1 Samuel 30

The Amalekite raid on Ziklag

1 Three days later, David and his soldiers reached Ziklag. The Amalekites had raided the arid southern plain and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it down,
2 taking the women and everyone in the city prisoner, whether young or old. They hadn't killed anyone but carried them off and went on their way.
3 When David and his soldiers got to the town and found it burned down, and their wives, their sons, and their daughters taken prisoner,
4 David and the troops with him broke into tears and cried until they could cry no more.
5 David's two wives had been captured as well: Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal's widow from Carmel.
6 David was in deep trouble because the troops were talking about stoning him. Each of the soldiers was deeply distressed about their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
7 David said to the priest Abiathar, Ahimelech's son, "Bring the priestly vest to me." So Abiathar brought it to David.
8 Then David asked the LORD, "Should I go after this raiding party? Will I catch them?" "Yes, go after them!" God answered. "You will definitely catch them and will succeed in the rescue!"
9 So David set off with six hundred men. They came to the Besor ravine, where some stayed behind.
10 David and four hundred men continued the pursuit, while two hundred men stayed there, too exhausted to cross the Besor ravine.
11 They found an Egyptian in the countryside and brought him to David. They gave him bread, and he ate, and they gave him water to drink.
12 They also gave him a piece of fig cake and two raisin cakes. He ate and regained his strength because he hadn't eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and nights.
13 Then David asked him, "Whose slave are you? Where do you come from?" "I'm an Egyptian servant boy," he said, "and the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I got sick three days ago.
14 We had raided the arid southern plain belonging to the Cherethites, the territory belonging to Judah, and the southern plain of Caleb. We also burned Ziklag down."
15 "Can you guide me to this raiding party?" David asked him. "Make a pledge to me by God that you won't kill me or hand me over to my master," the boy said, "and I will guide you to the raiding party."
16 So the boy led David to them, and he found them scattered all over the countryside, eating, drinking, and celebrating over the large amount of plunder they had taken from Philistine and Judean territory.
17 David attacked them from twilight until evening of the next day. He killed them all. No one escaped except four hundred young men who got on camels and fled.
18 David rescued everything that the Amalekites had taken, including his own two wives.
19 Nothing was missing from the plunder or anything that they had taken, neither old nor young, son nor daughter. David brought everything back.
20 David also captured all the sheep and cattle, which were driven in front of the other livestock. The troops said, "This is David's plunder!"
21 David reached the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow him and had stayed behind at the Besor ravine. They came out to greet him and the troops who were with him. When David approached them, he asked how they were doing.
22 But then all the evil and despicable individuals who had accompanied David said, "We won't share any of the plunder we rescued with them because they didn't go with us. Each of them can take his wife and children and go—but that's it."
23 "Brothers!" David said. "Don't act that way with the things the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the raiding party that had attacked us.
24 How could anyone agree with you on this plan? The share of those who went into battle and the share of those who stayed with the supplies will be divided equally."
25 So from that day forward, David made that a regulation and a law in Israel, which remains in place even now.
26 When David returned to Ziklag, he sent some of the plunder to the elders of Judah and to his friends. "Here is a gift for you from the plunder of the LORD's enemies," he said.
27 It went to those in Bethel, Ramoth of the arid southern plain, Jattir,
28 Aroer, Siphmoth, Eshtemoa,
29 Racal, the towns of the Jerahmeelites, the towns of the Kenites,
30 Hormah, Bor-ashan, Athach,
31 Hebron, and all the places where David and his soldiers had spent time.

1 Samuel 30 Commentary

Chapter 30

Ziklag spoiled by the Amalekites. (1-6) David overtakes the Amalekites. (7-15) He recovers what had been lost. (16-20) David's distribution of the spoil. (21-31)

Verses 1-6 When we go abroad in the way of our duty, we may comfortably hope that God will take care of our families in our absence, but not otherwise. If, when we come off a journey, we find our abode in peace, and not laid waste, as David here found his, let the Lord be praised for it. David's men murmured against him. Great faith must expect such severe trials. But, observe, that David was brought thus low, only just before he was raised to the throne. When things are at the worst with the church and people of God, then they begin to mend. David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. His men fretted at their loss, the soul of the people was bitter; their own discontent and impatience added to the affliction and misery. But David bore it better, though he had more reason than any of them to lament it. They gave liberty to their passions, but he set his graces to work; and while they dispirited each other, he, by encouraging himself in God, kept his spirit calm. Those who have taken the Lord for their God, may take encouragement from him in the worst times.

Verses 7-15 If in all our ways, even when, as in this case, there can be no doubt they are just, we acknowledge God, we may expect that he will direct our steps, as he did those of David. David, in tenderness to his men, would by no means urge them beyond their strength. The Son of David thus considers the frames of his followers, who are not all alike strong and vigorous in their spiritual pursuits and conflicts; but, where we are weak, ( 2 Corinthians. 12:9 2 Corinthians. 12:10 ) poor Egyptian lad, scarcely alive, is made the means of a great deal of good to David. Justly did Providence make this poor servant, who was basely used by his master, an instrument in the destruction of the Amalekites; for God hears the cry of the oppressed. Those are unworthy the name of true Israelites, who shut up their compassion from persons in distress. We should neither do an injury nor deny a kindness to any man; some time or other it may be in the power of the lowest to return a kindness or an injury.

Verses 16-20 Sinners are nearest to ruin, when they cry, Peace and safety, and put the evil day far from them. Nor does any thing give our spiritual enemies more advantage than sensuality and indulgence. Eating and drinking, and dancing, have been the soft and pleasant way in which many have gone down to the congregation of the dead. The spoil was recovered, and brought off; nothing was lost, but a great deal gained.

Verses 21-31 What God gives us, he designs we should do good with. In distributing the spoil, David was just and kind. Those are men of Belial indeed, who delight in putting hardships upon their brethren, and care not who is starved, so that they may be fed to the full. David was generous and kind to all his friends. Those who consider the Lord as the Giver of their abundance, will dispose of it with fairness and liberality.

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 30

This chapter relates the condition Ziklag was in when David and his men came to it, the city burnt, and their families carried captive by the Amalekites, which occasioned not only a general lamentation, but mutiny and murmuring in David's men, 1Sa 30:1-6; the inquiry David made of the Lord what he should do, who is bid to pursue the enemy; and being directed by a lad where they were, fell upon them, and routed them, and brought back the captives with a great spoil, 1Sa 30:7-20; the distribution of the spoil, both to those that went with him, and to those who through faintness were left behind, 1Sa 30:21-25; and the presents of it he sent to several places in the tribe of Judah, who had been kind to him when he dwelt among them, 1Sa 30:26-31.

1 Samuel 30 Commentaries