I Samuel 30
DAVID UPON HIS RETURN FINDS ZIKLAG BURNT
BY THE AMALEKITES (vs. 1-6).
1 “And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag
on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and
smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;” On the third day. David evidently
could not have gone with the Philistines s far as to Shunem; for, as noticed in the
previous chapter, it would have been impossible to march back to Ziklag in so
short a time. But as he had
gone first to
his vassals, and then marched northwards with the army for two days, he must
altogether have been absent from Ziklag for some little time. The
Amalelkites. Doubtless they were glad to retaliate upon David for his
cruel treatment of them; but, besides, they lived by rapine, and when the
fighting men of Philistia and of
just the opportunity which they wished of spoiling the defenseless country.
The south. I.e. the Negeb, for which see ch. 27:10. It was the name especially
given to the southern district of Judah, whence these freebooters turned
westward towards Ziklag. They would probably not dare to penetrate far into
either territory. The word for invaded is the same as in ch. 27:8, and implies
that they spread themselves over the country to drive off cattle and booty, but
with no intention of fighting battles.
2 “And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew
not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on
their way. 3 So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was
burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters,
were taken captives. 4 Then David and the people that were with him
lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess,
and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.” They slew not any. No resistance
was made, as the men of war were all away. It was probably for thus leaving their
wives and families absolutely defenseless that David’s people were so angry
with him. As we are told in ch. 27:3 that the refugees with David had brought
each his household with him into the Philistine territory, the number of
women must have been large. The Amalekites spared their lives, not
because they were more merciful than David, but because women and
children were valuable as slaves. All the best would be picked out, and sent
6 “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning
him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for
his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the
LORD his God.” The soul of all the people was grieved. Hebrew, “was bitter.”
Their great sorrow is pathetically described in v. 4. But, as is often the
case with those in distress, from grief they turned to anger, and sought
relief for their feelings by venting their rage upon the innocent. Possibly
David had not taken precautions against a danger which he had not
apprehended; but, left almost friendless in the angry crowd who were
calling out to stone him, he encouraged himself in Jehovah, his God.
Literally, “strengthened himself in Jehovah, and summoned the priest to
ask counsel and guidance of God by the ephod.
Faith Reviving in Distress (v. 6)
corrected by the rod. Quickly he fell stroke after stroke.
Ø First he had to bear the galling scorn and suspicion of the Philistine lords.
This was all he had gained by cajoling their king.
Ø Next he had to see Ziklag plundered and burnt. This was all he had gained
by attacking the Amalekites and concealing the deed.
Ø Next, and in some respects most trying of all, he saw the loyalty of his
own followers swept away in their passionate grief. “The people spake
of stoning him.”
This was all he had gained by all his unworthy devices to save his own life.
All refuge failed him. So God in loving kindness scourges His children now
when they have faltered in faith, and, mistrusting His defense, have betaken
themselves to some Ziklag, some position unworthy of them. Their new
confidences reject them, and they have to sit like David in dust and ashes.
returned to his DIVINE STRONGHOLD! “He encouraged himself in
Jehovah his God.” Mark the contrast with Saul. When that unhappy king
was stricken he departed from God more and more, hardened his heart in
pride, found no place of repentance, and at last betook himself to
unhallowed and forbidden arts. So we find Saul passing from gloom into
thicker and blacker shadow, while David emerges into the sunshine. Such
is the happy experience of many of the children of God. FAITH revives in
distress, and darkness turns to light. This, too, as the New Testament
teaches us, always by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit, reviving
childlike trust rekindling holy courage. The way in which David’s
recovered faith wrought in him is full of instruction for us.
Ø Revived faith RESTS ON THE DIVINE WORD OF PROMISE! David had
let the promise of the kingdom made to him through Samuel slip from his mind
when he began to despair of his life; and it is remarkable that he gave way
to this fear at a time when there was a lull in the persecution directed
against him. But when real danger was upon him, when he had lost all, and
his own followers turned against him, his faith again caught hold of the
Divine promise. He could not die then and there, for the purpose of the
Lord must stand, the word of the Lord must be fulfilled. Now those who
believe in Christ have the promise of eternal life in Him. In hours of relaxed
diligence they perhaps let it slip; but under real pressure faith revives and
grasps the promise again. They shall not perish. They may be humbled and
distressed, and they will acknowledge that they have brought this on
themselves; but they are persuaded that He is faithful who promised, and so
will not cast them off. He has said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake
thee; so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper and I will not
fear what man can do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Ø Revived faith takes to prayer and to diligent effort. The first thing which
David did was to inquire of God. Faith restored always acts thus. Rising
against discouragement, it is sure that God can:
o turn darkness into light,
o loss into gain,
o death into life,
and simply asks for direction. “What shall I do? Shall I sit still, or shall I
move? Shall I pursue?” There are trials and dangers in which the only
wise course is to be quite patient and passive; “their strength is to sit still.”
(Isaiah 30:7) When Daniel was cast to the lions den his faith was
shown in not struggling with the wild beasts, but sitting among them calm
and still till rescue came at break of day. So may a Christian fall into a den
of troubles out of which no effort of his own can bring him up; and his faith
is shown in prayer and waiting on God, who is able to send His angel to
minister to the weak and protect the helpless. Those whose faith has not
failed at all may do more than pray — may sing praises, as Paul and Silas
did in the dark dungeon. (Acts 16) Other cases there are, and more frequent,
in which prayer should be promptly followed by active exertion. David did
not ask the Lord to work a miracle, or send angels, to restore to him what
the Amalekites had taken. It was possible for him and his men to pursue,
overtake, and defeat the spoilers. So he asked the Lord whether he should
pursue; and receiving the Divine command to do so, he addressed himself
at once to the pursuit, and obtained a splendid success. Such is the
energetic action of revived faith. Difficulties go down before its
resolutions, and lost things come back to him who boldly pursues. Tears of
defeat are turned into songs of victory. The troubles that afflict the people
of God are to a large extent chastisements for UNBELIEF or
UNFAITHFULNESS. At the time they are not joyous, but grievous;
nevertheless, afterward they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to
those who are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11) Such are sufferings in
sympathy with David. But to some extent those troubles are in sympathy
with and for the sake of the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ. In such
a case we have the comfort that:
“Christ leads us through no darker rooms
Than He went through before.”
He is touched with a feeling of our infirmities. (Hebrews 4:15) He has wept
and He has loved. So if we are despoiled, He is our present help (Psalm 46:1),
and through Him we may do valiantly (Psalm 108:13), and recover all.
