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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Samuel 30

 

 

Verses 1-31

1 Samuel 30:1-31

When David and his men were come to Ziklag.

David in three situations

at Ziklag in his distress, on his way to the Amalekites, and among the Amalekites.

I. David in his distress. See in it the frequent benefit, of affliction to the people of God. In this instance it did immediately two things for David.

1. It restored him to his spiritual courage and strength. Look ones more to chap. 27. We find there his heart failing him; and, like a frightened deer, he runs away from Judah into the land of the Philistines. Now when did this happen? You will say, “Doubtless when Saul was close behind him ready to take his life;” but no; it was at, a time when it seemed least likely to happen--when David had humbled Saul to the dust by his magnanimity. David says in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul,” and there goes the once bold champion of Israel, timid and crouching, to seek the protection of a heathen king. See here what man is; see what even a servant of God is, when left to himself. He can fall down without a blow. Now, come again to the chapter before us. Here is this same David, the frightened runaway, calm and fearless, and where? In a situation of the utmost distress and danger; with his home burnt, his family in the hands of his enemies, and with six hundred half frantic men around him threatening to take his life. O, how God sometimes glorifies his grace in our world! “What time I am afraid,” not, in a quiet hour, no, in a fearful hour--“what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

2. David’s affliction restored him also to a holy caution and self-distrust. It led him, though he feared nothing else, to fear himself. He seeks now counsel of the Lord. We should have expected him to have done this before in his fear when he fled into the land of the Philistines, or when he followed the army of Achish against Israel, but he did not do it. “David enquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue this troop? shall I overtake them?” This is what the Scripture means by acknowledging God in our ways. And thus the affliction of David was a benefit to him--it restored him to his spiritual courage and strength, it led him to seek counsel of the Lord and submit his ways to Him. In His people’s case, the Lord turns even these bitter things to a blessed account. So does He love His people, that He cannot even smite them without blessing them. His very judgments become mercies. Thus we find David, in Psalm, of coupling together mercy and judgment, and saying He will rejoice in both and sing of both.

II. Let us now look at David in another situation--on his way to the Amalekites. We shall see that he met in it with discouragement and also encouragement, a mixture of both.

1. The discouragement he encountered at the outset. We know not the number of these Amalekites, but it is clear that it was great, for these that escaped, verse 17 says, were four hundred, and they are spoken of as a remnant, a small part of the whole. These soldiers, these fugitives and exiles, can not only weep as though their hearts would break for their wives and children, but the moment there is a prospect of recovering them, they are so eager in the pursuit, that one-third of their number speedily sink down in exhaustion. “They came,” we read, “to the brook Besor,” and there they “were so faint that they could not go over.” But how will this operate on David? Will not his old fears now return? Shall we not see him halting and hesitating and perhaps turning back? No; a man never hesitates or turns back in the path of duty, who is making the Lord his strength.

2. David’s encouragement. And let me say that in your journey go heaven, or in setting about any good work on that journey, you must calculate on meeting with both these things, with both discouragements and encouragements. Your path will not be a uniform one. David’s discouragement was the loss of two hundred men, apparently a formidable loss; it turned out nothing. His encouragement was what? It came from one man one sick man, a man scarcely alive; and he did all that David wanted. The case was this. One of the Amalekites in going from Ziklag, had a slave ill, an Egyptian. He abandons him, leaves him in a field to die. Three days afterwards David’s men come up and find him: they kindly give him food and restore him. “Can you tell us,” asks David, “where we may find the Amalekites?” “I can,” the man says, and in a little time he brings him within sight of their camp. Here, you observe, was help for David from one who could not help himself; and, as it turned out, effectual help; and help, observe, too, from the very host of his enemies. Anything will serve the Lord when the Lord has to overthrow his enemies or help His people, He needs not move heaven or earth, he needs not create powerful instruments to do it; anything in his mighty hand will do it--a castaway thing, a despised, abandoned thing.

III. But look now at David in a third situation--at the camp of the Amalekites. When he came upon them, he found them in a state of riot and disorder. “Peace and safely” are fearful words in a pleasure taking, prosperous man’s mouth; then often “sudden destruction cometh, and he shall not escape.” Belshazzar revelled joyously and fearlessly in the banquet he had made; but “in that night,” the very night of his festivity, “was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain.” And mark--it was the great spoil these Amalekites had taken which so rejoiced them. They were exulting in their spoil at, the very moment when they were about to lose their spoil and their lives together. Is there a man here whose chief joy is in the spoil he has taken? the acquisitions he has made? his honours or his wealth? Let such a man see that he and they may be separated in an hour. Tomorrow they may be in other hands, and he in another world. David, we read, smote these Amalekites, smote them from the twilight, of one day even unto the evening of the next. Their destruction was complete or nearly so. You remember who these men were. They were a nation condemned by God to be exterminated in consequence of their determined hatred to Him and His people. David know this. He was not therefore indulging his own revenge, but obeying the Lord’s command, in smiting them. But observe--though these men were God’s enemies, He had just before employed them in His work. There is a servant of His to be chastened; they shall be the rod in His hand to chasten him. “We will go and plunder Ziklag,” they say; He lets them go, and while they are accomplishing their ends, He makes them accomplish His; He overrules their plundering incursion to bring back the wandering David to Himself. It is a solemn thought, but it is a glorious one, that wicked men and wicked spirits, that hell with its legions as well as heaven with its glorious hosts, are doing every hour Jehovah’s work. This must not reconcile us to sin, but it goes far to quiet the mind when sickened and distressed with the sin, “the wrong and outrage,” with which the world is filled. Another incident in this history we must notice--this victory over these Amalekites was attended with a recovery of all that David had lost. Twice this is mentioned and particularly mentioned. It is not only we who are safe in God’s hands if we are his, all that belongs to us is safe there. It is safe no where else. When we give it up to him, He remembers that we have done so, and takes it as His charge. There is an hour coming when God will let us see that He has taken good care of all that is ours as well as of us, such care as we had scarcely thought of. The health we have lost in His service, the property we may have expended in His cause, the earthly gain or earthly love or honour we have sacrificed for His cake--we shall hear of them again in heaven. O what a recompence for them awaits us there! (C. Bradley, M. A.)


