1It came to pass when Saul was returned from following the Philistines that it was told him, saying, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of En-gedi.”
2Then Saul took 3,000 chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men on the rocks of the wild goats.
3He came to the sheep pens by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were abiding in the innermost parts of the cave.
4The men of David said to him, “Behold, the day of which Yahweh said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand and you will do to him as it will seem good to you.’” Then David arose and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe secretly.
5It came to pass afterward that David’s heart struck him because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.
6He said to his men, “Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, Yahweh’s anointed, to put forth my hand against him, since he is Yahweh’s anointed.”
7So David checked his men with these words and didn’t allow them to rise against Saul.
When Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth, and showed respect.
9David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to men’s words, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks your hurt?’
10Behold, this day your eyes have seen that Yahweh had given you into my hand today in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you and I said, ‘I will not put forth my hand against my lord, for he is Yahweh’s anointed.’
11Moreover, my father, behold, yes, see the skirt of your robe in my hand; for in that I cut off the skirt of your robe and didn’t kill you, know and see that there is neither evil nor disobedience in my hand and I have not sinned against you, though you hunt for my life to take it.
12“May Yahweh judge between me and you and may Yahweh avenge me of you; but my hand will not be on you.
13As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness,’ but my hand will not be on you.
14Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Whom do you pursue? A dead dog? A flea?
15May Yahweh therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see and plead my cause, and deliver me out of your hand.”
16It came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these words to Saul, that Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Saul lifted up his voice and wept.
17He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have done good to me whereas I have done evil to you.
18You have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, because when Yahweh had given me up into your hand, you did not kill me.
19For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away unharmed? Therefore may Yahweh reward you good for what you have done to me this day.
20“Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.
21Swear now therefore to me by Yahweh that you will not cut off my seed after me and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.”
22David swore to Saul. Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.