On the third day David and his men arrived in Ziklag, and the Amalekites had raided the Negev, attacked Ziklag, and burned it down.
1 Samuel 30:1-10. (ZIKLAG.)1 Chronicles 12:20) rendered him valuable service. But his hope was not in man; and instead of resigning himself to despair (like Saul), he was impelled by his distress and deprivation of human help to seek help in God alone. "The long misery of the first stage of his public career seems to have reached its culminating point. When things are at the worst, as the common proverb says, they must mend. And from that moment when he believingly cast all his dependence upon the Lord his God only, whom he had found faithful in all his promises, and whose providence had never failed him in his deepest dangers, from that moment he was safe, from that moment he was prosperous" (Kitto). Concerning the confidence in God which he exhibited (therein setting an eminent example to others), observe that -
I. IT SPRINGS OUT OF CONSCIOUS HELPLESSNESS. Few men have an adequate conviction of their own helplessness; and one aim of the Divine discipline is to produce it. "When I am weak," said Paul, "then am I strong" - when I feel my utter weakness under the pressure of trial, then I am constrained to depend on the Lord, and become imbued with his strength (2 Corinthians 12:10). In the exercise of "the same spirit of faith" others "out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" (Hebrews 11:34). True faith and spiritual power have their foundation amidst the "dust and ashes" of self-abasement and self-distrust. Confidence in God began to revive in David when Ziklag was reduced to ashes. The same thing is often occasioned in others by means of -
1. Sudden and severe bereavement; wife and children, it may be, taken away with a stroke.
2. The failure of cherished plans and purposes; the loss of property through robbery by men or accidents by fire or flood, the breakdown of health, the disappointment of long expectation.
3. The falling away of friends; their unreasonable anger and bitter reproaches. It must have been peculiarly painful to David to bear the mutiny of his own men, to witness the selfishness of many of them (ver. 22), and to learn what little confidence could be put in man (Psalm 146:3). He was left almost alone.
4. The upbraiding of conscience for past sin. Trouble is a powerful means of bringing sin to remembrance (1 Kings 17:18).
5. The threatening of danger; the presence of "the king of terrors" (Job 18:14).
6. The lack of wisdom and power to deliver from distress. When we become fully aware of our utter helplessness, two courses lie open before us - either to sink into despair or to cast ourselves wholly upon God. That the latter may be taken trial is sent; it is taken by him whose heart is in the main right with God, and it is never taken in vain.
II. IT LAYS HOLD OF ALL-SUFFICIENT HELP. "When David could not comfort him self in his wives, nor his children, nor his goods, nor in anything under the sun, he could in something above the sun. And the reason is at hand: God is the God of all consolation, the spring of comfort; if any water, it is in the sea; if any light, it is in the sun; if any comfort, it is in God - there it rests, there it is when nowhere else. God is all-sufficient; there the heart finds every want supplied, every good thing lodged. As God is all-sufficient to furnish us with all necessaries, so infinite in power, wisdom, goodness to help us against all evils feared or felt" (R. Harris). Faith strengthens the soul by uniting it to God and making it partaker of his strength. It has respect to -
1. His great name (see 1 Samuel 1:3). "Hope thou in God" (Psalm 42:5; Psalm 9:10; Psalm 124:8).
"Hope, said I,
2. His intimate relationship to his people. "Jehovah his God."
3. His past doings on their behalf. When David formerly fell into despondency (ch. 27.) he seems to have forgotten all these, and failed to receive the encouragement which they were adapted to impart. But now he remembered them and "took courage."
4. His faithful promises. "The free expressions of his goodness and beneficence," the unchangeable assurances of his almighty help in time of need. "The mistake we make is to look for a source of consolation in ourselves; self-contemplation instead of gazing upon God. He is not affected by our mutability, our changes do not alter him. When we are restless he remains serene and calm; when we are low, selfish, mean, or dispirited he is still the unalterable I AM. What God is in himself, not what we may chance to feel him in this or that moment to be, that is our hope" (Robertson).
III. IT MAKES USE OF APPROPRIATE MEANS. "He encouraged (strengthened) himself," etc. by -
1. Repressing fear and unbelief. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?"
2. Directing the thoughts toward God, the ever-present, invisible, eternal Protector of his servants, and stirring up the heart to renewed trust in him. "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?" (Psalm 118:6; Psalm 121:1).