If messengers of Satan buffet us, His grace is sufficient for us, for His
“strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:7,9)
DAVID’S PURSUIT OF THE AMALEKITES (vs. 7-16).
7 “And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray
thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the
ephod to David. 8 And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I
pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And He answered him,
Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.”
Looking only to Jehovah for aid, David sends for Abiathar, who seems to have
remained constantly with him, and bids him consult Jehovah by the Urim. In
strong contrast to the silence which surrounds Saul (ch. 28:6), the answer is
most encouraging. Literally it is, “Pursue; for overtaking thou shalt overtake,
and delivering thou shalt deliver.”
9 “So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him,
and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind
stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two
hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over
the brook Besor.” Having obtained this favorable answer, David starts in
pursuit with his old band of 600 men. So rapid was his march that one third
of these dropped out of the ranks, so that the newcomers from Manasseh
would have been useless, nor had they lost wives or children. The brook
(or rather “torrent”) Besor practically remains unidentified, as the site of
Ziklag is unknown; but possibly it is the Wady-es-Sheriah, which runs into
sea a little to the south of
were left behind stayed. Hebrew, “the stragglers stayed.” It seems also to
have been wide enough to cause some difficulty in crossing, as it is said
that these 200 were too faint, or tired, to go over the torrent Besor. From
v. 24 we find that David also left with them as much as possible of his
baggage. Stragglers had no doubt been falling out for some time, but
would here be rallied, and obtain rest and refreshment.
The Spiritual Uses of Calamity (vs. 1-10)
The facts are:
1. David, on returning to Ziklag with his men, discovers that the
Amalekites had smitten it and carried off the families as captives.
2. In their deep distress David and his men weep bitterly.
3. On a mutiny arising among his men, threatening his life, David betakes
himself to God for comfort and guidance.
4. Inquiring of God through the high priest, he receives assurance of
success in pursuing the Amalekites, and therefore, leaving the faint at
Besor, he presses on with the rest of his force.
The sojourn of David in the country of the Philistines had thus far been conducive to
his safety, and events had seemed to justify the step taken when, from fear of being
slain by Saul, he without positive Divine direction left his native land. It is true
the ambiguous position into which he had brought himself exposed him for
a while to a danger of being treacherous to his protector or hostile to his
countrymen, but this peril had at last been providentially obviated by the
opening of a door of escape. It must, therefore, have been intensely
mortifying, and, as the event proved, impressively instructive, to learn, just
when the joy of escape was at its height, that his self-chosen course had
issued in a terrible disaster. A great calamity had come, but religiously it
proved a blessing, which fact may be generalized by saying that calamities
brought on by the mistakes of good men have important religious uses.
OWN POLICY OF DISTRUST OF GOD’S CARE IS NO GUARANTEE
FOR FREEDOM FROM ANOTHER. David, without good reason distrusting
the care of God, thought he should one day perish by the hand of Saul
(ch. 27:1), and therefore, taking his own course, sought safety under the
protection of Achish. We know how groundless was his fear; but, apart
from that, events proved that though the dreaded evil was escaped, another
most terrible one came. Nor is there much defense for the self-chosen
policy in saying that his own life was secure, for escape from Saul gave no
immunity from death by the hands of other men, and there are calamities
even worse than death. We are too often influenced by present dangers,
forgetful that though we avoid them we have no security in that avoidance
from others equally fearful. The Israelites feared the giants reported to
occupy the promised land, and escaped being, as they groundlessly
thought, slain by them; but they saw not the physical miseries and the
exclusion from the promised land consequent on choosing thus to escape.
David ought to have profited by their example, as also should we from his.
The application of this to common life is obvious.
REVEALS ITS CHARACTER IN ANY POSITIVE DISASTER. The
ambiguous position of David rendered the months during which he was
with Achish a season for verifying the wisdom of his policy. Although
slight inconveniences arose which necessitated minor expedients, as when
he sought a separate city and made raids apparently on the
(ch. 27:5, 10), yet no event transpired to awaken manifest regret
for the course pursued. It was only toward the end of the sojourn in the
land of the Philistines that his policy bore the bitter fruit referred to in this
section. Trouble came at last in addition to the mental embarrassments
which had been a secret in his own breast. So long as moral laws have
force will every false policy tend to disaster, the form and degree of it
being determined by the nature of the case. Men may go on hoping for
exemption from trouble, concealing the occasional fears and
embarrassments of their own heart, successful escape may be well nigh
assured, there may be even joy at the thought of providential deliverance
from impending perils; but just then, from unexpected quarters, a blow may
fall which confirms the truth that it is better to trust in the Lord than to
listen to the fears of a wayward heart.
Abraham, successful at first, issued in loss of ALL IN
timid policy avoided the scorn and stones of the Ninevites, and bid fair to
secure life and peace; but the storm arose, and a trouble quite unforeseen
sprang forth. In commerce, in Church action, and domestic arrangements,
distrust of God and self-seeking cannot but issue in evil, though the evil
seem to tarry and be beyond calculation.
APPROACH TO THAT WHICH SELF-CHOSEN POLICY WAS
DESIGNED TO AVOID. David lost his family and his property, the next
best things to his own life, and also was put in as much danger of being
slain by his own men as ever he had been by Saul. He virtually found
himself as he was when the distrust of God’s care suggested a flight from
the promised land, encountered the physical giants, famine and plague, and
at last left their carcasses in the wilderness. A merchant, by irreligious
policy, may for a season avoid ruin, and yet by the means devised
ultimately bring on an event equally disastrous.
CALAMITY IS TO REVEAL TO HIM THE FOLLY AND EVIL OF
HIS SELF-CHOSEN POLICY. It often requires a heavy blow to awaken
us from our complacent belief in our own wisdom. Such a blow fell on
David in the desolation of his city, the loss of his wives, the injury to his
adherents, and the mutiny of his own friends and admirers. The well woven
veil of expediency which imagination and reason had fabricated during the
past sixteen mouths was thus rudely rent, and he saw at once how much
better it would have been for him and his people to have continued trusting
to the care of God in
depart. The reference to David encouraging himself in God (v. 6) implies
the prostration of his spirit in the new light which had broken in upon him.
He had not sought
the Lord on leaving
mistake. Here notice the diverse effect of calamity on men of real piety and
men of no vital religion. David is humbled before God, sees his error, is
bitterly penitent; whereas Saul in all his calamities persists in his self-will,
and hardens his heart against God. The truly religious spirit may err, may
become wretched in its wanderings from God, may for a long season
cleave to its self-produced miseries, but when brought face to face with
great calamity that bespeaks the judgment of God, at once bows in sorrow
and shame, recognizing what an evil and bitter thing it is to depart from the
living God. How many a backslider and erring man has had occasion to
bless the disaster that rent the delusion of their life and revealed their sin!
