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David Spares Saul’s Life

24 [a]When Saul came back from fighting the Philistines, he was told “Now David is in the desert near En Gedi.” Then Saul took 3,000 of the best-trained men from all Israel and went to search for David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to some sheep pens along the road where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself while David and his men were sitting further back in the cave.

David’s men told him, “Today is the day Yahweh referred to when he said, ‘I’m going to hand your enemy over to you. You will do to him whatever you think is right.’”

David quietly got up and cut off the border of Saul’s robe. But afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the border of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “It would be unthinkable for me to raise my hand against His Majesty, Yahweh’s anointed king, since he is Yahweh’s anointed.” So David stopped[b] his men by saying this to them and didn’t let them attack Saul.

Saul left the cave and went out onto the road. Later, David got up, left the cave, and called to Saul, “Your Majesty!” When Saul looked back, David knelt down with his face touching the ground. David asked Saul, “Why do you listen to rumors that I am trying to harm you? 10 Today you saw how Yahweh handed you over to me in the cave. Although I was told to kill you, I spared you, saying, ‘I will not raise my hand against Your Majesty because you are Yahweh’s anointed.’ 11 My master, look at this! The border of your robe is in my hand! Since I cut off the border of your robe and didn’t kill you, you should know and be able to see I mean no harm or rebellion. I haven’t sinned against you, but you are trying to ambush me in order to take my life. 12 May Yahweh decide between you and me. May Yahweh take revenge on you for what you did to me. However, I will not lay a hand on you. 13 It’s like people used to say long ago, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people.’ But I will not lay a hand on you. 14 Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog? One flea? 15 So Yahweh must be the judge. He will decide between you and me. He will watch and take my side in this matter and set me free from you.”

16 When David finished saying this, Saul asked, “Is that you speaking, my servant David?” and Saul cried loudly. 17 He told David, “You are more righteous than I. You treated me well while I treated you badly. 18 Today you have proved how good you’ve been to me. When Yahweh handed me over to you, you didn’t kill me. 19 When a person finds an enemy, does he send him away unharmed? Yahweh will repay you completely for what you did for me today. 20 Now I know that you certainly will rule as king, and under your guidance the kingdom of Israel will prosper. 21 Swear an oath to Yahweh for me that you will not wipe out my descendants or destroy my name in my father’s family.”

22 So David swore to Saul. Then Saul went home, and David and his men went to their fortified camp.


  1. 1 Samuel 24:1 1 Samuel 24:1–22 in English Bibles is 1 Samuel 24:2–23 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. 1 Samuel 24:7 Hebrew meaning uncertain.