1 Samuel 30

1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negeb and on Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag, burned it down,
2 and taken captive the women and all who were in it, both small and great; they killed none of them, but carried them off, and went their way.
3 When David and his men came to the city, they found it burned down, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.
4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep.
5 David's two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel.
6 David was in great danger; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in spirit for their sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
7 David said to the priest Abiathar son of Ahimelech, "Bring me the ephod." So Abiathar brought the ephod to David.
8 David inquired of the Lord, "Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?" He answered him, "Pursue; for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue."
9 So David set out, he and the six hundred men who were with him. They came to the Wadi Besor, where those stayed who were left behind.
10 But David went on with the pursuit, he and four hundred men; two hundred stayed behind, too exhausted to cross the Wadi Besor.
11 In the open country they found an Egyptian, and brought him to David. They gave him bread and he ate; they gave him water to drink;
12 they also gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins. When he had eaten, his spirit revived; for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.
13 Then David said to him, "To whom do you belong? Where are you from?" He said, "I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite. My master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago.
14 We had made a raid on the Negeb of the Cherethites and on that which belongs to Judah and on the Negeb of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag down."
15 David said to him, "Will you take me down to this raiding party?" He said, "Swear to me by God that you will not kill me, or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them."
16 When he had taken him down, they were spread out all over the ground, eating and drinking and dancing, because of the great amount of spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
17 David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not one of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled.
18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken; and David rescued his two wives.
19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken; David brought back everything.
20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, which were driven ahead of the other cattle; people said, "This is David's spoil."
21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the Wadi Besor. They went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. When David drew near to the people he saluted them.
22 Then all the corrupt and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, "Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may take his wife and children, and leave."
23 But David said, "You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us; he has preserved us and handed over to us the raiding party that attacked us.
24 Who would listen to you in this matter? For the share of the one who goes down into the battle shall be the same as the share of the one who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike."
25 From that day forward he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel; it continues to the present day.
26 When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, "Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the Lord";
27 it was for those in Bethel, in Ramoth of the Negeb, in Jattir,
28 in Aroer, in Siphmoth, in Eshtemoa,
29 in Racal, in the towns of the Jerahmeelites, in the towns of the Kenites,
30 in Hormah, in Bor-ashan, in Athach,
31 in Hebron, all the places where David and his men had roamed.

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 1

  • [a]. Gk: Heb lacks [and all]

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