How David Spared Saul's Life
David spares King Saul
I Samuel xxiii: 1,
to xxvii: 12.
this David and his men hid in many places in the
mountains of Judah, often hunted by Saul, but always
escaping from him. At one time Jonathan, Saul's son
came to meet David in a forest, and said to him,
"Fear not, for the Lord is with you; and Saul, my
father, shall not take you prisoner. You will yet be
the king of Israel, and I shall stand next to you;
and my father knows this."
And Jonathan and David made again the promise to be
true to each other, and to each other's children
always. Then they parted; and David never again saw
his dear friend, Jonathan.
At one time David was hiding with a few men in a
great cave near the Dead Sea, at a place called En-gedi.
They were far back in the darkness of the cave, when
they saw Saul come into the cave alone, and lie down
to sleep. David's men whispered to him, "Now is the
time of which the Lord said, 'I will give your enemy
into your hand, and you may do to him whatever you
Then David went toward Saul very quietly with his
sword in his hand. His men looked to see him kill
Saul, but instead, he only cut off a part of Saul's
long robe. His men were not pleased at this; but
David said to them, "May the Lord forbid that I
should do harm to the man whom the Lord has anointed
And David would not allow his men to harm Saul.
After a time Saul rose up from sleep and went out of
the cave. David followed him at a distance, and
called out to him, "My lord the king!"
Saul looked around, and there stood David, bowing to
him and holding up the piece of his royal robe.
David said to Saul, "My lord, O king, why do you
listen to the words of men who tell you that David
is trying to do you harm? This very day the Lord
gave you into my hand in the cave, and some told me
to kill you, but I said, 'I will not do harm to my
lord, for he is the Lord's anointed king.' See, my
father, see the skirt of your robe. I cut it off to
show you that I would do you no harm, though you are
hunting after me to kill me. May the Lord judge
between you and me, and may the Lord do justice for
me upon you; but my hand shall not touch you."
When Saul heard these words his old love for David
came back to him, and he cried out, "Is that your
voice, my son David?" And Saul wept, and said, "You
are a better man than I am, for you have done good
to me, while I have been doing harm to you. May the
Lord reward you for your kindness to me this day! I
know that it is God's will that you shall be king,
and you will rule over this people. Now give to me
your word, in the name of the Lord, that you will
not destroy my family, but that you will spare their
And David gave his promise to Saul in the name of
the Lord; and Saul led his men away from hunting
David to his palace at Gibeah; but David kept still
in his hiding-place, for he could not trust Saul's
promises to spare his life.
And it was not long before Saul was again seeking
for David in the wilderness of Judah, with Abner,
Saul's uncle, the commander of his army, and under
him three thousand men. From his hiding-place in the
mountains David looked down on the plain, and saw
Saul's camp almost at his feet. That night David and
Abishai, one of David's men, came down quietly and
walked into the middle of Saul's camp, while all his
guards were asleep. Saul himself was sleeping, with
his spear standing in the ground at his head, and a
bottle of water tied to it.
Abishai, David's follower, knew that David would not
kill King Saul, and he said to David, "God has given
your enemy into your hand again. Let me strike him
through to the ground at one stroke; only once; I
will not need to strike twice."
But David said, "You shall not destroy him. Who can
strike the anointed of the Lord without being guilty
of a crime? Let the Lord strike him, or let him die
when God wills it, or let him fall in battle; but he
shall not die by my hand. Let us take his spear and
his water-bottle, and let us go."
So David took Saul's spear and his bottle of water,
and then David and Abishai walked out of the camp
without awakening any one. In the morning David
called out to Saul's men and to Abner, the chief of
Saul's army, "Abner, where are you? Why do you not
And Abner answered, "Who are you, calling to the
Then David said, "Are you not a great man, Abner?
Who is like you in all Israel? Why have you not kept
your watch over the king? You deserve to be put to
death for your neglect! See, here is the king's
spear and his bottle of water!"
Saul knew David's voice, and he said, "Is that your
voice, my son David?"
And David answered, "It is my voice, my lord, O
king. Why do you pursue me? What evil have I done?
May God deal with the men who have stirred you up
against me. I am not worth all the trouble you are
taking to hunt for me. The king of Israel is seeking
for one who is as small as a flea or a little bird
in the mountains!"
Then Saul said, "I have done wrong; come back, my
son David, and I will no longer try to do harm to
you, for you have spared my life to-day!" David
said, "Let one of the young men come and take the
king's spear. As I have spared your life to-day, may
the Lord spare mine."
So David went his way, for he would not trust
himself in Saul's hands, and Saul led his men back
to his home at Gibeah. David now was leading quite
an army and was a powerful ruler. He made an
agreement with the king of the Philistines who lived
at Gath, King Achish, and went down to the plain by
the Great Sea, to live among the Philistines. And
Achish gave him a city called Ziklag, on the south
of the tribe-land of Judah. To this place David took
his followers, and there he lived during the last
year of Saul's reign.
David spares King Saul