Summary 1 Samuel 24:
Saul pursued the Philistines then learned David was in the Desert of En Gedi. Saul and 3000 men looked for David near the Crags of Wild Goats. Saul found a cave to use the bathroom in. David and his men were hiding in this cave. At the urging of his men, David cut a piece of cloth off Saul’s robe, but refused to kill him for he was the Lord’s anointed.
Saul left the cave, and David revealed himself, bowing down before Saul. He said he could have killed him but did not. He is guilty of no wrong-doing, and may God be the judge between them. Saul, in tears, admitted David is more righteous than he and asked the Lord to reward him for sparing his life. He knows David will be king, and had DAvid swear not to cut off his descendants. Saul went home; David to his stronghold.
Summary Psalm 57:
David takes refuge in God’s mercy. God fulfills His purpose for him, saves him, and rebukes those who pursue him. God sends His love and faithfulness. David is in the midst of lions, God be exalted. David will praise God. Great is God’s love and faithfulness.
Summary Psalm 142:
David tells God his troubles. God guides him through them. God is David’s refuge from those who pursue him. The righteous (supporters, friends) gather around him because of God’s goodness.
BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 13, Day 5: 1 Samuel 24 and Psalm 57 and 142:
13) David’s men assumed they knew God’s will. They assumed because Saul appeared before them — alone and vulnerable — that God was delivering Saul into David’s hands. We make assumptions all the time — probably more so than in ancient times. We assume what people mean, what people’s actions mean, and what God wants us to do, often not asking first. We do the same thing.
14) David said the Lord forbid him to do anything to his master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift a hand against him. Personal desire in David wanted to kill Saul and finally have his revenge. God’s desire stayed his hand. It is all about God for David and what God wants.
15) Personal Question. My answer: He invites me to do the right thing in every situation. How often do I do it? Unsure. Probably not often. Fighting against your inner desire when you know God’s desire is difficult. Overcoming human emotions is difficult. Every day I pray God wins a little bit more in these situations.
16) Part personal Question. My answer: David’s ultimate prayer is for God to be his refuge and guide him, and for God to rebuke his enemies. Still David praises and exalts the Lord in all his troubles. David is praying in faithfulness that God has it and will handle all his problems. So must we. We need to pray, knowing God has got it, knowing God will take care of all of our worries and heartaches. We still must praise and exalt him for His goodness despite our ignorance of what His will is. He is our refuge, our guiding light, and our hope.
Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 13, Day 5: 1 Samuel 24 and Psalm 57 and 142:
It struck me that Saul does not apologize for his actions. I sense no remorse for chasing David for years or disobeying God. It seems Saul has finally decided David will be king when he dies, so he’s happy to return home and live a kingly life. Very sad.
David’s faith once again shines in all these passages. He knows God will deal with Saul His way. He knows God will rescue him. He knows God is faithful and good. David sings as much. Honoring God despite our hardships has to be forefront. A faithful heart is what God wants first; the rest will follow.
Audio Version of 1 Samuel 24 HERE
End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 13, Day 5: 1 Samuel 24 and Psalm 57 and 142:
Commentary 1 Samuel 24:
In the previous chapter, God miraculously delivered David by drawing Saul away to fight the Philistines at the moment Saul was ready to capture David. But when Saul was done with the Philistines, he went back to pursuing David.
We often wish that our next victory would be a permanent victory. We wish that the spiritual enemies who pursue us like Saul pursued David would simply give up, and we wouldn’t have to bother with them any more. But even when we have victory and they are sent away, they come back, and will keep coming back until we go to glory with the LORD. That is the only permanent victory we will find.
The Desert of En Gedi
The En Gedi canyon runs westward from the Dead Sea. One can still see the good-sized creek flowing down the canyon, making En Gedi, with its waterfalls and vegetation seem more like a tropical paradise than the middle of the desert.
One can also see the numerous caves dotting the hills. This was a great place for David and his men to hide out. In the middle of barren desert, scouts could easily detect approaching troops. There was plenty of water and wildlife and many caves and defensive positions.
In the Cave
The sheepfolds: This indicates that this was a large cave, big enough to shelter a flock of sheep. All or most of David’s 600 men could hide in the recesses of the cave.
Saul went in to attend to his needs: Since the Bible is a real book, dealing with real people living real lives, we aren’t surprised to see it describe Saul’s attention to his personal needs. But something as basic and common as this was timed and arranged by God without Saul having any knowledge of God’s timing or arrangement of things.
The fact that Saul went in to attend to his needs also meant that he went into the cave alone. His soldiers and bodyguards were out of the cave waiting for him.
