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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 30

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-31

III. David’s Victory over the Amalekites who destroyed Ziklag

1 Samuel 30:1-31

1And it came to pass, when David and his men were come1 to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south2 and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag 2and burned it with fire; And had taken the women captives [captive the women] that were therein [ins. both small and great];3 they slew4 not any either great or small [om. either great or small], but carried them away [off] and went on their 3way.5 So [And] 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. 4Then [And] David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and 5wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.6 6And David was greatly distressed [was in a great strait],7 for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved [bitter], every man for his sons and his daughters; but David encouraged [strengthened] himself in the Lord [Jehovah] his God.

7And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither [om. hither] the ephod.8 And Abiathar brought thither [om. thither] the 8ephod to David. And David inquired at the Lord [of Jehovah], saying, Shall I pursue9 after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue! for thou shalt surely overtake them and without fail recover all [for thou shalt 9overtake and deliver]. So [And] David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind 10stayed.10 But [And] David pursued, he and four hundred men; for [and] two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.11

11And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought12 him to David, and gave 12him bread, and he did eat, and they made him drink water. And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters [cakes] of raisins; and when he had eaten, his spirit13 came again to him; for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any 13water, three days and three nights. And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt,14 servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me because three days agone15 I fell sick. 14We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast [on the region] which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb, and we burned 15Ziklag with fire. And David said to him, Canst [Wilt] thou bring me down to this company [troop]?16 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 16to this company [troop]. And when he had [And he] brought him down, [ins. and] behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth [over the whole land], eating and drinking and dancing [revelling]17, because of all the great spoil which they had taken out of the land of the Philistines and out of the land of Judah. 17And David smote them from the twilight even [om. even] unto the evening of the next day,18 and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, 18which rode upon camels and fled. And David recovered [rescued] all that the 19Amalekites had carried away; and David rescued his two wives. And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither [nor] spoil, nor anything that they had taken to them; David recovered all. 20And David took all the flocks and herds, [;] which they drove before those other cattle [they drove before him this flock],19 and said, This is David’s spoil.

21And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they20 had made also [om. also] to abide at the brook Besor. And they went forth to meet David and to meet the people that were with 22him; and when David came near to the people, he saluted them. Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial [all the wicked and worthless men], of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought [aught] of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his 23wife and his children, that they may lead them away and depart. Then said David [And David said], Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord [Jehovah] hath given us, who hath preserved us, and delivered the company 24[troop] that came against us into our hand. For [And] who will hearken unto you in this matter? but [for] as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall 25his part be that tarrieth by the stuff; they shall part alike. And it was so [it came to pass] from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance 26for21 Israel unto this day. And when [om. when] David came to Ziklag, he [and] sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to [om. even to] his friends, saying, 27Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord [Jehovah]: To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth [in Ramothnegeb], 28and to them which were in Jattir, And to them which were in Aroer, and 29to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa, And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, 30and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites, And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chor22 -ashan, and to them which were 31in Athach, And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt [which David frequented, he and his men].


1 Samuel 30:1-6. Description, of the calamity inflicted by the Amalekites, who plundered and burned Ziklag, the grief of David and his men at their loss, the danger to which he was exposed from the exasperated people who threw the blame on him, and his strengthening in the Lord.—The construction of the four first verses is as follows: the protasis extends through the three first verses, but with two parentheses, the first extending from “and the Amalekite,” in 1 Samuel 30:1 to the end of 1 Samuel 30:2, the second including all of 1 Samuel 30:3 after the word “behold;” the apodosis is 1 Samuel 30:4.—On the third day, namely, after his departure from Achish. The Amalekites had used David’s absence and the defenceless condition of Ziklag to revenge themselves for his invasion of their territory (1 Samuel 27:8). The south and Ziklag, the general term preceding the particular. The Negeb is the south-country, so called by the Israelites as being the southern part of Palestine or Judah, while it was north of the Amalekite territory. According to 1 Samuel 30:13 they had plundered Ziklag three days before David’s return. In verse 2 only the women are said to have been carried away; the children, mentioned in 1 Samuel 30:3; 1 Samuel 30:6, are omitted here for brevity’s sake. The Sept.’s addition to the text of the words “and all” is unnecessary (against Thenius).23 So the words “nor woman” after “man” are an explanatory insertion of the Sept. It is expressly remarked that the women were not slain, because they intended to make slaves of them and the children [in contrast with David’s conduct, 1 Samuel 27:11.—Tr.]. The two wives of David, Ahinoam and Abigail, are especially named, 1 Samuel 25:42 sq., 1 Samuel 27:3. The great sorrow that they all, David and his men, expressed with tears and cries, corresponds with the great peril that threatened David, the people charging their misfortune on him and thinking of stoning him.—The soul of all the people was bitter, they were deeply agitated. But he strengthened himself in the Lord his God, he had recourse to Him in order (1 Samuel 30:7 sq.) to inquire of him by the ephod, as he had done, 1 Samuel 23:9. His strengthening in the Lord consisted in the fact that, being assured through his inquiry of the Lord’s assistance, he straightway set out with his embittered men to recover the spoil from the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 30:7-10. David’s arrangements to secure his end: 1) the religious preparation, verses 7, 8; he first assured himself of the Lord’s will that he should pursue the enemy, and of His promise that he should be successful,—on the words “bring me the ephod,” which indicate that the ephod was exclusively the property of the high-priest,24 comp. Hengst, Beit. [Contributions, etc.] 3, 67 sq.,—2) his military disposition of his men, 1 Samuel 30:9-10. The six hundred men appear here as before. They are divided into two parts, four hundred pursue the enemy, two hundred remain behind, when they have reached the brook Besor. [But this arrangement was not at first intended by David; it was a necessity forced on him by the exhaustion of the two hundred.—Tr.]. The brook Besor is probably the present Wady el Sheria, which begins in the hill-country of Judah and flows in a south-westerly direction south of Gaza into the sea. See Raumer, Pal. p. 52. [Rob. thought it the Wady Ar arah, and Grove and Porter think it yet unidentified.—Tr.].—At this brook and in its valley—both must be considered here, because the staying behind of some of David’s men, afterwards referred to their exhaustion, supposes an insurmountable difficulty in the ground—“the rest” (הַנוֹתָרִים= 1 Samuel 30:9) remained in a position adapted to the protection of the baggage which was left here (see 1 Samuel 30:24). The narrator here anticipates what is told in 1 Samuel 30:10; it is a proleptical expression, arising from the vivacious description of David’s rapid march with four hundred men, and there is no need to change the text into the Vulg. lassi “wearied” (= הַפְּגוּרִים), as Then. proposes, especially as the ancient VSS. had it and explained it by periphrases (Keil).25 The verb (פָּגַר) = “to be weary” in Syr., occurs only here and in 1 Samuel 30:21. Weariness was the reason of their remaining behind. At the same time they served to guard the baggage (1 Samuel 30:24).

