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Prayer for Safety from Enemies; David Spares Saul (Psalm 57; 1 Samuel 24) November 11

David and his men are hiding out in En Gedi, a lush oasis with rugged cliffs, canyons and caves near the Dead Sea. As soon as Saul finishes with the Philistines, he receives word that David is hiding out here and returns to seek him. David and his men are taking refuge in a particular cave (1 Samuel 24:3). What must have been going through David's mind as he once again appears hopelessly trapped? The answer is Psalm 57. David pleads with God to be protected from his enemies.

In answering David's plea, God must have been driving the point home to him: "I will protect you and save you—I will always be there for you." And what an answer it is! While hidden deep within their cave, David and his men are astounded to see Saul choose this particular cave for a restroom. David's men tell him, "This is the day we've been waiting for—God has delivered your enemy for you to do whatever you like" (compare 1 Samuel 24:4). Indeed, David could have easily killed Saul and assumed the royal throne—particularly since it was clear that this must have been from God. But David's heart isn't like that. Instead, he evidently sees what God is doing here as a test. David has the faith to realize that since God had established Saul, only God should remove him. David trusted God to handle the problem in His own time and way. Again, David sets an example of godly leadership, resisting bad advice.

However, David can't resist the temptation to cut a piece from Saul's robe, demonstrating that he could have easily killed him. Some even see the cutting of the hem as symbolic of taking the emblem of royalty. But David would not be the one to take Saul out. He immediately regrets shaming the king in the eyes of his 3,000 soldiers (verse 5). The men with David would take matters into their own hands so David has to restrain them from killing Saul (verse 7). David explains to his men, and then to Saul, that he will not lift his hand to harm God's anointed king (verses 6, 10). "Isn't this proof that I've never sought, nor ever will seek, to harm you or take your throne?" David asks Saul (compare verses 8-14).

Verse 15 explains what has been going on since Saul set out to destroy David. God had already delivered David out of Saul's hand time and again. Indeed, what has just happened in the opportunity to spare Saul is itself an amazing deliverance—as Saul responds gratefully to it, even acknowledging David as the successor to the throne (verse 20). But even with Saul's public display of remorse and sorrow, David knows that he can't count on Saul keeping his word, so he continues to keep his distance from the unstable king (verse 22).

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