1 Samuel 24:9
And David said to Saul, Why hear you men's words, saying, Behold, David seeks your hurt?
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(9) Wherefore hearest thou men’s words?—David had many deadly enemies at the court of Saul, who evidently laboured with success to deepen Saul’s jealousy, and to widen the breach which already existed between the king and David. Doeg has been already mentioned as one of the more prominent of these slanderers; another was Cush the Benjamite, who was alluded to in the inscription which heads the seventh Psalm. The Ziphites and their representatives at the royal residence also belonged to this class of malicious foes spoken of here.

24:8-15 David was falsely charged with seeking Saul's hurt; he shows Saul that God's providence had given him opportunity to do it. And it was upon a good principle that he refused to do it. He declares his fixed resolution never to be his own avenger. If men wrong us, God will right us, at farthest, in the judgment of the great day.David was quite aware that there were flatterers at Saul's court who were continually inflaming the King's mind by their false accusations against him. This explains the language of many of the Psalms, e. g. Psalm 10; Psalm 11:1-7; Psalm 12:1-8; 35; and many more. 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).

He prudently and modestly translates the fault from Saul to his followers and evil counsellors. And David said to Saul, wherefore hearest thou men's words,.... The false charges and accusations, that some of Saul's courtiers brought against David, as Doeg the Edomite, and such like sycophants and flatterers, to whom Saul hearkened, and believed what they said, and acted upon it. David chose rather to lay the blame on Saul's courtiers than on himself; and he began with him in this way, the rather to reconcile him to him, and cause him to listen to what he had to say: and represents them as

saying to him:

behold, David seeketh thy hurt? seeks to take away thy life, and seize upon thy crown and throne; than which nothing was more foreign from him.

And David said to Saul, {e} Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?

(e) Contrary to the report of those who said David was Saul's enemy, he proves himself to be his friend.

9–15. David pleads his innocence

9. men’s words] Calumniators like “Cush the Benjamite,” against whom Psalms 7 is directed, strove to inflame Saul’s mind against David. That Psalm has been with much probability referred to this period of his life. David’s protestation of innocence in 1 Samuel 24:3-4 of the Psalm is closely parallel to his words in 1 Samuel 24:10-11; and his appeal to the judgment of Jehovah in 1 Samuel 24:8-9 of the Psalm resembles that in 1 Samuel 24:15.Verses 9, 10. - In his address David complained of Saul's listening to men's words, which slanderously represented him as lying in wait to kill the king (comp. 1 Samuel 22:8). In answer to their calumnies he now pleads Saul's own experience of his deeds. Some bade me kill thee. Hebrew, "he bade to kill thee." The literal rendering is, "Jehovah delivered thee today into my hand, and bade kill thee." The A.V. supplies some, or, more exactly, "one said." This is supported by the Syriac and Chaldee, but the literal rendering is probably the right one. Had David killed Saul, it would have seemed as if it were ordered by Providence so to be, and as if by putting Saul into his power God had intended his death. But what seem to us to be the leadings of Providence are not to be blindly followed. Possibly David's first thought was that God intended Saul to die, and so the Vulgate, "I thought to kill thee. But immediately a truer feeling came over his mind, and he recognised that opportunities, such as that just given him, may be temptations to be overcome. The highest principles of religion and morality do not bend to external circumstances, but override them. When Saul came to the sheep-folds by the way, where there was a cave, he entered it to cover his feet, whilst David and his men sat behind in the cave. V. de Velde (R. ii. p. 74) supposes the place, where the sheep-folds by the roadside were, to have been the Wady Chareitun, on the south-west of the Frank mountain, and to the north-east of Tekoah, a very desolate and inaccessible valley. "Rocky, precipitous walls, which rise up one above another for many hundred feet, form the sides of this defile. Stone upon stone, and cliff above cliff, without any sign of being habitable, or of being capable of affording even a halting-place to anything but wild goats." Near the ruins of the village of Chareitun, hardly five minutes' walk to the east, there is a large cave or chamber in the rock, with a very narrow entrance entirely concealed by stones, and with many side vaults in which the deepest darkness reigns, at least to any one who has just entered the limestone vaults from the dazzling light of day. It may be argued in favour of the conjecture that this is the cave which Saul entered, and at the back of which David and his men were concealed, that this cave is on the road from Bethlehem to Ain-jidy, and one of the largest caves in that district, if not the largest of all, and that, according to Pococke (Beschr. des Morgenl. ii. p. 61), the Franks call it a labyrinth, the Arabs Elmaama, i.e., hiding-place, whilst the latter relate how at one time thirty thousand people hid themselves in it "to escape an evil wind," in all probability the simoom. The only difficulty connected with this supposition is the distance from Ain-jidy, namely about four or five German miles (fifteen or twenty English), and the nearness of Tekoah, according to which it belongs to the desert of Tekoah rather than to that of Engedi. "To cover his feet" is a euphemism according to most of the ancient versions, as in Judges 3:24, for performing the necessities of nature, as it is a custom in the East to cover the feet. It does not mean "to sleep," as it is rendered in this passage in the Peschito, and also by Michaelis and others; for although what follows may seem to favour this, there is apparently no reason why any such euphemistic expression should have been chosen for sleep. "The sides of the cave:" i.e., the outermost or farthest sides.
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