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;1 Samuel 30:1-2. The Amalekites had invaded the south — Namely, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent country. This, probably, they had done to revenge themselves for David’s invading their country, mentioned 1 Samuel 27:8. And smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire — Which they might easily do when David and his men were absent, and but a small, if any, guard left in the place. And had taken the women captives — And among the rest David’s two wives. They slew not any, but carried them away — Toward their own country. Being a poor and very covetous people, they doubtless intended to sell them for slaves, and make money of them. How great must have been the surprise, and how inexpressible the grief of David and his men, when they came to the town, to find it utterly desolated, and burned down to the ground, and all the persons and property left therein taken away!
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.1 Samuel 30:4. David and his people lift up their voice and wept — As was natural, they thus gave way to the first transports of their grief on this sad sight. “It is no disparagement,” says Henry, “to the boldest, bravest spirits to lament the calamities of friends or relations.”
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.1 Samuel 30:6. The people spake of stoning him — As the cause of this calamity, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites so grievously as he had done, and by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving the town, their wives and children unguarded. But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God — Who had never failed him in his greatest distresses; and in whom he still had confidence. He encouraged himself — By believing that this all-wise and all-powerful Lord was his God by covenant and special promise, and fatherly affection, as he had showed himself to be in the whole course of his providence toward him. It is the duty of all good men, whatever happens, to encourage themselves in the Lord their God, assuring themselves that he both can and will bring light out of darkness.
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.1 Samuel 30:7. Bring hither the ephod — And put it on thyself, that thou mayest inquire of God according to his ordinance. David was sensible of his former error, in neglecting to ask counsel of God by the ephod, when he came to Achish, and when he went out with Achish to the battle; and his necessity now brings him to his duty, and his duty meets with success.
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.1 Samuel 30:8. He answered — Before God answered more slowly and gradually, 1 Samuel 23:11-12; but now he answers speedily, and fully at once, because the business required haste. So gracious is our God, that he considers even the degree of our necessities, and accommodates himself to them.
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.1 Samuel 30:9-10. Where those that were left behind stayed — Those that were left to look after the stuff, 1 Samuel 30:24; who were so tired, that they were not able to march any further. David pursued, he and four hundred men — A small number for such an attempt; but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.
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.1 Samuel 30:12-13. Three days and nights — One whole day, and part of two others, as appears from the next verse, where he says, Three days ago I fell sick; but in the Hebrew it is, This is the third day since I fell sick. A young man of Egypt — God of his providence so ordering it that he was not one of the race of the Amalekites, devoted to destruction, but an Egyptian, that might be spared. And my master left me — In this place and condition; a barbarous act this, to leave him there to perish, when they had good store of camels for the carriage of men, as well as of their spoil, 1 Samuel 30:17. But this inhumanity cost them dear; for, through it, they lost their own lives, and David recovered what they had taken at Ziklag. Such is the wonderful providence of God, ordering or overruling every thing for his own glory and the good of those that trust in him, even the thoughts and desires, the counsels, works, and ways of men, both the good and the bad! So that there is no fighting against him, who can make the smallest actions serviceable to the production of the greatest effects.
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.1 Samuel 30:14. Upon the south of the Cherethites — That is, of the Philistines; for it is explained, 1 Samuel 30:16, to have been the land of the Philistines. Hence it appears that the Amalekites were enemies to the Philistines. So that David did not act against the interests of his benefactor, Achish, in making incursions upon those people. And upon the south of Caleb — We read nowhere else of this land; but, in all probability, it was that south part of Judah which was given to Caleb, and which his posterity inherited, Joshua 14:13.
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.1 Samuel 30:15. Nor deliver me into the hand of my master — It is likely his master had been cruel to him, and therefore he had no mind to serve him any longer. I will bring thee down to this company — For, it is probable, his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them as soon as he could.
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.1 Samuel 30:16-17. They were spread upon all the earth — Secure and careless, because they were now come almost to the borders of their own country, and the Philistines and Israelites both were otherwise engaged, and David, as they believed, with them. So they had no visible cause of danger; and yet then they were nearest to destruction! David smote them from the twilight — The word signifies both the morning and evening twilight. But the latter seems here intended, partly because their eating, and drinking, and dancing, was more proper work for the evening than the morning; and partly because the evening was more convenient for David, that the fewness of his forces might not be discovered by the daylight. It is probable that, when he came near them, he reposed himself and his army in some secret place, whereof there were many in those parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.
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.1 Samuel 30:20. David took all the flocks — Which had been taken by the Amalekites from the Philistines and others. Which they drave before those other cattle — His soldiers drave them before those cattle that belonged to Ziklag, which the Amalekites had taken from David and his men. And said, This is David’s spoil — Not that he claimed it all to himself. But the soldiers, who lately were so incensed against him that they spake of stoning him, now, upon his success, magnify him, and triumphantly celebrate his praise; and say, concerning this spoil, David purchased it by his valour and conduct, and he may dispose of it as he pleaseth.
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.1 Samuel 30:21-22. He saluted them — He spoke kindly to them, and did not blame them because they went no further with them. We will not give them aught of the spoil — This was the resolution of such as feared not God, nor regarded man; and it was as ungenerous and unjust as it was unkind; for their brethren had stayed behind, not from choice, but from mere necessity, being unable to travel further.
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.1 Samuel 30:23-25. Ye shall not do so, my brethren — He uses his authority to overrule their intention; but manages the matter with all sweetness, though they were such wicked and unreasonable men, calling them brethren; not only as being of the same nation and religion with him, but as his fellow- soldiers. With that which the Lord hath given us — As much as to say, When God hath been so good to us, we ought not to be unkind to our brethren, nor what he hath freely imparted, ought we churlishly and injuriously to withhold from them. For who will hearken unto you? — No disinterested person, he tells them, would be of their opinion, if the matter were referred to them. They shall part alike — A prudent and equitable constitution, and therefore practised by the Romans, as Polybius and others note. 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. And it was so from that day forward — This law, concerning the division of the spoil taken from an enemy, seems to have continued to the time of the Maccabees, as appears from the second book of their history, 2Ma 8:28; 2Ma 8:30.
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;1 Samuel 30:26. He sent of the spoil unto the elders of Judah — Partly in gratitude for their former favours to him; and partly in policy to engage their affections to him. Behold a present for you — In the Hebrew, a blessing. So he calls the present, because it was a token that he wished all prosperity to them, who had been kind to him in his banishment, and had helped to maintain and protect him. Of the spoil of the enemies of the Lord — The success of David in this pursuit of the Amalekites, will, upon examination, appear so extraordinary that it is not easy to account for it, otherwise than from the peculiar superintendence of Providence over David and his concerns. Indeed, the interposition of Providence is seen in every circumstance of this adventure; the number, the perseverance, the issue. That they might not think their number did the work, God reduced them to four hundred, as he did Gideon’s company to three, Judges 7. Many others have been as fortunate in surprising, and as successful in slaughtering their enemies; but to have strength both for the slaughter and pursuit, for so many hours together, is altogether extraordinary. But what is yet more remarkable is, that he should recover all the captives unhurt, out of the hands of a people so abandoned, and so execrable as the Amalekites! We have intimated that these Amalekites, being poor, spared their captives from a prospect of profiting greatly by the sale of them. Others, however, perhaps with as much reason, think they only respited their cruelty to execute it to more advantage at their leisure. How beautiful a contemplation is it to observe the signal goodness of God and malignity of man co-operating to the same end! See Delaney.
To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,
And to them which were in Aroer, and to 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, 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,
And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.