Opportunity Vs. Mandate

In 1 Samuel 24:3, And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where [was] a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet. What does it mean to “cover his feet” and why would he not have heard David cutting off a piece of his skirt?

Q. In 1 Samuel 24:3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where [was] a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.

What does it mean to “cover his feet” and why would he not have heard David cutting off a piece of his skirt?

A. The phrase “cover his feet” meant to rest, or take a nap. If he left his feet uncovered Saul would have been unable to sleep because the cool air of the cave would make his feet cold. David, who was hiding further back in the cave, crept up and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe while he slept.

The opposite of this is described in Ruth 3:4. Naomi instructed Ruth to uncover the feet of Boaz as he slept on the threshing room floor. She knew this would awaken him.

The passage in 1 Samuel 24 can be used to teach us the difference between opportunity and mandate. Many otherwise obedient Christians have seen the mere opportunity to take some action as the signal that it’s God’s will for them to do so. Then, after their action failed to produce the desired result they wonder if God changed His mind.

David showed us the fallacy of such thinking. Even though his men felt sure that God was giving David permission to kill or capture Saul by providing this opportunity, David only took enough action to show Saul what he could have done. He believed that as God’s anointed Saul had a right to his loyalty and should not be treated in this manner. David was content to bide his time until God provided unmistakable evidence the it was time for him to take over. This evidence came in the death of Saul by his own hand.

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