF DAVID SAID UNTO HIM, BEHOLD THE DAY OF
WHICH THE LORD SAID UNTO THEE, BEHOLD, I WILL DELIVER THINE ENEMY
HAND, THAT THOU MAYEST DO TO HIM AS IT SHALL SEEM GOOD UNTO THEE.
DAVID AROSE, AND CUT OFF THE SKIRT OF SAUL'S ROBE PRIVILY.
It is not clear whether the robe that David had cut was still on Saul
or he had taken it off. Since however Saul did not notice the cut cloth
it was later pointed out to him it would seem that David cut the robe
while it was still on Saul.
[1-Samuel 24:5] AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTERWARD, THAT DAVID'S HEART SMOTE
HIM, BECAUSE HE HAD CUT OFF SAUL'S SKIRT.
[1-Samuel 24:6] AND HE SAID UNTO HIS MEN, THE LORD FORBID THAT I SHOULD
DO THIS THING UNTO MY MASTER, THE LORD'S ANOINTED, TO STRETCH FORTH
HAND AGAINST HIM, SEEING HE IS THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD.
The verses are open to interpretation but they may not be in strict
chronological order. It may be (as some say) that David held the
"discussion" with his men and declared that Saul was not to be slain
and then arose and cut off part of the robe.
[1-Samuel 24:7] SO DAVID STAYED HIS SERVANTS WITH THESE WORDS, AND
SUFFERED THEM NOT TO RISE AGAINST SAUL. BUT SAUL ROSE UP OUT OF THE
WENT ON HIS WAY.
[1-Samuel 24:8] DAVID ALSO AROSE AFTERWARD, AND WENT OUT OF THE CAVE,
AND CRIED AFTER SAUL, SAYING, MY LORD THE KING. AND WHEN SAUL
BEHIND HIM, DAVID STOOPED WITH HIS FACE TO THE EARTH, AND BOWED HIMSELF.
[1-Samuel 24:9] AND DAVID SAID TO SAUL, WHEREFORE HEAREST THOU MEN'S
WORDS, SAYING, BEHOLD, DAVID SEEKETH THY HURT?
It may be that Scripture is here incidentally informing us that there
were those who spoke evil of David to Saul and incited Saul in his madness,
jealousy, and suspicion. There were will always be those who are
prepared to curry favor with the powerful by telling them what they want
Ben Ephrat has a different opinion and says that all the hatred against
David emanated from Saul and that David knew this but spoke in an
indirect manner making it sound less offensive.
[1-Samuel 24:10] BEHOLD, THIS DAY THINE EYES HAVE SEEN HOW THAT THE
LORD HAD DELIVERED THEE TO DAY INTO MINE HAND IN THE CAVE: AND SOME BADE
KILL THEE: BUT MINE EYE SPARED THEE; AND I SAID, I WILL NOT PUT FORTH MINE
HAND AGAINST MY LORD; FOR HE IS THE LORD'S ANOINTED.
[1-Samuel 24:11] MOREOVER, MY FATHER, SEE, YEA, SEE THE SKIRT OF THY
ROBE IN MY HAND: FOR IN THAT I CUT OFF THE SKIRT OF THY ROBE,
THEE NOT, KNOW THOU AND SEE THAT THERE IS NEITHER EVIL NOR TRANSGRESSION
MINE HAND, AND I HAVE NOT SINNED AGAINST THEE; YET THOU HUNTEST MY
SOUL TO TAKE IT.
<<MY FATHER>>: Saul was his father-in-law. Apart from that "Father"
a sign of respect and authority (as noted by Ben-Ephrat) cf.
Joseph describing the authority he had been given:
" HE HATH MADE ME A FATHER TO PHARAOH, AND LORD OF ALL HIS HOUSE,
A RULER THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT" [Genesis 45:8].
Micah in the Time of Judges appointing the wandering Levite to
officiate in his "sanctuary":
" BE UNTO ME A FATHER AND A PRIEST"[Judges 17:10].
The servants of Naaman the Syrian general exhorting him to follow the
advice of Elisha the Prophet:
"AND HIS SERVANTS CAME NEAR, AND SPAKE UNTO HIM, AND SAID, MY FATHER,
IF THE PROPHET HAD BID THEE DO SOME GREAT THING, WOULDEST THOU NOT HAVE
DONE IT?" [2-Kings 5:13] .
We are commanded to honor our father and mother:
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER: THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG UPON THE
LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE [Exodus 20:12].
