Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 30

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This Chapter becomes very interesting in its contents, for it relates to a period in the life of David, both important, as it proved to him, and instructive to God's people. During the absence of David from Ziklag to attend the army of the Philistines, the Amalekites whom David had before scourged, made an incursion upon the city, and had not only set fire to it but carried away the women and children captives. The distress of David's little army was so great upon this occasion, that they talked of stoning him. - David sought the Lord - the Lord answered him - David by God's direction pursued the spoilers, overtook them, recovered all his loss, and made distribution among his soldiers of the plunder.

Verses 1-3

(1) ¶ 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; (2) 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. (3) So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.

I beg the Reader to remark with me concerning this event, how evidently the hand of the Lord was in it. No doubt it was intended to correct David for his past faithlessness. What business had David in an enemies' country? It was the want of faith in his God which first led him there. And moreover I beg to intimate, that it appears to me by the late conduct of David, that since this breach of trust in God, there was a remissness on the part of David, in his communion with the Lord. Hence we read of no counsel being asked of God all the time he had been in Gath. Conscious of his ill conduct, he was shy at the heavenly court, and did not except perhaps in form, frequently go there. I do not say that this was really the case. But from the silence of the Holy Ghost upon the subject, after recording his faithlessness and fear, (1 Samuel 27:1 .) I think it more than probable. How then is the Lord's servant to be brought back? What method in all the stores of grace will the Lord adopt to make him sensible of his sin? What so suited as affliction. Hence David could and did say, not only upon this, but perhaps many other occasions: Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word. Psalms 119:67 . Dearest Jesus! have I not found cause to adopt the same language? I desire the Reader to make one remark more with me upon the occasion of this distress of David and his men, in proof that the Lord's hand was in it; and that is, that the Lord over-ruled the minds of the Amalekites, so that they slew not any of the people, only took them captive. Had not the Lord restrained, surely it is more than probable, that they would have done by David as he did by them, as we are told in 1 Samuel 27:0 , and have saved none alive.

Verses 4-5

(4) Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. (5) And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.

It is more than likely, that David was returning home with great de light to the enjoyment of himself and family, since he had been delivered from the painful situation in which be found himself respecting the going to war with the Philistines: so that his trouble must have been the greater. Reader! let this disappointment of David and his army teach you and me, the necessity of being always prepared for sudden and unexpected events of sorrow, in such a dying sorrowful world as this is which we are passing through. When we leave our family in the morning, who shall say in what state we may find them at our return at night. And if, through mercy, those we left in health and peace we find the same, and they receive us so, learn from this example, to whom the glory is due.

Verse 6

(6) 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.

The affliction now was grown to its height. David, for whom, like another Jonah, the storm is induced, is to be the greatest sufferer: else wherefore stone him more than the rest. Reader! I know not what your views of this history are. But to Me, I confess, that I think the whole was so arranged and ordered by the Lord to bring back the heart of David again, (which I fear had for a long time been cold towards the God of his mercies), to a sense of his sin, and a longing to be restored once more to the Lord. And if I am right in my conjecture, what a blessed issue did the Lord bring this affair to? David encouraged himself in the Lord his God. Yes! the Lord his God, properly so called. For notwithstanding all David's unworthiness and undeservings, God was still his God in covenant. Reader! do not overlook this whatever else you lose sight of in this sweet scripture. There may be, and no doubt there is, much unworthiness, much undeserving, in the best of saints. There will be changes in God's people, like the ebbings and flowings of the tide. But there is no change in the covenant security of God's love. The efficacy of this is eternally and everlastingly the same. God in Christ is an ocean that never dries, never lessens, never abates. He is a rock, his work is perfect. Lord! give me grace, that whatever leanness or barrenness there may be in me, I may, like David, encourage myself in the Lord my God.

Verses 7-8

(7) ¶ 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. (8) And David enquired 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.

Here we see David returned to the Lord in a way of duty. And the Lord returned unto David in a way of grace. Indeed had not the Lord first given grace to David, never would he have returned to the Lord in duty. He saith, himself, and his own experience taught him the precious truth: none can keep alive his own soul. Psalms 22:29 . His enquiry by the high priest was in the appointed way. See Numbers 27:21 . But wherefore did not David enquire by him at the Lord's hand, in the case of his going to war with Achish? Alas! David's mind was certainly cold towards the Lord at that season. See Reader, what man is, void of grace. Oh precious, precious Jesus! that waiteth not the return of thy sheep, but goeth after the wanderers into the mountains. Oh! seek my soul in all its manifold departures, when going astray, like a sheep that is lost. Psalms 119:176 ; Ezekiel 34:11-13 .

