Study Notes

1Samuel 30:1-31


You may recall from our study two weeks ago that David was in a compromised position. Despondency had set in. He lost his trust in God, and focused on his fear of Saul. And so he and his men entered into the land of the Philistines. The last we saw, he was actually going to war with the Philistines against the nation of israel. Fortunately, the lords of the Philistines did not trust David enough to have him join them in their war, and sent him home.

30:1-5 The Amalekites Raid Ziklag

When David and his men returned home to Tsik-LAG, they discovered the devastating truth. While they were gone, the Amalekites had raided their town and burned it to the ground. No one had been killed, but rather taken captive into slavery. This included David's two wives, Akh-ee-NO-am and Abigail.

David and his men cried convulsively until they couldn't cry anymore.

I'm sure they must have been asking and wondering, "Why has this happened? What could we have done to prevent this from happening?" But remember, they were the ones that had chosen to live among the world. They were the ones who had abandoned the land of Israel - the land governed by God - and chosen to dwell among the immoral and idolatrous Philistines.

Maybe today we could learn this lesson as well. You see, a foundation built in this world will eventually crumble or burn. Peter tells us,

2Pet. 3:7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

And Jesus said,

Matt. 16:26 "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

We may find comfort, safety, success, and "happiness" in the world - but it is always just temporary. Our Tsik-LAGs will always be burned to the ground. Where do you live today? Where are your foundations laid?

30:6 David Strengthened In The Lord

This terrible chapter in David's life, the time that he stopped following the Lord, has just now ended. Whereas before,

1Sam. 27:1 Then David said to himself, "Now I will perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than to escape into the land of the Philistines...."

Now, David strengthened himself in the Lord. How does one strengthen himself in the Lord?

Exod. 15:2 "The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him.

Judg. 16:28 Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."

1Chr. 16:11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually.

Neh. 8:10 ... Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

As we read the Scriptures, we being to see that being strengthened in the Lord is a decision that we must make. We must praise Him. We must pray. We must seek the Lord. We must rejoice in the Lord. It all boils down to what the book of Philippians says,

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Keep in mind, this was not an easy decision to make. The 600 men who were with him were so devastated, that they were getting ready to kill David with stones. David's flesh would most likely be telling him to run away again. What do you do when the circumstances are overwhelming? Do you freak out and flesh out? Or do you strengthen yourself in the Lord? What about when even your comrades and friends are ready to stone you? Do you stand firm and strong in the Lord? Or do you run away? It's such a blessing to see David strong in the Lord again after such a dark season in his life.

30:7-8 David Inquires of The Lord

David inquires of the Lord, as had been his earlier practice. How did he do this? We're not exactly sure, but, as we examined in chapter 23, there are a number of ways to inquire of the Lord. Through prayer, fasting, searching the Scriptures, through the gift of prophecy, or even dreams.

We also conjectured in that same chapter regarding the value of having the ephod when inquiring of the Lord. Remember that the ephod was the apron worn by the priest. It was possible that David was putting on the ephod, since we know that he wore it later, in 2Samuel 6.

But the main point to notice is that David is in fact inquiring of the Lord as to whether they should continue to grieve and say, "The Lord's will be done," or whether they should attempt to catch the Amalekites.

Depending upon our individual dispositions, the answer would have been obvious to us. For those of us who kind of "roll with the punches," we would have been saddened, then gotten on with the rebuilding project. Others of us who are the more "in your face" types would have immediately gone after the Amalekites with a vengeance. And here's the kicker - God's will is not determined by our personalities. We must inquire of the Lord to keep from making sinful decisions.

There is a time for justice, and a time for mercy. There is a time for holding people accountable for their actions, and a time for turning the other cheek. Which do you decide? On emotion? That's a sure way a make a wrong decision, a carnal choice. We must inquire of the Lord to avoid this.

The prophetic description of Jesus in Isaiah 11 included this wonderful insight:

Isa. 11:3 ...He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear...

Let us make inquiry to the Lord to make godly decisions.

30:9-10 Two Hundred Too Exhausted

The journey from Af-EEK back to Tsik-LAG had taken three days. That means they were averaging about 20 miles a day. When they'd arrived and found their city burned and families taken, they wept until they were exhausted. Now, they've set a double-timed pace that has rendered a third of David's men useless, unable to continue from the brook Bes-ORE.

30:11-15 The Egyptian Servant

When David and his men happened upon an Egyptian dying in the wilderness, they cared for him and listened to his story. He was a servant of one of the Amalekites who had fallen sick. Not valuable enough to put on a camel for the journey, or even esteemed enough to be given provisions, he was dumped in the wilderness to die.

