Wesley's Notes on the Bible
And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.
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.
24:2 Rocks - Which the wild goats used to delight in and climb over. These very rocks are exceeding steep, and full of precipices, and dangerous to travellers, as an eye - witness hath left upon record. And yet Saul was so transported with rage, as to venture himself and his army here, that he might take David, who, as he thought, would judge himself safe, and therefore be secure in such inaccessible places.
And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.
24:3 Went in - To sleep there: Saul being a military man, used to sleep with his soldiers upon the ground. And it is not improbable, that being weary with his eager and almost incessant pursuit, first of David, then of the Philistines, and now of David again, he both needed and desired some sleep, God also disposing him thereto, that David might have this eminent occasion to demonstrate his integrity to Saul, and to all Israel. Of the cave - For that there were vast caves in those parts is affirmed, not only by Josephus, but also by Heathen authors; Strabo writes of one which could receive four thousand men.
And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.
24:4 Behold, and c. - Not that God had said these words, or made any such promise; but they put this construction upon those promises which God had made to him, of delivering him from all his enemies, and carrying him through all difficulties to the throne. This promise they conceived put him under an obligation of taking all opportunities which God put into his hand for their accomplishment.
And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.
And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD.
So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his way.
David also arose afterward, and 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.
And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD'S anointed.
24:10 Mine eye - The eye is said to spare, because it affects the heart with pity, and moves a man to spare.
Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.
The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
24:12 Will avenge - If thou persistest in thy injuries and cruel designs against me.
As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
24:13 Wickedness, and c. - That is, wicked men will do wicked actions, among which this is one, to kill their sovereign lord and king; and therefore if I were so wicked a person as thy courtiers represent me, I should make no conscience of laying violent hands upon thee.
After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.
24:16 Thy voice - He knew his voice, though being at a great distance from him, he could not discern his face. Wept - From the sense of his sin against God, and his base carriage to David. He speaks as one quite overcome with David's kindness, and as one that relents at the sight of his own folly and ingratitude.
And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
24:17 More righteous than I - He ingenuously acknowledges David's integrity, and his own iniquity.
And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the LORD had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.
For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the LORD reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.
24:19 The Lord reward thee - Because he thought himself not able to recompense so great a favour, he prays God to recompense it.
And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
Swear now therefore unto me by the LORD, that thou wilt not cut off my seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my father's house.
And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.
24:22 Unto the hold - Of En - gedi, ver.1, for having had by frequent experience of Saul's inconstancy, he would trust him no more.