1 Samuel 24:11
See, my father, look at the corner of your robe in my hand. For I cut it off, but I did not kill you. See and know that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands. I have not sinned against you, even though you are hunting me down to take my life.
David Sparing Saul's LifeG. T. Coster.1 Samuel 24:11
David Sparing His EnemyT. W. Hooper, D. D.1 Samuel 24:3-22
David Sparing His EnemyMonday Club Sermons1 Samuel 24:3-22
Saul and David in the CaveH. E. Stone.1 Samuel 24:3-22
CalumnyB. Dale 1 Samuel 24:8-12
1 Samuel 24:8-12. (ENGEDI.)
Wherefore hearest thou men's words, saying, David seeketh thy hurt? (ver. 9). Saul's hatred and persecution of David were stirred up by slanderers; and, in vindication of himself from the charge of seeking his hurt, David referred to them on this and on a subsequent occasion (1 Samuel 26:19). One of them seems to have been Cush the Benjamite (see Kitto, 'D.B. Illus.'), on account of the calumnies of whom he wrote Psalm 7., 'The righteous judgment of God' (see inscription): -

"Jehovah my God, in thee have I found refuge;
Save me from my persecutors and deliver me!" How much he felt the wrong which they had done him, and how intensely his zeal burned against their sin against God and man, appears in many of his psalms (Psalm 24:13; 35:11; 52:2; 56:5; 57:4; 59:7, etc.). Good men are often exposed to the calumnious attacks of men of similar character.

"Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow,
Thou shalt not escape calumny."

I. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST ODIOUS OF VICES. It is "the uttering of false (or equivalent to false, morally false) speech against our neighbour in prejudice to his fame, his safety, his welfare, or concernment in any kind, out of malignity, vanity, rashness, ill nature, or bad design" (Barrow, Ser. 18.); and it is exhibited in an endless variety of ways.

1. It is marked by falsehood, folly, injustice, malice, and impiety.

2. It exerts a most pernicious influence. The tongue on which it dwells is like a fire, which (though at first but a single spark) may set a whole forest in a blaze (James 3:5); is "full of deadly poison," and sends forth "arrows, firebrands, and death." In private reputations, domestic life, social intercourse, the Church and the world, what mischief it works!

3. It is frequently forbidden and condemned in the word of God (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 10:31; 1 Corinthians 6:9). "I say unto you that every idle (empty, insincere, wicked, and injurious) word," etc. (Matthew 12:36, 37). "God is angry (with the wicked) every day" (Psalm 7:11).

II. IT OUGHT NEVER TO BE COUNTENANCED. "Wherefore hearest thou?" No one should listen to it; for by doing so -

1. He encourages the wicked in their wickedness (Proverbs 25:23). "When will talkers refrain from evil speaking? When listeners refrain from evil hearing" (Hare).

2. He injures himself; becomes a tool of designing men, and is led to do things which his better nature cannot approve; whilst, at the same time, he manifests his own unreasonableness and sinful disposition.

3. He makes himself "partaker of their evil deeds," and exposes himself to the same condemnation. Although incited by others, Saul was not guiltless in "hunting after" the soul of David "to take it" (ver. 11).

III. IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE MET IN A RIGHT MANNER by those who are calumniated; as by -

1. An open assertion of innocence, direct denial and rebuke of false statements, and faithful remonstrance against their being entertained. "Whose mouths" (says Paul concerning unruly and vain talkers and deceivers) "must be stopped" (Titus 1:11).

2. A clear proof of innocence afforded by becoming, righteous, and merciful actions (vers. 10, 11; compare Psalm 7:3, 4).

3. A sincere appeal to God as the Vindicator of the innocent; lowly submission to his will and firm confidence in the manifestation of his righteous judgment. "The justice of God is a refuge and comfort to oppressed innocency" (M. Henry). "The Lord judge between me and thee," etc. (ver. 12).

"Jehovah judgeth the people.
Judge me, O Jehovah, according to my righteousness,
And according to my integrity be it done to me.
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end,
And establish thou the righteous;
For thou that triest the hearts and reins art a righteous God.
My shield is with God,
Who delivers the upright in heart"

(Psalm 7:8, 9, 10) Learn -

1. To use the gift of speech in speaking well, and not ill, of others.

2. To rely on God more than on your own efforts for your vindication when evil spoken of.

3. The blessedness of those against whom men "say all manner of evil falsely" for Christ's sake. - D.

I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not.
We are taught: —


II. ATTENTION TO CONSCIENCE IN LITTLE THINGS. When Saul slept in the cave at Engedi David spared his life, but not the skirt of his robe. That was cut off, to be visible token to the king of his exposure to David's power. It was a little thing to do, and from one urged to a great and deadly. But his "heart smote him." He had a conscience in little things. He must be stringent in obedience to it. Would that he always had been! Little things! So we speak. But these make the staple of life. This is the great need — for Christian men to reverence conscience in so-called little things, in all things. Home life remitter, purer, friendship firmer, business more honest and unselfish — these are "evidences of Christianity" which the enemy cannot gainsay or resist.


IV. THE PATIENCE OF FAITH. David "believed God." The crown was Divinely assured him. He could wait God's time for it.

V. THE TRUTH OF REPENTANCE. Saul shed tears enough, and made vows enough. But it availed nothing. Quick to repent he was quick to fall into the old sin. Soon, in spite of solemn protestations, we find him again pursuing David. The truth of repentance is not to be read in tears.

(G. T. Coster.)

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