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First Samuel 30:6-8, 18-25 Notes

1 Sam. 30:6-8, 18-25 - Constable Overview

1. David's crisis and his response 30:1-6

David took three days to return from Aphek (1 Samuel 29:11) to Ziklag. The Amalekites, whom David had previously raided (1 Samuel 27:8), took advantage of the Philistines' and David's absence to retaliate in the Negev and on Ziklag. They plundered both Philistine and Judahite territory (1 Samuel 30:16). When David and his men arrived back home, they discovered Ziklag empty of inhabitants and burned down. David joined his men in weeping over the tragedy that the enemies of God's kingdom had caused (cf. Matthew 23:37). David's supporters then turned on him and almost stoned him, giving him trouble on two fronts simultaneously. In his distress David, as usual, strengthened himself in the Lord by relying on Yahweh and inquiring of Him (1 Samuel 30:6-8). From the Psalms we know that David often did this by looking back on God's past faithfulness, looking up in prayer, and looking forward with God's promises in view.

"David's genius was his spiritual resilience." [Note: Baldwin, p. 169.]

"Both David and Saul are portrayed as persons in deep crises of leadership, and both are deeply at risk. What interests us is the difference of response. . . . Saul seeks refuge in a medium [but David inquired of the Lord]." [Note: Brueggemann, First and . . ., p. 201.]

2. God's provision of guidance 30:7-10

David obtained an answer through the Urim and Thummim, which the high priest carried in the breast pocket of his ephod (cf. 1 Samuel 23:2; 1 Samuel 23:4; 1 Samuel 23:9). God no longer responded to Saul's prayers (1 Samuel 28:15), but He did answer David's (1 Samuel 30:8). David divided his troops into two groups as he had when he organized his attack against Nabal (1 Samuel 25:13). The many comparisons and contrasts between this chapter and chapter 25 point out the differences between foolish Nabal and wise David. The Besor Brook is probably the Wadi el Arish, which flows west into the Mediterranean Sea a few miles south of Ziklag. This stream marked the southwestern border of the land that God had promised to Abraham's descendants.

3. David's kindness to the Egyptian servant 30:11-15

David and his men were undoubtedly very angry and ready to kill anyone who proved to have had a hand in kidnapping their family members. To his credit David did not kill this Egyptian, as he planned to kill Nabal earlier. Instead he treated him kindly, in contrast to the man's Amalekite master's treatment of him, and won his favor and cooperation. Contrast Nabal's disdain for David, whom Nabal regarded as a runaway servant (1 Samuel 25:10-11). The Egyptian wanted a guarantee of safety from David, as had Saul (cf. 1 Samuel 24:2). Receiving this he agreed to lead David and his men to the Amalekites' camp.

4. David's successful victory over the Amalekites 30:16-20

The Amalekites were feasting on the plunder that they had taken, although the Egyptian servant had received nothing to eat or drink when he fell ill (cf. 1 Samuel 30:12). David launched his attack early in the morning the next day and continued fighting until night fell. Since 400 of the Amalekites escaped, as many as the total number of David's soldiers (1 Samuel 30:10), they obviously had a much larger army than David did. The camel was the vehicle of choice at this time; it was the fastest means of transportation (cf. Judges 7:12). David recovered everything substantial (cf. 1 Samuel 30:16) that the Amalekites had taken plus booty from this enemy (cf. 1 Samuel 30:26).

5. Sharing spoils with David's followers 30:21-25

The rest of the chapter describes the distribution of plunder from this battle. The amount of space the writer devoted to this revelation shows that he intended to stress it.
David returned to his 200 exhausted followers at the Besor Brook and greeted them (cf. 1 Samuel 17:22; 1 Samuel 25:5-6). David was a greeter who saw the importance of initiating friendly contact with others. The New Testament frequently exhorts believers to greet one another. Some of the soldiers who had participated in combat with the Amalekites did not want to share the booty with those who had guarded the baggage (cf. 1 Samuel 30:24). Saul had had his critics too (cf. 1 Samuel 10:27). David, however, took a different view of things. He saw that God had given them this victory; the spoil was not essentially what the combat soldiers had won but what the Lord had given His people, along with protection (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:8; Matthew 20:12-15). Yahweh was the real deliverer of Israel (cf. 1 Samuel 17:46-47). Again, this illustrates David's perception of God's relation to Israel and to himself, which was so different from Saul's view. His generous policy of dividing the spoils of war so the non-combatants would receive a portion (1 Samuel 30:24-31) was in harmony with the Mosaic Law (Numbers 31:27). This policy further prepared the way for the Judahites' acceptance of David as Saul's successor.