THROW A GOOD MAN MORE ENTIRELY UPON GOD FOR HELP
AND GUIDANCE. David, humiliated, self-condemned, looking on to the
future not knowing what best to do, took heart by casting his burden on
the Lord, and seeking through the appointed channel specific directions as
to the future. Affliction worked the fruit of righteousness. This is the
proper religious use of all calamity, whether in the nation, the Church, our
business, our domestic affairs, or the unrecorded events of private life.
Jacob’s trouble consequent on his falsehood brought him nearer to God at
developed a trust in God and earnest looking for His guidance not known in
former days. There is good reason for all who are smitten with sorrow
brought on by folly and sin to encourage themselves in God; for, as to
David so to all His children, He is a covenant keeping God, having prepared
for us a kingdom that cannot be moved. He it is who allows the trial to fall
not for our injury, but for our profit, that we may be partakers of His
holiness; the abandonment to ourselves and to the suffering of trouble is all
in mercy, and specially intended to remind us of the security and rest to be
found in Him; and He is willing to hear our cry, and to cover all the sins of
the past, as well as to vouchsafe the aid necessary to escape from the
present anguish, and even to make it issue in some permanent spiritual
advantage. We may therefore “hope in God” when all help fails (compare
Psalm 42:5; 56:13; Isaiah 54:8; Jeremiah 3:12; Hebrews 12:5-12).
Confidence in God (vs. 1-10)
“But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God” (v. 6). Delivered
from their embarrassing position in the Philistine army, David and his men
set out early in the morning, and by forced marches (evident from the
exhaustion of one third of them, v. 10) arrived at Ziklag on the third day.
Instead of being welcomed by their wives and children, they found the city
a smoking and desolate ruin. “When we go abroad we cannot foresee what
evil tidings may meet us when we come home again. The going out may be
very cheerful, and yet the coming in very doleful” (Matthew Henry). The
Amalekites (whom Saul had failed to exterminate, and David often
attacked) had been there, and, in revenge for what they had suffered, had
carried off the undefended people and property, and given the place to the
flames. Deeming their recovery hopeless, the strong men wept like children
“until they had no more power to weep.” Then their grief turned to
exasperation, and seeking a victim on which to expend their wrath, they
fixed on David, and “spake of stoning him” as the cause of all their misery.
He was reduced to the utmost extremity, and could not fail to see in his
trouble a just chastisement for his unbelief, prevarication, and cruelty.
Possibly the reinforcements that “fell to him as he went to Ziklag”
(I Chronicles 12:20) rendered him valuable service. But his hope was not in
man; and instead of resigning himself to despair (like Saul), he was
impelled by his distress and deprivation of human help to seek help in God
alone. “The long misery of the first stage of his public career seems to have
reached its culminating point. When things are at the worst, as the common
proverb says, they must mend. And from that moment when he believingly
cast all his dependence upon the Lord his God only, whom he had found
faithful in all His promises, and whose providence had never failed him in
his deepest dangers, from that moment he was safe, from that moment he
was prosperous” (Kitto). Concerning the confidence in God which he
exhibited (therein setting an eminent example to others), observe that:
an adequate conviction of their own helplessness; and one aim of the
Divine discipline is to produce it. “When I am weak,” said Paul, “then am I
strong” — when I feel my utter weakness under the pressure of trial, then I
am constrained to depend on the Lord, and become imbued with his
strength (II Corinthians 12:10). In the exercise of “the same spirit of
faith” others “out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight,
turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:34). True faith
and spiritual power have their foundation amidst the “dust and ashes” of
self-abasement and self-distrust. Confidence in God began to revive in
David when Ziklag was reduced to ashes. The same thing is often
occasioned in others by means of:
Ø Sudden and severe bereavement; wife and children, it may be, taken
away with a stroke.
Ø The failure of cherished plans and purposes; the loss of property through
robbery by men or accidents by fire or flood, the breakdown of health, the
disappointment of long expectation.
Ø The falling away of friends; their unreasonable anger and bitter
reproaches. It must have been peculiarly painful to David to bear the
mutiny of his own men, to witness the selfishness of many of them
(v. 22), and to learn what little confidence could be put in man (Psalm
146:3). He was left almost alone.
Ø The upbraiding of conscience for past sin. Trouble is a powerful means
of bringing sin to remembrance (I Kings 17:18).
Ø The threatening of danger; the presence of “the king of terrors” (Job
Ø The lack of wisdom and power to deliver from distress. When we
become fully aware of our utter helplessness, two courses lie open before
o either to sink into despair or
o to cast ourselves wholly upon God.
That the latter may be taken trial is sent; it is taken by him whose heart is in
the main right with God, and it is never taken in vain.
not comfort him self in his wives, nor his children, nor his goods, nor in
anything under the sun, he could in something above the sun. And the
reason is at hand: God is the God of all consolation, the spring of comfort;
if any water, it is in the sea; if any light, it is in the sun; if any comfort, it is
in God — there it rests, there it is when nowhere else. GOD IS ALL-
SUFFICIENT, here the heart finds every want supplied, every good thing
lodged. As God is all-sufficient to furnish us with all necessaries, so infinite
in power, wisdom, goodness to help us against all evils feared or felt”
(R. Harris). Faith strengthens the soul by uniting it to God and making it
partaker of his strength. It has respect to:
Ø His great name (see ch. 1:3). “Hope thou in God” (Psalm
9:10; 42:5; 124:8).
“Hope, said I,
Is of the joy to come a sure expectance,
The effect of grace Divine and merit preceding.
This light from many a star visits my heart;
But flow’d to me, the first, from Him who sang
The songs of the Supreme; Himself supreme
Among His tuneful brethren. ‘Let all hope
In thee,’ so spake His anthem, ‘who have known
Thy name’” (Dante, ‘Par.’ 25.).
Ø His intimate relationship to His people. “Jehovah his God.”
Ø His past doings on their behalf. When David formerly fell into
despondency (ch. 27.) he seems to have forgotten all these, and failed to
receive the encouragement which they were adapted to impart. But now
he remembered them and “took courage.”
Ø His faithful promises. “The free expressions of His goodness and
beneficence,” the unchangeable assurances of His almighty help in time of
need. “The mistake we make is to look for a source of consolation in
ourselves; self-contemplation instead of GAZING UPON GOD!
