Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 30

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of 1 Samuel 30)

Verse 1

[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;

The south — Namely, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent parts.

Verse 4

[4] Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.

Wept — It is no disparagement to the boldest, bravest spirits, to lament the calamities of friends or relations.

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.

Stoning him — As the author of their miseries, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites to this cruelty, and by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving their wives and children unguarded.

Encouraged himself — That is, in this that the all-wise, and all-powerful Lord, was his God by covenant and special promise, and fatherly affection, as he had shewed himself to be in the whole course of his providence towards 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.

Verse 7

[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.

The ephod — And put it upon thyself, that thou mayst enquire 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.

Verse 8

[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.

He answered — Before, God answered more slowly and gradually, chap. 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.

Verse 10

[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.

Four hundred — A small number for such an attempt: but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.

Verse 12

[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.

Three days and nights — One whole day and part of two others, as appears from the next verse, where he saith, three days ago I fell sick, but in the Hebrew it is, this is the third day since I fell sick.

Verse 13

[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.

Egypt — God by his providence so ordering it, that he was not one of that cursed race of the Amalekites, who were to be utterly destroyed, but an Egyptian, who might be spared.

Left me — In this place and condition: which was barbarous inhumanity: for he ought, and easily might have carried him away with the prey which they had taken. But he paid dear for this cruelty, for this was the occasion of the ruin of him and all their company. And God by his secret providence ordered the matter thus for that very end. So that there is no fighting against God, who can make the smallest accidents serviceable to the production of the greatest effects.

Verse 14

[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.

Cherethites — That is, the Philistines.

Caleb — This is added by way of explication: that part of the south of Judah which belongs to Caleb's posterity.

Verse 15

[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.

Will bring thee — For his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them, as soon as he could.

Verse 16

[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.

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.

Verse 17

[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.

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 day-light. It is probable, that when he came near them, he reposed himself, and his army, in some secret place, whereof there were many parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.

Verse 20

[20] And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David's spoil.

Other cattle — Before those that belonged to Ziklag.

David's spoil — The soldiers, who lately were so incensed against David, that they spake of stoning him: now upon this 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.

Verse 21

[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.

Saluted them — He spoke kindly to them, and did not blame them because they went no further with them.

Verse 23

[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.

My brethren — He useth his authority to over-rule them; but manageth it with all sweetness, tho' they were such wicked and unreasonable men, calling them brethren; not only as of the same nation and religion with him, but as his fellow-soldiers. What God hath freely imparted to us, we should not unkindly and injuriously withhold from our brethren.

Verse 24

[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.

Part alike — A prudent and equitable constitution, and therefore practiced 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.

Verse 26

[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;

Elders of Judah — Partly in gratitude for their former favours to him: and partly, in policy, to engage their affections to him.

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