David Spares Saul. 1David then went up from there and stayed in the refuges behind Engedi. 2And when Saul returned from the pursuit of the Philistines, he was told that David was in the desert near Engedi. 3So Saul took three thousand picked men from all Israel and went in search of David and his men in the direction of the wild goat crags. 4When he came to the sheepfolds along the way, he found a cave, which he entered to ease nature. David and his men were occupying the inmost recesses of the cave. y Ps 57 .
5David's servants said to him, “This is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘I will deliver your enemy into your grasp; do with him as you see fit.’ ” So David moved up and stealthily cut off an end of Saul's mantle. 6Afterward, however, David regretted that he had cut off an end of Saul's mantle. z 1 Sm 15, 27 . 7He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, as to lay a hand on him, for he is the LORD's anointed.” a 1 Sm 10, 1; 31, 4; 2 Sm 1, 14 . 8With these words David restrained his men and would not permit them to attack Saul. Saul then left the cave and went on his way. 9David also stepped out of the cave, calling to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked back, David bowed to the ground in homage 10and asked Saul: “Why do you listen to those who say, ‘David is trying to harm you’? 11You see for yourself today that the LORD just now delivered you into my grasp in the cave. I had some thought of killing you, but I took pity on you instead. I decided, ‘I will not raise a hand against my lord, for he is the LORD's anointed and a father to me.’ 12Look here at this end of your mantle which I hold. Since I cut off an end of your mantle and did not kill you, see and be convinced that I plan no harm and no rebellion. I have done you no wrong, though you are hunting me down to take my life. b Rom 12, 19 . 13The LORD will judge between me and you, and the LORD will exact justice from you in my case. I shall not touch you. 14The old proverb says, ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness.’ So I will take no action against you. 15Against whom are you on campaign, O king of Israel? Whom are you pursuing? A dead dog, or a single flea! 16The LORD will be the judge; he will decide between me and you. May he see this, and take my part, and grant me justice beyond your reach!” c 1 Sm 18, 19. 31; 26, 19; Pss 35, 1ff; 43, 1 .
Saul's Remorse. 17When David finished saying these things to Saul, Saul answered, “Is that your voice, my son David?” And he wept aloud. 18Saul then said to David: “You are in the right rather than I; you have treated me generously, while I have done you harm. 19Great is the generosity you showed me today, when the LORD delivered me into your grasp and you did not kill me. 20For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed? May the LORD reward you generously for what you have done this day. 21And now, since I know that you shall surely be king and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession, d 1 Sm 26, 25 . 22swear to me by the LORD that you will not destroy my descendants and that you will not blot out my name and family.” e 2 Sm 9, 1ff . 23David gave Saul his oath and Saul returned home, while David and his men went up to the refuge.