Verses 1-31

1 Samuel 30:1-31

When David and his men were come to Ziklag.

David in three situations

at Ziklag in his distress, on his way to the Amalekites, and among the Amalekites.

I. David in his distress. See in it the frequent benefit, of affliction to the people of God. In this instance it did immediately two things for David.

1. It restored him to his spiritual courage and strength. Look ones more to chap. 27. We find there his heart failing him; and, like a frightened deer, he runs away from Judah into the land of the Philistines. Now when did this happen? You will say, “Doubtless when Saul was close behind him ready to take his life;” but no; it was at, a time when it seemed least likely to happen--when David had humbled Saul to the dust by his magnanimity. David says in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul,” and there goes the once bold champion of Israel, timid and crouching, to seek the protection of a heathen king. See here what man is; see what even a servant of God is, when left to himself. He can fall down without a blow. Now, come again to the chapter before us. Here is this same David, the frightened runaway, calm and fearless, and where? In a situation of the utmost distress and danger; with his home burnt, his family in the hands of his enemies, and with six hundred half frantic men around him threatening to take his life. O, how God sometimes glorifies his grace in our world! “What time I am afraid,” not, in a quiet hour, no, in a fearful hour--“what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

2. David’s affliction restored him also to a holy caution and self-distrust. It led him, though he feared nothing else, to fear himself. He seeks now counsel of the Lord. We should have expected him to have done this before in his fear when he fled into the land of the Philistines, or when he followed the army of Achish against Israel, but he did not do it. “David enquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I pursue this troop? shall I overtake them?” This is what the Scripture means by acknowledging God in our ways. And thus the affliction of David was a benefit to him--it restored him to his spiritual courage and strength, it led him to seek counsel of the Lord and submit his ways to Him. In His people’s case, the Lord turns even these bitter things to a blessed account. So does He love His people, that He cannot even smite them without blessing them. His very judgments become mercies. Thus we find David, in Psalm, of coupling together mercy and judgment, and saying He will rejoice in both and sing of both.

II. Let us now look at David in another situation--on his way to the Amalekites. We shall see that he met in it with discouragement and also encouragement, a mixture of both.

1. The discouragement he encountered at the outset. We know not the number of these Amalekites, but it is clear that it was great, for these that escaped, verse 17 says, were four hundred, and they are spoken of as a remnant, a small part of the whole. These soldiers, these fugitives and exiles, can not only weep as though their hearts would break for their wives and children, but the moment there is a prospect of recovering them, they are so eager in the pursuit, that one-third of their number speedily sink down in exhaustion. “They came,” we read, “to the brook Besor,” and there they “were so faint that they could not go over.” But how will this operate on David? Will not his old fears now return? Shall we not see him halting and hesitating and perhaps turning back? No; a man never hesitates or turns back in the path of duty, who is making the Lord his strength.

2. David’s encouragement. And let me say that in your journey go heaven, or in setting about any good work on that journey, you must calculate on meeting with both these things, with both discouragements and encouragements. Your path will not be a uniform one. David’s discouragement was the loss of two hundred men, apparently a formidable loss; it turned out nothing. His encouragement was what? It came from one man one sick man, a man scarcely alive; and he did all that David wanted. The case was this. One of the Amalekites in going from Ziklag, had a slave ill, an Egyptian. He abandons him, leaves him in a field to die. Three days afterwards David’s men come up and find him: they kindly give him food and restore him. “Can you tell us,” asks David, “where we may find the Amalekites?” “I can,” the man says, and in a little time he brings him within sight of their camp. Here, you observe, was help for David from one who could not help himself; and, as it turned out, effectual help; and help, observe, too, from the very host of his enemies. Anything will serve the Lord when the Lord has to overthrow his enemies or help His people, He needs not move heaven or earth, he needs not create powerful instruments to do it; anything in his mighty hand will do it--a castaway thing, a despised, abandoned thing.

