1 Samuel 30 Study Notes
30:1 On Ziklag, see note at 27:6. The town was still under Philistine control (29:11). The Amalekites whom Saul should have destroyed (15:1-3) had raided the Negev (the southern region) and burned the city.
30:2-5 Though Saul had nearly destroyed the Amalekites (15:7-9), they did not retaliate in kind. Rather, they kidnapped the women and everyone in the city. David’s two wives did not escape the Amalekite attack, so he shared personally in the grief that others experienced.
30:6 The pain the troops felt over the loss of their sons and daughters led some to blame David for their troubles. Nonetheless, David found strength (lit “strengthened himself”) in the Lord his God, a testimony to his faith in difficult times.
30:7-8 David summoned the priest Abiathar to inquire of the Lord through the ephod (see note at 14:3).
30:9 The Wadi Besor lay about fifteen miles south of Ziklag.
30:10 A third of David’s warriors were too exhausted to continue farther because of: (1) their fifty-five-mile journey from Aphek to Ziklag over three days (29:11-30:1), (2) the emotional pain of seeing Ziklag destroyed and their families gone, and (3) the fifteen-mile trek from Ziklag to the Wadi Besor.
30:11-14 The Cherethites lived along the coast near the Philistines (Ezk 25:16). The south country of Caleb denoted the region around Hebron (Jos 14:13-14; 15:13-15). The words we burned Ziklag implicated the Egyptian in the battle; at the same time they provided David a potential opportunity.
30:15 David asked whether the man now had more loyalty to those who had saved his life than to those who had left him for dead. The man’s reply shows he realized he was in a difficult situation. He had implicated himself in the battle at Ziklag, so he wanted some assurance that David would not cast him aside as his master had.
30:16 The language emphasizes how the Amalekites were not expecting any kind of retaliation from either the Philistines or Judah, but they underestimated David’s resolve.
30:17 Despite the long journey David and his men had undertaken, they received renewed energy from finding their families alive and from discovering the Amalekites so vulnerable.
30:18-19 The Lord’s hand on David’s army was evident as David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including all the people.
30:20 The phrase all the flocks and herds designates additional animals not part of the people’s assets at Ziklag, since it was called David’s plunder.
30:21 On the two hundred exhausted men, see note at v. 10.
30:22 Normally the victorious soldiers would divide the spoils of the battle. Some of those who had fought did not want to share any of the plunder with those who were too tired to proceed past the Wadi Besor.
30:23 David’s reply revealed his character. He emphasized that the Lord had protected them and brought the victory. Who could have imagined the rescue of absolutely everything they lost with no loss of life?
30:24 David’s insistence that warriors and keepers of the supplies would share equally in the spoils parallels the concept of the unity of the body of Christ described in the NT (Rm 12:3-8).
30:25 David’s decision about the equitable distribution of plunder became a law and an ordinance for future generations. The specific mention of Israel anticipates David’s reign over the entire country. On it still continues today, see note at 6:17-18.
30:26 The plunder of the Lord’s enemies came most recently from the Amalekites, but it may have included property that the elders of Judah would recognize as formerly taken from them in Amalekite raids.
30:27 The exact location of most of the places in Judah mentioned in vv. 27-31 is uncertain. Ramoth of the Negev is mentioned in Jos 19:8. Jattir was a Levitical city (Jos 21:14), designated for the Levites with its surrounding pasture lands.
30:28 Eshtemoa was also a Levitical city (Jos 21:14).
30:29 The Jerahmeelites and Kenites lived in the areas where David had fought and destroyed Israel’s enemies (27:10).
30:30 Hormah was a place that the Israelites had fought and conquered at least three times (Nm 21:3; Jos 12:14; Jdg 1:17).
30:31 Hebron, Judah’s natural capital, lay about nineteen miles south of Jerusalem in the Judean hill country. Hebron was conquered by Caleb during Joshua’s time (Jos 14:13-14), and it became both a Levitical city (Jos 21:13) and a city of refuge (Jos 20:7). After Saul’s death, the city became David’s capital for seven and one-half years (2Sm 5:5).