(I have been depressed on two occasions in my life and I would not
wish it upon anyone. I remember how obsessed I was with myself,
I tried and did look to God and He delivered me both times, but until
I hit bottom and looked away from myself and to Him, I was floundering.
CY – 2016) God is not affected by our mutability, our changes DO NOT
ALTER HIM! When we are restless He remains serene and calm; when
we are low, selfish, mean, or dispirited He is still the unalterable I AM.
What God is in Himself, not what we may chance to feel Him in this or
that moment to be, that is our hope” (Robertson).
(strengthened) himself,” etc. by:
Ø Repressing fear and unbelief. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?”
Ø Directing the thoughts toward God, the ever-present, invisible, eternal
Protector of his servants, and stirring up the heart to renewed trust in Him.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
(Psalm 118:6; 121:1).
Ø Inquiring of the Lord. (vs. 7-8). He sought Him as he had not done on
the previous occasion; sought Him in a right spirit, and therefore (unlike
Saul) received an answer: — “Pursue, for thou shalt surely overtake and
deliver.” He was thereby further strengthened. His confidence, moreover,
was expressed and perfected in:
4. Obeying the will of the Lord (vs. 9-10), and cooperating toward the
fulfillment of His promise. Despondency led him to flee from difficulty and
danger, but faith and hope incited him to go into their midst, and made him
“as bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1) “I will fear no evil, for thou art
with me.” (Psalm 23:4)
obtained of God:
Ø fear is removed,
Ø strength renewed, and
Ø confidence inspired (v. 9).
After a brief delay and some untoward events by which faith is still further
tested (v. 10):
Ø The object which is sought is providentially discovered (v. 11).
Ø The enemy is completely defeated (v. 17).
Ø That which has been lost is recovered (v. 19).
Ø Much more than has been expected is gained (v. 20).
“A few days after David’s own people were about to stone him on the
ruins of Ziklag the royal crown was laid at his feet.”
Ø When good men transgress they must expect to be “chastened of the
Lord,” and wicked men are sometimes used as a rod for the purpose.
Ø The wickedness of the wicked is mercifully restrained (v. 2), often
turns to the benefit of those whom they seek to injure, and returns upon
their own heads.
Ø The chief purpose of chastisement is to bring men to God:
o in humility,
o submission, and trust, and
o prepare them for future service and exaltation.
Ø The difference in the effects of calamity upon men (as upon Saul and
David) manifests the difference of their character.
Ø The more heavily trouble presses upon men, the more closely should
they cling to God, that it may be rightly borne and accomplish its
intended moral end.
Ø God never disappoints the confidence of His children, but fulfils His
promises to them more richly than they dare to hope.
11 “And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David,
and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of
raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he
had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.”
An Egyptian, the slave, as we read in v. 13, of some Amalekite, left in the field,
in the open common, to perish. He had become faint and could not travel as fast
as they did, and so was left behind with no supplies of food, for he had eaten
nothing for three days and three nights. The Amalekites had thus a start of
at least this time, or even more, as this slave would probably have carried
some food away with him from Ziklag.
13 “And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence
art thou? And he said, I am a young man of
Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell
sick.” To whom belongest thou? As he was probably unarmed, and
his garb that of a slave, David asks who is his owner and what his country.
He learns from him besides that he was left behind three days ago because
he fell sick. The word does not imply more than temporary faintness, and
is that translated sorry in ch. 22:8. But his life was of too little value for
them to mount him on a camel, or even to leave with him supplies
of food, and so their inhumanity led to their destruction.
14 “We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon
the coast which belongeth
burned Ziklag with fire.” The Cherethites. The interest in this people arises
from David’s bodyguard having been composed of foreigners bearing the name
of Cherethim and Pelethim. We here find the Cherethim inhabiting the
southern portion of the land of the Philistines, and such was still the case in
the days of Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:5, and compare Ezekiel 25:16).
As David retained Ziklag (ch. 27:6), he appears to have chosen
the men who were to guard his person from this neighborhood, having
probably been struck by their stature and martial bearing when dwelling
among them. Hence it is probable that the Pelethim were also a Philistine
race. Whether the Cherethim and the Philistines
generally came from
indigenous, but immigrants into
Israelites in Canaan,
assigned to Caleb the Kenezite, who with his clan had been incorporated
into the tribe of
priests, the whole country round remained subject to Caleb (Joshua
21:11-12), and continued to bear his name. Evidently the Amalekites,
beginning on the east, had swept the whole southern district of Judah
before entering the country of the Philistines, where they no doubt burnt
Ziklag in revenge for David’s cruel treatment of them.
15 “And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this
company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt
neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I
will bring thee down to this company.” To this company. Better, “troop.”
The word signifies a band of soldiers, robbers, or the like. Required by David
to act as his guide, the Egyptian consents upon condition that David bind
himself neither to kill him, it being one of the unscrupulous customs of
ancient warfare to put deserters, persons forced to act as guides, and even
noncombatants, to death to save trouble; nor give him up to his master,
who would treat him in the same way.
16 “And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread
abroad upon all the earth, eating and drinking, and dancing,
because of all the great spoil that they had taken out of the land of
the Philistines, and out of the
down. Though left behind, the Egyptian knew the course which the Amalekites
intended to take, and was thus able to bring David quickly up to them, as they
would move slowly because of their large booty of cattle. On overtaking them
David found them dispersed in scattered groups abroad upon all the earth
(literally, “over the face of all the land”), eating and drinking, and dancing.
More probably, “feasting.” The word literally means keeping festival; but
though they had solemn dances at festivals, yet, as is the case with our word
feasting, good eating was probably the uppermost idea; still the word may
have only the general sense of “enjoying themselves as on a festival.”
DEFEAT OF THE AMALEKITES
RECOVERY OF THE WOMEN AND SPOIL
17 “And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of
the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young
men, which rode upon camels, and fled.” From the twilight. It has been debated
whether this means the evening or the morning twilight; but the words which
follow, “unto the evening of the next day,” literally, “of (or for) their morrow,”
seem to prove that it was in the evening that David arrived. Moreover, in the
morning they would not have been feasting, but sleeping. David probably
attacked them at once, and slew all within reach until nightfall. The next
morning the battle was renewed; but as David had but 400 men, and the
Amalekites covered a large extent of country, and probably tried to defend
themselves and their booty, it was not till towards the next evening that the
combat and the pursuit were over. As they would need pasture and water
for their cattle, they had evidently broken up into detachments, which had
gone each into a different place with their herds. The pursuit must have
been prolonged to a considerable distance, as no more than 400 young men
escaped, and even they only by the aid of their camels.
