David lets Saul live
1When Saul got back from fighting off the Philistines, he heard that David was in the desert around En-Gedi. 2Saul led three thousand of Israel's best soldiers out to look for David and his men near Wild Goat Rocks at En-Gedi. 3There were some sheep pens along the side of the road, and one of them was built around the entrance to a cave. Saul went into the cave to relieve himself.24.3: Ps 57 Title; Ps 142 Title.
David and his men were hiding at the back of the cave. 4They whispered to David, “The LORD told you he was going to let you defeat your enemies and do whatever you want with them. This must be the day the LORD was talking about.”
David sneaked over and cut off a small piece24.4 small piece: Hebrew “corner” or “lower hem”. of Saul's robe, but Saul didn't notice a thing. 5Afterwards, David was sorry that he had even done that, 6-7and he told his men, “Stop talking foolishly. We're not going to attack Saul. He's my king, and I pray that the LORD will keep me from doing anything to harm his chosen king.”24.6: 1 S 26.11.
Saul left the cave and started down the road. 8Soon, David also got up and left the cave. “Your Majesty!” he shouted from a distance.
Saul turned around to look. David bowed down very low 9and said:
Your Majesty, why do you listen to people who say that I'm trying to harm you? 10You can see for yourself that the LORD gave me the chance to catch you in the cave today. Some of my men wanted to kill you, but I wouldn't let them do it. I told them, “I will not harm the LORD's chosen king!” 11Your Majesty, look at what I'm holding. You can see that it's a piece of your robe. If I could cut off a piece of your robe, I could have killed you. But I let you live, and that should prove I'm not trying to harm you or to rebel. I haven't done anything to you, and yet you keep trying to ambush and kill me.
12I'll let the LORD decide which one of us has done right. I pray that the LORD will punish you for what you're doing to me, but I won't do anything to you. 13An old proverb says, “Only evil people do evil things,” and so I won't harm you.
14Why should the king of Israel be out chasing me, anyway? I'm as worthless as a dead dog or a flea.24.14: 1 S 26.20. 15I pray that the LORD will help me escape and show that I am in the right.
16“David, my son—is that you?” Saul asked. Then he started crying 17and said:
David, you're a better person than I am. You treated me with kindness, even though I've been cruel to you. 18You've told me how you were kind enough not to kill me when the LORD gave you the chance. 19If you really were my enemy, you wouldn't have let me leave here alive. I pray that the LORD will give you a big reward for what you did today.
20I realize now that you will be the next king, and a powerful king at that. 21Promise me with the LORD as your witness, that you won't wipe out my descendants. Let them live to keep my family name alive.
22So David promised, and Saul went home. David and his men returned to their hideout.
Contemporary English Version (CEV) is copyright © American Bible Society. Psalms and Proverbs © 1991, 1992; New Testament © 1991, 1992, 1995; Old Testament © 1995; translation notes, subject headings for text © 1995; Anglicisations © The British and Foreign Bible Society 1997, 2012.