Don't Cut Corners | 1 Samuel 24:1-7

1 Samuel 24:1-4a (HCSB)
When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines,  he was told, “David is in the wilderness near En-gedi.”  2 So Saul took 3,000 of Israel’s choice men and went to look for David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 When Saul came to the sheep pens along the road, a cave was there, and he went in to relieve himself. David and his men were staying in the back of the cave,  4 so they said to him, “Look, this is the day the LORD told you about: ‘I will hand your enemy over to you so you can do to him whatever you desire.’

  • The writer of 1 Samuel again leaves it up to the reader to decide whether this event is a coincidence or not.
  • David’s men didn’t see this as mere coincidence. No, God has delivered Saul, into David’s hands.
  • The Lord never promises that David will be able to deal with his enemies however he desires.

1 Samuel 24:4b (HCSB)
Then David got up and secretly cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.

  • When Scripture says David “got up,” the Hebrew might suggest more than just the physical act of standing up.
    • David had made up his mind. He was resolved.
    • Whatever David did, he did it with his whole heart. His mind was fixed.
  • Saul’s regnal robe would have identified him as the king of Israel.
    • By cutting the corner of his robe, David brings Saul’s robe into a state of nonconformity with legal standards. Therefore, his act may be seen as an invalidation of Saul’s kingship.
  • As we read Scripture, the tearing or removal of one’s garments publicly displayed despair, mourning, or loss of status.

>>> Ironically, this isn’t the first time Saul was part of robe tearing ceremony.

1 Samuel 15:13-14 (NLT)
When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!” 14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.
1 Samuel 15:24-28 (NLT)
Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. 25 But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.” 26 But Samuel replied, “I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.” 27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you.
  • David’s act my symbolically represent his usurpation of the kingdom. 

Holding Corners

If true forgiveness and restoration is going to take place in your relationship, you’ve got to give up your right to hold on to their robe.

1 Samuel 24:5-7 (HCSB)
Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.  6 He said to his men, “I swear before the LORD: I would never do such a thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed.  I will never lift my hand against him, since he is the LORD’s anointed.”  7 With these words David persuaded his men, and he did not let them rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and went on his way.

  • To help us understand why David is so bothered it’s important that we not forget where David is.
  • He is hiding in a cave near the sheep pens. We’ve seen David near the sheep before…
1 Samuel 16:10b-12 (NLT)
But Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.” “Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.” 12 So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes. And the LORD said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

Don't Cut Corners

  • In the cave, is Saul, who represents the position David has been called to.
  • Outside the cave, the sheep pen represents the position David came from.
    • How we get where we’re going is more important than the destination or the starting point.
    • This is why you can chase after things and never feel satisfied. You’re chasing for the wrong reasons.
  • David standing between the sheep pen and his destiny, cuts a corner.
  • He’s conscience-stricken because David realizes he’s not that kind of king. 
  • He remembered who he was. He’s not the kind of king that cuts corners. This isn’t how I do it.


David says, “I will not become king this way.” Not like this.

David will take no active role in securing the crown. He will not grasp, but will have the crown only as a gift. -Walter Brueggemann

David finds himself in the gap between where he started from and where God has called him and determines, “I will not become something I’m not in the pursuit of what God has called me to.”

God can’t honor the promise if I don’t honor the process. -Steven Furtick

We must not compromise the word of God in order to advance the will of God.
The temptation David faced was similar to that of Christ:

Matthew 4:8-10 – Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
I can’t achieve the purpose of God by breaking the commands of God. -J.D. Greear

Psalm 57:2 (NLT)
I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.

  • This is the Psalm David wrote in the cave.
  • David remembered whose battle this was to fight. 

Take vs Trust

Taking matters into our hands:

  1. Revenge
    • Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. -Romans 12:19
  2. Stolen Pleasure
  3. Compromise
  4. Getting ahead of God


  • Biblical patience does not mean being passive.
  • David is doing all he can, within the will of God, to change the situation. He protects himself by running; he confronts Saul and passionately pleads his case. He just refuses to cross that line into compromise and sin.
  • It is only by waiting on God, and by pursuing God’s purposes in God’s ways with God’s timing, that you experience God’s blessings.
  • The biggest enemy in your life Christian is not Saul; it’s your inability to wait. Waiting is the most important skill to have as a believer.

God wants to give you the whole robe David, not just a corner of it.

If you commit to honor the process, God will honor the promise.
We have to get to the place where our confidence is in God who will fulfill his promise for me.