Coincidence Saul chose David’s cave?
- What are the chances? Saul must attend to his personal needs at the very moment he passes by the very cave where David hides. This was no coincidence but arranged by God to test David, to train David, and display David’s godly heart.
David’s men were excited at the opportunity and believed it was a gift from God. They knew it was no coincidence that Saul came alone into that cave at that moment. They thought this was an opportunity from God to kill Saul.
Apparently, on some previous occasion God promised David, “Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.” They believed that this was the fulfillment of the promise and that David needed to seize the promise by faith and by the sword.
We can imagine David listening to this counsel from his men and with his sword creeping quickly towards Saul, covered by the darkness of the cave. David’s men are excited; their lives as fugitives are about to end, and they will soon be installed as friends and associates of the new King of Israel. But as David came close to Saul and put forth his sword he didn’t bring it crashing down on Saul’s neck or thrust it through his back. Instead he secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
How did David sneak up on Saul unbeknownst?
- Saul may have laid his robe down in one part of the cave, and attended to his needs in another part, so David did not have to get right next to Saul to cut off a corner of his robe.
- There was enough noise and commotion from the thousands of men outside of the cave along with their horses that David was simply undetectable.
Why did David spare Saul?
- David knew God’s promise said, “You will inherit the throne of Israel.”
- David knew Saul was in the way of that promise.
- David knew it was disobedient of him to kill Saul because God put Saul in a position of authority
- David knew it was God’s job to take care of Saul not David’s. David wanted the promise to be fulfilled but he refused to try and fulfill God’s promise through his own disobedience.
Sometimes when we have a promise from God we think we are justified in sinning to pursue that promise. This is always wrong. God will fulfill His promises, but He will do it His way, and do it righteously. Instead, we need to be like Abraham, who obeyed God even when it seemed to be at the expense of God’s promise, willing to sacrifice the son of promise (Genesis 22). Even more, we need to be like Jesus, who didn’t take Satan’s offer to “win back the world” at the expense of obedience (Luke 4:5-8).
What did David know?
- David knew how to wait on the Lord
- David knew how to wait for the Lord
“We wait on the Lord by prayer and supplication, looking for the indication of his will; we wait for the Lord by patience and submission, looking for the interposition of his hand.” (Meyer) David was determined that when he sat on the throne of Israel it wouldn’t be because he got Saul out of the way but because God got Saul out of the way. He wanted God’s fingerprints on that work, not his own, and he wanted the clean conscience that comes from knowing it was God’s work.
We also see that David’s heart didn’t store up bitterness and anger towards Saul. Even as Saul made David’s life completely miserable, David kept taking it to the Lord, and he received the cleansing from the hurt, the bitterness, and the anger that the Lord can give. If David stored up bitterness and anger towards Saul, he probably wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation to kill him at what seemed to be a “risk free” opportunity.
Why did David feel guilty for cutting Saul’s robe?
- The robe was a symbol of Saul’s royal authority, and David felt bad – rightly so, according to the heart of God – that he had done anything against Saul’s God appointed authority.
- In that day, a man looked ridiculous with his clothes cut short. In 2 Samuel 10:4-5, cutting a garment was a deliberate insult that led to war.
David wouldn’t allow his men to kill Saul either, thereby taking the responsibility off his hands directly.
Why did David reveal himself to Saul?
- David cares for Saul and wants to reconcile with him.
Saul could have killed David when David bowed before him. David believed God would keep him safe as he did right before God.
David covers Saul’s sin and is careful not to blame Saul directly. David shows mercy and kindness to Saul. David will fulfill Proverbs 10:12: Love covers all sins, and 1 Peter 4:8: Love will cover a multitude of sins.
It is entirely wrong for people to use the idea of touch not the Lord’s anointed to insulate a leader from all evaluation or accountability. We can criticize and confront our pastors when they sin.
What does the tearing of Saul’s robe symbolize?
- The robe was a picture of Saul’s royal authority, and through this God said, “I am cutting away your royal authority.”
In 1 Samuel 15:27-28 the prophet Samuel rebuked Saul for his hard-hearted disobedience to God. In his distress, Saul tried to keep Samuel from leaving, and grabbed his robe, and a portion of the prophet’s robe tore away. When Saul was left holding the torn piece of Samuel’s robe, Samuel said to him: The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. Now, when David confronts Saul with the torn robe, Saul must be reminded of this incident, and God’s message to him was loud and clear.
It was God’s business to take Saul’s throne and no one else’s. Jesus established the same principle in Matthew 18:7 when He said, offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! God’s judgment is God’s business. We put ourselves in a bad place when we make ourselves instruments of God’s judgment.
David’s obedience to God and his love to Saul made all the difference in softening Saul’s heart.
Saul wanted the same kind of promise from David that he made to Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:13-16. In that day, when one royal house replaced another it was common for the new royal house to kill all the potential rulers from the old royal house. Saul knew that one day David and his descendants would rule over Israel, and he wants David to promise that David and his descendants will not kill or mistreat the descendants of Saul. David let Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth live (2 Samuel 9) in part because of his promise to Jonathan and Saul.
David stays away from Saul because he is unconvinced Saul’s heart is changed permanently.
Commentary Psalm 57:
Derek Kidner says of Do not Destroy: “This may well be a tune-indication. Isaiah 65:8, where the phrase is identified as a popular saying (perhaps a snatch of vintage song), and borrowed to become a reassuring word from God. Yet notice also David’s instructions about Saul, ‘Destroy him not’ (1 Samuel 26:9).”
Charles Spurgeon noted, “There are four of these ‘Destroy not’ Psalms, namely, the 57th, 58th, 59th, and 75th. In all them there is a distinct declaration of the destruction of the wicked and the preservation of the righteous.”
This is another Michtam, or Golden Psalm. The cave was probably Adullam cave, mentioned in 1 Samuel 22:1, though the caves of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1) are also a possibility. Adullam seems to be the best fit; therefore we can say that Psalm 34 is also associated with this period of David’s life.
David repeats the request of mercy twice. When he fled from Saul into the cave, he had been through several near-death terrors (see Psalm 56). David came to Adullam cave (1 Samuel 22) alone, discouraged, and in continued danger. He needs mercy right now, and God is his only hope.
Using a familiar image of a mother bird shielding her young from danger that we’ve seen before, David expressed his trust and hope in God for defense.
FUN FACT: This figure of speech is also used in three other Psalms (Psalms 17:8, 36:7, and 63:7). Jesus used this same word picture to show his love and desired care for Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37).
Morgan connected this with Psalm 55:6 (Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest). “There the desire was for the inefficient wings of a dove for flight. Here the sense is of the sufficient wings of God for refuge until calamities are past.” (Morgan)
God as Refuge
“We should notice that David does not call the cave his refuge, though it was a refuge in a certain physical sense. Rather it is God whom he calls his refuge.” (Boice)
David came to the cave alone, and God was his only help. Yet he was confident, knowing as a military man the strategic value of high ground in battle. He looked to help from the Most High who occupied the greatest high ground of all: heaven.
“It is a marvelous thing to consider God is literally willing to perform all things in us, and for us, if only we will let Him. The mischief is that most of us insist on performing all things in the energy of our own resolve, in the strength of our own power.” (Meyer)
Selah: “The Selah at the end of the clause is unusual in the middle of a verse; but it may be intended to underscore, as it were, the impiety of the enemy, and so corresponds with the other Selah in Psalms 57:6, which is also in an unusual place, and points attention to the enemy’s ruin, as this does to his wickedness.” (Maclaren)
Lions in the Bible
There may have been lions prowling around David’s shelter.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)
Spurgeon’s advice for believers who think they are among lions:
- You have fellowship with Jesus
- You will be driven closer to God
- God has them on a leash
- There is a more powerful Lion — the tribe of Judah
“The fiercest of beasts, the most devouring of elements, and the sharpest of military weapons, are selected to represent the power and fury of David’s enemies and the wretchedness of his present condition.” Horne
What did David know that we often forget?
- David knew all his problems came from earth; he would glorify God above the earth.
The pit prepared by enemies has instead trapped themselves who dug it.
The Psalm began with David twice appealing for mercy; now David twice expressed his steadfast confidence in God and sang.
The Psaltery [lute] was a stringed instrument, usually with twelve strings, and played with the fingers. The harp or lyre was a stringed instrument, usually consisting of ten strings.
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations: “These words, or their near-equivalent in Psalm 18:49, are taken with full seriousness in Romans 15:9as a prophecy which had to be fulfilled.” (Kidner)
Lessons from a cave:
- A cave narrows and darkens the vision of most people, but David’s heart and song exalted the mercy and truth of God even from the darkness.
- A cave was a long way from the throne of Israel God had promised David. David didn’t wait for his circumstances to change before he praised God. He knew they would change, and he thanks God ahead of time for it.
“The resurrection of Jesus from the grave, foreshadowed in the deliverance of David from the hand of Saul, was a transaction which caused the heavens and all the powers therein, to extol the mercy and truth of God.” (Horne)
Verse 11 repeats verse 5 because of its goodness and for emphasis (“Be exalted, O God”).