III. But look now at David in a third situation--at the camp of the Amalekites. When he came upon them, he found them in a state of riot and disorder. “Peace and safely” are fearful words in a pleasure taking, prosperous man’s mouth; then often “sudden destruction cometh, and he shall not escape.” Belshazzar revelled joyously and fearlessly in the banquet he had made; but “in that night,” the very night of his festivity, “was Belshazzar, the king of the Chaldeans, slain.” And mark--it was the great spoil these Amalekites had taken which so rejoiced them. They were exulting in their spoil at, the very moment when they were about to lose their spoil and their lives together. Is there a man here whose chief joy is in the spoil he has taken? the acquisitions he has made? his honours or his wealth? Let such a man see that he and they may be separated in an hour. Tomorrow they may be in other hands, and he in another world. David, we read, smote these Amalekites, smote them from the twilight, of one day even unto the evening of the next. Their destruction was complete or nearly so. You remember who these men were. They were a nation condemned by God to be exterminated in consequence of their determined hatred to Him and His people. David know this. He was not therefore indulging his own revenge, but obeying the Lord’s command, in smiting them. But observe--though these men were God’s enemies, He had just before employed them in His work. There is a servant of His to be chastened; they shall be the rod in His hand to chasten him. “We will go and plunder Ziklag,” they say; He lets them go, and while they are accomplishing their ends, He makes them accomplish His; He overrules their plundering incursion to bring back the wandering David to Himself. It is a solemn thought, but it is a glorious one, that wicked men and wicked spirits, that hell with its legions as well as heaven with its glorious hosts, are doing every hour Jehovah’s work. This must not reconcile us to sin, but it goes far to quiet the mind when sickened and distressed with the sin, “the wrong and outrage,” with which the world is filled. Another incident in this history we must notice--this victory over these Amalekites was attended with a recovery of all that David had lost. Twice this is mentioned and particularly mentioned. It is not only we who are safe in God’s hands if we are his, all that belongs to us is safe there. It is safe no where else. When we give it up to him, He remembers that we have done so, and takes it as His charge. There is an hour coming when God will let us see that He has taken good care of all that is ours as well as of us, such care as we had scarcely thought of. The health we have lost in His service, the property we may have expended in His cause, the earthly gain or earthly love or honour we have sacrificed for His cake--we shall hear of them again in heaven. O what a recompence for them awaits us there! (C. Bradley, M. A.)


Verse 6

1 Samuel 30:6

David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

David encouraging himself in God

I. David’s distress.

1. David was greatly distressed, for he had been acting without consulting his God. Perhaps some of you are in distress in the same way: you have chosen your own path, and now you are caught in the tangled bushes which tear your flesh. You have carved for yourselves, and you have cut your own fingers; you have obtained your heart’s desire, and while the meat is yet in your mouth a curse has come with it. You say you “did it for the best;” ay, but it has turned out to be for the worst.

2. Worse than this, if worse can be, David had also followed policy instead of truth. The Oriental mind was, and probably still is, given to lying. Easterns do not think it wrong to tell an untruth; many do it habitually. Just as an upright merchant in this country would not be suspected of a falsehood, so you would not in the olden time have suspected the average Oriental of ever speaking the truth if he could help it, because he felt that everybody else would deceive him, and so he must practise great cunning. The golden rule in David’s day was, “Do others, for others will certainly do you.”

3. Yet was his distress the more severe on another account, for David had sided with the enemies of the Lord’s people.

4. Picture the position of David, in the centre of his band. He has been driven away by the Philistine lords with words of contempt; his men have been sneered at--“What do these Hebrews here? Is not this David? What do these Hebrews here?” is the sarcastic question of the world. “How comes a professing Christian to be acting as we do?”

5. At the back of this came bereavement. His wives were gone.

II. David’s encouragement: “And David encouraged himself.” That is well, Davids He did not at first attempt to encourage anybody else; but he encouraged himself. Some of the best talks in the world are those which a man has with himself. He who speaks to everybody except himself is a great fool. I think I hear David say, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God; for I will yet praise him.” David encouraged himself. But he encouraged himself “in the Lord his God,” namely, in Jehovah. That is the surest way of encouraging yourself. David might have drawn, if he had pleased, a measure of encouragement from those valiant men who joined him just about this particular time; for it happened, according to 1 Chronicles 12:19-20, that many united with his band at that hour. If you are in trouble, and your trouble is mixed with sin, if you have afflicted yourselves by your backslidings and perversities, nevertheless I pray you look nowhere else for help but to the God whom you have offended. When He lilts his arm, as it were, to execute vengeance, lay hold upon it and He will spare you. Does he not, Himself say, “Let him lay hold on My strength?” I remember old Master Quarles has a strange picture of one trying to strike another with a flail, and how does the other escape? Why, he runs in and keeps close, and so he is not struck. It is the very thing to do. Close in with God. Cling to Him by faith: hold fast by Him in hope. Say, “Though He slay me, yet will I terror in Him.” Resolve, “I will not let Thee go.” Let us try to conceive of the way in which David would encourage Himself in the Lord his God.

1. Standing amidst those ruins he would say, “Yet the Lord does love me, and I love Him.”

2. Then he went further, and argued, “Hath not the Lord chosen me? Has He not ordained me to be king in Israel? Do you need an interpretation of this parable? Can you not see its application to yourselves?

3. Then he would go over all the past deliverances which he had experienced.

III. David enquiring of God.

1. Observe, that David takes it for granted that his God is going to help him. He only wants to know how it is to he done. “Shall I pursue? shall I overtake?”