18 “And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and
David rescued his two wives. 19 And there was nothing lacking to them,
neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any
thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.” Recovered. Hebrew,
“rescued,” or “delivered.” The word occurs again in the second clause of the
verse, and is there translated “rescued.” Had carried away. Hebrew, “had taken.”
In v. 19 recovered is literally “caused to return,” i.e. restored.
20 “And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave
before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.” This verse,
which is made unintelligible in the Authorized Version by the insertion
of the unauthorised word which, is really free from difficulty.
After David, as related in vs. 18-19, had recovered the cattle carried off
by the Amalekites, he also took all the flocks and herds belonging to them;
and his own men “made these go in front of that body of cattle, and said,
This is David’s spoil,” i.e. they presented it to him by acclamation. It was
this large booty which he distributed among his friends (vs. 26-31).
An Egyptian Slave (vs. 11-20)
“I was reminded of the poor Egyptian whom David found half dead, and
brought to life again by giving him ‘a piece of cake of figs and two clusters
of raisins’ to eat, and water to drink, by an incident which occurred to me
when crossing the plain of Askelon. Far from any village, a sick Egyptian
was lying by the road side in the burning sun, and apparently almost dead
with a terrible fever. He wanted nothing but ‘water! water!’ which we were
fortunately able to give him from our traveling bottle; but we were obliged
to pass on and leave him to his fate, whatever that might be” (Thomson,
‘The Land and the Book’). How the “young man of
to an Amalekite” is not stated, but it is probable that he fell into his hands
in some marauding expedition, like the Hebrew women and children in the
raid on Ziklag. His condition was an involuntary, hard, and degrading one.
Ø With indifference and contempt. His worth as a man created in the image of
God was disregarded (as is generally the case in the odious institution of
slavery). He was treated as the absolute property of his master, “an
animated tool” (Aristotle), and when deemed no longer useful, thrown away.
Ø With injustice. Every claim in return for his services was ignored. He was
entirely at the mercy of his master, and unprotected by any law (such as
existed among the Hebrews).
Ø With inhumanity. “My master left me three days agone because I fell sick”
(v. 13). He might have been easily carried forward on one of the camels
(v. 17), but the Amalekites were hard and cruel, and he was left to perish
with hunger or to be devoured by wild beasts. “He that is higher than the
highest regardeth” (Ecclesiastes 5:8), and the meanest slave cannot be
despised and neglected with impunity.
Ø Out of compassion and desire to save his life by every means in their
Ø In fulfillment of the law of God, which required that kindness should be
shown to the poor, the stranger, and the slave. “Love ye therefore the
stranger, for ye were strangers in the
Ø With appreciation of the service he might render (v. 15). The more
helpless any one is, the more urgent his claim to assistance; yet no one is so
helpless but that he may be capable of requiting the kindness shown to him.
Slavery among the Hebrews differed widely from slavery among other
ancient and modern peoples (ch. 25:10; Ewald, Ginsburg, ‘Ecclesiastes,’
p. 283; ‘Ecce Homo’). “By Christianising the master the gospel
enfranchised the slave. It did not legislate about mere names and forms,
but it went to the root of the evil, it spoke to the heart of man. When the
heart of the master was filled with Divine grace and was warmed with the
love of Christ the rest would soon follow. The lips would speak kind words,
the hands would do liberal things” (Wordsworth, ‘Commentary on Philemon’).
Ø From gratitude for the benefit received. No human heart is wholly
insensible to the power of kindness.
Ø Under a solemn assurance of protection. After his abandonment by his
master he could have no scruple concerning his right to his continued
service, if any such right ever existed; but experience had made him fearful
and suspicious of men, and therefore he said, “Swear unto me by God,
that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my
master” (ver. 15). He had a sense of religion, and believed that Divine justice
would avenge the violation of an oath, though it should be taken to a slave.
Ø With efficient and faithful performance of his engagements. He not only
gave David the information he sought, but guided him to the camp of the
enemy, and contributed to a result which repaid him a hundredfold (v.18).
Ø Which cares for the lowliest. “Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any”
(Job 36:5). “Neither doth God respect any person” (II Samuel 14:14).
Ø Which often makes use of the feeblest instrumentality for the chastisement of
the “wicked in great power.” (Psalm 37:35)
Ø For the promotion of the welfare of the people of God, and the
establishment of His kingdom. What a rich harvest may spring from a single
act of kindness toward even the most despised!
“He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small:
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all”
DAVID ENACTS A LAW FOR THE DIVISION OF THE SPOIL
21 “And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that
they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at
the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet
the people that were with him: and when David came near to the
people, he saluted them. 22 Then answered all the wicked men and men
of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not
with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered,
save to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead them away,
and depart.” On returning David finds the 200 stragglers, whom they
had made to abide at the brook Besor. Rather, “whom he had, made to
abide,” as it was David’s office to give such a command. The singular is
supported by all the versions except the Chaldee, and by some manuscripts.
David had made such men as were growing weary halt at the torrent, because it
was a fit place where to collect the stragglers, and also, perhaps, because it
would have required time and labor to get the baggage across. All the more
wicked and worthless (see on ch. 1:16) members of the force now propose
to give the 200, only their wives and children, and send them away with no
share of the spoil. Besides the sheep and oxen given to David, there would
be camels and other animals, arms, gold and silver, clothing, and other
23 “Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which
the LORD hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the
company that came against us into our hand. 24 For who will hearken
unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle,
so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.”
Ye shall not do so, my brethren. David rejects their unjust proposal kindly,
but firmly. With that which. i.e. in respect of that which, etc. Who will hearken
unto you in this matter? Literally, “this word,” this proposal of yours. David
then enacts that those left to guard the baggage are to share in the booty equally
with the combatants. Patrick in his commentary quotes a similar rule enacted
by Publius Scipio after the capture of New Carthage (Polybius, 10., 15:5).
The Consequences of Kindness (vs. 11-24)
The facts are:
1. Pursuing the Amalekites, David finds an Egyptian slave in distress, and
administers to him food and drink.
2. On being questioned, the man states that his master, who was one of the
force destroying Ziklag, had left him there three days before.
3. On promise of not being delivered up to his master, he engages to act as
guide to the rendezvous of the Amalekites.
4. On coming upon them in the midst of their revels, David smites them,
and recovers all that his force had lost, and acquires also much spoil.