Commentary Psalm 142:
According to James Montgomery Boice, the Hebrew word for Contemplation (maskil) might be better understood as instruction. “He calls this prayer Maschil, ‘a Psalm of instruction,’ because of the good lessons he had himself learned in the cave, learned on his knees, and so learned that he desired to teach others.” (Matthew Henry, cited in Spurgeon)
The cave was probably Adullam cave, mentioned in 1 Samuel 22:1, though the caves of En Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1) are also a possibility. Adullam seems to be the best fit; therefore we can say that Psalms 34 and 57 are also associated with this period of David’s life.
“There are two notes running side by side throughout the song. The first is that of this terrible sense of helplessness and hopelessness so far as man is concerned. The other is that of the determined application of the helpless soul to Jehovah.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
David declares allegiance to God
Verse 1 is David’s declaration of allegiance to Yahweh, the God of Israel.
Spurgeon says of caves: “Caves make good closets for prayer; their gloom and solitude are helpful to the exercise of devotion. Had David prayed as much in his palace as he did in his cave, he might never have fallen into the act which brought such misery upon his later days.”
Is it wrong to “complain” to God?
David asks God’s help in the face of enemies who hoped to trap him, so this complaint is likely against his enemies. David did the right thing with his complaint; he brought it before the LORD.
“My complaint is not as petulant a word as in English, but might be rendered ‘my troubled thoughts’.” (Kidner)
“The outpouring of complaint is not meant to tell Jehovah what He does not know. It is for the complainer’s relief, not for God’s information.” (Maclaren)
I pour out: “Those words teach us that in prayer we should not try to keep anything back from God, but should show him all that is in our hearts, and that in his presence in our closet, with the door shut, but not before men.” (Neale and Littledale, cited in Spurgeon)
David had the heart later expressed by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
“David had no provisions, no followers, and no place to turn. David then went to Gath, the Philistine city, but this proved to be both dangerous and unworkable, and David eventually escaped into the wilderness again and hid in the cave of Adullam.” (Boice)
“It is not merely words that you have to utter, you have to lay all your trouble before God. As a child tells its mother its griefs, tell the Lord all your griefs, your complaints, your miseries, your fears. Tell them all out, and great relief will come to your spirit.” (Spurgeon)
God knows our journey
Anytime David felt overwhelmed, he found confidence in knowing that God knew his journey and his walk. God knows our path and our walk in all of its good and all of its bad.
Overwhelmed: “David was a hero, and yet his spirit sank: he could smite a giant down, but he could not keep himself up. He did not know his own path, nor feel able to bear his own burden.” (Spurgeon)
God could preserve him from secret snares. David knew that even if he were forsaken by men, God had not forsaken him. He had the confidence that God Himself was his portion, his inheritance.
The ‘right’ signifies the place where one’s witness or legal council stood.
Among men, David had no refuge (Psalm 142:4). David could confidently proclaim that God was indeed his refuge. The cities of refuge were for the protection of an Israelite in special circumstances, and David found his place of refuge not in a place or in a particular circumstance, but in the Lord Himself.
We can’t pretend before God
David once again brought his cry to the Lord, this time honestly confessing his low circumstances. David didn’t feel a need to pretend that everything was fine or that he wasn’t weak; he could come to God for help even when brought very low by persecutors who were stronger than David.
“The song ends with an earnest cry for deliverance and an affirmation of confidence that the cry will be heard and answered.” (Morgan)
They are stronger than I: This means that David well understood his present weakness. The one who killed Goliath felt himself to be very weak, which was a good place for David to be. God’s strength would soon flood his life.
“‘My soul’ is frequently a longer way of saying ‘me’.” (Kidner)
“‘Prison’ may denote actual imprisonment but may also be a metaphor for his desperate condition in the light of the allusions to adversity and isolation (cf. Psalm 107:10; Isaiah 42:7).” (VanGemeren)
Confidence in the Lord:
- David began the song with complaint (Psalm 142:2); he closes confident of praise to come.
- David began the song with a great sense of isolation (Psalm 142:4); he closes with confidence in soon companionship and support from the righteous.
- David began with the sense of being low and weak (Psalm 142:6); he closes confident in God’s future goodness, knowing that God would deal bountifully with him.
The righteous shall surround me: “The Hebrew translation means ‘shall crown me’; that is, shall encircle me, as wondering at thy goodness in my deliverance; or they shall set the crown on mine head.” (Trapp)
“Perhaps when David wrote the song he already began to realize that the crowd of men in debt, in danger, and discontented who were coming to him would presently bring him into his kingdom.” (Morgan)