1 Samuel 24:8–22
Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD’s anointed.’ See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! May the LORD therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”
As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the LORD put me into your hands. For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the LORD reward you with good for what you have done to me this day. And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. Swear to me therefore by the LORD that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
David’s decision to not kill Saul feels Spirit led. His men recommend he do “the right thing” from a military point of view, but something checks David, and he cuts off the corner of Saul’s robe instead.
Then he does the really crazy thing and reveals himself to his pursuers. By all rights this should have been a fatal mistake, but it’s a stroke of genius. It proves his innocence to everyone within earshot and even causes Saul to repent. Saul goes so far as to announce, “I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand.”
David chose righteousness over secular “wisdom,” and the LORD blessed his choice spectacularly.
The big result isn’t that David is safe—Saul’s repentance won’t last—it’s that God is glorified. Everyone there witnesses, for just a moment, everything going well. It’s a glimpse of peace and righteousness.
The practical effects of this will soon fade, and folks will get back to their “hobby” of wasting time trying to kill each other. But for one beautiful afternoon, these soldiers get to see life as it ought to be.
Righteousness begets righteousness.
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Scripture taken from the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.