5. David keeps the captured flocks and herds as his portion of the spoil.
The incidents of this section suggest:
sick, starving foreigner a poor waif nigh unto death; and the kind attentions
of David and his men not only were appreciated by a fellow creature, but
issued in important results which, prior to the act of kindness, were not,
perhaps, deemed possible. The feeble man, well used, led on to victory. At
the close of that eventful day David must have felt how useful as well as
how holy a thing it is to act the part of a good Samaritan. Men are often
under temptation to be indifferent to the sorrows of others; but good
always comes out of an exhibition of the law of kindness. No man ever lost
anything by binding up the wounds of another; and often the healer has
obtained an inward blessing as a pledge of some still further good that is to
flow from his deed. The blessing of those ready to perish is worth more
than the applause and favor of the rich and strong. By single acts of
kindness hard hearts have been touched, and a new and blessed course of
life has been entered on. Many a waif, fed and nourished by Christian
benevolence, has become an honorable and holy member of society,
aiding to overthrow an evil power worse than that of the ancient
Amalekites. Who can tell the vast and blissful consequences that may ensue
if only Christians would care more constantly and wisely for the outcast
is specific in the account of what was given to this poor slave — “bread,”
“water,” “a piece of a cake of figs,” and “two clusters of raisins.” This
occasional detail indicates the pure historic character of the Biblical
narrative, and invests the Bible with a human interest. This circumstantial
character of narrative is especially seen in the Gospel by Mark, and
more or less in every writer. As a book designed for all degrees of culture,
and in all ages and climes, the Bible wins its way to the heart and
commends itself to the common sense of mankind by the air of reality with
which its great facts are incorporated with an incidental setting of
circumstances; and it is singular that its occasional detail is never
contradicted by well established fact, but, on the other hand, is being
constantly confirmed by discoveries concerning manners, customs, natural
productions, and international relations.
unfortunate man had a master, but longed not to be restored to him. The
barbarous manner in which he had been left to die justified his horror of his
former owner. Slavery necessarily hardens the heart and debases the entire
nature of all who promote it. The horrors that have been perpetrated under
its influence more befit a hell than an earth like this. Christianity has proved
its beneficent character in removing from many a fair region this accursed
evil: and it enjoins on masters of the free to manifest towards their servants
a kind, generous spirit, worthy of the Saviour they profess to follow. It is
well when servants care to return to employers, and there is something
wrong where there is aversion and reproach. The barbarities of war, which
in this section and elsewhere are conspicuous, are among the foulest blots
on human nature. In nothing as in war do the vilest passions of men break
forth in wild license. The ease and complacency with which many so called
Christians speak and read of war is really shocking to one who enters
deeply into the spirit of Christ. More care ought to be taken in preventing
our children from imbibing a love of war and its literature, and in the
Christian state its manifold, incipient, and actual evils ought to be removed
or avoided by the most energetic measures. It is doubtful whether the
Church rises to a due sense of its solemn obligations in this respect.
OBEDIENCE. David had repented of the course to which he had
committed himself, and, encouraging himself in God, he had followed the
direction conveyed through the high priest. The result was a restoration of
all he had lost by his folly and an acquisition of much besides. Of course
this was a case of material loss, through misconduct, attended with much
anguish of spirit, and the restoration was of the same character; but have
we not here something analogous with the result of our repentance and
renewal of life? The loss and damage occasioned by our sins are removed
when we turn to God and follow the guidance of our High Priest. In due
time we recover purity, peace with God, most blessed joys, varied spiritual
treasures, and even convert the weapons of our great enemy into means of
moral advancement. Much has been ruined by our sins, and the whole race
has suffered from THE CURSE, but the effect of our restoration of soul to
God through Christ is a recovery of the lost position and blessedness, with also
an attainment of a bliss surpassing anything known by our first parent in his
state of innocence. The promise reads, “I will restore to you the years that
the locust hath eaten, the canker worm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer
worm, my great army which I sent among you” (Joel 2:25).
EVENTS. David’s consideration for his followers in allowing them a large
share in the spoil was attended also with a wise prevision of what was soon
to take place, and no doubt it was on this account that he kept for himself
the cattle taken from the enemy. Having repented of his former self-
choosing, and having drawn nearer to his God (v. 6), his soul rose to the
old confidence in his call to the kingdom, and, calm in the fresh assurance
of God’s care, he saw from impending events that the end of Saul’s reign
was nigh at hand. Hence, to pave the way for an easy and prosperous
friends (v. 20; compare v. 26). Them we see how recovery from backsliding
tends to a healthy tone and balance of ordinary mental operations, and how
prudent anticipation of requirements becomes one called to high service in
accompanied with wise effort to obviate difficulties in the realization of that
purpose. Our elevation in the service of Christ’s kingdom is to be secured
on our part by the vigorous use of our best powers in dependence on God.
Ø Amidst the hurry and excitement of our life we, like David, should turn
aside to care for the poor and destitute, and shall find in so doing a blessing
Ø In so far as men are convinced of the certainty and glory of Christ’s
kingdom will they exercise all their utmost powers to hasten it on and win
men over to it. Indifferent action is a sure sign of spiritual decay
25 “And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and
an ordinance for
been thus enacted by him and practiced during his life, no king henceforward
would venture to change it. In the war with the Midianites Moses had ordered
that half the spoil should belong to the combatants and half to the congregation
who remained in the camp (Numbers 31:27). This enactment of David was
in the same spirit.
DAVID PROPITIATES HIS FRIENDS
SHARING WITH THEM HIS BOOTY
26 “And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the
you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD;” The elders of
The spoil taken from the Amalekites and assigned to David must have been
very large, as it was worth distributing so widely. He did not, however, send
all the elders of
“a blessing” (see on ch. 25:27).
them which were in
Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,” Bethel cannot be the famous city
of that name, but is probably the Bethul of Joshua 19:4, where it is mentioned
lying near Hormah and Ziklag.
called Ramath- Negeb in ibid. v. 8. Like Bethul, it was a Simeonite village.
Jattir belonged to
the priests (ibid. ch. 21:14).
28 “And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in
Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,”
Aroer, a different place from that on the eastern side of the
miles east of Beer-sheba. Siphmoth. Some village in the Negeb, but
unknown. Eshtemoa (ibid. ch. 15:50), the present village Semu’ah,
29 “And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities
of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites,”
Rachal. Rather Racal, unknown, The
supposition that it may be
untenable. The Jerahmeelites; see on ch. 27:10, as also for the Kenites.
30 “And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in
Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,” Hormah. Anciently called
Zephath. For the reason of the change of name see Judges 1:17. Chor-ashan.