3. Inquiring of the Lord. "And David said to Abiathar," etc. (vers. 7, 8). He sought him as he had not done on the previous occasion; sought him in a right spirit, and therefore (unlike Saul) received an answer: - "Pursue, for thou shalt surely overtake and deliver." He was thereby further strengthened. His confidence, moreover, was expressed and perfected in -
4. Obeying the will of the Lord (vers. 9, 10), and cooperating toward the fulfilment of his promise. Despondency led him to flee from difficulty and danger, but faith and hope incited him to go into their midst, and made him "as bold as a lion." "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."
IV. IT IS CROWNED WITH COMPLETE SUCCESS. By the help obtained of God fear is removed, strength renewed, and confidence inspired (ver. 9). After a brief delay and some untoward events by which faith is still further tested (ver. 10) -
1. The object which is sought is providentially discovered (ver. 11).
2. The enemy is completely defeated (ver. 17).
3. That which has been lost is recovered (ver. 19).
4. Much more than has been expected is gained (ver. 20). 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. Observations: -
1. When good men transgress they must expect to be "chastened of the Lord," and wicked men are sometimes used as a rod for the purpose.
2. The wickedness of the wicked is mercifully restrained (ver. 2), often turns to the benefit of those whom they seek to injure, and returns upon their own heads.
3. The chief purpose of chastisement is to bring men to God in humility, penitence, submission, and trust, and prepare them for future service and exaltation.
4. The difference in the effects of calamity upon men (as upon Saul and David) manifests the difference of their character.
5. The more heavily trouble presses upon men, the more closely should they cling to God, that it may be rightly borne and accomplish its intended moral end.
6. God never disappoints the confidence of his children, but fulfils his promises to them more richly than they dare to hope. - D.
When David and his men were come to Ziklag.
I. DAVID IN HIS DISTRESS. See in it the frequent benefit, of affliction to the people of God. In this instance it did immediately two things for David.
1. It restored him to his spiritual courage and strength. Look ones more to chap. 1 Samuel 27. We find there his heart failing him; and, like a frightened deer, he runs away from Judah into the land of the Philistines. Now when did this happen? You will say, "Doubtless when Saul was close behind him ready to take his life;" but no; it was at, a time when it seemed least likely to happen — when David had humbled Saul to the dust by his magnanimity. David says in his heart, "I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul," and there goes the once bold champion of Israel, timid and crouching, to seek the protection of a heathen king. See here what man is; see what even a servant of God is, when left to himself. He can fall down without a blow. Now, come again to the chapter before us. Here is this same David, the frightened runaway, calm and fearless, and where? In a situation of the utmost distress and danger; with his home burnt, his family in the hands of his enemies, and with six hundred half frantic men around him threatening to take his life. O, how God sometimes glorifies his grace in our world! "What time I am afraid," not, in a quiet hour, no, in a fearful hour — "what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."
2. David's affliction restored him also to a holy caution and self-distrust. It led him, though he feared nothing else, to fear himself. He seeks now counsel of the Lord. We should have expected him to have done this before in his fear when he fled into the land of the Philistines, or when he followed the army of Achish against Israel, but he did not do it. "David enquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue this troop? shall I overtake them?" This is what the Scripture means by acknowledging God in our ways. And thus the affliction of David was a benefit to him — it restored him to his spiritual courage and strength, it led him to seek counsel of the Lord and submit his ways to Him. In His people's case, the Lord turns even these bitter things to a blessed account. So does He love His people, that He cannot even smite them without blessing them. His very judgments become mercies. Thus we find David, in Psalm, of coupling together mercy and judgment, and saying He will rejoice in both and sing of both.
II. Let us now look at David in another situation — ON HIS WAY TO THE AMALEKITES. We shall see that he met in it with discouragement and also encouragement, a mixture of both.
1. The discouragement he encountered at the outset. We know not the number of these Amalekites, but it is clear that it was great, for these that escaped, ver. 17 says, were four hundred, and they are spoken of as a remnant, a small part of the whole. These soldiers, these fugitives and exiles, can not only weep as though their hearts would break for their wives and children, but the moment there is a prospect of recovering them, they are so eager in the pursuit, that one-third of their number speedily sink down in exhaustion. "They came," we read, "to the brook Besor," and there they "were so faint that they could not go over." But how will this operate on David? Will not his old fears now return? Shall we not see him halting and hesitating and perhaps turning back? No; a man never hesitates or turns back in the path of duty, who is making the Lord his strength.
