New English Translation
David Spares Saul's Life
1 When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, they told him, "Look, David is in the desert of En Gedi." 2 So Saul took three thousand select men from all Israel and went to find David and his men in the region of the rocks of the mountain goats. 3 He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. 4 David's men said to him, "This is the day about which the LORD said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.'" So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul's robe. 5 Afterward David's conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul's robe. 6 He said to his men, "May the LORD keep me far away from doing such a thing to my LORD, who is the LORD's chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the LORD's chosen one." 7 David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down the road.
8 Afterward David got up and went out of the cave. He called out after Saul, "My LORD, O king!" When Saul looked behind him, David kneeled down and bowed with his face to the ground. 9 David said to Saul, "Why do you pay attention when men say, 'David is seeking to do you harm'? 10 Today your own eyes see how the LORD delivered you - this very day - into my hands in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I had pity on you and said, 'I will not extend my hand against my LORD, for he is the LORD's chosen one.' 11 Look, my father, and see the edge of your robe in my hand! When I cut off the edge of your robe, I didn't kill you. So realize and understand that I am not planning evil or rebellion. Even though I have not sinned against you, you are waiting in ambush to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between the two of us, and may the LORD vindicate me over you, but my hand will not be against you. 13 It's like the old proverb says: 'From evil people evil proceeds.' But my hand will not be against you. 14 Who has the king of Israel come out after? Who is it that you are pursuing? A dead dog? A single flea? 15 May the LORD be our judge and arbiter. May he see and arbitrate my case and deliver me from your hands!"
16 When David finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, "Is that your voice, my son David?" Then Saul wept loudly. 17 He said to David, "You are more innocent than I, for you have treated me well, even though I have tried to harm you! 18 You have explained today how you have treated me well. The LORD delivered me into your hand, but you did not kill me. 19 Now if a man finds his enemy, does he send him on his way in good shape? May the LORD repay you with good this day for what you have done to me. 20 Now look, I realize that you will in fact be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand. 21 So now swear to me in the LORD's name that you will not kill my descendants after me or destroy my name from the house of my father."
22 David promised Saul this on oath. Then Saul went to his house, and David and his men went up to the stronghold.
King James Version
1 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 En-gedi.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
5 And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.
6 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.
7 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.
8 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.
9 ¶ And David said to Saul, Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?
10 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.
11 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.
12 The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
13 As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
14 After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
15 The LORD therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see, and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand.
16 ¶ 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.
17 And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.
18 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.
19 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.
20 And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
21 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.
22 And David sware unto Saul. And Saul went home; but David and his men gat them up unto the hold.