David Spares Saul’s Life, 1-22
24:1 (24:2) When Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, they told him, “Look, David is in the desert of En Gedi.” 24:2 So Saul took three thousand select men from all Israel and went to find David and his men in the region of the rocks of the mountain goats. 24:3 He came to the sheepfolds by the road, where there was a cave. Saul went into it to relieve himself.
Now David and his men were sitting in the recesses of the cave. 24:4 David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the LORD said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’ ” So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 24:5 Afterward David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off an edge of Saul’s robe. 24:6 He said to his men, “May the LORD keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the LORD’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the LORD’s chosen one.” 24:7 David restrained his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. Then Saul left the cave and started down the road.
David…cut off an edge of Saul’s robe – ‘This act was far from meaningless because David’s confiscation of a portion of the royal robe signified the transfer of power from the house of Saul to the house of David. Furthermore, by removing the corner of the robe, David made Saul’s robe to be in a state of noncompliance with Torah requirements (cf. Num 15:38–39; Deut 22:12); thus, Saul’s most obvious symbol of kingship was made unwearable. In essence, David had symbolically invalidated Saul’s claim to kingship.’ (Bergen)
David’s action again Saul ‘was more than an act against the king; it was rebellion against the Lord, who had commanded Israelites not to curse their rulers (Exod 22:28), and had previously punished Israelites who had expressed a rebellious attitude against constituted authority (cf. Num 12:2–15; 16:1–35).’ (Bergen)
“He is the Lord’s chosen one” – From this incident comes the widely (mis)applied principle that an ‘anointed’ minister of God is beyond criticism; indeed, that significant harm may come to the person who presumes to attack God’s ‘anointed’ in any way.
‘This ‘touching the Lord’s anointed’ comes from ‘a biblical principle observed in the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel 24:6, King David had just held back from an opportunity to kill his enemy and attacker, King Saul. He sneaked up on him and cut a small piece of King Saul’s robe off and later showed it to him as a sign that he meant him no harm and could have killed him but didn’t. The principle that guided David was that King Saul was still an anointed king of Israel and it was not David’s place to kill him or “touch” him. On this Old Testament principle of not killing kings, our church took touching the Lord’s anointed very seriously.’ (Hinn, Costi W. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel (p. 50). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)