David, in a cave at En-gedi, having cut off Saul's skirt, spares his life, 1-7. He shows thereby his innocence, 8-15. Saul, acknowledging his fault, takes an oath of David and departs, 16-22.
1 And it came to pass, when Saul had returned from following the Philistines, that it was told to him, saying, "Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-gedi." 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. 3 And he came to the sheep-folds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to cover his feet. And David and his men remained in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, "Behold the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand so that you may do to him as it shall seem good to you.'" Then David arose and privately cut off the skirt of Saul's robe. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him because he had cut off Saul's skirt. 6 And he said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch forth my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD." 7 So David restrained his servants with these words and did not allow them to rise against Saul. But Saul rose out of the cave and went on his way.
8 David also rose afterward, went out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, "My lord the king." And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth and bowed himself. 9 And David said to Saul, "Why do you hear men's words, saying, 'Behold, David seeks your hurt?' 10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the LORD has delivered you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but my eye spared you. And I said, 'I will not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is the LORD'S anointed.' 11 Moreover, my father, look. Look at the skirt of your robe in my hand. For in that I cut off the skirt of your robe and did not kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in my hand, and I have not sinned against you, yet you hunt my soul to take it. 12 May the LORD judge between me and you, and may the LORD avenge me of you. But my hand shall not be upon you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, 'Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.' But my hand shall not be upon you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog? After a flea? 15 May the LORD therefore be judge and judge between me and you, and see and plead my cause and deliver me out of your hand."
16 And it came to pass when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, "Is this your voice, my son David?" And Saul lifted up his voice and wept. 17 And he said to David, "You are more righteous than I am, for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil. 18 And you have shown this day how you have dealt with me, because when the LORD had delivered me into your hand, you did not kill me. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away well? Therefore, may the LORD reward you with good, for what you have done to me this day. 20 And now, behold, I know well that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 Swear now therefore to me by the LORD, that you will not cut off my seed after me and that you will not destroy my name out of my father's house." 22 And David swore to Saul. And Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the hold.
Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Samuel, Chapter 24[➚]
[v.1a] - "when Saul had returned from following the Philistines" - Reference, 1st Samuel 23:28.
[v.1b] - "David is in the wilderness of En-gedi" - Reference, 1st Samuel 23:29.