2. David's encouragement. And let me say that in your journey go heaven, or in setting about any good work on that journey, you must calculate on meeting with both these things, with both discouragements and encouragements. Your path will not be a uniform one. David's discouragement was the loss of two hundred men, apparently a formidable loss; it turned out nothing. His encouragement was what? It came from one man. one sick man, a man scarcely alive; and he did all that David wanted. The case was this. One of the Amalekites in going from Ziklag, had a slave ill, an Egyptian. He abandons him, leaves him in a field to die. Three days afterwards David's men come up and find him: they kindly give him food and restore him. "Can you tell us," asks David, "where we may find the Amalekites?" "I can," the man says, and in a little time he brings him within sight of their camp. Here, you observe, was help for David from one who could not help himself; and, as it turned out, effectual help; and help, observe, too, from the very host of his enemies. Anything will serve the Lord when the Lord has to overthrow his enemies or help His people, He needs not move heaven or earth, he needs not create powerful instruments to do it; anything in his mighty hand will do it — a castaway thing, a despised, abandoned thing.
III. But look now at David in a third situation — AT THE CAMP OF THE AMALEKITES. When he came upon them, he found them in a state of riot and disorder. "Peace and safely" are fearful words in a pleasure taking, prosperous man's mouth; then often "sudden destruction cometh, and he shall not escape." Belshazzar revelled joyously and fearlessly in the banquet he had made; but "in that night," the very night of his festivity, "was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain." And mark — it was the great spoil these Amalekites had taken which so rejoiced them. They were exulting in their spoil at, the very moment when they were about to lose their spoil and their lives together. Is there a man here whose chief joy is in the spoil he has taken? the acquisitions he has made? his honours or his wealth? Let such a man see that he and they may be separated in an hour. Tomorrow they may be in other hands, and he in another world. David, we read, smote these Amalekites, smote them from the twilight, of one day even unto the evening of the next. Their destruction was complete or nearly so. You remember who these men were. They were a nation condemned by God to be exterminated in consequence of their determined hatred to Him and His people. David know this. He was not therefore indulging his own revenge, but obeying the Lord's command, in smiting them. But observe — though these men were God's enemies, He had just before employed them in His work. There is a servant of His to be chastened; they shall be the rod in His hand to chasten him. "We will go and plunder Ziklag," they say; He lets them go, and while they are accomplishing their ends, He makes them accomplish His; He overrules their plundering incursion to bring back the wandering David to Himself. It is a solemn thought, but it is a glorious one, that wicked men and wicked spirits, that hell with its legions as well as heaven with its glorious hosts, are doing every hour Jehovah's work. This must not reconcile us to sin, but it goes far to quiet the mind when sickened and distressed with the sin, "the wrong and outrage," with which the world is filled. Another incident in this history we must notice — this victory over these Amalekites was attended with a recovery of all that David had lost. Twice this is mentioned and particularly mentioned. It is not only we who are safe in God's hands if we are his, all that belongs to us is safe there. It is safe no where else. When we give it up to him, He remembers that we have done so, and takes it as His charge. There is an hour coming when God will let us see that He has taken good care of all that is ours as well as of us, such care as we had scarcely thought of. The health we have lost in His service, the property we may have expended in His cause, the earthly gain or earthly love or honour we have sacrificed for His cake — we shall hear of them again in heaven. O what a recompence for them awaits us there!
(C. Bradley, M. A.)
PeopleAbiathar, Abigail, Ahimelech, Ahinoam, Amalekites, Caleb, Cherethites, David, Eshtemoa, Jerahmeelites, Jezreel, Jezreelitess, Jizreelitess, Kenites, Kerethites, Nabal
PlacesBesor, Bethel, Bor-ashan, Carmel, Egypt, Eshtemoa, Hebron, Hormah, Jattir, Negeb, Negev, Racal, Ramoth, Siphmoth, Ziklag
TopicsAmalekites, Amal'ekites, Attack, Attacked, Burn, Burned, David, Fire, Invaded, Negeb, Negev, Overcome, Overthrown, Pass, Pushed, Raid, Raided, Reached, Smite, Smitten, South, Struck, Third, Ziklag
Outline1. The Amalekites raid Ziklag
4. David asking counsel, is encouraged by God to pursue them
11. By the means of a received Egyptian he is brought to the enemies,
18. and recovers all the spoil
22. David's law to divide the spoil equally
26. He sends presents to his friends
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Samuel 30:1-2
LibraryAt the Front or the Base
'As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff.'--1 Samuel xxx. 24. David's city of Ziklag had been captured by the Amalekites, while he and all his men who could carry arms were absent, serving in the army of Achish, the Philistine king of Gath. On their return they found ruin, their homes harried, their wives, children, and property carried off. Wearied already with their long march, they set off at once in pursuit of the spoilers, who had had a …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Secret of Courage
The Statute of David for the Sharing of the Spoil
Thirdly, for Thy Actions.
The Bright Dawn of a Reign
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
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