1 Samuel 30:11-16 a. David gets information of the Amalekites from an Egyptian straggler. 1 Samuel 30:11. And they found an Egyptian; from the proximity of Egypt the Amalekites had Egyptians as slaves (comp. 1 Samuel 30:13). And they took, that is, brought him to David, a pregnant expression in keeping with the rapidity of the action. The insertion of the Sept. “and they brought him,” is clearly an explanatory reading (against Then.). “Bread” (לֶחֶם) = food; they gave him to eat and to drink;” the general statement stands first.

1 Samuel 30:12. The sort of food which they gave him. On the “fig-cakes” see on 1 Samuel 25:18. His spirit returned to him, he revived; having been left behind sick, and having been three days and three nights without food, he had lain exhausted on the field.26

1 Samuel 30:13 sq. The Egyptian’s answer. To whom belongest thou? that is, as slave, for as such he was recognized by his exterior. “Whence art thou?” (אֵי מִזֶּה, the אֵי remains unchanged, the מִזֶּה changes according to the relations of the sentence. Ew. § 326 a).—“We invaded;” the verb here only stands with the Accus., usually with a Prep. (עַל ,אֵל ,בְּ, see 1 Samuel 30:16).—The first geographical statement [1 Samuel 30:14]: On the south of the Cherethites.27 a Philistine tribe dwelling in the south and on the sea (see 1 Samuel 30:16), which came originally, as the name indicates, from the island of Crete. See in Steph. Byzant. s.v. Gaza, the tradition that the Cretans under Minos made an expedition against the neighboring coast of Gaza. Reasons for the view that Caphtor, the home of the Philistines (who were not indigenous to Canaan, but immigrants, Deuteronomy 2:23; Amos 9:7), is identical with Crete, may be seen in Bertheau zur Gesch. d. Israel., p. 186–200. Comp. Ewald Gesch. [Hist, of Israel] I. 336. Against this view see Starke’s Gaza, p. 66 sq., 99 sq., Dunker’s Gesch. d. Alterthums I., 339 A. [See also Vaihinger’s Article “Philister,” and Müller’s Art. “Kanaan” in Herzog’s R.-E., and Müller’s more recent book “Die Semiten,” in which he wrongly makes the Philistines Japhethites. The whole question is obscure, but there is some ground for holding that the Philistines first passed from the neighborhood of the Persian Gulf into Lower Egypt (Genesis 10:14, “whence came the Philistines”), thence through Crete to Canaan, to which country they have given the name Palestine. This would explain the Phœnician-Canaanitish type of their language.—Tr.].28The second statement: On what pertained to Judah, the southern regions of Judah, forming the eastern portion of the Negeb or Southland, which stretched across from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea. The third statement: On the south of Caleb.—Caleb, one of the twelve spies, as reward for his faithfulness and believing courage, he alone with Joshua, daring, and advising the people, to enter the land (Numbers 13:6; Numbers 13:30; Numbers 14:6 sq.), was, with Joshua, alone considered worthy to tread the land of promise; the city of Hebron and its environs was given to him and his posterity as a lasting possession. When the city of Hebron was afterwards assigned to the priests, the race of Caleb yet retained all the adjacent fields and villages (Joshua 21:11 sq.). Though it belonged to the tribe-territory of Judah, the district of Caleb is regarded as a distinct region; it formed the eastern part of the Negeb as far as the Dead Sea, comp. 1 Samuel 25:3. The three regions, which the Amalekites invaded, are named from West to East. We hence see that the plundering expedition of the Amalekites extended over the whole South-country, and was not intended for Ziklag alone.

1 Samuel 30:15. David’s question: Wilt thou bring me down to this troop? supposes the Amalekites had marched southward, and dwelt there south of Judah and Philistia. The Egyptian assures himself by an oath (by “Elohim,” not by “Jehovah”), from David that he will not kill him, “because informers and guides, after having been used, were often so disposed of” (Thenius), and that he would not deliver him up to his master, because the latter would have killed him for his service to David.

1 Samuel 30:16 a assumes that David gave him the oath. He brought him down.—It is unnecessary (with Sept. and Then.) to insert “thither.” Though the slave was left behind sick, he yet knew the direction which “this troop” had taken.

