1 Samuel
1-6 Ziklag Raided and Overthrown 7-10 The Pursuit Started 11-15 A Guide to the Band 16-20 The Spoil of David 21-25 David Divides the Spoil 26-31 The Friends of David
Ziklag Raided and Overthrown

1Then it happened when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negev and on Ziklag, and had overthrown Ziklag and burned it with fire; 2and they took captive the women [and all] who were in it, both small and great, without killing anyone, and carried [them] off and went their way. 3When David and his men came to the city, behold, it was burned with fire, and their wives and their sons and their daughters had been taken captive. 4Then David and the people who were with him lifted their voices and wept until there was no strength in them to weep. 5Now David’s two wives had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

Although it begins to light around David, he is not yet where he should be. After a trip of three days he and his men arrive in Ziklag, where he hopes to relax. When he arrives there, however, he finds an overthrown and burnt city. There is also no one to welcome them. All family members are taken captive.

It teaches us a practical lesson. If we say goodbye to our loved ones, even for a few hours, we cannot foresee what may happen to them or to us before we meet again. Therefore it is good to entrust each other to the gracious preservation of God and to praise Him for His preservation when we may meet each other healthy and well again. Another lesson is that we lose a lot when we leave the Lord’s way. As soon as we start living for ourselves, we should not rely on the Lord to preserve our family members. If the head of the family turns its back to the Lord, this often has serious consequences for the family.

What he finds in Ziklag must be bitter for him. The Amalekites have done that. For whatever reason they may have spared the captives, we may see God’s hand in it. In the defeating and burning of Ziklag we see the disciplining hand of God over David. In the sparing of the captives we see the preserving hand of God. That no one has been killed is thanks to His care. In wrath He remembers mercy (Hab 3:22LORD, I have heard the report about You [and] I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
). God wants to use the Amalekites to correct, not to kill. That is why He prevents the enemies from hurting anyone of the prisoners.

The bitterness and bitter tears that emerge here are not to be found in the time when Saul chases him like a partridge on the mountains or even when he is offended by Nabal. These tears are the result of his search for shielding from the enemy of God’s people and not from God. He has never before experienced the disciplining hand of God in such a way. He has always been the object of God’s special care and protection. He withdrew from it, with this as a result. Let it be a warning to us!

In addition to the grief for what he has lost, there is also the uprising of his so far so loyal companions. They blame him for the heavy loss that also struck them. In their bitterness they even talk about stoning David! We see here that, if we go a way without God, we lose everything to ‘the Amalekites’ who are a picture of the flesh. We must also count on a deterioration in our relations with our brothers and sisters.

Besides the loss of everything, David also loses the trust of his men. He is also primarily responsible for this drama, although they followed him themselves. By this discipline David returns to God, his God. That’s the difference with Saul, who can’t say that. God has departed from him by his own disobedience and penitence.

David seeks and finds strength. He does not find this strength in his men, for they are against him, nor in his wives, for they are not there. He finds it in the only source where it can be found, and that is in God Himself. What does David do? He “humbles” himself “under the mighty hand of God” (1Pet 5:66Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,) and confesses his sin. He returns to the LORD and strengthens himself in Him (verse 6b6Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.). This is the glorious turning point in David’s life. Here the light only breaks through properly. Now he is going to ask the LORD again what he should do.

The Pursuit Started

7Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Please bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. 8David inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I pursue this band? Shall I overtake them?” And He said to him, “Pursue, for you will surely overtake them, and you will surely rescue [all].” 9So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the brook Besor, [where] those left behind remained. 10But David pursued, he and four hundred men, for two hundred who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor remained [behind].

The connection with the LORD has been restored. The first sign that David is on the right path again is that he consults the LORD. He does not make decisions himself, but wants to ask the LORD through the priest. He acknowledges Him in his ways and He straightens his paths (Pro 3:66In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
). The answer the LORD gives is clear, certain and encouraging.

He gives more than David asks. David asks if he should pursue the band and overtake them. The answer is that he will overtake them, but God still gives him the full assurance of the rescue of their families and their possessions. God rejoices in it when a deviated child of Him goes back to Him again.

With six hundred men David starts the pursuit. These are the men who wanted to stone him just before. David, however, has strengthened himself in the LORD, his God and placed Him again before the attention of his men. That also gives them new strength and new confidence. When it turns out that the strength of two hundred men has been used up, David does not insist, but leaves them at the brook Besor. He himself continues with the rest.

A Guide to the Band

11Now they found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David, and gave him bread and he ate, and they provided him water to drink. 12They gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins, and he ate; then his spirit revived. For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young man of Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago. 14We made a raid on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the Negev of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15Then David said to him, “Will you bring me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring you down to this band.”

In this section we have a small history in great history. Herein a new quality of David becomes visible. Every thought of his life in the lie is covered here by his expressions of mercy and pity for an Egyptian young man. This compassion is the compassion of the Lord Jesus for him who has been discarded by the world and Satan.

In their pursuit of the Amalekites, the men of David find an Egyptian young man left behind by his masters, the Amalekites. They bring him to David. It is wonderful to see how David takes care of him. When his men have brought the young man to him, he first gives him food and drink. That’s how the young man regains his strength.

Then David asks him two questions. These two questions are useful questions to ask to someone. The first question is: ‘To whom do you belong?” The second question is: ‘Where are you from?” At the first question man must confess that he is a slave to sin. He is in the power of the flesh. On the second question, he must confess that he is from of the world. The reality of the world is that once someone is no longer usable, there is no compassion. He is thrown away, discarded, because there is no benefit to be gained from such a person anymore.

