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Bible Commentaries

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible

1 Samuel 30

Verses 1-10

David's Return to Ziklag

v. 1. And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, after leaving the army of Achish in this Plain of Jezreel, that the Amalekites, evidently as a reprisal for David's raids upon them, 1 Samuel 27:8, had invaded the south, the south country of Judah, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, defenseless as the city was, and burned it with fire;

v. 2. and had taken the women captives that were therein, intending to make slaves of them and of their children; they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away and went on their way, back to their own country.

v. 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.

v. 4. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more power to weep. The blow was so sudden, so unexpected, that their sorrow was correspondingly great and their grief bitter.

v. 5. And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam, the Jezreelitess, and Abigail, the wife of Nabal, the Carmelite.

v. 6. And David was greatly distressed, deeply oppressed and anxious in spirit; for the people spake of stoning him, evidently putting all the blame upon him for joining Achish on his campaign against Israel, because the soul of all the people was grieved, full of bitterness, which has a tendency to be unreasonable, every man for his sons and for his daughters. But David encouraged himself in the Lord, his God, seeking strength and comfort in prayer and in firm confidence in the Lord, also by a direct inquiry of the Lord.

v. 7. And David said to Abiathar, the priest, Ahimelech's son, 1 Samuel 23:6-9, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod, which contained the Urim and Thummim. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David.

v. 8. And David inquired at the Lord, by means of the Urim, Shall I pursue after this troop, the raiders who had taken away the women and children? Shall I overtake them? And He answered him, Pursue; for thou shalt surely over take them and without fail recover all, most certainly deliver all the captives from the slavery which threatened them.

v. 9. So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, without taking time to rest, and came to the brook Besor, which flowed down from the hilly section of Judah and down through the country of the Philistines, "Where those that were left behind stayed, unable to proceed on account of exhaustion.

v. 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, the crossing of which seems to have been connected with great difficulties. These men were left behind with the baggage, while their more stalwart brethren followed the enemy. Like David, every Christian, though beset with anxiety and distress, may cheerfully and courageously take up the work assigned to him, after he has strengthened himself with prayer and the Word of God.

Verses 11-20

David Recovers the Spoil

v. 11. And they, the men with David, found an Egyptian in the field, for the Amalekites could easily obtain Egyptian slaves, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water, in order to revive him from his utter exhaustion, for he was almost famished;

v. 12. and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, a slice of pressed figs, and two clusters, pressed cakes, of raisins; and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him, he recovered, he was filled with new life; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk any water three days and three nights.

v. 13. And David said unto him, when he was strong enough to talk, To whom belongest thou? And whence are thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant, slave, to an Amalekite; and my master left me because three days agone I fell sick. He had simply been abandoned because his master could not bother with him on their hasty flight.

v. 14. We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, a Philistine tribe of the south country, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb, the neighborhood of Hebron; and we burned Ziklag with fire.

v. 15. And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company, to the place where the raiding troop had its permanent camp? 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. The caution of the Egyptian was due to the fact that informers and guides were often put to death by those whom they had served, while the hatred of those whom they had betrayed may well be understood.

v. 16. And when he, the Egyptian, had brought him, David with his men, down, behold, they, the Amalekites, were spread abroad upon all the earth, having abandoned themselves entirely to the enjoyment of their successful raid, not dreaming of the nearness of any enemy, 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, celebrating the event with rejoicing.

v. 17. And David, finding them so utterly unprepared, smote them from the twilight, from the break of day, even unto the evening of the next day, literally, "of their morrow," for the Israelites began their day at sundown; it was an all day battle. And there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels and fled.

v. 18. And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away; and David rescued his two wives. The pursuit was a complete success.

v. 19. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor anything that they had taken to them; David recovered all, all the booty from the entire raided district.

v. 20. And David took all the flocks and the herds, those captured from the Amalekites in addition to the recovered property of the raided territory, which they drave before those other cattle, at the head of David's little band, and said, This is David's spoil. If matters are only begun with the Lord, then He will give His blessing and success in due season.

Verses 21-31

The Distribution of the Spoil

v. 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, David having given this order on account of their great exhaustion; 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, giving them a friendly greeting, wishing them peace and happiness.

v. 22. Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial, vain and profitless fools, of those that went with David, for even in that band there were such, 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, literally, "But every man his wife and his children; these let them lead away and go. " They held the selfish idea that, because the two hundred had not shared in the danger, they should neither share the spoil.

v. 23. Then said David, his tactful gentleness averting a rupture in the ranks which might have become a calamity, 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. The success of their venture had been due entirely to Jehovah and His blessing and could, therefore, in no way be regarded as their own achievement.

v. 24. For who will hearken unto you in this matter? The majority would certainly not share their selfish sentiments. But as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff, who remains behind to watch the baggage; they shall part alike, share according to the same division.

v. 25. it was so from that day forward, that he, David, made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day. It was a rule which held as late as the time of the Maccabees, being considered just and fair to all.

v. 26. And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil, after everyone of his men had recovered what had been taken from him and other booty besides, unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you, a gift of blessing, of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord;

v. 27. to them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in South Ramoth, the city of this name in the south country, and to them which were in Jattir,

v. 28. and to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,

v. 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,

v. 30. and to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,

v. 31. and to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt, who had shown kindness to him when he was a fugitive. All the cities here mentioned, some of which have been identified quite certainly, are in the southern and southwestern part of the territory of Judah. Note: If the Lord lays His blessing upon our endeavors, it behooves us to share it with others as there is need or occasion.

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Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 30". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-samuel-30.html. 1921-23.