We should also honor the parents of others, e.g. if one has to have
harsh words with another person avoid doing so in front of his children,
in front of their spouse.So too one should honor the position of anyone
one comes in contact with.
It does not cost anything and it can make it easier to put what you
wish to say across. We should learn from david who was being persecuted
and in danger of his life yet he insisted that Saul be respected because
the royal office he held.
<<KILLED THEE NOT>>: This was no empty statement. David had
slain a great many men in battle and commanded others in killing
numerous more. Physically and psychologically he quite capable of taking
life of another when he had to. This aspect of his character
was well known
and all his days others feared him because of it.
Cf. Hushai giving advice to Absalom concerning David:
" THOU KNOWEST THY FATHER AND HIS MEN, THAT THEY BE MIGHTY MEN, AND
THEY BE CHAFED IN THEIR MINDS, AS A BEAR ROBBED OF HER WHELPS IN THE FIELD:
THY FATHER IS A MAN OF WAR…" [2-Samuel 17:8].
David continues his rebuke to Saul:
[1-SAMEUL 24:12 THE LORD JUDGE BETWEEN ME AND THEE, AND THE LORD AVENGE
ME OF THEE: BUT MINE HAND SHALL NOT BE UPON THEE.
Some things you have to let go and let the "Almighty" work it out.
[1-SAMEUL 24:13 AS SAITH THE PROVERB OF THE ANCIENTS, WICKEDNESS
PROCEEDETH FROM THE WICKED: BUT MINE HAND SHALL NOT BE UPON THEE.
Evil destroys itself. In Hebrew one of the words for offence or sin is
"avayrah". Matatiyahu Glasserstein (in one of his works on the Hebrew
language) points out that this word is spelt "ABRH" and these letters
can be rearranged to read "RA-BaH" meaning "bad is in it" i.e. evil carries
its own punishment.
[1-SAMEUL 24:14 AFTER WHOM IS THE KING OF ISRAEL COME OUT? AFTER WHOM
DOST THOU PURSUE? AFTER A DEAD DOG, AFTER A FLEA.
[1-SAMEUL 24:15 THE LORD THEREFORE BE JUDGE, AND JUDGE BETWEEN ME AND
THEE, AND SEE, AND PLEAD MY CAUSE, AND DELIVER ME OUT OF THINE HAND.
[1-SAMEUL 24:16 AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN DAVID HAD MADE AN END OF
SPEAKING THESE WORDS UNTO SAUL, THAT SAUL SAID, IS THIS THY VOICE, MY SON
AND SAUL LIFTED UP HIS VOICE, AND WEPT.
[1-SAMEUL 24:17 AND HE SAID TO DAVID, THOU ART MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN I:
FOR THOU HAST REWARDED ME GOOD, WHEREAS I HAVE REWARDED THEE EVIL.
[1-SAMEUL 24:18 AND THOU HAST SHEWED THIS DAY HOW THAT THOU HAST DEALT
WELL WITH ME: FORASMUCH AS WHEN THE LORD HAD DELIVERED ME INTO THINE HAND,
THOU KILLEDST ME NOT.
[1-SAMEUL 24:19 FOR IF A MAN FIND HIS ENEMY, WILL HE LET HIM GO WELL
AWAY? WHEREFORE THE LORD REWARD THEE GOOD FOR THAT THOU HAST DONE UNTO ME
[1-SAMEUL 24:20 AND NOW, BEHOLD, I KNOW WELL THAT THOU SHALT SURELY BE
KING, AND THAT THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL SHALL BE ESTABLISHED IN THINE HAND.
[1-SAMEUL 24:21 SWEAR NOW THEREFORE UNTO ME BY THE LORD, THAT THOU WILT
NOT CUT OFF MY SEED AFTER ME, AND THAT THOU WILT NOT DESTROY MY NAME OUT
MY FATHERS HOUSE.
Saul was afraid that David would wipe out all the male members of his
family in order not to leave any rival contestants to the throne.
We should note that at this point David had delivered himself into the
hands of Saul. Saul could have killed him.
Despite his attacks of madness Saul also had the Royal Touch.
[1-SAMEUL 24:22 AND DAVID SWARE UNTO SAUL. AND SAUL WENT HOME; BUT
DAVID AND HIS MEN GAT THEM UP UNTO THE HOLD.
David and his men remained wary of Saul who at any moment was liable to
change his mind and come hunting after them again.
"And I will bless them that bless you" (Genesis 12:15).