1 Sam. 30:3-8, 18-25 - EW Commentary

A. David's distress.

2. (1 Sam. 30:3-6) David and his men come upon the empty, burned city.

3 When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. 5 Now David's two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 Also, David was in great distress because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David felt strengthened in the LORD his God.

a. So David and his men came to the city: As they came within a few miles of their city, the hearts of David and his men must have brightened. They were discouraged that they hadn't been allowed to fight with the Philistines; they are soldiers, and soldiers want to fight! But at least they knew they were coming home, and home meant all their familiar surroundings, and all their families. But that bright thought quickly turned black as night.

b. And there it was, burned with fire: Even off in the distance they could see something was wrong. Smoke rose from their city, but it wasn't the smoke of cooking fires. It was too much smoke for that, and the smoke was too black. They wondered why no one had come to greet them afar off - where were their wives and children? Weren't they glad to see them? But when they came to the city and saw it was a ghost town, a pile of burned rubble, with no voice of the survivors, it seemed that everything was lost.
i. "May you see your self-righteousness burned like Ziklag, and all your carnal hopes carried away captive, and may you then encourage yourselves in Christ, for he will recover all for you, and give you spoil besides, and there shall be joy and rejoicing." (Spurgeon)

c. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep: All had been lost. At this point, David has nothing more to support him. No one in Israel can help him. The Philistines don't want him. His family is gone; all he has owned is gone. But at least he has his friends, right? Not really; the people spoke of stoning him. Every support is gone, except the LORD. That is a good place to be in, not a bad place.
i. David did not weep only because everything and everyone was lost. He also wept because he knew that he was responsible for it. No wonder David was greatly distressed. He is about as low in his backslidden state as a man can be; David is like the prodigal son who now sits in the pigpen.

d. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God: It took a lot to bring David to this place, but now he is here - God is his only strength.
i. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. This was backslidden David, wayward David, "fight with the Philistines" David. Why would God strengthen him? Because God is rich in mercy and grace, and because David was now completely broken, ready to be filled. Sometimes we think we have to achieve God's blessing or strength, but David shows us another way.
ii. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. He received the strength, and felt it flow through himself, and was bold enough to ask for it and receive it from God. Before this, he didn't see himself as weak, but after coming home to a burned-out ghost town, David knew he was weak and needed God's strength.
iii. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. He didn't wait for someone else to strengthen him. He didn't say, "Well LORD, if You want to strengthen me, that's fine. I'll just wait here until You do it." David knew that the LORD's strength was there for those who wait upon Him, so he strengthened himself in the LORD his God. God's strength was there for David all the time, but now he takes it for himself and will strengthen himself in the LORD his God.
iv. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. This wasn't some kind of rah-rah cheerleader kind of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. This was the strength of the living God making itself real in the life and heart of a hurting man. This was strength for recognition, strength for brokenness, strength for repentance, strength for determination to win back what the enemy has stolen. This is the same strength that would raise Jesus from the dead!

e. How did David strengthen himself in the LORD?
i. David would have strengthened himself remembering God's love. At this point of total loss, David now saw the love of the LORD in the rejection of the Philistine leaders. If they had not sent him away, he and his men would not have returned right now, when the Amalekites had just left and the fires of their destruction were still burning. If God had not sent him back home through the rejection of the Philistines, it would have been months and months until he returned, and the situation would have been far worse. That which stung him before became sweet to him now, and the most precious expression of the LORD's love.
ii. David would have strengthened himself remembering God's promise and calling. He could shake his head, clear the fog that had set about it for the last year or so, and say "I am a man anointed by God, called by God, and promised by God to be the next king of Israel. I have a high calling and promise from God, and He hasn't taken it away. I need to start living according to that destiny." David could thank God and see the glory of His power in this high call.
iii. David would have strengthened himself remembering God's past deliverances. He could say, "This is a terrible spot, no doubt. But remember all the times when the LORD delivered me out of a bad spot before? If He did it then, He will do it now. He didn't deliver me before just to let me perish now."

