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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

1 Samuel 24

Verses 1-3

Saul Pursues David Again

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.

Verses 4-7

David Can Kill Saul

The men of David say to him that this is his chance to get rid of his and 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 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.

Verses 8-15

David Speaks to Saul

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 does not 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 does not make Saul less responsible, but it shows how David tries to win Saul’s heart. David wants to convince Saul that he does not 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 did not 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 (1 Peter 2:23). 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 (Romans 12:19). 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.

Verses 16-22

Saul Speaks to David

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 (1 Samuel 23:17). 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. 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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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Samuel 24". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/1-samuel-24.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.