David refuses to kill Saul
1 When Saul had finished fighting against the Philistines, he returned to his home. Someone told him that David was in the desert at En Gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 of the best soldiers in Israel. They went to look for David and his men near Wild Goat Rocks.
3 Saul came to the place near the road where the shepherds keep their sheep. There was a cave near to this place. Saul went in there to use it as a toilet.
David and his men were hiding at the back of the same cave. 4 David's men said to him, ‘This is the day that the Lord told you about! The Lord said to you, “I will give your enemy to you. Then you can decide what is the right thing to do to him.” ’ So David stood up very quietly. He went and he cut off a small piece of cloth from Saul's coat. Saul did not know what had happened.
5 After that, David thought that he had done something wrong. He felt sorry that he had cut a piece of cloth from Saul's coat. 6 David said to his men, ‘I ask the Lord to stop me doing anything wrong to my master. The Lord has chosen him to be Israel's king. I must never do anything to hurt him. He is the king that the Lord has chosen.’ 7 David spoke like this to stop his men from attacking Saul.
Then Saul left the cave and he started to travel along the road.
8 After that, David went out of the cave. He shouted to Saul, ‘My master and my king!’ Saul looked behind him. David went down on his knees with his face on the ground to respect the king. 9 David said to Saul, ‘You should not listen to the people who say, “David wants to hurt you.” 10 You can see that the Lord has kept you safe today when I had a chance to hurt you in the cave. Some of my men wanted me to kill you, but I did not agree. I said, “I will not hurt my master, because the Lord has chosen him to be king.” 11 My father, look at what I have in my hand! It is a small piece of your coat. I cut this off the corner of your coat, but I did not kill you. So you must know that I do not want to do anything bad against you. I have not turned against you. I am not guilty of anything, but you are chasing after me so that you can kill me. 12 The Lord is the judge who will decide which of us is guilty. I pray that he will punish you for what you are doing to me. But I myself will never do anything to hurt you. 13 You know the proverb, “Evil people do evil things.” But I will never try to hurt you. 14 You are Israel's king. So why are you chasing after someone like me? I am less important than a dead dog or a little fly! 15 The Lord will be the judge to decide who is right. I pray that he will see that I am not guilty. I pray that he will save me from your power.’
16 When David stopped speaking, Saul said, ‘Is that really you, David my son?’ Then Saul started to weep loudly. 17 He said to David, ‘You are a better man than I am. You have been kind to me even when I have tried to hurt you. 18 You have shown me today how kind you have been to me. The Lord gave you a chance to hurt me, but you did not kill me. 19 If someone catches his enemy, he does not let him escape. But you have not tried to hurt me today. So I ask that the Lord will bless you in return. 20 I know that you will be the king of Israel one day. The kingdom will be strong when you rule. 21 So promise me in the Lord's name that you will not kill any of my descendants. Please make sure that people do not forget my family's name.’
22 So David made a strong promise to Saul. Then Saul returned to his home. But David and his men went back to the place where they had been hiding.