f. David took his only encouragement from the LORD. 1 Chronicles 12:19-20 gave David a reason for encouragement - men from the tribe of Manasseh came to him at this time, and stood with him when others were turning on David. But that isn't mentioned as encouragement to David at all. "God was beginning to cure his servant by a bitter dose of distress, and the evidence of the cure was that he did not encourage himself by his new friends, or by the hope of others coming; but he encouraged himself in the Lord his God." (Spurgeon) g. What David said in his heart in 1 Samuel 27:1 got him into this whole mess; now, what he says to himself to strengthen himself in the LORD will help bring him out. "Some of the best talks in the world are those which a man has with himself. He who speaks to everybody except himself is a great fool." (Spurgeon)

B. David wins back what was lost - and more.

1. (1 Sam. 30:7-8) David inquires of the LORD.

7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, "Please bring me the ephod." So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8 And David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I pursue this band of raiders? Will I overtake them?" And He said to him, "Pursue, for you will certainly overtake them, and you will certainly rescue everyone."

a. In 1 Samuel 30:6, David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. Now, it was time to do something with that strength from the LORD. First, David uses that strength when he inquired of the LORD.
b. Of all the time David spent among the Philistines, this is the first time we read of him seeking God in any way. During his time of compromise and backsliding, David simply didn't inquire of the LORD in this way.
i. "Some other times, when he should, he called not for it; but proceeded only upon his own head. Now
being in this great distress, though very desirous to pursue his enemies, and recover his wives, he would not go without the God's approbation and direction. We are usually best when at worst." (Trapp)

c. How did David inquire of the LORD? He did it the way God said to inquire of Him; David sought God with the help of the priest, almost certainly using the Urim and Thummim that were part of the priest's ephod. An ephod was a special apron that priests would wear, to cover over their clothing, so the sacrificial blood and gore would splash on the ephod, not so much on their clothing.
i. It is likely that this wasn't just any ephod; this was the ephod of the High Priest, which had the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15) attached to it (Exodus 28:28). The breastplate had in it a pouch with two stones, known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). When David inquired of the LORD, he probably asked Abiathar to use the Urim and Thummim.
ii. How did the priest use the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the LORD? The names Urim and Thummim mean "Lights and Perfections." We aren't sure what they were or how they were used. Most think they were a pair of stones, one light and another dark, and each stone indicated a "yes" or "no" from God. The idea is that High Priest would ask God a question that could be answered with a "yes" or a "no," reach into the breastplate, and pull out the stone indicating God's answer.
iii. We don't have the Urim and Thummim today; and even if they were discovered in a miracle of archaeology, God would no more bless their use today than He would bless a re-establishment of the Old Testament priesthood. The day for the Old Testament priesthood is past for us today, being perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But in David's day it was commanded of the LORD. The key to the effectiveness of the Urim and Thummim was that God's Word gave them. In seeking God through the Urim and Thummim, David was really going back to God's Word for guidance, because it was the word of God that commanded their place and allowed their use. Today, if we have the same focus on God's Word, He will guide us also.

d. What did David ask the LORD? David asked, Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them? At one time, David would not have bothered to even ask these questions. He would have simply done it, because when a soldier is attacked, he attacks back. But in returning from his backsliding, David brings everything to the LORD. Nothing is done just because it was done before. He asks God about everything.

e. What did God answer David? Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all. God first gave David something to do (pursue). Then, God gave David a promise in the doing (you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all). When God gives us something to do, He also gives us a promise in the doing.

4. (1 Sam. 30:16-20) David routs the Amalekites, winning back everything that was taken.

16 Now when he had brought him down, behold, they were dispersed over all the land, eating and drinking and celebrating because of all the great plunder that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives. 19 And nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, plunder, or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought it all back. 20 So David had captured all the sheep and the cattle which the people drove ahead of the other livestock, and they said, "This is David's plunder."

