David had joined the army of the Philistines; but, as the Philistine lords suspected him, he was obliged to leave, so he went back to the little city of Ziklag, which King Achish had given him.
1Sa_30:1-2. 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, 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.
They were roving bands of marauders, and no doubt preserved the women alive to sell them for slaves, the main object of those robbers being gain.
1Sa_30:3-4. 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.
Weary with their marching, they had hoped to rest at home; but now that everything was gone, the strong men, who were not often moved to weeping, wept till they could weep no longer; the very sources of tears were dried up by the exceeding heat of their grief.
1Sa_30:5-6. 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,
These rough men, who had not all joined him from the best of motives, now turned against him for having left the city defenseless.
1Sa_30:6. 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.
Blessed faith, that finds a secure shelter even amidst the ashes of his burned home, and when even his own followers have turned against him!
1Sa_30:7-8. 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. And David enquired of 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.
The Hebrew runs, “Pursue, for overtaking thou shalt overtake, and recovering thou shalt recover;” that is to say, the work shall be done perfectly, and so it was.
1Sa_30:9-17. So David went, he and the his hundred men that were with him, and came to the brook Besor, where those that were left behind stayed. 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. 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. 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.
It is noteworthy that the four hundred who escaped were equal in number to the whole of David’s attacking force; so that, manifestly, God was with these valiant men, or else they would have been completely outnumbered.
1Sa_30:18-20. 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.
That which was over and above what had been taken from Ziklag was very properly appropriated by David. I thought, as I read that “David recovered all,” how truly it can be said that the greater Son of David has recovered all. All that was lost by sin, our glorious and victorious Captain has recovered. What then shall be his spoil? It was foretold that “He shall divide the spoil with the strong.” Let your hearts and mine, and all we are, and all we have, be yielded up to him, and let us say of it all, “This is Jesus’ spoil, and to him be glory evermore!”
1Sa_30:21. 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.
There are some fainting and sick folk detained at home; I pray our blessed Lord to salute every one of them wherever they are at this moment.
1Sa_30:22-23. 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,-
They were poor brethren for David to have. They were brethren by race, but not brethren by grace Yet David was wise in speaking to them as he did. It is always well, when you are opposing people, to do it courteously. You can often prevail with soft words if you have strong arguments. David said, “Ye shall not do so, my brethren,” —
1Sa_30:23-26. 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.