Verses 9-10

(9) 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. (10) But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint that they could not go over the brook Besor.

No doubt after this gracious answer from the Lord, the minds of the people were stayed from any further anger against David. It was no small mercy from the Lord, that he endued the mind of David with meekness, so as not to return railing for railing to the people. But here in the very view of David's meekness, how is my soul constrained to contemplate thine unequalled meekness, oh thou Lamb of God, when thou wast led to the slaughter, and amidst all the taunts and reproaches of the ungodly, thou wast like a deaf man and heard not, and as one that was dumb who did not open his mouth. Psalms 38:13 . We must not overlook in the case of the third part of his army being faint, the new trial which arose from it to exercise his faith and patience. No doubt the four hundred as well as himself, were not far from the same languor, for they had had a long march when they returned from the camp of Achish. What a state then must the pursuers be in, when they came up to fight with the Amalekites. But Reader! remember, David was now encouraging himself in the Lord his God. It was this that made him in times past victorious, in the case of Goliath, the lion, and the bear. Oh it is sweet to see what a soul can do, who goes forth in the strength of the Lord God. But is there not a spiritual instruction to be gathered here, from the march of David and his faint soldiers? Is not all the army of our Almighty David like the four hundred of David, faint yet pursuing? And doth not our Jesus lead us on, and bear with all our weaknesses, and faintings, and infirmities? Yes, dearest Lord! thou knowest what we are, and whereof we are made, and art leading us on in thy great strength, made perfect in our weakness.

Verses 11-15

(11) 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; (12) 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. (13) 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. (14) 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. (15) 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.

Surely it was not accidental, that this poor Egyptian fell in their way. This cometh forth, saith the prophet upon another occasion, (and which will suit most occasions of his people) from the Lord of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working. Isaiah 28:29 . Reader! when you have duly pondered the gracious hand of God in making this poor cast away servant, the Egyptian, instrumental in aiding David and his army; next turn your thoughts to the justice of God manifested thereby, in punishing the iniquity of his master the Amalekite, who left him to perish. And when your mind hath fully resolved this lesson also, let your thoughts be directed to another, if possible more important than either, and remark with me, how the Lord worketh sometimes by weak and despised and cast away instruments, to accomplish the purposes of his holy will. Think in what an eminent degree the Lord hath done it, in the publishing salvation and the recovery, of our lost nature, which the great enemy of souls, like those Amalekites, made upon us in the person of our first father, in the garden of Eden. Is not the blessed gospel of the ever - blessed God, even now proclaimed by poor perishing Gentile sinners like this Egyptian; and unless our Almighty David had given us of his figs and his clusters, his bread of life and his water of life, our spirit never would have revived, nor should we have known anything of the salvation we now publish! Oh, precious Jesus! here again let our souls adore the riches of thy clemency, that thou hast condescended to visit us and to remember us in our low estate, for thy mercy endureth forever. Psalms 136:23 .

Verses 16-20

(16) 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. (17) 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. (18) And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives. (19) And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor anything that they had taken to them: David recovered all. (20) And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David's spoil.

The event, in the recovery not only of all they had lost but much more, serves to show how confident they ought to be of success who trust in God's promises, who can and will in his own time accomplish all his holy will. But beside the providential instruction this part of David's history affords, there is a spiritual lesson to be gathered from it yet more sweet and precious. As David came upon the spoil in a moment they thought themselves secure, and were triumphing over their poor captives: so a greater than David, even David's Lord, came upon the great enemy of souls when he stood triumphing over our fall, and rescued us from the hand of him that was stronger than we. Beautifully it is said of Jesus that he led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea even for the rebellious: for we were all rebellious and undeserving of his favour, when he came to save us from the prey of the mighty. And as the soldiers in David's army called the victory David's spoil, so we shout aloud, Salvation alone to God and the Lamb! It was thine own arm, dearest Jesus, which brought salvation, for of the people; in the way of victory, there was none with thee. Isaiah 63:5 .

Verses 21-25

(21) ¶ And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: 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. (22) 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. (23) 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. (24) 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. (25) And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.

