For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Like all else in the OT, the incident recorded in 1 Sa 24 has a spiritual significance that goes far beyond its literal statement, for careful reading reveals it to be the vehicle by which God sets before us another beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

In the course of his pursuit of David in the wilderness of Engedi, Saul went into a cave in the sides of which David and his men had taken refuge.  Saul, unaware of their presence, had laid aside his robe while he relieved himself, and Davidís men urged him to kill Saul.  David, however, refused, and instead stealthily cut off a piece of his enemyís robe, after which Saul went on his way, oblivious that but for the mercy of the man he pursued so relentlessly, he would have been a dead man.

Shortly afterward David also left the cave, and holding up the severed piece of robe called after Saul, ď... see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it,Ē 1 Sa 24:11.

Saul, deeply moved, ďlifted up his voice and wept,Ē saying, ďThou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.  And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me: forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.... And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand,Ē (vv.16-20).

Few clearer pictures of Calvary are to be found in the pages of Scripture.

David here is a type of Christ; and Saul, a type of man in his natural state, his hatred of David being representative of the natural manís hatred of God.

As always in Scripture, the cave is a type of the place of death, and in the present instance, specifically a type of Calvary.  David was in the cave, not for any fault of his own, but because of Saulís sinful intent to add to his already long list of sins, the murder of Godís anointed.

The type was fulfilled at Calvary, the place of death, to which Christ, Godís anointed, came, not for any sin of His Own, but for manís sin against God (sin that was there crowned by the murder of Godís Son).  Like Saul, however, those who consigned Christ to death (and they are the representatives of all men), were ignorant of the fact that they were separated from death merely by the breath given them from the hand of the God they had so long defied, and Whose Son they slew.

Davidís men, urging the death of Saul, are easily seen to be representative of the law which similarly urges the death of the transgressor - and all have transgressed.

David risked his life to cut off that piece of Saulís robe, and prove his love for the man who was his enemy wrongfully; but at Calvary Christ gave His life to prove His love for men who were His enemies wrongfully.

Saulís emerging from the cave speaks of potential resurrection available to men, but resurrection that becomes actual only for those who trust in Christ as Savior.

Davidís leaving the cave is figurative of the resurrection of Christ; and his displaying the severed piece of cloth is symbolic of the Lordís supper. 

In that piece of robe, Saul read the measure of Davidís love, and the revelation caused him to weep, while he confessed his own  sinfulness, and acknowledged the worth of David, and announced the coming reign of the man he had sought to kill.

That type too is fulfilled on the first day of each week when the risen Lord displays the symbols of his love: the bread telling of His body given for us; and the wine reminding us that He shed His blood for the remission of our sins.

Sadly, however, Saulís tears are seldom duplicated by those to whom the emblems are displayed on the first day of each week; nor is Saulís ascription of worth to David duplicated in regard to Christ, by those whose redemption cost Him His life.  Saulís tears and confession rebuke the indifference with which we all too often keep the feast which has been designed to ďshew the Lordís death till He come,Ē 1 Co 11:26, and remind us of  ďthe love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,Ē Eph 3:19.


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough