19 July 1 Samuel 24:1-22

19 July.  David spares Saul’s life at En Gedi

“After Saul returned from chasing the Philistines, he was told, ‘David is in the Desert of En Gedi.’ So he took 3,000 chosen men from all Israel and began looking for David and his men near the Rocks of the Wild Goats.”

“Saul came to the sheep pens beside the road. A cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were hiding far back in the cave. The men said to David, ‘Today is the day the LORD spoke of when he said, “I will give your enemy over to you. Do anything you want with him.”’”

“Then David crept up to Saul and quietly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. Later David felt guilty because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, ‘May the LORD keep me from doing such a thing to my master! Saul is the LORD’s appointed king. I should not do anything against him, because he is the LORD’s appointed king!’ David used these words to stop his men; he did not let them attack Saul.”

“Then Saul left the cave and went on his way. When David came out of the cave, he shouted to Saul, ‘My master and king!’ Saul looked back, and David bowed face down on the ground. He said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen when people say, “David wants to harm you?” You have seen something with your own eyes today. The LORD put you in my power in the cave… My father, look at this piece of robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe, but I didn’t kill you. Now understand and know I am not planning any evil against you.’…”

“When David finished saying these words, Saul asked, ‘Is that your voice, David my son?’ And he cried loudly. He said, ‘You are a better man than I am. You have been good to me, but I have done wrong to you… The LORD handed me over to you, but you did not kill me… May the LORD reward you because you were good to me today.’”

“’I know you will surely be king, and you will rule the kingdom of Israel. Now swear to me by the LORD that you will not kill my descendants and that you won’t wipe out my name from my father’s family.’”

“So David made the promise to Saul. Then Saul went back home, and David and his men went up to their protected place.”

          (1 Samuel 24:1-22)



After David escaped from Keilah, he and his men sought shelter in the Desert of Ziph. While David was sheltering at Horesh, he heard that Saul was coming to kill him; but Saul’s son Jonathan went to David and made an agreement with him that David should become king of Israel and Jonathan should be second to him (see 1 Samuel 23:14-18).

Saul received information about David’s whereabouts from the people of Ziph, and pursued David to the Desert of Maon (the Desert of Paran). But Saul was forced to leave off his pursuit of David in order to fight the Philistines (see 8 on the map on 8 July). The place was subsequently called Sela Hammahlekoth (meaning ‘rock of parting’) (see 1 Samuel 23:19-29).

David then hid in the caves at En Gedi (meaning the ‘Spring of the goats’) near the Wild Goat Crags – in the desert overlooking the Dead Sea (see 9 on the map).

David spared Saul's life when he entered the cave where David was hiding to relieve himself. Saul was overcome with tears when David later showed him the corner of the king’s robe that he’d cut off in the cave when he could easily have killed Saul.

Saul acknowledged that David would one day become king of Israel, and he asked David to swear that he would not kill all of Saul’s family when he became the ruler.

Today, the 'Spring of the goats' at En Gedi still flows strong, providing cool, clear water at the foot of the Judaean Hills bordering the western shoreline of the Dead Sea. The photo shows the Wild Goat Crags and the springs at En Gedi.

You can read more about En Gedi @ The Bible Journey | Saul becomes jealous of David

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