En Gedi was a safe place for David until Saul brought his army of 3000 men there. They were skilled soldiers, who had plenty of experience of war in the desert. Again, David was in great danger. However, in the hills near En Gedi, there were plenty of places to hide. Davidís men could hide in vast caves when Saulís men approached.
On this particular occasion, Saul entered the actual cave where David was hiding. Saul was unaware that David was there. The Bible says that Saul went into the cave Ďto cover his feetí. That phrase probably means that he wanted to go to the toilet. He went into the cave because he did not consider it proper for younger men to see his naked body (compare Genesis 9:22-23).
The cave of course was dark, so Saul did not see Davidís men. However, they recognised Saul as he entered the cave.
Davidís men urged David to kill Saul. They argued that God had given that opportunity to David. They reminded David about a promise that God had given to him. We do not know when or how God gave that promise to David. However, all Davidís men knew that God had appointed David to be Israelís next king. Clearly, David could not rule Israel while Saul remained alive.
David absolutely refused to hurt Saul. God had appointed Saul to rule; David believed that he should always remain loyal to Saul. God might punish Saul, but David would not do it (26:9-10).
However, David saw that Saul had left his long coat by the entrance of the cave. David went and he cut off the lower part of that coat. By that action David probably intended to show that God had given him the authority to rule as Israelís next king. It is interesting to compare Davidís action here with the incident in 1 Samuel 15:27-28.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.