2. It is to be remarked, however, that David does not expect that God is going to help him without his doing his best. He enquires, “Shall I pursue? shall I overtake?”

3. David also distrusted his own strength, though quite ready to use what he had; for he said, “Shall I overtake?” Can my men march fast enough to overtake these robbers?”

IV. David’s answer of peace. The Lord heard his supplication. He says, “In my distress I cried unto the Lord and He heard me.” Trust in the Lord your God. Believe also in his Son Jesus. Get rid of sham faith, and really believe. Get rid of a professional faith, and trust in the Lord at all times, about everything. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

David encouraging himself in God

I. He “encouraged himself in the Lord his God”--that is what he is said to have done.

1. “In the Lord,” observe. The first step towards real comfort in real sorrow is to feel it must come from God, and the next is to raise up our minds to God; to get them above the things which are distressing us.

2. “The Lord,” observe again--Jehovah, as the capital letters in our Bibles indicate; the self-existent, everlasting, unchangeable, unlimited, all-sufficient God.

3. But a material point to be noticed here is David’s connection with this high Being. It was “the Lord his God,” in whom he encouraged himself. It implies clearly an acquaintance with God, some previous intercourse with him, and a connection formed between him and the soul.

II. Now let us look at the difficult circumstances under which David did what is here ascribed to him. The text itself draws our attention to these. “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God;” he did so notwithstanding the circumstances in which he was placed.

1. Notwithstanding his great sorrow and distress. We sometimes think that soldiers have not hearts, but we cannot read this chapter and think so. The men on their return to their desolated homes were overwhelmed with grief. The loss of their wives and children completely unmanned them.

2. David encouraged himself in the Lord notwithstanding his sinfulness. We are not told so, but there must have been a voice there which said, “All this is my own doing. It is all the fruit of my own folly and sin. Had I but trusted my God and remained in Judah, or even had I stayed here in Ziklag, this would not have come to pass.” He did not simply make an effort to encourage himself, he actually encouraged himself, found encouragement for himself, in the Lord his God. It must have been in some such moment as this that he first felt, if not said, “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Their in faithfulness has afflicted me.” (C. Bradley, M. A.)

The secret of courage

Now the first thing I notice is

I. The grand assurance which this man gripped fast. It is not by accident, nor if it a mere piece of tautology, that we read “the Lord his God.” For, if you will remember, the very keynote of the psalms which are ascribed to David is just that expression, “My God,” “My God.” So far as the very fragmentary records of Jewish literature go, it would appear as if David was the very first of all the ancient singers to grapple that thought that he stood in a personal, individual relation to God, and God to him. And so it was his God that he laid hold of at that dark hour. Now I am not putting too much into a little word when I insist upon it that the very essence and nerve of what strengthened the king, at that supreme moment of desolation, was the, conviction that welled up in his heart that, in spite of it all, he had a grip of God a hand as his very own, and God had hold of him, I would not go to the length of saying that the living realisation, in heart and mind, of this personal possession of God is the difference between a traditional sad vague profession of religion and a vital possession of religion, but if it is not the difference, it goes a long way towards explaining the difference. The man who contents himself with the generality of a Gospel for the world, and who can say no more than that Jesus Christ died for all, has yet to learn the most intimate sweetness, and the most quickening and transforming power, of that Gospel, and he only learns it when he says, “Who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

II. The sufficiency of this one conviction and assurance. Here is one of the many eloquent “buts” of the Bible. On the one hand is piled up a black heap of calamities, loss, treachery, and peril; and opposed to them is only that one clause: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” God is enough: whatever else may go. The Lord his God was the sufficient portion for this man when he stood a homeless pauper. So for poverty, loss, the blasting of earthly hopes, the crushing of earthly affections, the extremity of danger, and the utmost threatening of death, here is the sufficient remedy--that one mighty assurance: “The Lord is my God.” For if He is the strength of my heart he will be my portion foreverse He is not poor who has God for his, nor does he wander with a hungry heart who can rest his heart on God’s; nor need he fear death who possesses God, and in Him eternal life. You never know the good of the breakwater until the storm is rolling the waves against its outer side. Put a little candle in a room, and you will not see the lightning when it flashes outside, however stormy the sky, and seamed with the fiery darts. If we have God in our hearts, we have enough for courage and for strength.

