And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;On the third day - This indicates that Aphek was three days' march from Ziklag, say about 50 miles, which agrees very well with the probable situation of Aphek (1 Samuel 4:1 note). From Ziklag to Shunem would not be less than 80 or 90 miles.
The Amalekites, in retaliation of David's raids 1 Samuel 27:8-9, invaded "the south" of Judah Joshua 15:21; but owing to the absence of all the men with David there was no resistance, and consequently the women and children were carried off as prey, and uninjured.
And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
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.
Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, 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.
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.
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 had continued to abide with David, ever since he joined him at Keilah 1 Samuel 23:6. On inquiry of the Lord by the ephod, see Judges 1:1 note. The answers were evidently given by the Word of the Lord in the mouth of the high priest (compare John 11:51).
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.
So David went, he and the six hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed.Besor - Thought to be the stream of the Wady Sheriah which enters the sea a little south of Gaza.
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.
And they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David, and gave him bread, and he did eat; and they made him drink water;
And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins: and when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him: for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights.Three days and three nights - Indicating that at least so long a time had elapsed since the sack of Ziklag.
And David said unto him, To whom belongest thou? and whence art thou? And he said, I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick.
We made an invasion upon the south of the Cherethites, and upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire.The Cherethites - Here used as synonymous with Philistines 1 Samuel 30:16. In David's reign the body-guard commanded by Benaiah consisted of Cherethites and Pelethites (Philistines?) and a picked corps of six hundred men of Gath commanded by Ittai the Gittite. It would seem from this that the Cherethites and Philistines were two kindred and associated tribes, like Angles and Saxons, who took possession of the seacoast of Palestine. The Philistines, being the more powerful, gave their name to the country and the nation in general, though that of the Cherethites was not wholly extinguished. Many persons connect the name Cherethite with that of the island of Crete.
And David said to him, Canst thou bring me down to this company? And he said, Swear unto me by God, that thou wilt neither kill me, nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring thee down to this company.
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.
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.
And David recovered all that the Amalekites 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 spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.
And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David's spoil.The meaning is, "and David took all the sheep and oxen which the Amalekites drove" (i. e. had in their possession) "before that acquisition of cattle" (namely, before what they took in their raid to the south), "and they" (the people) "said, This is David's spoil." This was his share as captain of the band (compare Judges 8:24-26). All the other plunder of the camp - arms, ornaments, jewels, money, clothes, camels, accoutrements, and so on - was divided among the little army. David's motive in choosing the sheep and oxen for himself was to make presents to his friends in Judah 1 Samuel 30:26-31.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.
And when David came to Ziklag, he sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah, even to his friends, saying, Behold a present for you of the spoil of the enemies of the LORD;
To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,Bethel - i. e. Bethuel 1 Chronicles 4:30, quite in the south near Beer-sheba, Hormah, and Ziklag; or Bethul Joshua 19:4, one of the cities of the Simeonites.
South Ramoth - Rather, "Ramoth of the South country" 1 Samuel 27:10; 1 Samuel 30:1, 1 Samuel 30:14, so-called to distinguish it from Ramoth-Gilead, one of the Simeonite cities Joshua 19:8. Shimei, the Ramathite 1 Chronicles 27:27, who was over David's vineyards, was evidently a native of this Ramath. See below 1 Samuel 30:28.
Jattir - "In the mountains" of Judah, and one of the priests' cities, is identified with 'Attir, ten miles south of Hebron.
And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,Aroer - Not Aroer on the Arnon, but (if rightly written) some town in Judah, not elsewhere named.
Siphmoth, Rachal 1 Samuel 30:29, and Athach 1 Samuel 30:30, are unknown and not elsewhere mentioned; but Zabdi the Shiphmite 1 Chronicles 27:27, who was over David's wine-cellars, was evidently a native of the first-named place. It is a remarkable proof of the grateful nature of David, and of his fidelity to his early friendships, as well as a curious instance of undesigned coincidence, that we find among those employed by David in offices of trust in the height of his power so many inhabitants of those obscure places where he found friends in the days of his early difficulties. Ezri the son of Chelub, Shimei the Ramathite, and Zabdi the Shiphmite, as well as Ira and Gareb, and Ittai, and Hezrai, and many others, were probably among these friends of his youth.
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,
And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,Chor-ashan - Perhaps the same as Ashan Joshua 15:42, in the Shephelah of Judah, inhabited by Simeonites, and one of the priests' cities 1 Chronicles 4:32; 1 Chronicles 6:59.
And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.Hebron - Now El-Khulil (see Genesis 23:2). Hebron was a city of refuge Joshua 20:7, and one of the cities of the Kohathites Joshua 21:11. It lies twenty miles south of Jerusalem.