This is a perfect picture of what the world does to people - uses them as slaves until they are not productive anymore. Keeps them around until they get sick. Then, they're tossed out to die.

I saw this illustrated in a tour of the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie. On the tour, they told us that the warden had a certain amount of funds that his salary came from. In addition to his own pay, this money funded things like transportation of a prisoner's body to his hometown in the event of death. So, when an inmate became fatally ill, the warden would pardon him - releasing him from the prison before he died. The prisoner would die immediately from exposure and hunger, since the prison was in the middle of nowhere, but it was now no longer the warden's responsibility. Thus, the money that would have been spent on his coffin and train ride went right into the warden's pocket.

John the apostle wrote,

1John 5:19 ...the whole world lies in {the power of} the evil one.

All we need to do is to look around to see how this is true.

So the Egyptian servant of the Amalekite that David and his men found had been abandoned by his master when he became sick. Fortunately, this turned out to be the break they needed - the young man would lead them to exactly where the Amalekites were.

But I find it interesting that David and his men gave the Egyptian food and water before they knew what a help he would be to them. They gave him provision from their own short supplies, they gave him of their own precious time. The result was that he was greatly ministered to, and they were greatly blessed with the big break they needed.

I wonder how many of us are so wrapped up in our lives and our comings and goings, that this Egyptian would have been too much of a bother to deal with - too great a distraction from a carefully planned day?

After my short six years of full-time ministry, I have discovered this: there is no one in genuine need that is a distraction from God's greater plan for your day. When you come across an "abandoned Egyptian," that IS God's greater plan for your day.

Matt. 25:34-40 "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me {something} to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, {even} the least {of them,} you did it to Me.'

May we never be so busy about our own business that we pass by the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or the prisoner.

30:16-19 All Is Recovered

The Amalekites were having a party. Knowing that David and his army of men were busy with the Philistine/Israeli war, they had no cause to be on the defensive. They were having a huge party with all that they had taken in their raids.

This gave David the element of surprise. Tired as they were, they fought for an entire day, killing all but 400 men that escaped on camels. Everything was recovered.

30:20-25 Share Alike

Some of David's men were selfish and wicked. They figured that since they were the ones who'd gone to battle, they should be the ones to keep the spoil that had been recovered. Oh, they'd be gracious and return the wives and children, but that was it. So David rebuked them, saying that the victory was from God - who were they to take the credit?

Now, God had already set this precedent back in the book of Numbers. After the Israelites devastated the Midianites, He told Moses,

Num. 31:26-27 "...take a count of the booty that was captured, both of man and of animal; and divide the booty between the warriors who went out to battle and all the congregation."

Joshua had also followed this lead. You may recall that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh opted not to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. To be honorable to their fellows Israelites, hey sent their warriors in to assist with battling the Canaanites and possessing the land. After a few years, it was time for the warriors to return home. They had become rich with the plunder of their battles. Before they left, Joshua told them,

Josh. 22:8 ..."Return to your tents with great riches and with very much livestock, with silver, gold, bronze, iron, and with very many clothes; divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers."

The precedent was set by God, followed by Joshua, and repeated by David. This is where our practices and principles should come from as well. Imitating God, following godly example.

Now, this same principle also carries through spiritually to the church. In the ministry, some are going to be going out, others are going to be staying in. Some will be doing visible ministry while others are hidden in their prayer closets. Some will be witnessing, while others will be staying with the kids at home. But the benefits are to be shared by all.

Maybe you're not equipped to teach the Word, and preach the gospel. But if you faithfully pray for those who do, your reward will be the same. Maybe you're not physically able to do the ministry of the deacons, but if you faithfully pray for them, your reward will be the same. The benefits will be equally divided between those who went to battle, and those who stayed with the baggage.

30:26-31 David's Gift To Judah

1Sam. 30:26-31 Now when David came to Tsik-LAG, 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: to those who were in Bayth-ALE, and to those who were in Raw-moth-NEH-gheb, and to those who were in Yat-TEER, and to those who were in Ar-o-AYR, and to those who were in Sif-MOTH, and to those who were in Esh-tem-O-ah, and to those who were in raw-KAWL, and to those who were in the cities of the yer-AKH-meh-ay-lee-ites, and to those who were in the cities of the Kenites, and to those who were in khor-maw', and to those who were in Kore Aw-SHAWN, and to those who were in Ath-AWK, and to those who were in Kheb-RONE, and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go."

So, David also knew that the Amalekites had raided the land of Judah (1Samuel 30:14), and that much of this plunder belonged to them. So he was faithful to return it.

Although David is one again walking with God, King Saul has not repented, and is doomed. Next week, the final chapter of 1Samuel.

Go to next study

Go to previous study