David fights the Amalekites
v1 David and his men arrived at Ziklag three days later. The *Amalekites had attacked the southern part of the country of *Judah. They had also attacked Ziklag and burned it. v2 They took women and everyone else who was young and old. They took them away but did not kill anyone.
v3 David and his men arrived at Ziklag. They saw that the *Amalekites had burnt the town. They saw that they had destroyed it. The *Amalekites had also taken the men’s wives, sons and daughters. v4David and his men cried aloud. They kept crying until they were too weak to cry any more. v5 David had two wives. One wife was Ahinoam from Jezreel. The other wife was Abigail. She was the widow of Nabal from Carmel. The *Amalekites had taken both of David’s wives. v6 David was very unhappy because his men wanted to throw stones at him. They wanted to kill him. His men were very angry and sad. The *Amalekites had taken their sons and daughters. But David trusted the *Lord his God and became stronger.
v7 Then David spoke to Abiathar the priest (he was the son of Ahimelech). David said, ‘Bring the *ephod to me’. So Abiathar brought the *ephod to David. v8 David asked the *Lord, ‘Shall I chase the men who attacked our town? Will I catch them?’
The *Lord answered, ‘Chase them and you will certainly catch them. You will rescue your families from them’.
In chapter 15, God had commanded Saul to kill all the *Amalekites. But Saul did not obey God. Now the *Amalekites caused trouble for David. But in this chapter, David shows that he is a good leader. This story also shows how good God was to David.
David and his men had walked about 40 kilometres (25 miles) each day for three days. They arrived home at Ziklag but the *Amalekites had destroyed the town. In 27:8, David had attacked the *Amalekites. Now they had attacked his town while he could not defend it. They took advantage of the *Israelites and *Philistines fighting each other. David and his men saw an empty town. They did not know that their wives and children were still alive. So the men cried and cried. The men were sad. But they also became angry. They blamed David and wanted to kill him. David was sad about his two wives, but he did not become angry. He did not blame the *Lord for this attack. Instead he trusted the *Lord and the *Lord made him stronger.
David did not make his own decision about what he should do. He did not do anything until he had asked the *Lord. Unlike Saul, David had a priest and the *ephod. And the *Lord, who had not answered Saul (28:6), answered David. So, David and his men knew that they would have success.
v9–10 David and his 600 men set off. They arrived at the river Besor. Some of the men were too tired to continue across the valley. So 200 men remained by the river. David and 400 men continued to chase the *Amalekites.
v11 David’s men found an Egyptian man (a man from the country of Egypt) in a field. They took him to David. They gave the man some water to drink and food to eat. v12 They gave him some dry figs and two bundles of raisins. He had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days. So, he felt stronger after he had eaten this food.
v13 David asked the Egyptian, ‘Who is your master? Where do you come from?’
He answered, ‘I come from the country of Egypt. I am a slave of an *Amalekite man. My master left me here three days ago because I was ill. v14 We attacked the southern part of the Kerethites’ land, the land of *Judah and the southern part of Caleb’s land. We burned Ziklag too’.
v15 David said, ‘Can you take me to where these men are now?’
The Egyptian answered, ‘I will do this if you make a promise to God and to me. Promise that you will not kill me. Promise that you will not hand me over to my master’.
v16 So the Egyptian took David to the *Amalekites. The men were lying on the ground. They were eating, drinking and having a party. They were happy because they had taken so many things from the *Philistines and from the people of *Judah. v17 That evening David fought the *Amalekites. The battle continued until the next evening. None of the *Amalekites escaped except for 400 young men. They rode away on their camels. v18 David got back everything that the *Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. v19 Nothing was missing. David brought everyone back, the young and old, the sons and daughters. He also brought back the valuable things and everything that the *Amalekites had taken. v20 David took all the sheep and cows and animals. His men made all these animals go on ahead of them. They said, ‘These animals belong to David’.
The river Besor was a small river that was about 19 kilometres (12 miles) south-west of Ziklag. The men had already had a long journey that day. And some of the men were too tired to continue. So, they stayed by the river and guarded all the baggage (verse 24). The land in this area was wild. It was like a large desert. Very few people lived there. David did not know where to look for the *Amalekites. But David and his men found a man who could help them. He was ill and weak. So they fed him. Raisins and figs are types of fruit that the sun has dried. They are sweet and give people energy. (See also 25:18.) This man was a slave of an *Amalekite man. Verse 15 shows that the slave did not like his master. This Egyptian slave had attacked with the *Amalekites. So he knew where they had been. And he knew where they had gone now.
In verse 14 the Kerethites were a *Philistine *tribe that were loyal to David (2 Samuel 8:18). Caleb’s land was to the south of the town of Hebron.
The *Amalekites were not expecting David to chase them. They thought that he was still with the *Philistines. Usually the *Amalekites sold children and women as slaves. But they had not had enough time to sell the people or goods that they had stolen. Instead, they were still enjoying the food and drink themselves. So David and his men surprised the *Amalekites. David fought them and killed most of them. Verses 17-20 refer to all that David did. He did not do it alone; his 400 men helped him. But this shows that he was a strong leader. David’s men now respected him. And they let David have all the animals. David rescued everything from the *Amalekites. Not one thing was missing. David also brought back everything that the *Amalekites had taken from all the other towns.
v21 David returned to the 200 men who had stayed by the river Besor. These men had been too tired to go with David. David greeted the men at the river valley. v22 But some of the men with David were wicked. They wanted to cause trouble. They said, ‘These men did not come with us. We will not give them any of the things that we have brought back. Each man can have just his wife and children. Then he must go’.
v23 David replied, ‘No, my brothers. You can not do that. The *Lord has given all this to us. The *Lord kept us safe. He gave us success in the battle. v24 No one will agree with what you say. Each person will receive an equal share. Some men stayed with the baggage. Some men fought in the battle. But each person will receive the same amount’. v25 David made this rule as an order. The *Israelites have followed this rule ever since that day.
v26 David arrived at Ziklag with all the goods from the *Amalekites. He sent some of the goods to his friends who were the leaders of *Judah. David sent this message, ‘Here is a present for you. We took these things from the *Lord’s enemies’.
v27–31 David sent some goods to the leaders in all these places:
· Ramoth in southern *Judah
· the towns of the Jerahmeelites
· the towns of the Kenites
· Bor Ashan
David and his men had lived in many places. So, David sent some of the goods to the people who lived in all these places.
Some of David’s men were wicked. They did not want to share the goods. They had fought the *Amalekites. The men by the river had not fought. The wicked men thought that the men by the river deserved to have only their wife and children. But David reminded them that the *Lord gave them success. They did not have success because they had fought well. The *Lord protected them. The *Lord gave all the goods to them. The tired men had not fought in the battle. But they had protected all the baggage. Each man did valuable work. So each man had an equal reward. This rule reminded the *Israelites that success comes from the *Lord, not from men.
David was a generous man. He could have kept all the goods that he took from the *Amalekites. Instead, he shared them with other leaders in the land of *Judah. The *Amalekites may have attacked these towns too. Perhaps David wanted to return the goods that he had rescued. David lived in southern *Judah when he escaped from Saul. All the towns in verses 27-31 were in this area. David and his men had depended on the people there. The people had probably provided food for David’s men. Maybe they provided shelter too. So, David was generous to the people who had been generous to him. David was a wise leader. His generous gifts showed that he was a good leader. Many people in southern *Judah became his friends. In 2 Samuel 2:1-4 the people of this area were loyal to David. They made him their king.