1 Samuel 30:16-201 Samuel 30:16-201 Samuel 30:16-20. David surprises the Amalekites and recovers the booty. 1 Samuel 30:16 b. After “behold” we ought perhaps to suppose “they” (הֵמָה) fallen out (so Then. after Sept.). The narrative gives a lively description of the Amalekite troop, scattered over the ground (so David found them), revelling after their successful foray, and “celebrating a feast because of all the great spoil.”

1 Samuel 30:17. Thus abandoned to jollity David surprises them. The statement: from the twilight to the evening is understood by some to mean from the morning-twilight, by others to mean from the evening-twilight, the Heb. word (נֶשֶׁף) being used in both senses, for example, in the former in Job 7:4. In favor of the morning-twilight Isaiah 1:0) that David could only have surprised the revelling Amalekites by a night-march; and 2) the counter-limit: “to the evening.” Luther: “from morning to evening.” The succeeding word (לְֽמָחֳרָתָם) means not “on the following day,” but (because of the Prep.) “towards the next day” (Luth.) According to the former rendering the fight would have lasted two whole days, which is improbable. According to the latter it lasted (as agrees with the circumstances) only one day, from morning to evening, when according to Heb. reckoning the following day began. The suffix (ָם-), which the ancient VSS., except Syr. and Arab.,29 do not express, is perhaps an adverbial ending30 (Maurer, Ges., Then., Keil). That David had to fight the Amalekites a whole day shows that after the first surprise in the twilight they made obstinate resistance. [Instead of “the next day,” Bib.-Com. proposes to read “to wipe them out” (למחותם), and similarly Wellhausen. The present text is difficult. The addition “towards the morrow” (Erdmann) is unnecessary, and the phrase itself is strange, though sustained by the ancient versions. No explanation yet proposed is satisfactory.—Tr.].

1 Samuel 30:18 sq. Statement of David’s complete success; he recovered all the goods and persons that the Amalekites had carried away.

1 Samuel 30:20. All the sheep and oxen David took away, namely, from the Amalekites, not merely what they had taken from him, but other rich booty in cattle. “That flock” (הַמִּקְנֶה הַהוּא) [Eng. A. V. wrongly “those other cattle”] is not the flock that belonged to David, and was now recovered by him from the Amalekites. So some expositors take it, explaining it that David caused the flocks captured from the Amalekites to be driven before the rest which belonged to him, with the cry: “this is the spoil of David;” but there is no previous special mention of stolen cattle which would justify such a retrospective designation: “before that (David’s) flock.” “That flock,” in such a demonstrative or retrospective sense, can only be the previously-mentioned cattle captured from the enemy [1 Samuel 30:19]. Nor can we render with De Wette “they marched,” properly “they led,” that is, led the train of women and children; for the verb (נָהַג), as Thenius properly remarks in opposition, “never (even Genesis 31:18; Exodus 3:1; Isaiah 11:16; Psalms 80:2 (1) Song of Solomon 8:2) means lead except in so far as the leader is at the same time the driver (so 1 Samuel 30:2; 1 Samuel 30:22; 2 Samuel 6:3), and never means draw forward, lead on.” Taking the verb in the sense of “driving,” there is, however, no object to the verb in the Heb. text (לִפְנֵי); the “women and children” cannot be the object, since only cattle has been spoken of. We must therefore (with Then. after Vulg.) make a slight change in the text (read לְפָנָיו) and render: “they (the drivers) drove (or, one drove) before him,” that is, before David (who stood of course at the head of the troop) this flock, namely, that which had been captured from the Amalekites, to which the outcry “this is David’s spoil” answers very well.31

1 Samuel 30:21-25. David’s return with the recovered property and the booty to the two hundred men who were left behind, and the adjustment of a strife which was made by some wicked men of his band in regard to the division of the booty with them.

1 Samuel 30:21. Follow David, more precise statement of what is said in 1 Samuel 30:10, that they could not go over the brook Besor for weariness. The Sing. “he made to abide” (found in all ancient VSS. except Chald., and in 5 MSS. of De Rossi) instead of the Plu. is preferable (Then.), not only because it pertained to David to permit them to stay behind, but also because he is mentioned immediately before and after. David, who had left the tired two hundred to guard the baggage, now gives them friendly greeting as they come joyfully to meet him. On the phrase “he saluted them,” lit., “asked after their peace,” see 1 Samuel 25:5; Judges 18:15.

1 Samuel 30:22. But in this joyful meeting a discordant note was introduced by certain “wicked and worthless persons” of the band, who had marched with David against the enemy and fought them. The translation of the Sept. “the men of war” is obviously an explanation, and does not require (Then.) a corresponding change in the Heb. text (אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה). The Sing. “with me” refers to the individual man who speaks in the name of the rest [Eng. A. V., ad sensum “with us.”—Tr.]. Because they went not, because they did not share the danger, they shall not share the spoil, but each one must content himself with his wife and children. The “every one” (אִישׁ) is not dependent on “we will give” [as Eng. A. V. has it], so as to read, “we will give them nothing, except to every man his wife, etc.”, but the proper translation is (Thenius): “but every one his wife and children, these let them lead away, etc.”, because the “every one” (אִישׁ) is too far from the “to them” (לָהֶם) to be governed by the preposition “to.”

1 Samuel 30:23. In a gentle and friendly way David repels their demand. By the address “my brethren” he speaks to their hearts, and at the same time alludes to the fraternal association in which they all stand with one another, so that they that remained behind must receive their share by fraternal division. Do not so, my brethren, by that which the Lord has given us.—אֵת is not Prep. = “with that which” (De Wette), but the sign of the Acc. [= “in respect to that which” freely rendered “with” as in Eng. A. V.—Tr.]. Ewald, taking it as Acc., renders the phrase as an ejaculatory oath “by that which…!” (Gr., § 329 a), and so as an exclamation: “think on that which.” In favor of this translation, instead of the usual, “in respect to that which” is partly the interpunction (a strong pause at the word “my brethren,” אֶחָי֑), as even Then. admits, partly the excited feeling with which David speaks notwithstanding his friendly and gentle tone, so that this rendering cannot be rejected (Then.) as “less natural.”32 Translate “for he has guarded us, etc.” (the ו in וַיִשְׁמֹר as causal).