III. The effort by which this assurance is attained and sustained. The words of the original convey even more forcibly than those of our translation the thought of David’s own action in securing him the hold of God as his. He “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” The Hebrew conveys the notion of effort, persistent and continuous; and it tells us this, that when things are as black as they were round David at that hour--it is not a matter of course, even for a good man, that there shall well up in his heart this tranquillising and victorious conviction; but he has to set himself to reach and to keep it. God will give it, but he will not give it unless the man strains after it. He “strengthened himself in the Lord,” and if he had not set doggedly about resisting the pressure of circumstances, and flinging himself as it were, by am effort, into the arms of God, circumstances would have been too many for him, and despair would have shrouded his soul. In the darkest moment it is possible for a man to surround himself with God’s light, but even in the brightest it is not possible to do so unless he makes a serious effete. That effort may consist mainly in two things. One is that we shall honestly try to occupy our minds, as well as our hearts, with the truth which certifies to us that God is, in very deed, ours. If we never think, or think languidly and rarely, about what God has revealed to us by the Word and life and death and intercession of Jesus Christ, concerning Himself, His heart of love towards us, and His relations to us, then we shall not have, either in the time of disaster or of joy, the blessed sense that He is indeed ours if a man will not think about Christian truth he will not have the blessedness of Christian possession of God. There is no mystery about the road to the sweetness and holiness and power that may belong to a Christian. The only way to get them is to be occupied, far more than most of us are, with the plain truths of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. If you can never think about them they cannot affect you, and they will not make you sure that God is yours. There is another thing which we have to make an effort to do, if we would have the blessedness of this conviction filling and flooding oar hearts. For the possession is reciprocal; we say, “My God,” and He says, “My people.” Unless we yield ourselves to Him and say, “I am Thine,” we shall never be able to say, “Thou art mine.” We must recognise His possession of us; we must yield ourselves; we must obey; we must elect Him as our chief good, we must feel that we are not our own, but bought with a price. And then when we look up into the heavens thus submissive, thus obedient, thus owning His authority, and His rights, as well as claiming His love and His tenderness, and cry; “My Father,” He will bend down and whisper into our hearts: “Thou art My beloved son.” Then we shall be strong, and of a good courage, however weak and timid, and we shall be rich, though, like David, we have lost all things. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Features of David’s faith

I. The reality of David’s faith. It proved its reality by its power to enhearten him. It inspired him with courage; it rallied the scattered, prostrated powers of his soul; it opened a pathway of hope for him; it braced him for the necessities of the occasion.

II. This leads us to remark upon the sufficiency of David’s faith. You may have a strong impression that in certain you shall be helped, delivered, but the impression may be all a delusion, “the baseless fabric of a vision,” a hallucination of the mind. David’s faith was real subjectively, because it was sufficiently well-grounded objectively. He “encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Faith separated from an adequate object is powerless; inspired by such an object--there is but One--it is mighty, puts heart into the weak, puts enthusiasm into the hopeless, laying hem upon God it is omnipotent.

III. Another feature of David’s faith is its activity, its energy. David bestirred himself to appropriate the strength which the Object of his faith, and his faith in that Object, were calculated to inspire. “He encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” What a blessed art this of self-encouragement in God. There is an attitude of faith which is passive. The language of its triumph then is the meek, “Thy will be done.” But faith is active, lively. This is its characteristic feature.

IV. Let us not forget the practical character of David’s faith (from 5:7). It was no time to lie upon the earth; there was something to be done, and done at once. David’s faith gave shape and force to his action. He calls for the ephod, enquires of the Lord, obtains a favourable response, pursues the Amalekites, rescues the captives, inflicts a crushing blow upon the captors. Application:--“Nil desperandum!” We may encourage ourselves and one another in the Lord our God. He is ours if we will but accept Him. In Jesus Christ He is our Lord and our God. And if we are thus to encourage ourselves, we should maintain a spirit of calm equanimity. (Joseph Morris.)


Verses 11-13

1 Samuel 30:11-13

And they found an Egyptian in the field.

Christian beneficence

The debasing influence of prosperity and success, and the humanising tendency of disaster and distress, were never more strikingly contrasted than in the portion of sacred history to which the words that have now been read turn our attention. It exhibits to us, on the one hand, a most painful instance of savage cruelty and neglect, in the midst of triumph and gladness; and presents, on the other, a pleasing example of tenderness and sympathy in the season of sorrow and depression. With the exception of one circumstance, the case of this Egyptian youth is one which is daily presented to us, and makes constant appeals to our sympathy and beneficence. The exception to which I allude, is one for which we can never be sufficiently grateful to Him who appoints the bounds of our habitation. In this land of freemen, slavery is never added to the miseries of the wretched, and, in the gloomiest hour of poverty and distress, the consciousness of freedom is left to console the sufferer. But in this single, though invaluable, exception, the sufferings of this young Egyptian have many parallel in this vale of tears. The union of poverty and disease is one of the most common forms of human wretchedness; its bitterness may be estimated without any effort of fancy, and its anguish painted without the aid of the imagination. Poverty and sickness are presented to us so often in melancholy union, that, to describe them, is not to draw upon the fancy, but to copy the sad original.

1. The first and most obvious consideration that calls us to the exercise of humanity and mercy, is our own liability to those very ills which claim our sympathy and relief. Poverty and sickness are not exclusively incident to any particular individuals, among the children of men. They imply the absence of the frailest and most perishable blessings of our lot.

2. In the next place, you are aware that compassion to the afflicted poor is enjoined by the authority of the Gospel. The Divine author of Christianity was anointed to proclaim glad tidings to the poor, and the poor and the sorrowful were his constant care His whole life was one grand act of benevolence; and whether we think of the purity of His motives, or the extent of His designs of good, or His indefatigable labours or His painful sufferings in the cause of humanity, we have before us a pattern of charity and mercy, the most affecting and instructive. And with His conduct, His doctrine most beautifully coincides. It breathes peace and good will to man; and it enforces on all His followers the same love which He Himself manifested to the sons of men.

