1 Samuel 24:16
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.
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(16) These words.—L. Philippson (in the Israelitish Bible, Leipzig) sums up strikingly the general effect of David’s moving but natural words to Saul. “This appeal possesses so much natural eloquence, such warmth, such true earnestness, that no one who has any love for the simple beauties of the Bible can read it unmoved. There is a striking grandeur, too, in the whole scene. We see David standing on some peak in this wilderness of rocks, holding up the trophy of his romantic generosity, gazing at and addressing the melancholy Saul, whom he loved as a father, paid homage to as a king, and reverenced as the Lord’s Anointed, but who, for his part, hated him without a cause, and hunted him down with a restless, murderous zeal; and (as David stood there and gazed on Saul) he seized the opportunity, and tried to touch his royal enemy’s heart with words, hurried, indeed, and quickly spoken, but breathing the intense earnestness of his inward feeling. He was overwhelmed with the consciousness of a sorrow too deep for words, yet he spoke as one inspired with the knowledge of a noble deed just done.”

And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.—And for a time the words, but still more the forbearance, of David in the cave touched Saul to the quick. He not only spoke kindly to the hated David, but even wept. There is nothing strange in this sudden change of feeling in one so nervous and excitable as was Saul. It is clear that for the moment Saul meant to alter his conduct to David, but the sad sequel shows that the impression made was only transitory; and David, by his conduct, clearly saw this, for he made—as the last verse of the chapter shows us—no effort to return to his old home and position with Saul, but maintained his independent, though precarious, position as an outlaw.

1 Samuel 24:16. Is this thy voice, my son David? — He knew his voice, though, being at a great distance from him, he could not discern his face. Saul lifted up his voice and wept — Being overcome with David’s kindness, in sparing his life when he could have taken it away, and conscious of his base carriage toward him. He speaks as one that relented at the sight of his own folly and ingratitude. “David’s kindness,” says Samuel Clark, “drew tears from hard-hearted Saul, as Moses fetched water out of the flinty rock,” Deuteronomy 8:15. Perhaps, however, he was also affected with a sense of his sins against God. But it does not appear from his future conduct that he was a true penitent, for he did not bring forth fruits meet for repentance.

24:16-22 Saul speaks as quite overcome with David's kindness. Many mourn for their sins, who do not truly repent of them; weep bitterly for them, yet continue in love and in league with them. Now God made good to David that word on which he had caused him to hope, that he would bring forth his righteousness as the light, Ps 37:6. Those who take care to keep a good conscience, may leave it to God to secure them the credit of it. Sooner or later, God will force even those who are of the synagogue of Satan to know and to own those whom he has loved. They parted in peace. Saul went home convinced, but not converted; ashamed of his envy to David, yet retaining in his breast that root of bitterness; vexed that when at last he had found David, he could not find in his heart to destroy him, as he had designed. Malice often seems dead when it is only asleep, and will revive with double force. Yet, whether the Lord bind men's hands, or affect their hearts, so that they do not hurt us, the deliverance is equally from him; it is an evidence of his love, and an earnest of our salvation, and should make us thankful.After whom ... - i. e., was it consistent with the dignity of the king of Israel to lead armies in pursuit of a weak and helpless individual like David? 1Sa 24:8-15. He Urges Thereby His Innocency.

8-15. David also arose … and went out of the cave, and cried after Saul—The closeness of the precipitous cliffs, though divided by deep wadies, and the transparent purity of the air enable a person standing on one rock to hear distinctly the words uttered by a speaker standing on another (Jud 9:7). The expostulation of David, followed by the visible tokens he furnished of his cherishing no evil design against either the person or the government of the king, even when he had the monarch in his power, smote the heart of Saul in a moment and disarmed him of his fell purpose of revenge. He owned the justice of what David said, acknowledged his own guilt, and begged kindness to his house. He seems to have been naturally susceptible of strong, and, as in this instance, of good and grateful impressions. The improvement of his temper, indeed, was but transient—his language that of a man overwhelmed by the force of impetuous emotions and constrained to admire the conduct, and esteem the character, of one whom he hated and dreaded. But God overruled it for ensuring the present escape of David. Consider his language and behavior. This language—"a dead dog," "a flea," terms by which, like Eastern people, he strongly expressed a sense of his lowliness and the entire committal of his cause to Him who alone is the judge of human actions, and to whom vengeance belongs, his steady repulse of the vindictive counsels of his followers; the relentings of heart which he felt even for the apparent indignity he had done to the person of the Lord's anointed; and the respectful homage he paid the jealous tyrant who had set a price on his head—evince the magnanimity of a great and good man, and strikingly illustrate the spirit and energy of his prayer "when he was in the cave" (Ps 142:1).

Is this thy voice, my son David? he knew his voice though being at a great distance from him, he could not discern his face.

And wept; partly from the sense of his sin against God, and of his wicked and base carriage to David; (for there are some such temporary passions oft-times in hypocrites and ungodly men;) and principally from the remembrance of so great and so late a danger as he had now escaped; which commonly produceth grief and tears; as 2 Samuel 13:36. Yet these may be tears of affection or tenderness (upon the sense of David’s kindness) rather than of grief.

And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul,.... And wonderful it is that Saul, so full of wrath and fury, and so eager of David's life, should stand still and hear him out, and not fall upon him; this must be owing to the restraining providence of God, and to the surprise Saul was in at the sight of David coming out of the cave, whom he expected not; and especially what awed and quieted him was the sight of the skirt of his robe in his hand, which was a sure token he had his life in his hand, and spared it, which made him listen attentively to all he said:

that Saul said, is this thy voice, my son David? he changes his language; before, when he spoke of David, it was only the so of Jesse now my son David, as he was by marriage to his daughter, and as appeared by his filial affection to him; and though he was at such a distance from him, that he was not able to discern his countenance, yet he knew his voice, at least supposed it to be his, as his question implies, and which he might conclude fro in the whole of his discourse:

and Saul lifted up his voice and wept; being affected with the kindness of David to him, and with his deliverance from the danger he was in, and yet without true repentance of his sins; for there may be many tears shed where there is no real repentance, as in the case of Esau.

And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words unto Saul, that Saul said, {f} Is this thy voice, my son David? And Saul lifted up his voice, and wept.

(f) Though he was a cruel enemy to David, yet by his great gentleness his conscience compelled him to yield.

16–22. Saul’s momentary remorse

16. my son David] The old fatherly feeling revived. The generous loving heart of the old days had not yet utterly perished.

Verse 16. - This address of David produced a lively effect upon Saul. Philippson says of it, "The speech of David has so much natural eloquence, such warmth and persuasiveness, that it can be read by no one who has any feeling for the simple beauties of the Bible without emotion. The whole situation, moreover, has much of sublimity about it. We see David, standing on the summit of some rock in the wilderness, raising on high the trophy of his magnanimity, while addressing the melancholy Saul, whom he loved as a father, obeyed as king, and honoured as the Lord's anointed, but who nevertheless hated him without reason, and followed him with unremitting energy to put him to death; using his opportunity of touching the heart of his enemy with words hurried, but expressive of his innermost feelings, and showing himself full of humility, oppressed by unutterable sorrows, bowed down by the feeling of his powerlessness, yet inspirited by the consciousness of a noble deed." So affected is Saul by David's words that he breaks into tears, affectionately addresses David as his son, and acknowledges his innocence and the uprightness of his cause. 1 Samuel 24:16These words made an impression upon Saul. David's conduct went to his heart, so that he wept aloud, and confessed to him: "Thou art more righteous than I, for thou hast shown me good, and I((have shown) thee evil; and thou hast given me a proof of this to-day."
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