1 Samuel 30:24. And who will hearken to you in this word; we must here beyond doubt render “word” (דָּבָר) and not “thing” [as in Eng. A. V.] because of the reference to the “word” so emphatically spoken by the men. “For” [כִּי Eng. A. V. “but”] refers to the negation involved in the question, the reason for which is given in the following words; according to the sense, therefore, it = “but” or “rather.” The Sept. inserts by way of explanation the words: “they are not inferior to us, wherefore,” but there is no ground for inserting this into the Heb. text (against Then.). As is the part… so be the part… These words are explained by the brief declaration: together shall they share, which ordains the procedure corresponding to that rule.33—David repels the opposition with two arguments, 1) a divine, drawn from the so manifestly experienced goodness of the Lord, pointing a) to the gift bestowed on them in this booty; b) to the protection vouchsafed them; c) to the victory granted them; 2) a purely human, in which a) he affirms that no one will support them in their demand, since they were “wicked and worthless people,” b) in proof of this he points out the equality of soldiers in position and merit, in whether they take part in battle, or act as guards of baggage in reserve, and thence c) declares the demand of human justice “every one his own,” every one shall share in that which has fallen to so all together. An admirable speech, which set forth most fitly everything essential, and completely settled the dispute. [See in Patrick’s Comm. in loco. a citation from Polybius on the ancient rule of partition in war, and the procedure of Publius Scipio, like David’s, given in Polyb. X., XVI. 5 (Bib. Comm.).—Tr.].

1 Samuel 30:25. So it was from that day forward.—David’s decision ruled from thenceforth. “He made it,” the Subj. is David, not indefinite “one made it” (Sept., Vulg., Chald.). [A similar law in Numbers 31:27, only there the division is between the soldiery and those that stayed at home, the former having the advantage. David’s rule was perhaps a special application of the general principle; it was in force in the time of the Maccabees (2Ma 8:28; 2Ma 8:30). See Bp. Patrick’s further illustrations.—The translation “upwards,” referring back to Abraham, Genesis 14:23-24 (Rashi cited by Gill), is plainly wrong.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 30:26-31. The dividing out of the booty

1 Samuel 30:26. David retained enough of the booty in the division among his own men, to send considerable presents to the elders of Judah, his friends.—The territory of the tribe of Judah had been the scene of his wanderings during his persecution by Saul; see the express reference to this in 1 Samuel 30:31. Here only his kingdom could and was to come to historical realization through the adhesion to him of the elders of Judah and through them of the whole people. Because they were his “friends,” therefore he sent them presents from the spoil taken from Judah’s old hereditary enemies; he did not send them gifts to make them his friends. [Probably for both reasons.—Tr.]. It is besides probable that many localities in Judah had been plundered by the Amalekites in this foray. F. W. Krummacher: “This was already a royal act in vivid anticipation of his impending accession to the throne. Already the crown of Israel was unmistakably though dimly visible above his head.” David’s point of view in sending these gifts is declared expressly to be the religious-theocratic in his accompanying words: Behold a gift of blessing for you of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord.—“Blessing” (בְּרָכָה) = “gift” which comes from God (see 1 Samuel 25:27). The enemies, from whom the booty was taken, he calls enemies of Jehovah, because they were enemies of God’s people and so of God’s cause and kingdom in Israel, yea, of God Himself, who as covenant-God identified Himself with His people. Israel’s conflict against its enemies was a “conflict of the Lord,” see on 1 Samuel 17:47. The booty taken in battle from the Amalekites by the Lord’s help was therefore a gift of God and thus a “blessing,” in which all Judah, where was the factual foundation for David’s kingdom, was to share through its elders and in all its separate localities. It must, therefore, have been a very rich booty, as we might also infer from the long duration of the battle.—The term Judah embraces all the territory of that tribe, together with certain after-mentioned cities of Simeon scattered on the south border of Judah, as in Joshua 15:21 sq. some cities of Simeon are mentioned among the cities of Judah.

1 Samuel 30:27. Bethel cannot (according to 1 Samuel 30:31) be the city in Benjamin (now Beitin); the Sept. Vat. Baithsour, which Then. would adopt into the text as Beth-zur, the name of a city in the hill-country of Judah between Jerusalem and Hebron (Joshua 15:58; 2 Chronicles 11:7), which, however, is undesirable from the great difference between the syllables el and zur. It is probably the same place which is called Kesil in Joshua 15:30, identical with the Simeonite town called in Joshua 19:4 Bethul and mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:30 between Tolad and Hormah under the name Bethuel; according to Knobel = Elusa or el Khalasa, now a large ruin about twelve miles south of Beersheba, comp. Rob. I. 333 sq. [Am. Ed. I. 201, 202], Fay [in Lange’s Biblework] and Keil on Joshua 15:30, V. Raumer, 180.—Ramoth-Negeb, so called, in distinction from other cities of the same name, as lying in the “south-country” belonging to Simeon, Joshua 19:8. [“Shimei the Ramathite (1 Chronicles 27:27), who was over David’s vineyards, was evidently a native of this Ramah” (Bib. Comm.).—Tr.].—Jattir, probably the present Attir, Rob. II. 422 [Am. Ed. I. 494, II. 204], a priestly city, Joshua 15:48; Jos 21:14; 1 Chronicles 6:42, in the southern part of the hill-country of Judah, in Eusebius’ time (Onom. s. v. Jether) a large place inhabited by Christians, twenty Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, called in Seetzen, R. III., S. VI Ater.

