Our reading begins today following Saul’s battle with the Philistines (see 23:28). David is still in Engedi, which is in Judah (24:1 – see 23:29 and Josh 15:62). So Saul takes some troops, and comes searching for him (v. 2). Providentially, Saul winds up in a cave, unaware that David and his men are there (v. 3). Note the misunderstanding of David’s men – they believe God is giving Saul into his hands (v. 4). Note that they say this is what the Lord promised, but there is no record of any such promise to David. And yet, David will certainly do as it seems good to him. He cuts off part of Saul’s robe (v. 4), which is a symbol of Saul’s kingship. This is why David feels guilty for doing it (v. 5) – he is through his action saying that Saul does not deserve to be king.
In verses 8-11, David shows Saul not only that God did providentially give him into David’s hand, but that David has shown him grace. Note that David still honors Saul as king (v. 8). In verse 12, David entrusts himself to Him Who judges rightly. He prays to God that Saul would see that David has done him no wrong (v. 15). And we see Saul (temporarily) repent of what he has done (vv. 16-19). He understands that David does not see him as an enemy (v. 19). And Saul recognizes that David is the true king (v. 20), and asks for David to continue showing him this grace when David is king. And David promises Saul that he will not wipe out his offspring when he is king (v. 22). David will make good on this promise in 2 Samuel 21.
We see in David grace shown even to those who would kill him. We also see an utter reliance on God and His plan. Everyone – even Saul at this point – know that David is the true king. And yet, David is patiently waiting for God to work all things out. We see in this grace and the reliance on God a pointer to Christ.
Psalm 57 is believed to have been written by David as he hid in the cave in 1 Samuel 24. Note the reliance on God to work all things out in His time. David has no intention of removing Saul from the throne, but waits on God. His refuge is God alone (57:1). He prays to God Who David knows has a purpose in all of it (vv. 2-3). David is secure in God even in the trials of this life (v. 4). Note in verse 6 the reference to his enemies falling into their own trap, a possible reference to Saul’s falling into David’s hands. In verses 7-10, David’s lament turns to praise for God. Note the chorus of David’s desire for God to be exalted (v. 5, 11). This is evident in his humility and lack of desire to exalt himself as king.
Psalm 58 is also believed to have been written as David was pursued by Saul right around the time of the event in the cave in Engedi. Note the harshness of some of these words. David decries idols (58:1-2), and idolaters (vv. 3-5). He then prays for God to punish them in vivid and horrible detail (vv. 6-9), and talks of how he would enjoy watching that judgment (vv. 10-11). Is this a suitable prayer for a man of God? Did the Holy Spirit inspire David to wish this upon Saul? Well, I do not believe that is what’s happening here. David is simply entrusting himself to Him Who judges rightly. This is not specifically about David or his enemies, but the righteousness of God and His judgment of the world.
Note that, like we have seen throughout the Old Testament, the problem with man is the idolatry of his fallen heart (vv. 1-2). This is because we are all born into sin (v. 3). And in our sin, we destroy (v. 4), and do not heed Him Who is our Lord (vv. 4-5 – symbolically a snake and his charmer). So the lost will be judged at the last day (vv. 6-9). God will destroy every weapon formed against Him (vv. 6-7). They will vanish like water in a river, or a snail that dissolves (vv. 7-8). This is the final judgment. In verse 8, the stillborn child is symbolic of those who are born in sin, and die in sin – those born in death. The righteous will rejoice in that day, for they will receive their reward, and exult in God’s justice (vv. 10-11). With this kind of faith, we can understand why David saw no reason to seek justice for himself.
Psalm 63 is believed to have been written by David while in the wilderness of Judah in Engedi (1 Samuel 24:1). This is a song of faith. David believes that God will make him king. He believes that God will justly judge Saul. He believes that God is all he needs. Without God, David has nothing (63:1). In verses 2-4 David sings some of the most beautiful words of Scripture. The faith it takes to live this out is remarkable, but we see David doing just that. David does not need what the world has to offer, but only God (v. 5). God preserves David (vv. 7-8), but will judge the wicked (vv. 9-10). Note in verse 10 that David prophesies of Saul’s death in battle. Note in verse 11 that “the king” shall rejoice in God. David knows God’s plan and will rely on Him to fulfill it.