The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
Then David withdrew, and made the fastness of Engaddi his home.
So, when Saul returned from driving the Philistines away, word was brought to him, David is over yonder, in the desert of Engaddi;
and with three thousand picked men from the Israelite ranks he went to hunt out David and his followers, though it were among rocks so steep that only the wild goats could find a footing.
Close by some sheep-folds that met him on his way, there was a cave, into which Saul went to ease himself; and in the inner part of this same cave, David and his men lay hidden.
Now, David’s servants told him, the time has come which the Lord foretold to thee, when he promised he would put thy enemy at thy mercy. Whereupon David rose to his feet, and silently cut off the skirt of Saul’s cloak.
Then his heart smote him, that he had even mutilated Saul’s cloak;
God be merciful to me, said he to his men, never may I do such despite to the Lord’s unction, as to lay hands on the king he has anointed!
So, with a word, he checked his men, and would not let them do Saul any violence.
When Saul left the cave, to go forward on his march, David followed him; he too left the cave, crying out after him, My lord king! And when Saul looked behind him, there was David bowing to the earth in reverence.
Why wouldst thou lend an ear, David asked him, to such as tell thee David is thy enemy?
Thou canst see with thy own eyes that the Lord put thee at my mercy, yonder in the cave, and the thought came to me that I might kill thee. But no, I looked down and spared thee; Never will I lift a hand, thought I, against the king the Lord has anointed.
Do but look, my father, on what I hold in my hand; dost thou recognize the skirt of thy cloak? The skirt of thy cloak I cut off; kill thee I would not. Think on this, and tell thyself that there was never despite or wrong on my part, never a fault committed against thee; it is thou that art plotting against me, ready to compass my death.
The Lord pass sentence between us; it is for the Lord to avenge me on thee; this hand shall never be lifted against thee.
(So the old proverb says, Leave wrong to the wrong-doer, my hand shall not touch thee.) A fine quarry thou huntest, king of Israel,
a fine quarry indeed! A dead dog, a flea, is all thy quest.
The Lord give sentence between us; the Lord witness and redress my wrongs, and rescue me from thy power.
All this David said to him, and then Saul asked, Is it thy voice I hear, my son David? and wept aloud.
Thou givest better measure, he said, than I; thou returnest good for evil, and I evil for good.
And thou hast shewn thyself a true friend this day, sparing my life when the Lord had put it at thy mercy;
should a man meet his enemy, and let him go unharmed? The Lord reward thee for this day’s kindness.
This I know past all doubt, that one day thou wilt be king, and have this realm of Israel in thy power;
swear to me in the Lord’s name that thou wilt not destroy the posterity which survives me, wilt not leave my name forgotten in the record of my father’s race.
So David bound himself to Saul by oath, and Saul went home, while David and his followers returned to their hill-fastness.
The Holy Bible