3. I entreat you to remember, that our neglect of exercises of mercy to the afflicted will be the ground of that sentence which in the day of our last account will be pronounced upon us all. In terms which the simplest understanding may comprehend, but which no heart can hear without the deepest awe, the Judge of all has assured us that in that hour when we shall stand before Him, the most searching inquiries will be made concerning our conduct to the child of want. (John Johnston.)

The outcast servant

You have here a lively picture of Satan’s cast off servant, “And they found an Egyptian in the field.” Unable any longer go be actively employed for his master, he is left go linger out a miserable existence. Never shall one of Christ’s happy servants say, “My master left me.” David now finds that he had been feeding a former enemy, that this man was one of the company who had pillaged and destroyed Ziklag: but never was any David a loser by ministering to an enemy. This Egyptian is now become his guide, and leads him to the spot where the Amalekites were feasting upon what they had carried off from Ziklag. “And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread abroad upon all the earth.” Having been three days without any pursuers, they conclude that all is now safe, and as if the world were their own, they are spread abroad upon all the earth. Do you know the set time when sinners are to be destroyed? It is just when they say, “Peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3), when they feel most secure, and in an hour when they think not. So was it with these miserable revellers. Oh! when David’s Lord comes upon His enemies like a mighty man--when He comes to recover all the spoil, when He brings the solemn charge, “Ye have robbed God”--when all is restored to its rightful owner, then shall judgment return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart shall follow it (Psalms 94:15). Do you think David could forget his two hundred faint soldiers? Not if David had any of the mind which is in Christ. No, the first act is to return to them, and salute them, or ask them how they did. But all who follow David are not like David: they would “thrust the weak with side and shoulder,” and fain have all themselves. Oh! when you feel this greedy, covetous spirit, this rising fear, and jealous eye, lest another, whom you do not think so deserving, should get as much as you, remember it is the mark of an unclean animal, it is the feature of the children of Belial. Very different is the language of David and his true followers. “Then said David, Ye shall not do so,” etc. Lovely law! worthy of King David, and of David’s Lord! Yea, blessed be the God of all grace, “it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.” She that tarrieth at home still divides the spoil--her God reckons it her act, if it is only in her heart; yea, he graciously says, “The desire of a man is his kindness” (Proverbs 19:22). They shall part alike! the same Christ, the same Comforter, the same free gift, the same heaven. Neither did David forget any of his former friends. All who had ministered be him in his straits and difficulties shall find that he is not forgetful, nor ungrateful. To all places whither he and his men ware wont to haunt, is a present sent. “For God is not unrighteous go forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). (Helen Plumptre.)


Verse 20

1 Samuel 30:20

This is David’s spoil.

David’s spoil

David may be regarded as a very special type of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I. We begin with the first observation that, practically, all the spoil of that day was David’s spoil, and in truth, all the good that we enjoy comes to us through our Lord Jesus.

1. David’s men defeated the Amalekites, and took their spoil, but it was for David’s sake that God gave success go the band.

2. Moreover, David’s men gained the victory over Amalek because of David’s leadership. If he had not been there to lead them to the fight, in the moment of their despair they would have lost all heart, and would have remained amidst the burning walls of Ziklag a discomfited company. The Lord Jesus Christ has been here among us and has fought our battle for us, and recovered all that we had lost by Adam’s fall and by our own sin. They said of Waterloo that it was a soldier’s battle, and the victory was due to the men; but ours is our Commander’s battle, and every victory won by us is due to the great Captain of our salvation. And our Lord Jesus has recovered for us the lucre as well as the past. Our outlook was grim and dark indeed till Jesus came; but oh, how bright it is now that he has completed his glorious work! Death is no more the dreaded grave of all our hopes. Hell exists no longer for believerses Heaven, whose gates were dosed, is now set wide open to every soul that believeth. We have recovered life and immortal bliss.

II. Those good things which we now possess, over and above what we lost by sin, come to us by the Lord Jesus. And first, think: In Christ Jesus human nature is lifted up where it never ought have been before. Man was made in his innocence to occupy a very lofty place. “Thou madest him to have dominion over all the works of Thy hands; Thee hast put all things under his feet.” The nearest being to God is a man. The noblest existence--how shall I word it?--the noblest of all beings is God, and the God-man Christ Jesse, in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, is with Him upon the throne. It is a wondrous honour this, that manhood should be taken into intimate connection, yea, absolute union with God!

2. Another blessing which was not ears before the fall, and therefore never was lost, but comes to as a surplusage, is the fact that we are redeemed.

3. We shall be creatures who have known sin and have been recovered from its pollution. We shall forever remember the price at which we were redeemed; and we shall have ties upon us that will bind us to an undeviating loyalty to him who exalted us to so glorious a condition.

4. We receive blessings unknown to beings who have never fallen.

5. Again, to my mind it is a very blessed fact that you and I will partake of a privilege which would have been certainly unnecessary to Adam, and could not by Adam have been known, and that is, the privilege of resurrection. Our singular relation to God, and yet to materialism, is another rare gift of Jesus. God intended, by the salvation of man, and the lifting up of man into union with himself, to link together in one the lowest and the highest--his creation and himself. Materialism is somewhat exalted in being connected with spirit at all. When spirit becomes connected with God, and refined materialism becomes connected with a purified spirit, by the resurrection from the dead, then shall be brought to pass the uplifting of clay and its junction with the celestial.