1 Samuel 30:28. Aroer, 1 Chronicles 11:44, in Judah, now a city with colossal ruins of foundation-walls in Wady Ar’ara, about six miles south-east of Beersheba and eight miles south of Hebron, Rob. III. 180 [Am. Ed. II. 199].—Siphmoth, not identified, not = Shepham on the north-border of Canaan, Numbers 34:10-11, the places here mentioned being all in the south (see 1 Samuel 30:31), according to Keil, “perhaps found in Zebdi the Siphmite in 1 Chronicles 27:27.” [Bib. Comm. in loco. remarks on the number of cases in which David’s officials are the companions of his youth.—Tr.].—Eshtemoa, now the large village Semua, according to Schubert 2225 feet above the level of the sea, on the south-western part of the hill-country of Judah, Rob. II. 422, III. 191 [Am. Ed. I. 494, I. 204, 205], with numerous remains of walls, once a priestly city (Joshua 15:50; Joshua 21:14).

1 Samuel 30:29. Rachal, unknown. Instead of this the Sept. has five different names: Ged, Kimath, Saphek, Themath, Karmel, which Thenius would insert in the text, supposing that they might easily have fallen out through the repetition of the phrase “to them which” (וְלַאֲשֶׂר). But only two of these names (Gad and Karmel) are found elsewhere, and Then. is obliged therefore to suppose changes in the original Greek forms34 in order to get known names. But besides the complicated character of these changes, the conjecture is opposed by the fact that Gath, as a Philistine city, cannot according to 1 Samuel 30:26 come into consideration here. And so the conjecture that Rachal is a corruption of Karmel is untenable.—The cities of the Jerahmeelites and the Kenites were in the south of Judah (1 Samuel 27:10).

1 Samuel 30:30. Hormah, in Judah, also in the Negeb or south-country (Joshua 15:30), assigned to the Simeonites according to Joshua 19:4, called by the Canaanites Zephath (Judges 1:17), situated on the southern declivity of the mountains of the Amalekites or the Amorites, now called Sepata [the pass es-Sufa, Rob. ii. 181,—Tr.], a ruin on the western declivity of the elevated plateau Rakhma, five miles south of Khalasa (Elusa), see Ritter 14, 1085 [Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art. Hormah; see Joshua 12:14.—Tr.]. Comp. Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:3, the latter as to the meaning of the name: banning, banplace.—Chor-ashan probably = Ashan35 (Joshua 15:42), according to Joshua 19:7 a city of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:32).—Athach, only here, otherwise unknown; Then. conjectures the reading to be Ether (עֶתֶר), a Simeonite city (Joshua 19:7; Joshua 15:43), which is possible from the similarity of the third letters [ר ,ך]. In 1 Samuel 30:30 the Sept. has Jarmuth for Hormah, and inserts two additional names, Beer-sheba (Joshua 15:28; Joshua 19:2) and Nombe, for which Then. refers to the Nuba visited by Tobler.

1 Samuel 30:31. Hebron, fourteen miles south of Jerusalem, a primeval city (Genesis 23:17; Numbers 13:22), in a deep and narrow valley in the hill-country of Judah, now el Khalil, that is, Friend of God, so called with reference to Abraham’s residence there.—And to all places, etc.—David showed himself grateful to all who befriended and adhered to him as a fugitive, and bound them still closer to him.


1. It is a wonderful providence of God in the development of the parallel-running fates of Saul and David that, just before the catastrophe which overwhelmed Saul and his house and kingdom, the ways of both men seem to sink into the depths of misfortune, and lose themselves without a trace, Saul’s way in battle with the Philistines, David’s in hostilities with the Amalekites. And so the nation Israel, already divided in fact between Saul and David, seems to be carried along to destruction with its two heads, and given up beyond salvation to its two mightiest hereditary foes. And on both sides God’s punitive justice is seen controlling human sin, for not only Saul, on whose head God’s final judgment of wrath descends, is guilty, David’s strait also is the result of his sin. This consisted 1) in his sinful weakness of faith and despair, which led him to have recourse to Israel’s enemy, instead of remaining trustfully in Judah according to the Lord’s direction (1 Samuel 22:5); 2) in his untruthfulness and prevarication, which led him to join the enemy against his own people, the Amalekites meantime, while he was marching north, plundering his possessions in the south, and 3) in his extremely cruel and bloody foray against the Amalekites (27), for which he had received no commission from the Lord, by which their vengeance was kindled against him. All this teaches us, as we look at David and at Saul, that sin is destruction. And yet, notwithstanding this similarity in suffering, which appears, on the one hand, as a divine punishment, and, on the other hand, in sin as cause of destruction, there is here completed to the eye that can recognize God’s ways, in a summary and epoch-making manner that most important contrast, whose history runs through the whole development of the kingdom of God in the Old Covenant and in the New. Saul’s way vanishes in the darkness of an unfortunate battle with the old enemy of the nation, into whose hand God gives him and the people, and his life ends in despair; the sentence of rejection is executed. David’s way emerges from the gloom, he returns as victor over the foe, dispenses presents with princely munificence, his kingdom flourishes in the south over the whole territory of the mighty tribe of Judah, whose power southward against the tribes of which Amalek was the most dangerous in its enmity, and westward against the powerful Philistines, was the protection and guard of all Israel. While’s 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). While in the north Israel, involved in Saul’s destruction and the divine judgment passed against him, lies prostrate before the Philistines, David’s victory frees the south from the enemy, and in Judah the foundation of the new kingdom of the future is laid by the heroic achievement of David and his men, and by his noble and winning behaviour. This great contrast in the fates of Saul and David is, however, founded in the contrast in their posture of heart to the Lord: Saul has lost sight of God, hardened himself against Him in pride, self-will and hate to David, lost ethical ability to repent, and in his time of need applied to anti-godly powers and deceitful human counsel. David, on the contrary, shows us his heart, as it bows in sorrow before Him (1 Samuel 30:4) under the painful, but not undeserved strokes of God’s hand (1 Samuel 30:5-6), but in the bitterest experiences, when his own men turn against him, does not yield to despair, but looks to the Lord for strength. And so he receives the consolatory revelation of God’s will and promise of divine help, and experiences the Lord’s saving and blessing power. From these gloomy paths David comes forth as a man after God’s own heart, to whom has come the experience that God gives grace to the humble and causes the upright to succeed.