More correctly Corashan, the same place as Ashan (Joshua 15:42), a Simeonite
town (I Chronicles 4:32) assigned to the priests (ibid. ch. 6:59). Athach,
never mentioned elsewhere, may be a false reading for Ether (Joshua 19:7).
31 “And to
them which were in
David himself and his men were wont to
become David’s capital (II Samuel 2:1), lay about fourteen miles south of
the list of David’s heroes (I Chronicles 11:26-47) with this catalogue of friendly
towns, it will be found that several of them came from them, and had probably
shared his exile at Ziklag. Such were Ira and Gareb, Ithrites from Jattir,
Shama and Jehiel from Aroer; perhaps also Zabdi the Shiphmite (I Chronicles
27:27) came from Siphmoth. We find David in this narrative acting justly as a
soldier, generously to those who had been kind to him in his wanderings, and
forming friendships which he retained and cherished long afterwards, when
from being a fugitive he had become a king.
The Law of Service (vs. 21-31)
The facts are:
1. On returning to the men who had remained at Besor, some of David’s
followers oppose his intention to give them a share of the spoil, and are
even desirous of sending them away.
2. David resists this spirit as being inconsistent with gratitude to God for His care
and aid, and with strict justice to those who serve in humble form according to
3. David’s decision
becomes a standing ordinance in
4. He sends presents to the elders of cities that had befriended him during
the days of his persecution.
David’s course all through was wonderfully checkered. He had good reason for
saying, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth
him out of them all.” No sooner had he rejoiced in the triumph of victory, and
was devising in his heart kind and generous deeds, than he has to experience the
annoyance and pain of contending with a murmuring and mutinous spirit
among his own followers. As we look at him, the “man after God’s own
heart,” bent on a noble
rising high above others in integrity of purpose and spiritual aspiration, and
surrounded by a motley group of men, hard to control, and often low in
tendency, we cannot but think of One greater, who later on stood among
wayward, ignorant men, the Holy One, intent on establishing a throne
never to be shaken, and wearied and wounded by the incessant
“contradiction of sinners.” But God teaches mankind through lessons
evolved from the varied and often painful experience of His servants, and it
is a consolation to them that the fires which try them should also emit light
for the benefit of coming generations. There are three truths practical in
bearing brought out by this part of David’s experience.
OF SUCCESS UPON THEIR SPIRIT AND CONDUCT. David and his
men had achieved a great success, and were returning full of the joy of
victory. The record tells us nothing of the bearing of the leader and of the
men on the first flush of success; no doubt the wild excitement over the
spoil of many of his followers was in striking contrast with the tremulous
joy which found vent in his private thanksgiving to God. But on their
return to Besor, the depraved, irreligious spirit of those termed “men of
Belial” appeared in the love of greed and the cruel indifference to the wants
of the weary which drew forth David’s remonstrance. Success revealed the
iniquity of their hearts, while it drew forth the grateful, tender qualities of
David’s character. Prosperity is as real a test of what men are as is
adversity. (Adversity will make one bitter or better.) It draws forth a
different set of qualities, but is not the less a means of proving and
intensifying a man’s character, be it good or bad. When we say that
sometimes success in commerce, literature, science, or military skill
makes a man vain and scornful of others, or humble and considerate,
we really mean that it has developed hidden weakness in the
one case, and moral strength in the other. When the character deteriorates
or improves under the influence of prosperity, it depends on casual
circumstances as to how the deterioration or improvement will manifest
itself. Here the presence of feeble men unable to engage in conflict
happened to be the occasion of an outburst of selfish feeling. The same
occasion furnished a manifestation of kindly consideration and love of
justice. While few things create in generous hearts more disgust and
sorrow than the selfishness, luxurious indulgence, and purse proud bearing
of men whose struggles in life have brought material success, few qualities
are more admired than those of large hearted benevolence, simplicity of
habit, compassion for the destitute, and the grateful, lowly spirit which
ascribes all good to God, and proves the sincerity of the ascription by
deeds of self-denial on behalf of others. He who can conquer prosperity is
often a greater man than the conqueror of adversity. Only the spirit of him
who “made himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7-11), who
“became poor” that we “might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9),will enable
us to subdue all things to His glory (compare Psalm 73:3-12; Proverbs
1:32; Mark 10:23-25; Philippians 3:7-8).
spirit of some of David’s men gave occasion for the exercise of his
authority in a right royal manner, and issued in the establishment of an
ordinance in relation to service in his cause which became a law in
and fitly foreshadows the principle on which all service in Messiah’s
kingdom is based. David would not allow the men who, through
exhaustion in the hasty march, had remained at Besor to care for the
baggage to be deprived of their share of the spoil through the greed of the
actual combatants. His principle was that they were all engaged in one
enterprise, that their position had been determined by the circumstances of
the case, and that all honor should be done them. The ruling faculty in
David was beginning to bear good fruit for the poor and needy —
beautifully typical of One who is the Refuge and Defender of the
oppressed! Considering the passage in its bearing on service in Christ’s
kingdom, we may notice:
Ø That all His people aye equally His servants, and have their proper
work. The equality in Christ’s kingdom is that of oneness of spirit, aim, and
relationship to Him. All true Christians are zealous for His supremacy, eager
to see Him triumph over powers of evil, and on the same level as servants
of one Lord and Leader. They are all workers, warriors, contending in
accordance with their power and position for a common issue. Every
member of the body has its function in securing the purposes of the head
(I Corinthians 12:12-14).
Ø That diversity of employment is necessary to the execution of His
purposes. The care of the “stuff” was as necessary in so dangerous a
country as the pursuit and attack on the foe. In accomplishing the purposes
of Christ on earth there are diversities of operations. The analogy of the
body is used by the Apostle Paul to enforce this truth on the Church
(I Corinthians 12:12-31). (“....may grow up unto Him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly
joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,
according to the effectual working in the measure of every part,
maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
Ephesians 4:15-16) It is an instructive study to notice how the manifold
agencies and gifts of the Church and of individual Christians have worked
together in producing the complex result we witness in the present
advanced position of Christ’s kingdom. The recognition of diversity should
stimulate and encourage all, whatever their powers and opportunities.
Ø That incapacity for rendering conspicuous service is compatible with
quiet yet important service. Those
fighting in the high places of the field have good work to do in a quieter
form. Missionaries, popular preachers, diligent pastors, and men of high
literary culture may be in the forefront; but the mothers who train children
in the fear of God, fathers who live godly lives in the world, quiet, wise
men who conduct religious movements, widows who cast in their mite, and
even sick and weary ones who in the solitude of their chamber offer daily
prayers for the hosts of God — render most valuable service in the
common enterprise (My paternal grandmother, Clara Moreland Simpson,
was an invalid for the last sixteen years of her life, and without going into
detail, I believe is in this catergory – CY – 2016).