7. Our manifestation of the full glory of God is another of the choice gifts which the pierced hands of Jesus alone bestow. Principalities and powers shall see in the mystical body of Christ more of God than in all the universe besides. They will study in the saints the eternal purposes of God, and see therein His love, His wisdom, His power, His justice, His mercy blended in an amazing way.

III. That which we willingly give to Jesus may be called His spoil. There is a spoil for Christ which every true-hearted followed of His votes to Him enthusiastically.

1. First, our hearts are His alone foreverse Of every believing heart it may be said, “This is David’s spoil.”

2. Now there is another property I should like King Jesus to have, and that in our special gifts. I know one who, before his conversion, was wont to sing, and be often charmed the ears of men with the sweet music which he poured forth; but when he was converted he said, “Henceforth my tongue shall sing nothing but blue praises of God.” He devoted himself to proclaiming the gospel by his song, for he said, “This is David’s spoil.” Have you not some gift or other, dear friend, of which you could say, “Henceforth this shall be sacred to my bleeding Lord”?

3. Moreover, while our whole selves must be yielded to the Lord Jesus, there is one thing that must always be Christ’s, and that, is our religious homage as a church.

4. Lastly, have you not something of your own proper substance that shall be David’s spoil just now? There was a man who, in the providence of God, had been enabled to lay by many thousands. He was a very rich and respected man. I have heard it said that he owned at least half a million; and at one collection, when he felt specially grateful and generous, he found a well-worn sixpence for the place, for that was David’s spoil! That was David’s spoil. Out of all that he possessed, that sixpence was David’s spoil! This was the measure of his gratitude! Judge by this how much he owed, or at least how much he desired to pay. Are there not many persons who, on that despicable scale, reward the Saviour for the travail of His soul? (C. H Spurgeon.)


Verses 21-25

1 Samuel 30:21-25

And David came to the two hundred men which were so faint that they could not follow.

The statute of David for the sharing of the spoil

I. I shall begin by saying, first, that faint ones occur even in the army of our King. We have among us soldiers whose faith is real, and whose love is burning; and yet, for all that, just now their strength is weakened in the way, and they am so depressed in spirit, that they are obliged to stop behind with the baggage.

1. Possibly some of these weary ones had grown faint because they had been a good deal perplexed. David had so wrongfully entangled himself with the Philistine king, that he felt bound to go with Achish to fight against Israel. They were perplexed with their leader’s movements. I do not know whether you agree with me, but I find that half-an-hour’s perplexity takes more out of a man than a month’s labour.

2. Perhaps, also, the pace was killing to these men. They made forced marches for three days from the city of Achish to Ziklag. To us there may come multiplied labours, and we faint because our strength is small.

3. Worst of all, their grief came in just then. Their wives were gone. Although, as it turned out, they were neither killed nor otherwise harmed; yet they could not tell this, and they feared the worse.

4. Perhaps, also, the force of the torrent was too much for them. In all probability the brook Besor was only a hollow place, which in ordinary times was almost dry; but in a season of great rain it filled suddenly with a rushing muddy stream, against which only strong men could stand. These men might have kept on upon dry land, but the current was too fierce for them, and they feared that it would carry them off their feet and drown them. Therefore, David gave them leave to stop there and guard the stuff.

5. Yet these fainting ones were, after all, in David’s army. Their names were in their Captain’s Register as much as the names of the strong.

II. These fainting ones rejoice to see their leader return.

1. David saluted the stay-at-homes. Our King’s salutations are wonderful for their heartiness. He uses no empty compliments nor vain words. Every syllable from His lips is a benediction. Every glance of His eye is an inspiration.

2. David’s courtesy was as free as it was true. When Christ comes into a company his presence makes a heavenly difference. Have you never seen an assembly listening to an orator, all unmoved and stolid? Suddenly the Holy Ghost hast fallen on the speaker, and the king himself has been visibly set forth among them in the midst of the assembly, and all have felt as if they could leap to their feet and cry, “Hallelujah, hallelujah!” Then hearts beat fast, and souls leap high; for where Jesus is found his presence fills the place with delight.

III. Faint ones have their leader for their advocate.

1. First, do you notice, he pleads their unity? The followers of the son of Jesse are one and inseparable. David said, “Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us, who hath preserved us.” “We are all one,” says David. “God has given the spoil, not to you alone, but to us all. We are all one company of brothers.” The unity of saints is the consolation of the feeble. One life is ours, one love is ours, one heaven shall be ours in our one Saviour.

2. David further pleaded free grace, for be said to them, “Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us.” The gift of God is eternal life. Deny not to anyone of your brethren any comfort of the covenant of grace.

3. Then he pleaded their needfulness. He said, “These men abided by the stuff.” No army fights well when its camp is unguarded. The kind of service which seems most commonplace among men is often the most precious unto God. Therefore, as for those who cannot come into the front places of warfare, deny them not seats of honour, since, after all, they may be doing the greater good. Remember the statute, “They shall part alike.”