2. The strengthening of the inner life in the Lord in time of need (as David here found) consists in the undoubtful experience and knowledge of what is well-pleasing to God through enlightenment from above, in fulfilling it with pious confidence and hope in His help through the consolations of His word, and in the permeation of one’s own will by the sanctifying might of the divine will, which lifts up the sunken courage, and makes the crushed or depressed will to mount to bold resolution and energetic action. Such a strengthening attests itself particularly in the casting of all care on Him, and in brave struggle against all the powers of flesh and blood, which oppress and take captive the inner life. The condition of such an inspiriting and strengthening of the inner life of the member of God’s kingdom is his open-heartedness and receptivity for the divine vital powers, which are at the disposal of every one who will appropriate them, and constant intercourse with the Lord in unchangeable association of life with him founded on thorough humble devotion to him, without which neither can man be God’s property, nor God man’s; all this being involved in the words: “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”


1 Samuel 30:1. Schlier: What else were the Amalekites than the Lord’s rods of chastening, to chasten David for all his improprieties in the land of the Philistines? For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and with His children He is always strictest.—Berl. Bib.: God does not leave His people long in sin, but soon raps them over the knuckles when they go off on their own ways, in order that they may come into the track again.—S. Schmid: When we go out of the house we should heartily pray, for we know not in what manner we shall return.

1 Samuel 30:2. Starke: That is God’s custom in dealing with His people; before He exalts them, He humbles them first. Proverbs 15:33; 1 Samuel 2:7.—Cramer: God still cares for His own, and lays on them no more trouble than they can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13), and also restrains their enemies from making their cross heavier by a hair.

1 Samuel 30:3-5. Berl. Bib.: David was guided in a way so universal, that one cannot experience nor even know anything which was not to be found in him. And those who shall read attentively what is said of David, will therein certainly meet with their own condition; and this the more exactly, in proportion as they have gone further and become more conformed to Jesus Christ.—[1 Samuel 30:4. Henry: It is no disparagement to the boldest and bravest spirits to lament the calamities of relations and friends.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 30:6 sqq. Schlier: David was strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, for in prayer he had won over again the Lord his God and gained His gracious promise.—[Taylor: As sometimes the partially intoxicated man will be sobered in a moment by the occurrence of some terrible calamity, so David, who had been living all these months under the narcotic influence of sin, was by the violence of the Amalekites and the threatened mutiny of his own men roused to his nobler self, and he “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”—Tr.]—Berlenb. Bible: He strengthens himself in God through an increased composure and through the union of his will with the will of God, as himself doing or permitting all this.—Roos: David saw no means before him of recovering his wives, children and property and those of his followers. But he strengthened himself in faith in the omniscience, wisdom and almightiness of God, and obtained through the Light and Right [Urim and Thummim] good instruction from God. Now as David did, so should the believing seed of Abraham in every need. We should not give way to gloomy unbelief, but strengthen ourselves in our God. We should and may do this all the more because the heart of God is in Christ Jesus or revealed to us yet more clearly than to David.

1 Samuel 30:8. Berl. Bible: If it was a duty under the Old Testament, in an enterprise pertaining to war, thus to turn first to God before resolving on anything, that yet the spirit of the Old Testament carried along with it, and did not absolutely forbid, how much more among Christians under the New Testament should nothing of the sort be done without the divine consent, without first duly consulting thereupon with Christ and His Spirit. [Taylor: Very suggestive is this contrast. “David said, I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines.” “David strengthened himself in the Lord his God, and said unto Abiathar, Bring hither the ephod.” On the one hand despair, leading to prayerlessness and self-will; on the other, faith, leading to prayer and eager willinghood to submit to the guidance of Jehovah.—Tr.].

1 Samuel 30:9-10, Hedinger: He hopes in vain for consolation from God, who will not make use of God’s counsel.—S. Schmid: As man acts towards God so God acts towards man (Leviticus 26:27-28).—Schlier: As David humbled himself before God, God also acknowledged him again and took him up.—We men cannot, enough humble ourselves before the Lord, but neither can we have enough confidence in the Lord.

1 Samuel 30:11. Hedinger [from Hall]: Worldly wisdom teacheth us to sow small courtesies where we may reap large harvests of recompense.

Verses 13, 14 [from Hall]: Wonderful is the providence of God, even over those that are not in the nearest bonds His own.

1 Samuel 30:16 [from Hall]: Destruction is never nearer than when security has chased away fear. The world passes away with its lust; well for him who is on his guard and seeks in time what promotes his peace.