a. Catching the Amalekites in the midst of their victory celebration, David and his men attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. How surprised the Amalekites must have been! They figured that all the Philistine and Israelite armies were far to the north, preparing to fight each other. They weren't
expecting this army that was neither Philistine, nor among the Israelite army.
i. Twilight is probably a bad translation here, and it should be from dawn until evening of the next day. "The Hebrew word nesep, translated 'dawn' in Job 7:4 and Psalm 119:147, has this sense here ... Having noted the situation, David and his men took some rest and attacked at first light, when the Amalekites would be suffering from the soporific effects of the feast, and least able to defend themselves." (Baldwin)
ii. It was wise to attack the Amalekites when they were hung over from the party the night before. "Whom they found it no hard matter to stab with the sword, who were cup-shot before." (Trapp)

b. David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: Everything that the enemy had taken, David took back. God gave him a complete victory, because David strengthened himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6), David inquired of the LORD (1 Samuel 30:8), David did what God told him to do, and David showed unexpected care and kindness to others.
i. God's promise was proved true. When David inquired of the LORD, God promised You shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all (1 Samuel 30:8). The promise was fulfilled exactly, but it wasn't fulfilled as David sat back passively and said, "All right God, now You can do it." The LORD fulfilled His promise, but He used David's actions to fulfill the promise. God's promise didn't exclude David's cooperation, the promise invited his cooperation.
ii. "Many who get into trouble seem to expect an angel to come and lift them up by the hair of their heads; but angels have other matters in hand. The Lord generally helps us by enabling us to help ourselves, and it is a way which does us double good. It was more for David's benefit that he should himself smite the Amalekites than that God should hurl hailstones out of heaven upon them, and destroy them. David will have their spoil for the wage of battle, and be rewarded for the forced march and the fight. Brother, you will have to work and labor to extricate yourself from debt and difficulty, and so the Lord will hear your prayer. The rule is to trust in God to smite the Amalekites, and then to march after them, as if it all depended upon yourself." (Spurgeon)
iii. "How truly it can be said that the greater Son of David has recovered all. All that was lost by sin, our glorious and victorious Captain has recovered. What then shall be his spoil? It was foretold that 'He shall divide the spoil with the strong.' Let your hearts and mine, and all we are, and all we have, be yielded up to him, and let us say of it all, 'This is Jesu's spoil, and to him be glory evermore!'" (Spurgeon)

c. This is David's plunder: God gave David even more than what was promised. He received spoil from the battle, beyond what had been taken from Ziklag. This was blessing straight from the grace of God.
i. "Now, in the great battle of Christ on our behalf, He has not only given us back what we lost, but He has given us what Adam in his perfection never had. And I want you to dwell upon that, because this part of it is peculiarly our Lord's spoil. Those good things which we now possess, over and above what we lost by sin, come to us by the Lord Jesus. Now that the Son of God has come into the field, He is not content with restoration, He turns the loss into a gain, the fall into a greater rising." (Spurgeon)
ii. We should come to Jesus, and by our free will give Him everything we have, everything we are. We give our lives to Him and say, "This is Jesus' spoil." We give our gifts and abilities to Him and say, "This is Jesus' spoil." We give our possessions to Him and say, "This is Jesus' spoil." We give our praise to Him and say, "This is Jesus' spoil." We give our time to Him and say, "This is Jesus' spoil."
iii. Some wonder why David was allowed to keep the spoil of the Amalekites when Saul was expressly commanded to not keep any spoil from that nation (1 Samuel 15:1-3), and was judged by God for not obeying that command (1 Samuel 15:13-23). The answers are simple: First, David had no specific command from God to destroy all the spoil from the Amalekites, as Saul did. Second, David was recovering what the Amalekites had taken from others, though he recovered far beyond what was taken from his city. Third, David was not acting as the king of Israel, representing the LORD's nation, as Saul was. So in this case, simply put, the rules were different for David.

C. The spoil from the battle is divided.

1. (1 Sam. 30:21-25) The spoils are distributed equally among those who fought and those who helped.

21 When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David and had been left behind at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, "Since they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoils that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, so that they may lead them away and leave." 23 But David said, "You must not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us, for He has protected us and handed over to us the band of raiders that came against us. 24 And who will listen to you in this matter? For as is the share of the one who goes down into the battle, so shall be the share of the one who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike." 25 So it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.

a. Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary they could not follow David: Apparently, when David was in swift pursuit of the Amalekites, 200 men among his company could not continue on. So they made a camp where they were, and lightened the supply load from the soldiers who would continue. Now, David returns to the two hundred men who stayed by the supply camp.

b. Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said: When David returned, these men of the supply camp saw their own possessions among the spoils of battle, and they wanted them back. The wicked and worthless men (apparently, there were some among David's men) protested, and said they could only have back every man's wife and children, but none of their possessions.

