The dusty, hot air coated Saul’s parched throat. He coughed and reached for his wine-skin. “When will we reach En-gedi?” he asked his armor-bearer. “This weather is unbearable.”
“I hope so. David had better be there. Knowing he’s still out there plotting…sets my teeth on edge.”
“You should have no problem now. I heard he only has six hundred men, while you bring three thousand elect troops.” The warriors bustled behind the king, wanting to find David to get home and out of the sun.
“Yes, I know.” Saul sulked. “It’s a five-to-one match. But I can’t relax until that traitor is dead at the other end of my spear.” He clenched the weathered spear, its handle rubbed smooth from all the times Saul ran his nervous fingers over it. “But for now, I think we all need a break.”
The troops collapsed under the trees and rocky crags in cool, shady spots. Saul handed his spear to his armor bearer and headed for a nearby cave. He knew he drank too much water from his wine-skin.
As he slipped inside the cave, some specific individuals further inside spotted him. David and his men just happened to be hiding inside that very cave! His men whispered excitedly to David, “Look! Now’s your chance! He’s alone and unarmed! You can end this hunt and finally go home!”
David slipped stealthily down the cool, dark passageway toward his enemy with a sharp dagger in hand. Saul rested against a tall rock and was enjoying a moment of cool stillness. You monster, David thought. You took the lives of innocent families and now seek mine relentlessly. Why God had you anointed for king I’ll never know.
The men waiting down the tunnel waited for the blood-curdling cry from Saul…but there was only silence. Eventually David came slinking back, an unbloodied knife in one hand, and a scrap of cloth in the other.
“Did you kill him?” they asked in hushed tones.
David’s eyes grew sad in the semi-darkness. “I couldn’t do it. He is a murderer and hunted me like a dog for months…but he is still God’s anointed king. I cannot take his life.”
* * *
Saul descended the rocky slope to his troops and his ears prickled when he heard his name called. “My lord, the king!”
That voice! The voice he had trained himself to hear and strike down. From the man he detested and wanted dead. He whirled around. That man…was bowing down.
David lay on his stomach just outside the cave, and he shouted to Saul. “Why do you keep pursuing me? You think I’m trying to harm you? Look!” He rose slightly and all of Saul’s troops were watching him now. A lone archer near the back raised his bow toward David’s chest, an arrow notched to his ear.
David held the scrap high. “This is from your robe! I cut it myself in the cave when you weren’t looking. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it then.”
Saul snatched his robe’s edge and held it up. Just as David said, a small section had been cut away. Saul’s face twisted and he was silent. David spoke.
“My king, you have done some awful things, and God will judge you, but I won’t.”
Then Saul, the mighty king of Israel, began to weep. The archer lowered his weapon.
“David, I am so sorry,” the king mourned. “You are a far better person than I am. I know you will be king after me.”
In the end, Saul left David, and he no longer had to run. After God rescued him, he penned words that have encouraged people for thousands of years.
“I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”
(Psalm 18:1-2, NIV)
Copyright 2012 by Molly Anderson. Use by permission only.