1 Samuel 30:17. Cramer: God blesses the possessions of the pious and causes all to go well with them (Psalms 1:3-4).

1 Samuel 30:18-19. God gives more than we could have desired and hoped for from Him.—Schlier: Only for children of God who in trying times seek the Lord does it hold good, that when the need is highest God’s help is also nighest. We will never forget that 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.—[1 Samuel 30:24. This principle will apply to soldiers and non-combatants, ministers and their wives, missionaries and those at home who sustain them.

1 Samuel 30:26. How delightful when the prompting of gratitude for the past coincides with the dictate of policy for the future.—Tr.]

1 Samuel 30:3-8. Right behaviour before God in need and anguish: 1) These men do not pretend to stoical indifference, but let their grief have free course, as the Lord has brought it on them (1 Samuel 30:4); 2) They bow low in humility under the hand of God, renouncing all self-help, and seeing human support vanish before their eyes (1 Samuel 30:6 a); 3) They lift themselves cheerfully up again in power and strength, procured from the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6-81 Samuel 30:6-81 Samuel 30:6-8).

1 Samuel 30:6-20. The Lord is His people’s mighty rock of defence against the opposers of his kingdom: 1) He gives them his counsel upon their inquiry when in straits; 2) He fills them with his power for the conflict enjoined upon them; 3) He leads them according to his promises to glorious victory; 4) He causes them to come forth from the conflict with a rich blessing.

The Lord’s help in great need: 1) To whom is it given? a) To him who betakes himself to the Lord with prayerful inquiry (1 Samuel 30:7); b) To him who humbly gives himself up to the Lord’s guidance; a) in obedience to His commandment; β) in trust upon His promises (1 Samuel 30:8). 2) How does the Lord render His help? a) Through His word—answering the inquiries addressed to Him in need—putting an end to uncertainty by its decision—banishing all anxiety and despondency from the heart of consoling promises (1 Samuel 30:8); b) Through His deed—in often quite unexpectedly pointing out the right ways and means that lead to the end (1 Samuel 30:11-16)—in often wonderfully rendering his assistance amid threatening perils (1 Samuel 30:17 sq.)—and in causing a rich gain to be obtained from the most trying times of need.

The subjects of God’s kingdom in conflict with the world: 1) They enter into the conflict, strengthened in the strength of the Lord; 2) They conquer in the conflict, under the guidance and support of the Lord; 3) They come out of the conflict, crowned with the rich blessing of the Lord.

[1 Samuel 30:11. The forsaken slave: 1) Even the meanest may not be neglected with impunity. 2) Even the poorest may richly reward his benefactors. 3) Even the weakest may be the means of accomplishing great results (David’s recovering possessions and family, regaining the devotion of his followers, and reviving the friendship of his tribesmen, thus smoothing his way to the throne). 4) Even the lowliest is cared for by Providence, and his fortunes linked with the highest, in the providential network of society.

[1 Samuel 30:1-26. Returning Home—Two Pictures. I. The sorrowful return. 1) He had left home without seeking the Lord’s guidance—apparently to fight against the Lord’s people—uncertain and unhappy. 2) He had returned, because distrusted, and sent away in dishonor. 3) He found his home in ashes, and his family carried captive. 4) His personal wretchedness was enhanced by the natural wrath of his followers. II. The subsequent joyful return. 1) He leaves with explicit Divine direction and promise—to fight national as well as private enemies—hopeful and happy. 2) He returns victorious and honored. 3) He has regained greater wealth than he had lost. 4) His personal joy is increased by the privilege of sending gifts to his friends. And now what unites the two pictures; His sorrowful return led him to deep penitence, revived faith (1 Samuel 30:6) and humble prayer (1 Samuel 30:8); and from these resulted the joyful return. Sore afflictions, when rightly borne, often open the way to life’s sweetest joy.—Tr.]


[1][1 Samuel 30:1. Some MSS. have כְּבֹא, and in the better codices the Inf. is written fully בּוֹא—Tr.]

[2][1 Samuel 30:1. Vulg. and Arab. read: “the south of Ziklag,” but negeb is probably here a proper name, the “South-country;” this may account for the absence of the Art.—Tr.]

[3][1 Samuel 30:2. The order of words in Eng. A. V. here is opposed to the accents and to the syntax. The reading of the Heb. text, however, is harsh; we do not expect the descriptive phrase: “both small and great” to be applied to “women,” and therefore the reading of the Sept.: “the women and all that was in it” (comp. 1 Samuel 30:19) commends itself as better. Dr. Erdmann. however, rejects it.—Tr.]

[4][1 Samuel 30:2. “And slew no one,” as in Chald., Vulg. and some MSS., is much easier. Syr. and Arab. strangely omit the negative, and read: “they slew the men.”—Tr.]

[5][1 Samuel 30:2. Erdmann writes the passage from “and the Amalekites” in 1 Samuel 30:1 to the end of 1 Samuel 30:2 as a parenthesis, which is allowable, but not necessary.—Tr.]

[6][1 Samuel 30:5. Some MSS. of Kennicott and De Rossi have “the Carmelitess,” referring to Abigail. See note on 1 Samuel 27:3.—Tr.]

[7][1 Samuel 30:6. That is, “was in difficulty and danger,” an idea not now so well expressed by the word “distress.” For “grieved” or “bitter” the Bib. Com. suggests “exasperated,” which conveys the sense with precision.—Tr.]

[8][1 Samuel 30:7. This word is commonly and properly transferred, not translated (so Sept., Vulg., Syr., Chald.); Sym., however, renders it by ἐπωμίς, Aq. by ἐπένδυμα, and Arab. by a descriptive phrase: “the breast-plate by which thou inquirest.”—Tr.]

[9][1 Samuel 30:8. As this is a principal, not a subordinate question, Wellh. would insert the Interrog. הֲ before this verb.—Tr.]

