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HOW DAVID SPARED SAUL'S LIFE
I Samuel xxiii: 1, to xxvii: 12.
FTER this David and his men hid in many places in the
mountains of Judah, often hunted by Saul, but always
escaping from him. At one time Jonathan, Saul's son
came to meet David in a forest, and said to him, "Fear
not, for the Lord is with you; and Saul, my father,
shall not take you prisoner. You will yet be the king
of Israel, and I shall stand next to you; and my father
And Jonathan and David made again the promise to be
true to each other, and to each other's children
always. Then they parted; and David never again saw his
dear friend, Jonathan.
At one time David was hiding with a few men in a great
cave near the Dead Sea, at a place called En-gedi. They
were far back in the darkness of the cave, when they
saw Saul come into the cave alone, and lie down to
sleep. David's men whispered to him, "Now is the time
of which the Lord said, 'I will give your enemy into
your hand, and you may do to him whatever you please.' "
Then David went toward Saul very quietly with his sword
in his hand. His men looked to see him kill Saul, but
instead, he only cut off a part of Saul's long robe.
His men were not pleased at this; but David said to
them, "May the Lord forbid that I should do harm to the
man whom the Lord has anointed as king."
And David would not allow his men to harm Saul. After a
time Saul rose up from sleep and went out of the cave.
David followed him at a distance, and called out to
him, "My lord the king!"
Saul looked around, and there stood David, bowing to
him and holding up the piece of his royal robe. David
said to Saul, "My lord, O king, why do you listen to
the words of men who tell you that David is trying to
do you harm? This very day the Lord gave you into my
hand in the cave, and some told me to kill you, but I
 said, 'I will not do harm to my lord, for he is the
Lord's anointed king.' See, my father, see the skirt of
your robe. I cut it off to show you that I would do you
no harm, though you are hunting after me to kill me.
May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord
do justice for me upon you; but my hand shall not touch
When Saul heard these words his old love for David came
back to him, and he cried out, "Is that your voice, my
son David?" And Saul wept, and said, "You are a better
man than I am, for you have done good to me, while I
have been doing harm to you. May the Lord reward you
for your kindness to me this day! I know that it is
God's will that you shall be king, and you will rule
over this people. Now give to me your word, in the name
of the Lord, that you will not destroy my family, but
that you will spare their lives."
And David gave his promise to Saul in the name of the
Lord; and Saul led his men away from hunting David to
his palace at Gibeah; but David kept still in his
hiding-place, for he could not trust Saul's promises to
spare his life.
And it was not long before Saul was again seeking for
David in the wilderness of Judah, with Abner, Saul's
uncle, the commander of his army, and under him three
thousand men. From his hiding-place in the mountains
David looked down on the plain, and saw Saul's camp
almost at his feet. That night David and Abishai, one
of David's men, came down quietly and walked into the
middle of Saul's camp, while all his guards were
asleep. Saul himself was sleeping, with his spear
standing in the ground at his head, and a bottle of
water tied to it.
Abishai, David's follower, knew that David would not
kill King Saul, and he said to David, "God has given
your enemy into your hand again. Let me strike him
through to the ground at one stroke; only once; I will
not need to strike twice."
But David said, "You shall not destroy him. Who can
strike the anointed of the Lord without being guilty of
a crime? Let the Lord strike him, or let him die when
God wills it, or let him fall in battle; but he shall
not die by my hand. Let us take his spear and his
water-bottle, and let us go."
So David took Saul's spear and his bottle of water, and
then David and Abishai walked out of the camp without
awakening any one. In the morning David called out to
Saul's men and to Abner,
 the chief of Saul's army, "Abner, where are you? Why do
you not answer, Abner?"
And Abner answered, "Who are you, calling to the camp?"
Then David said, "Are you not a great man, Abner? Who
is like you in all Israel? Why have you not kept your
watch over the king? You deserve to be put to death for
your neglect! See, here is the king's spear and his
bottle of water!"
Saul knew David's voice, and he said, "Is that your
voice, my son David?"
And David answered, "It is my voice, my lord, O king.
Why do you pursue me? What evil have I done? May God
deal with the men who have stirred you up against me. I
am not worth all the trouble you are taking to hunt for
me. The king of Israel is seeking for one who is as
small as a flea or a little bird in the mountains!"
Then Saul said, "I have done wrong; come back, my son
David, and I will no longer try to do harm to you, for
you have spared my
 life to-day!" David said, "Let one of the young men
come and take the king's spear. As I have spared your
life to-day, may the Lord spare mine."
So David went his way, for he would not trust himself
in Saul's hands, and Saul led his men back to his home
at Gibeah. David now was leading quite an army and was
a powerful ruler. He made an agreement with the king of
the Philistines who lived at Gath, King Achish, and
went down to the plain by the Great Sea, to live among
the Philistines. And Achish gave him a city called
Ziklag, on the south of the tribe-land of Judah. To
this place David took his followers, and there he lived
during the last year of Saul's reign.
DAVID SPARES SAUL'S LIFE