The soldier scrambled down the mountainside. He might have slipped on some gravel, then got his balance and ran on. “Saul and his soldiers are coming!” he may have gasped to David. “King Saul is coming with thousands of soldiers!” (See 1 Samuel 24:2.)
No longer a boy, David and his 600 men quickly climbed up to a big cave where they could hide. The cave was very dark and still. David and his men crouched behind big boulders. They barely breathed.
David and his men had been running away from King Saul and his soldiers for months. King Saul had made it known he wanted to hurt David. Why? Because King Saul was jealous of David’s victories in battle. The people loved David. They even made up a song about him, comparing him to King Saul. King Saul didn’t like that at all!
Suddenly a man walked into the cave. A very tall, big man. Saul! The king turned and faced the entrance of the cave. He squatted down and pushed his robe out behind him.
“Look!” one of the hiding men whispered into David’s ear. “God is giving you a chance to do whatever you want to King Saul.”
“I cannot,” David replied. “God has made him king. I cannot harm him.”
Then David took his sharp knife out of his belt. He crept slowly and noiselessly toward King Saul, then reached out and cut off a piece of the king’s robe.
David crept soundlessly back to his men. But he began to feel bad about cutting the king’s robe.
When Saul stood up and left the cave, David followed him. “King Saul!” he shouted.
Saul turned around quickly and saw David standing at the entrance of the cave.
“My men and I could have killed you,” David said. “But I will never hurt you because you were chosen by God.
“Look!” David shouted as he held up the piece of material he had cut from the king’s robe. “This proves that I could have hurt you.”
“Is that really you, David?” Saul called back. “You are a better man than I am,” he said with tears running down his face. “You have been merciful. I know that you will surely be the king of Israel after me. Just promise me that you will not hurt my family.”
So King Saul and his 3,000 soldiers began the long trip back home.
God was happy with the way David treated Saul that day.