“Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats. So he came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to attend to his needs. (David and his men were staying in the recesses of the cave.)” 1 Samuel 24:2–3
After Saul and the army had finished fighting with the Philistines they returned to their efforts to track down David, this time in the Wilderness of En Gedi. The place David had chosen to hide was mountainous, very rocky, with numerous caves.
At some point in their cat and mouse pursuit scripture records that Saul went into one of the caves to “attend to his needs.” What were those needs? No one knows exactly though, given what happens while Saul’s in the cave, most believe that Saul must have gone to sleep.
Saul is much closer to David that he realizes. In fact, the recesses of the cave he has chosen is hiding David and some of his men.
David’s men, seeing that their pursuer has neatly placed himself at their mercy, believe that God has given them this opportunity and urge David to quietly move in and kill Saul. So David slips up to Saul and draws his knife out of its sheath, but he doesn’t use it to harm Saul. Instead he carefully cuts the corner off of the robe that Saul’s wearing and then returns to the shadows.
Now David felt ashamed that he had even cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”
A while later Saul got up from the cave and rejoined his men and when he had gotten a little ways away from the cave David came out, called out to him and showed him the corner of his robe that he had cut off.
“My Lord the King. Why do you listen to people who tell you that I’m trying to harm you. Today you put yourself in my power. Some of my men urged me to kill you, but I spared you. I told them that you are the Lords anointed and I will not harm you. My father, look, you were so close that I was able to cut off a corner of your robe, but I refused to kill you. Doesn’t this prove that I’m innocent of any sin or rebellion against you. Yet still you hunt me. But I’ll let God judge between us. I’ll let God avenge any wrongs you’ve done to me. I’ll never raise my hand against you.”
At David’s words, and seeing the corner of his robe in his hand, Saul admitted that David was innocent of any crime against him and also revealed that he knew that God had chosen David to be king after him. Then he left David and went home.
Friends, we need to trust God like David did and allow him to right the wrongs others do against us. God knows the whole story and he knows the best way to make things right. Our actions are often at best merely vengeance but God will accomplish true justice.