c. My brethren, you shall not do so with what the LORD has given us ... But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies, they shall share alike. David declares an important principle: the supply lines are just as vital as the soldiers are and God will reward both "soldiers" and "supporters" properly.
i. Many people serve the LORD in invisible, behind-the-scenes ways, often supporting a much more visible aspect of the LORD's work. God will support the hidden servant with the same reward as prominent servant.
ii. The wicked and worthless men looked at the spoil and said, "We fought for this spoil and it is ours." David looked at the spoil and said, "Look at what the LORD has given us." When you looked at it that way, how could you not share? When the LORD had given David such a great victory, he really saw it as the LORD's victory more than his own.

d. This principle was so important that it was declared to be a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day. The principle should be declared and believed among God's people today.
i. There is encouragement for the weary here. "You Little-Faiths, you Despondencies, you Much-Afraids, you Feeble-Minds, you that sigh more than you sing, you that would but cannot, you that have a great heart for holiness, but feel beaten back in your struggles, the Lord shall give you his love, his grace, his favor, as surely as he gives it to those who can do great things in his name." (Spurgeon)
ii. Poole on why those who stayed back were worthy of a portion of the spoil: "The reason of it is manifest, because they were exposed to hazards as well as their brethren, and were a reserve to whom they might retreat in case of a defeat; and they were now in actual service, and in the station in which their general had placed them."

1 Sam. 30:3-8, 16-25 - Extra Commentary

1 Samuel 30:3 "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."

They came to the place where it had stood, and where it now lay in ruins.

"And, behold, it was burnt with fire": The whole city was laid in ashes.

"And their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives": As it appeared afterwards; for upon their first coming they knew not but they were all destroyed. And which they might reasonably suppose from their former treatment of them, unless there were any left upon the spot which could inform them how things were, which does not appear, and which must make their distress the greater.

This had to be a tremendous shock when David realized the Amalekites have caught them gone, and ravaged their city. There are not dead bodies around, so David is aware the women and children have been taken captive. The Amalekites had spared the wives and children, because they were valuable as slave labor.

1 Samuel 30:4 "Then David and the people that [were] with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep."

They cried out in doleful shrieks and loud lamentations.

"And wept, until they had no more power to weep": Until nature was quite exhausted, and there was no moisture left; so the Vulgate Latin version, "till tears failed in them"; they could shed no more.

We see a great sorrow for the loss of the wives and children here. Possibly, they are blaming David for leaving their families helpless while they went to war to help Achish.

1 Samuel 30:5 "And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite."

That is observed as one cause of his particular distress and another follows (in 1 Samuel 30:6).

"Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite": That is, who had been his wife; for he was now dead (1 Sam. 25:39), and was so before she was married to David. Both these came with him to Gath, and were left at Ziklag when he went with Achish, and here they were taken (see 1 Sam. 25:42).

1 Samuel 30:6 "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."

"Distressed" ... grieved: Arriving home to the reality of their great tragedy caused David immense distress and provoked the wickedness of his men to entertain the treasonous idea of stoning him. Having not inquired of the Lord before his departure to support Achish in battle, David was in need of God's getting his attention.

"Encouraged himself in the Lord": This was a key to David being a man after God's heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22).

Life had reduced David's options to one. Sooner or later, life does that to everyone. And the solution for every person is the same. When David's men turned on him in their despair, David "strengthened himself" (encourage his heart), "in the Lord." His habit of worshiping Yahweh during difficult times produced many of the Psalms. Worship is a disciplined act of the will, not something to be engaged in only when God's people feel like it.

They are so angry with David that his own men are speaking of stoning him to death. They have forgotten that David's two wives were taken. David always places his faith in the LORD. He feels no differently here. David is assured that this is the plan of the LORD.

Verses 7-8: "Abiathar" was still acting as David's high priest (23:9-10), and David was still properly consulting the sacred lots to hear from the Lord. God' response to David (in contrast to His lack of response to Saul), showed that He was now guiding David.

1 Samuel 30:7 "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."

"Abiathar the priest ... ephod": Serving as a source through which one could make direct and specific inquiry into the will of God, the High-Priest's ephod, which contained the Urim and Thummim, was sought by David. The distress of the moment drew his focus away from the treasonous thoughts of his men and back to God in his desperation to know what God would have him do.

