Matthew Poole's Commentary
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 Amalekites in David’s absence spoil Ziklag, and carry away the people and his two wives captives, 1 Samuel 30:1-6. David asking counsel is encouraged by God to pursue them, 1 Samuel 30:7-10. By the means of an Egyptian, who was left behind, he is brought to the enemies, and recovereth all the spoil, and spoileth them, 1 Samuel 30:11-20; makes an order for the dividing the prey, 1 Samuel 30:21-25; sendeth presents to his friends, 1 Samuel 30:26-31.
On the third day, to wit, after David’s departure from Achish; for Ziklag was at a great distance from the camp and place of fight, as appears from 2 Samuel 1:2; and David’s men being all footmen, could make but slow marches.
The Amalekites; the remainders of that people who lived near those parts where David had destroyed their brethren, 1 Samuel 27:8,9.
The south, to wit, the southern part of Judah, and the adjacent parts. See below, 1 Samuel 30:14.
Smitten Ziklag, i.e. sacked and spoiled it.
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 slew not any; which was strange, considering how David dealt with them, 1 Samuel 27:9. But this must be ascribed partly to their selfish or fleshly interest; for they might reserve them, either to make sale of them for their profit, or to abuse them for their lust; or, it may be, to revenge themselves upon David and his men, by reserving them to extraordinary, and lingering, and repeated punishments; but principally to God’s overruling and wonderful providence, who set these bounds to their rage; and though he designed to chastise David’s sin and folly, yet would not deliver him nor his up to death.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.Till either the humour was wholly spent, or the consideration of their calamity had made them stupid.
And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.No text from Poole on this verse.
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 people spake of stoning him, as the author of their miseries, by coming to Ziklag at first, by provoking the Amalekites to this cruelty, by his forwardness in marching away with Achish, and leaving their wives and children unguarded.
In the Lord his God, i.e. in this, that the all-wise and all-powerful Lord was his God by covenant relation, and special promise, and true and fatherly affection, as he had showed himself to be in the whole course of his providence towards him.
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.Bring me hither the ephod, and put it upon thyself, that thou mayst inquire of God according to his ordinance, Numbers 27:21. See above, 1 Samuel 23:9. 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.
And David inquired 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.Before God answered more slowly and gradually, 1 Samuel 23:1,12, but now he answers speedily and fully at once, because the business here required more haste. So gracious is our God, that he considers even the degree of other necessities, and accommodates himself to them.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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 men; a small number for such an attempt; but David was strong in faith, giving God the glory of his power and faithfulness.
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;They found an Egyptian, whom by his habit they guessed to be a soldier that had been engaged in that expedition.
They made him drink water; partly out of humanity and compassion to a perishing creature; and partly in prudence, that by him they might learn the true state of their enemies
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.Which is to be understood synecdochically of one whole day, and part of two others, as the same phrase is taken Matthew 12:40, as appears from the next verse, where he saith, three days agone I fell sick, but in the Hebrew it this is the third day since I fell sick.
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.I am a young man of 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.
My master 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 dearly for this cruelty, for this was the occasion of the ruin of him and of 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.
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.The Cherethites, i.e. the Philistines, as is manifest from 1 Samuel 30:16, who are so called Zephaniah 2:5.
And upon the coast which belongeth to Judah, and upon the south of Caleb: this is added by way of explication: q.d. that part of the south of Judah which belongs to Caleb’s posterity, Joshua 14:13.
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.For his master had told him whither they intended to go, that he might come after them as soon as he could.
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.Spread abroad 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 their destruction.
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.From the 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 customary and proper work for the evening than for 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.
Object. It is not likely that David would fall upon the Amalekites before his men, who had been tired with a long and hasty march, were refreshed.
Answ. Nor is it said that he did. It is probable that when he came near them, he reposed himself and his army in some secret place, whereof there were many in those parts, for a convenient season; and then marched on so as to come to them at the evening time.
And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David's spoil.All the flocks and the herds, to wit, which the Amalekites had taken from the Philistines, or others.
Before those other cattle; before those which belonged to Ziklag.
This is David’s spoil, i.e. 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.
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.They went forth to meet David, to congratulate the victory; which, it is probable, David had sent a messenger to acquaint them with.
He saluted them; he spoke kindly to them, and did not blame them because they went no further with them.
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 answered all the wicked men; when those two hundred men required or expected a part of the spoil; and they gathered from David’s words and carriage that he intended to give it to them.
Wicked men and men of Belial; so he calls them, for their covetousness, and injustice, and churlishness to their brethren; by which expressions we may judge how heinous and odious those sins are in God’s sight.
Because they went not with us; which was from their impotency; not by choice or design. Herein therefore was their iniquity and unreasonableness, they would punish them for no fault.
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.Ye shall not do so, my brethren: he useth his power and authority to overrule them; but manageth it with all sweetness, calling them brethren; not only as of the same nation and religion with him, but as his fellow soldiers.
With that which the Lord hath given us; what he hath freely imparted to us, we should not unkindly and injuriously withhold from our brethren.
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.Who will hearken unto you? what wise or just man will be of your opinion in this matter?
They shall part alike; a prudent and equitable constitution, and therefore practised 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 a vital service, and in the station in which their general had placed them.
And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;Partly in gratitude for their former favour to him; and partly in policy to engage their affections to him now when he apprehended Saul’s death near.
The enemies of the Lord; he intimates, that though he was fled to the Philistines, yet he employed not his forces against the Israelites, as, no doubt, Saul’s courtiers and soldiers reported that he designed; but only against God’s enemies.
To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,Beth-el, in Kirjath-jearim, where the ark was, 1 Samuel 10:3.
South Ramoth; a city in the tribe of Simeon, Joshua 19:8; so called by way of distinction from Ramoth in Gilead, which was more northward, 1 Kings 22:12.
Jattir; of which see Joshua 15:48.
And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,Aroer; not that beyond Jordan, Numbers 32:34, as many think, which was too remote from David; but another place of that name in Judah, where the rest of the places here named were; this being one of those places where David and his men were wont to haunt, as is expressed, 1 Samuel 30:31.
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,No text from Poole on this verse.
And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,No text from Poole on this verse.
And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.Or, to go; whither they used to resort in the time of Saul’s persecution, either to hide themselves in some of their territories, or to get provision from thence.