1 Samuel 24:5 MEANING

1 Samuel 24:5
(5) David's heart smote him.--Not for what he had done to Saul, but his conscience smote him for the momentary thought that had stained his soul of slaying the Lord's Anointed. This is better than with Clericus to say, "David was afraid that Saul would take this, though a clear sign of his [David's] magnanimity, in bad part, and regard it as a violation of his royal majesty." There is no sign at all of David's even regretting he had cut off the fringe of the king's garment. It was the far more terrible thought of slaying the God-anointed king which troubled David. The words of the next verse show us clearly what was passing in his mind when he gravely rebuked his men, and evidently restrained them, with some little trouble, from rushing upon Saul, even after he had left the sleeping form, with the piece of the mantle in his hand. The Hebrew word rendered "stayed" is a forcible one, and, literally, would be crushed down. There is a curious Note, however, in the Babylonian Talmud on this passage in the Book of Samuel which tells how David cut off a piece of Saul's robe, in which the act is evidently very strongly condemned. Rabbi Yosi ben Rabbi chanina on the words, "Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily," said, "Whoever treats clothes slightingly will at last derive no benefit from them, for it is said (1 Kings 1:1), 'And they covered him [David] with clothes, but he gat no heat.'"--Treatise Berachoth, fol. 62, Colossians 2.

This is evidently one of the "cryptographs," of which there are such innumerable instances in the Talmud. The lesson intended to be taught by the famous Rabbi was probably intense reverence for the teachers and guides of Israel, here represented by Saul; any act of disrespect shown to one of these, even by injuring the clothes they wore, would be punished by God sooner or later.

24:1-7 God delivered Saul into David's hand. It was an opportunity given to David to exercise faith and patience. He had a promise of the kingdom, but no command to slay the king. He reasons strongly, both with himself and with his men, against doing Saul any hurt. Sin is a thing which it becomes us to startle at, and to resist temptations thereto. He not only would not do this bad thing himself, but he would not suffer those about him to do it. Thus he rendered good for evil, to him from whom he received evil for good; and was herein an example to all who are called Christians, not to be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him,.... His conscience accused him, and he repented of what he had done:

because he had cut off Saul's skirt; which though less than what his servants put him upon, and he might have thoughts of doing, yet was considered by him as a great indignity to his sovereign, and therefore sat uneasy on his mind.

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