1 Samuel 30:8 "And David inquired 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]."

Before God answered more slowly and gradually (1 Sam. 23:1, 12), but now he answers speedily and fully at once, because the business here required more haste. So gracious is our God that he considers even the degree of other necessities, and accommodates himself to them.

The relationship with David and his LORD are not even comparable with any other in the Bible except for Jesus. David knows that the LORD has the answer to what he should do. As we have said before, the LORD spoke to the people through the ephod of the priest. David had placed his will into the hands of the LORD, by consulting Him before acting. The LORD tells David to take the men and pursue the enemy. He reassures David, that all will be saved. There will be no loss to David and his men. The only loss will be to the Amalekites.

Verses 16-20: David's successful rescue mission, in which "nothing ... was lacking" or unaccounted for, helped set the stage for David's rise to the throne. The way he took care of his men and their belongings convinced the people they could trust him.

1 Samuel 30:16 "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 land of Judah."

"All the great spoil": The Amalekites had not only what they took from Ziklag, but much more plunder from all their raids. After David conquered the Amalekites (verses 17-18), he returned what belonged to Ziklag (verses 19, 26), and spread the rest all over Judah (verses 26-31).

These Amalekites felt they were safe, because the men of David had gone with the Philistines to fight against the Israelites. They had not taken into consideration that David would be released from that war. They were celebrating their victory and not expecting anyone to retaliate. Drinking here, is speaking of alcoholic beverages, which dulled the senses.

1 Samuel 30:17 "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."

"Four hundred young men": It is obvious from Moses' encounter (Exodus 17:8-16), Saul's failure (1 Sam. Chapter 15), and Mordecai's opposition (Est. 3:1; 10-13), that the Amalekites were wicked people who hated God's people and died hard.

They came in on them unawares and killed all of the men, except the 400 young men who got away on Camels. It appears from the verse above, that David and his men fought them all through the night and until dark the second day. One thing that leaves no doubt that David attacked them in the late evening, was that they were drinking and dancing, which would not have been happening early in the morning.

1 Samuel 30:18 "And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives."

The wives and children of the Israelites, and their goods, excepting the provisions they had eaten.

"And David rescued his two wives": Which is particularly observed, because a special concern of his.

This is not just speaking of all the women and children that the Amalekites had taken, but all of the spoil as well. David's personal gain in this was the recovering of his two wives.

1 Samuel 30:19 "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."

"Nothing lacking" In spite of David's previous failures, God showed Himself to be more than gracious and abundant in His stewardship of the wives, children, livestock and possessions of David and his men.

1 Samuel 30:20 "And David took all the flocks and the herds, [which] they drove before those [other] cattle, and said, This [is] David's spoil."

Which they had taken from the land of the Philistines, or which belonged to the Amalekites properly.

"Which they drove before those other cattle": Which had been carried from Ziklag. First went the spoil taken from other places, and then those taken from David and his men, or what was found at Ziklag. Abarbinel supposes the meaning to be this, that the herds were driven before the flocks, that the oxen were led out first, and then the sheep followed, as being the weaker sort, and more easily to be driven, and carried off. But the former sense seems best.

"And said, this is David's spoil": Either the whole of it, it being owing to him that it was got or brought back; or this may respect some peculiar part of it made a present of to him. Or it may represent what the Amalekites had taken from others, which was at the disposal of David, as distinguished from what was taken from Ziklag, and was restored, or to be restored to the proper owners. It may be taken in the first and more general sense, as being the song, or the burden of the song, sung by David's men as they returned with the spoil, giving him all the honor of it, of whom, but a little before, they talked of stoning him.

This is speaking of all the Amalekites had taken from them. It is apparent that David, also, spoiled the Amalekites, and took their animals.

Verses 21-25: David's wisdom in dealing with his men's jealousy is a concrete example of his remarkable leadership skills. He pointed out that all they had recaptured was a gift from God, "what the Lord has given us." The custom of honoring those who stayed back to watch the baggage as well as those who fought in the battle is good military strategy because it builds loyalty and unity.

1 Samuel 30:21 "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."

These were the ones who were left at the brook Besor.

"Who were so faint that they could not follow David": Or, as the Targum, were restrained from going over after him; either through faintness of spirits, and weakness of body, or through the order of David that they should not follow him. And which seems to receive some countenance from what follows.

"Whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor": To guard the passage there, and to tarry by and keep the stuff.

"And they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him": To congratulate them upon the victory they had obtained, and to see and receive their wives and children, and what portion of the spoil might be divided to them.

"And when David came near to the people, he saluted them; asked them of their welfare, whether they were in better health, and recovered of their faintness and weakness, as it should seem they were, by their coming forth to meet him.

We must look carefully at the men who were left behind at the brook. They did not stay there, because of cowardice. They were left there to take care of the goods left behind and because, they were not physically able to go on. They had not refused to go with David. They went as far as their physical bodies would allow them to go. David had specifically given them permission to stay at the brook, because of their weakened condition. They had rested at the brook and ran out to meet David on his return.

1 Samuel 30:22 "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."

"Wicked men": (or some translations "worthless). From the beginning of David's flight from Saul, he became captain of those who were in distress, discontent, and in debt (22:2), the least likely to exercise kindness and grace to others. This same expression was used of the sons of Eli (2:12), of those who doubted Saul's ability as king (10:27), of Nabal the fool by his servant (25:17), of Nabal the fool by his wife (25:25), of David when he was cursed by Shimei (2 Sam. 16:7), of Sheba the son of Bichri who lead a revolt against David (2 Sam. 20:1), and of those who would be thrust away like thorns by David (2 Sam. 23:6).

The word translated "worthless" is also used (in 1 Samuel) to describe a supposedly drunken woman, Hannah (1:16); Eli's sons (2:12); men who foolishly opposed Saul (10:27); and Nabal (25:25).

Notice what the Scripture calls those with this attitude. It calls them wicked, and men of Belial (worthless). Their selfishness is showing. One of the things that set the Israelites apart from the heathen was their fairness with each other. This was showing no fairness at all.

1 Samuel 30:23 "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."

Though he saw through their wickedness, and disapproved of the bad sentiments they had embraced, yet he deals gently with them, calling them brethren, being of the same nation and religion, and his fellow soldiers. Yet at the same time keeps up and maintains his dignity and authority as a general, and declares it should not be as they willed, and gives his reasons for it; that it was not fit they should do as they pleased.

"With that which the Lord hath given us": What they had was given them, and therefore, as they had freely received, they should freely give; and what was given them, was not given to them only, but to the whole body, by the Lord.

"Who hath preserved us, and delivered the company that came against us into our hand": It was not by their own power and might that they got the victory over the enemy, and the spoil into their hands, but it was through the Lord only; and therefore, as they should not assume the honor of the victory to themselves, so neither should they claim the spoil as wholly belonging to them.

David is scolding them for this attitude. It was not by their strength that they defeated the Amalekites; it was the might of the LORD. David immediately tells them that this victory is of the LORD.

1 Samuel 30:24 "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."

No wise and just man will take on your side of the question, and join with you in excluding your brethren from a share in the spoil.

"But as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff": As these two hundred men did; they were placed to abide by and watch the carriages, the bag and baggage the rest had left there, that they might be the lighter, and make their pursuit more swiftly. Besides, they guarded the pass here, and were also exposed to danger; for if the four hundred had been cut off, and the enemy had returned, they must all have perished. And therefore as they had their post assigned them, and was liable to danger, it was but just and reasonable they should have the share in the spoil. Especially since it was not want of will in them they did not go with them, but weakness of body.

"They shall part alike": This was David's determination and decision, and it was an equitable one. Something similar to this was directed by the Lord in the war of Midian (Num. 31:25), and was practiced in the times of Abraham (Gen. 14:24); and is agreeable to the light of nature, and what has been practiced by the Heathens, particularly the Romans, as Polybius relates. Who tells us, that every man brought booty into the camp, when the tribunes divided it equally to them all. Not only to those which remained in battle, but to those that guarded the tents and the baggage, to the sick, and to those that were appointed to any service (see Psalm 68:12).

1 Samuel 30:25 "And it was [so] from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day."

"A statute and an ordinance": In spite of the opposition David received from the worthless men among him, he legislated his practice of kindness and equity into law for the people.

David is the leader here. He will determine what shall be done with this. He is not ugly with the evil ones who propose this, but he does not listen to them either. He lets them know immediately, that this will not be tolerated. He even causes this to be a statute and ordinance forever with the Jews.