SynopsisIn the last passage, the Philistine leader Achish was convinced by the other Philistine leaders not to let David accompany them into battle against the Israelites, because they figured David would probably turn on the Philistines during the battle. (And they were probably right, although the Bible doesn’t say so.)
In this passage, David and his men return to Ziklag, only to find that the town has been raided by the Amalekites. They have razed the town to the ground, and taken captive everyone who was living in it (although they haven’t killed anyone). David and his men are disheartened, to say the least. In fact, they weep aloud, until they have no strength left to weep (verse 4)! And then—I guess when they find some of their strength back—David’s men begin to talk about stoning him, but David finds strength in the LORD (verse 6).
David has Abiathar bring the ephod, so that he can inquire of the LORD, because he wants to know if he should pursue the Amalekites or not. He is told to pursue them, because he will overtake them, and succeed in rescuing his people. So he does, although not all of his men are able to go the whole way; they all start out with David, but at a certain point two hundred of his men have to stay behind, because they’re just too exhausted to continue on.
David then comes across an Egyptian. They give the man some food, since he hasn’t eaten in a few days, and he tells them that he had been the slave of one of the Amalekites, but was left behind when he got sick. He agrees to lead David and his men to the Amalekites, if the Israelites promise not to kill him or hand him over to his previous master.
So he does, and David and his men find the Amalekites. They fight the Amalekites for two days (“from dusk until evening of the next day” (verse 17)), and kill all of the Amalekites (except for four hundred young men who flee on camels). They successfully rescue their people, take back their plunder, and, I assume, take anything else that had previously belonged to the Amalekites as plunder.
On their way back to Ziklag, they come across the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to accompany David into battle. The “evil men and troublemakers” in David’s group want to withhold plunder from the two hundred men, since they didn’t take part in the battle, to just let them take their own wife and children and that’s it (verse 22), but David isn’t having it.
David replied, “No, my brothers, you must not do that with what the LORD has given us. He has protected us and handed over to us the forces that came against us. Who will listen to what you say? The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” David made this a statute and ordinance for Israel from that day to this. (verses 23–25)
Furthermore, when David gets back to Ziklag, he takes some of the plunder and sends it back to some of the elders of Judah (friends of his), as a gift.
ThoughtsThe first thing to notice about this passage is that the Amalekites take all of the Israelites captive, but don’t kill anyone. Surely this can’t be usual; I would expect them to take just the virgin girls, or maybe the women and children, but they take everyone, and kill no one. We have to see the LORD’s hand in this; only He would prevent them from killing anyone.
We also see David continuing to grow as a leader, and as a follower of the LORD. I was reading in the ESV Study Bible the other day that they were describing the books of I and II Samuel as an X, with Saul starting out as the LORD’s anointed leader, but then declining as David increases and becomes the new anointed leader of the country. In previous posts I’ve mentioned how young David seemed, but he’s growing into a real leader, and still getting his strength from the LORD.