4. Notice that David adds to his pleading a statute. He makes a statute for those who are forced to stay at home because they are faint. Blessed be the name of our Lord Jesus, He is always looking to the interests of those who have nobody else to care for them! Some of God’s people are illiterate, and they have but tittle native talent. Some dear servants of God seem always to be defeated. They seem sent to a people whose hearts are made gross and their ears dull of hearing. Some saints are constitutionally depressed and sad; they are like certain lovely ferns, which grow best under a constant drip. Well, well, the Lord will gather these beautiful ferns of the shade as well as the roses of the sun; they shall share His notice as much as the blazing sunflowers and the saddest shall rejoice with the gladdest. If lawfully detained from the field of active labour this statute stands fast forever, for you as well as for others: “As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike.”

IV. Now, faint ones find Jesus to be their good Lord in every way. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Tarrying by the stuff

There is an impression abroad that the great rewards of the eternal world are to be given to the great heroes, the great philanthropists, the great statesmen--the great men, the great women. My text sets forth the idea that just as great rewards will come to those who stay at home and mind their own business, just as great rewards to those who are never seen in the high places of the field, just as great rewards to those who are never heard of--garrison duty as important as duty at the front. “As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff.” A great many people are discouraged when they read the story of David and Joshua, and Paul and John Knox and Martin Luther; they say, “Those men had special opportunities; perhaps if I had had the same opportunities I might have done just as well; but I shall never be called to command the sun and moon to stand still; I will never be called to preach on Mars’ Hill; I will never be called, as John Knox was, to make a queen tremble for her crimes; I will never preside over a hospital; my life is all commonplace and humdrum.” And many a woman says within herself, “Ah, you folks on the platform and in the pulpit are all the time talking about heroines, great women, and they were great, but they had a special opportunity; perhaps, if I had the same opportunity I might do just as well; my life is all humdrum, my life is to sew the button on, to prevent the children from being asphyxiated with the whooping cough, to keep down the family expenses, to see that the meals are ready at the right time; I get no chance, it is all humdrum, humdrum.” Woman, your reward in the eternal world will be just as great as that of Florence Nightingale, who was called by the soldiers in the camp “The Lady of the Lamp”; because passing through the hospitals she kindled up the darkness with this lamp, and ministered to the suffering, and they all said, “Here comes the lady of the lamp.” Your reward in eternity will be just as great if you do your work where you are put as well as she did her work where she was put. Your reward will be just as great as that of Mrs. Hertzog, who endowed the theological seminary for the education of the young ministry. Ah, how many who had ten talents get no reward in the eternal world, and how many who had only one talent will have dominions committed to them!

1. Oh, what consolation there is there for all people who do unappreciated work! Here is a great merchant philanthropist; he is as good and generous as he is affluent; you know his name--do you know the name of his confidential clerk?--the man on whose fidelity that fortune was built up, so that he could accumulate his vast wealth and then generously distribute it? Oh, no, you don’t know the name of the confidential clerk. Is he to get no reward? I tell you that in the eternal world the merchant prince, who distributed his millions will get no more reward than the confidential clerk. “As his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff.” You know the names, I suppose, of the great presidents of railroads. Do you know the names of the brakeman, of the engineer, on whose wrist last night 300 lives hung; of the switchman, who, moving the switch three or four inches that way, and the whole train goes through in peace and families reach their homes in safety? A good many years ago a Christian woman was seen every eventide going along by the edge of the woods. She had a large family, and her neighbours said, “How can this woman, with all her cares and anxieties, waste her time going along the edge of the wood at eventide?” They did not find out until after her death why she went. She went there to pray for her household, and one evening, while there, she wrote that beautiful hymn sung in all our churches in America, and, I have no doubt, sung in your churches:--

I love to steal awhile away

From every cumbering care,

And spend the hours of setting day

In humble grateful prayer.

No minister of religion standing in European or American pulpit today giving out that hymn, will have more reward than that woman received for writing it.

2. There is great consolation in the subject for all those who used to be at the front in great enterprises of benevolence and religion. Why, when a subscription paper came round their name was at the top for a good big sum. When a revival came they would pray all night with the anxious. They were strong, healthy, affluent. But not now. Their fortune has collapsed, their health has gone, they are clear discouraged; they do not see how they can help God’s work any more. Nay; look at those 200 men by the brook Besor. Just shove back the sleeve and show how the muscles were twisted in the battle. Just pull aside the turban and see the scar where the battleaxe struck. Just pull aside the coat a little and see where the spear went in. They got just as much reward as those who went to the front, and you who were at the front in the old days had the health, the muscle, the high spirits for all that kind of work. God has not forgotten you.

3. What comfort this in for the aged! What have you got to do? Only to wait. Your reward will come. There is great consolation in this for all the aged ministers. I know some of them are preaching the Gospel. A man cannot preach the Gospel for fifty years without showing it in an illuminated countenance. Oh! there has got to be a readjustment of coronets; people who have no coronet in this world to be crowned; people who have great honours in this world to lose their coronet. Oh, there has got, to be a redistribution of coronets! Shall not the child have a crown? the father a crown? the mother a crown? And all ye who are doing unappreciated work the day of your reward is coming. (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Samuel 30:4". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/1-samuel-30.html. 1905-1909. New York.

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