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David and Saul (1 Samuel 24)

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CHAPTER 24 Jul. 11 
Saul’s Life Spared by David
When Saul had returned from pursuing the Philistines he was told, David is in the wilderness of En Gedi. 2Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats. 3He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were hiding in the innermost parts of the cave. 4The men of David said to him, Look, the day of which Yahweh said to you, ‘I will deliver your enemy into your hand and you can do to him whatever you wish’. Then David got up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe secretly. 5Afterwards David’s conscience smote him, because he had cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. 6He said to his men, Yahweh forbid that I should do such a thing to my lord, Yahweh’s anointed, to lift my hand against him, since he is Yahweh’s anointed. 7So David restrained his men with these words, and didn’t allow them to attack Saul. Saul got up out of the cave and went on his way. 8David also got up afterwards and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, My lord the king! When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and showed respect. 9David said to Saul, Why do you listen when men say ‘David is trying to harm you?’. 10Look, today your eyes have seen how Yahweh had delivered you into my hand in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, I will not lift up my hand against my lord, for he is Yahweh’s anointed. 11Moreover, my father, look, here is a piece of your robe in my hand; by the fact that I cut it off and didn’t kill you, you can know and see that I have no desire to hurt you and have not sinned against you, though you hunt me to take my life. 12May Yahweh judge between me and you, and may Yahweh avenge the wrong you have done me; but my hand shall not be against you. 13As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness, but my hand shall not be against you’. 14Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea? 15May Yahweh therefore be the judge and give sentence between me and you; may He plead my cause and deliver me out of your hand. 16When David had finished saying this to Saul, Saul said, Is this your voice, my son David? Saul wept aloud. 17He said to David, You are more righteous than I, for you have been good to me, whereas I have done evil to you. 18You have declared this day how you have been good to me, because when Yahweh had delivered me into your hand, you didn’t kill me. 19For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may Yahweh reward you with good for what you have done to me today. 20Now I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hands. 21Swear now therefore to me by Yahweh, that you will not cut off my seed after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house. 22David gave his oath to Saul. Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.


24:4,5 David saw Saul for who he was, the anointed of God. Christ too taught His men to have respect for the Pharisees, who ‘sat in Moses’ seat’ , and therefore ought to be given reverence on that account (Mt. 23:2). David's extreme respect for Saul is shown in the fact that Yahweh had explicitly told him that he would deliver Saul into David's hand, and David was free to do as he wished to him; but because of his genuine respect for Saul, David didn't take the liberty of killing him; he chose a higher level on which to relate to Saul. Indeed, he even felt guilty at cutting off the blue ribbon from Saul's coat, such was David's respect for Saul. All those baptized into Christ have been “anointed” in that we are “in Christ”, ‘the anointed one’ (2 Cor. 1:21). We must truly respect others on account of their being in the body of Christ / God’s people, as Saul was. Paul deeply loved Corinth and respected them for their status as men and women in Christ, in receipt of the Father's love and grace, even though they abused him. Therefore he like David could love his enemies within the ecclesia; for Saul was in the ecclesia of Israel as much as David was.
24:15 Yahweh therefore be the judge and give sentence between me and you; may He plead my cause- It’s not as if God isn’t watching what’s going on now, and will only open the books and judge human behaviour when Christ returns. His judgment is in a sense ongoing; we live out our lives before His judgment presence, and the final day of judgment will be a public declaration of the verdicts which have already been announced; it will largely be for our benefit rather than God’s. David mixes metaphors here- God is for him both the ultimate judge, and also his counsel for the defence. Paul does the same in Romans 8, concluding in awe that if God in Christ is both our judge and our personal advocate, the one on our side in the case, then nobody and nothing can be against us; our salvation is assured.
24:18 it seems God later gave Saul into David’s hand when “a deep sleep from the Lord” fell upon Saul at the very time David intended to kill him (26:12). Saul himself realized that the Lord had delivered him into David’s hand to kill him. God thus gave David the possibility to get revenge and freedom from persecution- and yet at the last minute, it seems, David chose an even higher level; of love and deep respect for this spiritually sick man.