I would have the Reader remark with me on this passage, that David's army, though but small, yet had wicked men in the party. It was so from the beginning, and will be so during the continuance of the world. Noah had an H am in the ark, and the Lord Jesus a Judas among his disciples. The Lord hath shown us that there will be tares among the wheat, and both must grow together until the harvest. Lord, keep thy church, and watch over it continually. Lord keep my heart, and suffer not corruptions to break out. The equity of David's conduct in the division of the spoil, and the ordinance framed upon this principle, may serve to teach us, that in the church of Jesus, as all the gifts and usefulness of his people are from the Lord; all are equally the objects of his love, and come in for a suitable proportion of his favour, the Holy Ghost giveth to every man severally as he will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 .

Verses 26-31

(26) 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; (27) To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir, (28) And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa, (29) And to them which were in Rachal, and to them which were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to them which were in the cities of the Kenites, (30) And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach, (31) And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.

We have here an instance of David's gratitude. No doubt, but that during his long wanderings, and flights from place to place to avoid Saul, he had pretty w ell exercised the generosity of his friends, for he and his army of 600 men, could not he supplied, and fed upon a trifle. Hence he availed himself of the first moment the Lord had enabled him, to recompense those who had been kind to him. But from David's generosity to his friends, let you and I, Reader, turn our eyes to the view of David's Lord, whose generosity was manifested to his enemies. After our dear Lord returned to glory, having spoiled principalities and powers, he gave gifts to his enemies, even to the rebellious, saith the Holy Ghost, even to you and me. Yes, dearest Jesus! thy love is commended to us, in that while we were enemies, Christ died for us. Oh! matchless generosity! Oh, unequalled love! Lord be thou the first and best, and the unrivalled object of my love, as thine swallows up every other: and may I love thee for that thou hast first loved me.

Verse 31


THE Holy Ghost hath evidently much instruction to convey to his Church, in what is here related of David's calamity; and I would charge it upon the Reader's soul, and my own, to enquire very humbly, what the will and mind of the Lord is.

My Brother! when like David, our want of faith, and the slenderness of our trust in God, tempts us to go out of the path of duty, and a shyness takes place between the Lord and our hearts; is it not a blessed mark of grace, that the Lord doth not leave us to ourselves, and to eat the fruit of our own devices? Doth he not mean everything gracious, when he hedgeth up our way with thorns on purpose that we shall not find our lovers; but that our minds, being prepared by his secret workings, may be constrained to say; I will return again to my first love, my first husband; for then was it better with me than now?

If then, my Brother, after going out at any time full, we are made to return empty: if our house, which we left in peace, we find disordered, as David and his men did Ziklag, at our coming home: if the Lord takes away the desire of our eyes with a stroke; removes our creature comforts; breaks down our creature confidences; makes a sorrow to grow out of the very root which we had planted for ourselves, and promised the sure fruit of enjoyment: what shall I say? If nothing but some severe dispensation will bring us back, when all the milder methods of his love have failed: will you not count that love, nay infinite love, and wisdom too, which administereth the medicine, however nauseous to our proud, and too much pampered stomachs, because nothing but physic will reach our case?

Oh! gracious, long suffering, long forgotten Saviour, in every view, and at every direction, how doth thy tenderness meet our ingratitude! How oft, like David, have I said; I shall one day perish by the hand of one or another! And even in the midst of deliverances have feared the issue? And how oft like him, have I ran to Philistine confederacies, and an arm of flesh, have forgotten the Lord my Maker, and feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy; and where is the fury of the oppressor? And hadst thou, dearest Lord! justly, as thou mightest have done, given me up to the pursuit of my own ways, and to the fruit of my own devices; where would have been my portion? But, oh! thou most gracious Jesus! precious Saviour, how thou hast called me home; allured me, and brought me into some wilderness dispensation; and there hast caused the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad; and even the desert to rejoice, and to blossom as the rose. Go on, heavenly Teacher, graciously go on, nor spare the rod of affliction, when the wayward conduct of thy poor, ignorant, and ungrateful child makes it necessary. Only, dearest Lord, come thyself with, and in the affliction, that it may be fully blessed, and sanctified, in bringing back my heart to thee; that when, like David, I have wept till I can weep no more; and sorrows, like a flood, poured over me from within and without, and everything like the threatened stoning of the people, oppress me on every side, like him, I may still find grace and faith to encourage myself in the Lord my God.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 30". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.