That happened to the young man. He has become ill and such a person is not useful anymore. You depreciate him directly. He is discarded as worthless material. This is expressed in the young man’s confession in verse 1313David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young man of Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago.. He confesses both his origins and his works. Egypt is a picture of the world. Someone who lives in the world is a slave of sin. The works of the flesh are made visible in him (verse 1414We made a raid on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the Negev of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.”; Gal 5:20-2120idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.).

Today, many young people in the world are slaves of sin. Alcohol, drugs and sex are the works in which that slavery becomes visible. Fortunately, it still happens that young people start to realize what a ruthless power they have ended up in and that they can’t expect any outcome for their real problems from that power. Fortunately also when they come into contact with the Lord Jesus Who does not give them back into the power of their former rulers. If they honestly say who they are and what they have done, He wants to use them.

It is like with the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-2011And He said, “A man had two sons.12The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.13And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.14Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving [anything] to him.17But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!18I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”‘20So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion [for him], and ran and embraced him and kissed him.). He had enough friends as long as they benefited from him. However, when he began to suffer want, there was no one he could fall back on. Then he came to himself. He saw his sin and went home to confess it. The father took him in his arms. Thus we may bring the gospel to people.

David then asks him if he wants to help trace the Amalekites. David says as it were: Do you want to go with me, to make your former friends your enemies and me your friend? In this he agrees, but not without having received the firm promise that David will not hand him over to his former master. He has his belly full of it. Never will anyone who joins the Lord Jesus be delivered back into the world by Him.

The Spoil of David

16When he had brought him down, behold, they were spread over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17David slaughtered them from the twilight until the evening of the next day; and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled. 18So David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and rescued his two wives. 19But nothing of theirs was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that they had taken for themselves; David brought [it] all back. 20So David had captured all the sheep and the cattle [which the people] drove ahead of the [other] livestock, and they said, “This is David’s spoil.”

On the instruction of the young man David comes to the Amalekites. They are not aware of any danger. They celebrate exuberantly because of the big spoil they have captured. They think they are in peace and security, without even thinking for a moment of danger (1Thes 5:33While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.). David attacks the enemy and causes a great slaughter. Only a few escape.

He saves everything that the Amalekites have stolen. David’s spoil is much larger than what the enemy took with him at Ziklag. It’s all that the enemy has captured from other robberies. The spoil is the spoil of David and his men, but it is called “David’s spoil”. The spoil is attributed to him. He is the victor. So it is with the Lord Jesus.

David Divides the Spoil

21When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David, who had also been left at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. 22Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead [them] away and depart.” 23Then David said, “You must not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. 24And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” 25So it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.

David first asks about the prosperity of those who stayed behind because they had been too tired to come along. The expression “had also been left” indicates that David insisted that they would not move on. This is yet another characteristic of the Lord Jesus. It is the characteristic of the shepherd who does not demand the utmost from his sheep. This is why the Holy Spirit describes the events of this chapter in such detail. This is the action of the Lord Jesus, who will reign in righteousness and not according to the law of the world or of carnal believers.

If the spoil has to be distributed, there is a quarrel among David’s followers. Here the selfishness of his followers is expressed. There are those who believe they have more rights than others. Don’t we recognize that? Probably so. David solves this beautifully. He brings everything back to the foundation of grace. He speaks to the “wicked and worthless men” who have made this selfish proposal as “my brothers”. In this way he prevents a contradiction with them and also prevents the suspicion of giving preferential treatment.

He does not make hard accusations about this carnal behavior. His “gentle answer turns away wrath” (Pro 15:1a1A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
). About the spoils he says that it is “what the LORD has given us”. David does not attribute victory to himself but to the LORD. He says as it were: “What do you have, that you have not received? (1Cor 4:7a7For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?). The victory is bestowed upon them by the LORD. Who dares to boast and say that he has more rights than anyone else?

The spoil is shared equally by all those who have been involved in the battle in any way. The people who stayed behind have looked after the baggage, haven’t they? Isn’t that a great job? Have the warriors forgotten how they lost Ziklag and everything they owned just before?

Thus will the Lord be able to reward all that has been done for Him. We tend to look only at what is conspicuous, what people talk about. The Lord also sees the sick man, who cannot go out himself, but prays for His work. He sees the mother who is busy caring for the children. Would that be less important than the man who is allowed to preach the Word of God before full halls, or the woman who has time to do children’s work and reach children with the gospel?

The Friends of David

26Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent [some] of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD: 27to those who were in Bethel, and to those who were in Ramoth of the Negev, and to those who were in Jattir, 28and to those who were in Aroer, and to those who were in Siphmoth, and to those who were in Eshtemoa, 29and to those who were in Racal, and to those who were in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, and to those who were in the cities of the Kenites, 30and to those who were in Hormah, and to those who were in Bor-ashan, and to those who were in Athach, 31and to those who were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go.”

When David is back in Ziklag, he also sends part of the spoils to Judah’s elders. He thus gives them the proof of his restoration. These elders are the true friends of David as opposed to Achish. We can see what he gives them as a gift of reconciliation. He shows that he is back with them and is there for them again, for their blessing. It may also be a kind of reward for their loyalty to him, even when he went the wrong way. He has, as it were, returned to be the head of his people.

David and his men have been wandering in all the places mentioned. There David received their friendship during his wanderings and was invigorated by it. He is rewarding that now. That too is something the Lord Jesus does (Mt 10:40-4240“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.41He who receives a prophet in [the] name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”). He now rewards all those who let Him into his or her life. He is still the Rejected. But He appreciates it when there are people who help Him. That means: who support His work and all who work for Him.

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