[10][1 Samuel 30:9. It seems impossible to do anything with this phrase. That something stood here in an early form of the text is shown by the Sept. and other VSS.; but these words give no sense: they cannot be proleptical, as Erdmann explains them, for the word נוֹתָרִים supposes a division already made. The Syr. abandons the text, and explains: “and David left two hundred men.” The Vulg. reading: “and certain tired ones stayed” (preferred by Then., and rejected by Erdmann), is easy; but the statement is here unnecessary and out of place. It is more satisfactory to suppose that the phrase was early introduced into the text by clerical repetition from the following verse.—Tr.]

[11][1 Samuel 30:10. Wellh. suggests that the two halves of this verse have changed places; but this is unnecessary, for, though the second half would fit on to 1 Samuel 30:9, the present order is quite in accordance with Heb. form of narration. in which the explanation is often made to follow the principal statement.—Tr.]

[12][1 Samuel 30:11. Some MSS., and Sept. and Ar. read: “took him and brought him.”—Tr.]

[13][1 Samuel 30:12. רוּחַ, not the nephesh, the “breath of life,” but the breath considered as vigorous and truly alive, somewhat as in Eng. the word “spirit” has come to mean “courageous vigor and alertness.”—Tr.]

[14][1 Samuel 30:13. Sept. has against connection and accents: “the young man of Egypt said, I am servant,” etc.—Tr.]

[15][1 Samuel 30:13. Literally: “to-day three,” that is, as Chald. gives it, “to-day these three days,” and some MSS. have “three days.” Vulg. nudiusertius.—Tr.]

[16][1 Samuel 30:15. Sept. transfers Γεδδούρ; in other Greek VSS. we find σύστρεμμα and λόχος, and also εὔζωνος (perhaps, as Schleusner suggests, from the Chald. אדר).—Tr.]

[17][1 Samuel 30:16. Properly “keeping festival.”—Tr.]

[18][1 Samuel 30:17. Erdmann renders: “towards the next day” (after Luther), which is doubtful. Eng. A. V. is supported by Vulg., Chald., Sept. Chald., however, instead of using the same word as the Heb., has “the day which was after it,” and the Syr. has a similar form “in their rear,” as if they read אחר, which does not suggest any good emendation. As the Heb. word stands, the -ָם may be regarded as pronom. suffix, “to their morrow” (redundant), or as adverbial ending. Wellhausen emends the text and reads לְהַחֲרִמָם, which would suit the letters of the present word, but does not particularly commend itself.—Tr.]

[19][1 Samuel 30:20. So Erdmann renders, reading (with Vulg. and Then.) לְפָנָיו instead of לְפְנֵי. The sense will be still better if we further read in the beginning of the verse: “And they took,” instead of “And David took.” The taking and driving seem to be the work of the same person (as Wellh. remarks), and it would be appropriate for David’s men rather than for himself to set aside his spoil. This change would require very little alteration of the lettering. As for the words: “this flock,” they seem unnecessary (Wellh. would reject them as clerical explanation), yet do not interfere materially with the sense.—Tr.]

[20][1 Samuel 30:21. The Sing. “he” is found in some MSS., and in Sept., Syr., Arab., Vulg., Chald., and is better.—At the end of the verse instead of אֶת־הָעָם, the VSS. and some MSS. have אֶל.—Tr.]

[21][1 Samuel 30:25. There is a good deal of authority (about forty MSS., several printed Edd., and the Vulg.) for reading “in Israel,” which is better.—Tr.]

[22][1 Samuel 30:30. “Bor” is found in Sept., Syr., Vulg. and a number of Edd. and MSS., and is preferred by De Rossi and Wellhausen.—Tr.]

[23]On this reading see “Textual and Grammatical.”—Tr.]

[24][The inquiry was probably conducted by the high-priest., in a way unknown to us, but more probably the answer came through the priest’s mouth.—Tr.]

[25][See “Text, and Gram.—Tr.]

[26][Wordsworth (Comm. in loco.), sees in this a type of Christ’s mercy to the outcast. The two procedures are both examples of kindness, but there is no typical relation between them.—Tr.]

[27] כְּרֵתִים = הַכְּרֶתִי, Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:6, used as synonymous with the Philistines.

[28][David’s bodyguard (2 Samuel 8:18) was probably composed of Philistines.—Tr.]

[29]They, however, read מֵאַחֲרֵיהֶם.

[30]As in חִנָּם ,יוֹמָם.

[31][On this reading see “Text. and Gram.”—Tr.]

[32][This rendering will hardly commend itself. An oath would naturally be by what God “has done for us.” or by His “mercy towards us,” not by what He “has given us.” Sept. has “after (אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר) the Lord has given us,” and Cahen “after what the Eternal has given us.” The ordinary rendering seems most satisfactory.—Tr.]

[33]On כְּ־וּכְ see Ew. § 860, 2 a; the second כְּ־ is here also more sharply connected by the Waw. Cons., Joshua 14:11; Daniel 11:29.—Instead of K. הוֹרֵד we must of course read הַיּרֵד. [The Keth. may be the old form הַוֹּרֵד—Tr.]

[34]He says: We must very probably read קִינָה (Joshua 15:22) for אֲפֵק קִימָה (Joshua 15:53) for םכק, and perhaps תִּמְנָה (Joshua 15:57) for תימת. So Buns. and Ew., expect that instead of תימַת the latter reads דּוּמה Joshua 15:52).

[35][A priestly city, 1 Chronicles 6:44 (Eng. A. V. 1Sa 6:59).—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 30". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/1-samuel-30.html. 1857-84.
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