Ø Where thee is loyalty in service, whatever its lowly form, there is to be
honorable recognition. David would not overlook the claims of the feeble
men in charge of the “stuff.” In this he was true to the principles and
In Christ’s kingdom there is to be, after His great example in the case
of the widow’s mite ()and the hosannas of children(), a recognition by all of
the need and value of services apparently insignificant. This is further
taught in the blessing pronounced on the giver of a cup of cold water
(Matthew 10:42), the mention in the day of judgment of the care bestowed
on the sick and needy (Matthew 23:31-46), and also in the equal welcome
which the Lord declares he will give to the gainer of ten and two talents
(Matthew 25:14-30). The rewards of the advancing kingdom
are shared in the joy and satisfaction which all true workers experience,
and in the material improvement of the world consequent on its advance;
and while He makes all “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6) now, He will
at last honor them with a vision of the glory He had with the Father before
the world was (John 17:24).
The tenor of David’s life shows that the sending presents from the spoil taken
to those who had befriended him in his time of need was the genuine expression
of a grateful heart. At the same time this was coincident with a wise policy, and,
in his mind, distinctly blended with it. Had the gifts been the product of a mere
calculation of results, the act would only command the respect due to
expediency, but having its root in feeling, it rises to a higher value. The
recompense of kindnesses when occasion offers is the suggestion of a true
heart, and though utilitarian ideas may not enter into the recompense,
yet it is always useful in view of future contingencies. A prudent man called
to a great work, is bound to prepare the way for its realization by securing
as far as possible the good will and cooperation of others.
Ø It behoves us to be on our guard against the perils of success, and to
remember that as God is a refuge from the storm, so he is a shade
upon our right hand to tone down the fight of prosperity (Psalm 121:5-6).
Ø Those who render aid to the people of God in their time of distress are
sure to be recompensed on earth as in heaven (Luke 6:31-38; 14:13-14).
The Fruits of Victory (vs. 21-31)
When David overtook the Amalekites in the evening twilight he found
them given up to riotous indulgence, undefended, and little thinking how
near they were to destruction. He forthwith fell upon them, and after a
severe conflict, which lasted till the evening of the next day, gained a
complete victory. He “recovered all” that had been carried away. In
addition he obtained much spoil, consisting of flocks and herds, and of
“arms, ornaments, jewels, money, clothes, camels, accoutrements, and so
on.” The former were assigned to David (according to his wish, and as
better adapted to the end he had in view), and driven in front of the
recovered flock with the exclamation, “This is David’s spoil.” The latter
were carried away for distribution among his men. By his victory a
crushing blow was inflicted on a bitter enemy of the people of
great deliverance wrought for them. He evidently regarded himself as (not
merely engaged in a private enterprise, but as) acting on their behalf, and
carrying out God’s purpose; and his conduct after the battle was marked by:
1. Considerate sympathy with the faint and weary who had been disabled
from taking an active part in the conflict. “He saluted them” (v. 21). As
he had not previously urged them beyond their strength, so now he
exhibited a kindly interest in them, and a marked respect toward them. His
heart was not lifted up by success. They had “done what they could,” and
formed part of his following. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”
2. Strenuous resistance to the arrogant, selfish, and unjust procedure of
some of his followers (v. 22). “Rough, wild men were many among them,
equally depressed in the day of adversity, and recklessly elated and insolent
in prosperity. Nor is it merely the discipline which David knew how to
maintain in such a band that shows us ‘the skillfulness of his hands’ (Psalm
78:72) in guiding them, but the gentleness with which he dealt with them, and
above all the earnest piety with which he knew how to tame their wild passions,
prove the spiritual ‘integrity’ or ‘perfectness of his heart’” (Edersheim).
The spirit which these “wicked and worthless men” displayed is sometimes
found even in the
uncompromising opposition (I Peter 5:9).
3. Devout recognition of the hand of God, in bestowing whatever good is
possessed, preserving from harm, and delivering from dangerous
adversaries. “Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord
hath given us,” etc. (v. 23). “Man could not boast of his own merit in
obtaining these possessions” (Ewald). They were a gift of God, and should
be used for His honor and the good of all. There is a higher law than that
of self-interest. Men are only “stewards” (not absolute owners) of
property, ability, time, influence, etc., and as such it behoves them to “be
found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:2). “Freely ye have received, freely give.”
4. Equitable distribution. “And who will hearken unto you in this matter?”
etc. (vs. 24, 25). The course proposed was as contrary to the common
convictions of men concerning what is reasonable and just as to the
benevolent purpose of God. “The equity of this law appears from hence —
that by common consent these 200 men were left behind to look after the
baggage; were part of the same body of men, linked together in the same
common society; hindered by mere weariness from going to fight, which
otherwise they would have done; their will was accepted for the deed; and
they were in the same common danger, for if the 400 had been routed their
enemies would have soon cut them off” (Patrick). “The members should
have the same care one for another” (I Corinthians 12:25).
5. Grateful acknowledgment of friendly aid during his “wanderings in the
wilderness.” “He sent of the spoil unto the elders of
etc. (vs. 26-31). They had suffered from Amalekite raids, but it was not
to make restitution for their losses so much as to testify his gratitude and
strengthen their attachment. His victory enabled him to display a princely
munificence. It is a remarkable proof of the grateful nature of David, and
his fidelity to his early friendships, as well as a curious instance of
undesigned coincidence, that we find among those employed by David in
offices of trust in the height of his power so many inhabitants of those
obscure places where he found friends in the days of his early difficulties”
6. Commendable policy — wise, generous, patriotic, and religious.
“Behold a present” (blessing, gift) “for you of the spoil of the enemies of
theocratic ruler. He himself felt that the time of patient waiting was nearly
gone, and the time of active effort for the fulfillment of the Divine purpose
concerning him well nigh come, if, indeed, the tidings of the death of Saul
had not already reached him. He also foresaw that he must look for his
chief support in his own tribe, and adopted the best method of securing it.
“Piety without policy is too simple to be safe; policy without piety is too
subtle to be good.” “This was already a royal act in vivid anticipation of his
impending accession to the throne. Already the crown of
unmistakably though dimly visible above his head” (Krummacher). “Whilst
Saul’s star sinks in the north, the star of David rises in the south, and there
begins the long line of fulfillments of the prophecy concerning the Star that
should come out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17) (Erdmann).
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