AN EXPOSITION OF FIRST SAMUEL 30
A Matter of Grace
Background to the Narrative
One of the great words in the Bible is the word grace. In the Old Testament several concepts are used to set forth the various aspects of grace. For example, there is the idea of undeserved favor (Heb. hen). Moses understood this facet of divine mercy when He said to God, “If I have found grace [Heb. hen; undeserved favor] in thy sight, show me now thy ways, that I may know thee, to the end that I may find grace in thy sight.” Moses was the recipient of grace, and he desired more grace.
Another concept found in the word grace is that of loving-kindness (Heb. hesed). The expression of God’s loving kindness to Israel is found in such passages as Jeremiah 31:3. “The Lord appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness [Heb. hesed] have I drawn thee.”
Turning to the New Testament, the twin concepts of undeserved favor (Heb. hen) and loving-kindness (Heb. hesed) are combined in the Greek term, charis. In Romans 11:6 salvation is declared to be favor undeserved, and graciously given. If [salvation is given] by grace [and it is], then [salvation] is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Again, in Romans 5:20, salvation is expressed in loving-kindness and the mercy of grace, for it is declared, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Theologian Thomas Parker notes, “The essence of the doctrine of grace is that God is for us.
What is more, He is for us who in ourselves are against Him. More still, He is not for us merely in a general attitude, but has effectively acted towards us. Grace is summed up on the name Jesus Christ.” Those who have known the grace of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ often want to show grace to others when the opportunity arises.
Despite his many transgressions for a period of sixteen months or more, David understood that he had been the object of God’s undeserved favor, for when he prayed God was pleased to hear his prayers and sustain him (1 Samuel 30: 6, 8).
As a result, David wanted to show grace to others (1 Samuel 30:23-25). And that is the two fold division of this section of Scriptures: David, the recipient of grace in verse 1-20, and David, the Dispenser of Grace in verse 21-27. The grace of God that came to David was manifested in two ways. It was manifested in the fact that after being so long out of fellowship, David was able to encourage himself in the Lord his God.
For many months David had not been able to encourage himself in the Lord because David had been living a double life. David had allied himself with the enemy of God, and the enemy of his people. He had been killing Philistine men, women and children, all the while pretending to be a friend of the king. David was a man of blood, driven by the instinct of self-preservation.
But, in matchless, marvelous grace, God came to take David from the unholy alliance he was under, and move him back into the geographical center he should never have left, the Land of Promise. A wonderful event has taken place between the closing events of 1 Samuel 29, and the opening of chapter 30. David has been restored to fellowship with the Lord. He will need divine strength, because for the first time in his political career as Israel’s Shepherd-Warrior David is going to come under pressure, not from Saul, nor from the Philistines, but from his own band of faithful followers (1 Sam. 30:1-3).
David Receives Grace
1 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 were ancient enemies of the Jews since the days of the Exodus. During the time of David, certain Amalekites took Ziklag. Ziklag was a city in the S of Judah which was assigned to the tribe of Simeon. King Achish, of Gath, gave Ziklag to David when he fled from Saul.
2 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.
3 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.
Is it any wonder that David was greatly distressed? He was now all alone. Where could he go but to the Lord? When he did go to the Lord David found that God was still there, and so the Sweet Singer of Israel encouraged himself in the Lord.
David found comfort for his heart, strength for his wounded spirit, calmness for his fears, and inner wisdom of what should be done. Calling upon the external means of grace, in the form of the holy ephod, David learned to pray again.
4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
6 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.
7 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.
Abiathar (father of abundance), was the high priest during the reign of king David. He was the eleventh high priest after Aaron, and was from a well-known family of priests.
Ahimelech (brother of a king) was a great-grandson of the priest at Nob, who graciously gave to David the temple shew-bread, and the sword of Goliath c. 1010 BC. For his kindness Ahimelech was murdered by Doeg along with 84 other priests. Only his son Abiathar escaped the bloodbath (1 Sam. 22:9-20).
The Ephod that was brought to David was a richly embroidered garment of linen, worn by the priests of Israel (Ex. 28:6-11). Attached to the ephod by chains of pure gold was the breastplate with 12 precious stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel.
8 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.
The great Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards, preached a wonderful sermon in June 1740, with the title, “Hypocrites: Deficient in the Duty of Prayer.”
The main point of the sermon was that it is the nature of the person living a double life not to pray as a holy duty. There are specific reasons why this happens.
The Holy Spirit is grieved. There is no holy business to transact at the throne of grace, for no grace is asked for. There is no faith in God in the heart, for God is not in the thoughts. Self is relied upon to solve any and every situation.
For many months David had not been praying, until one day, in sovereign grace, God began to draw David back to Himself, and David began to pray. Once more David sought the will of the Lord, and he found it (1 Sam. 30:8b-20). In the matter of being restored to fellowship, and in the matter of seeking God’s perfect will for his life, David was the object of undeserved favor, and loving-kindness.
9 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.
10 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.
Of six hundred men, only four hundred were able to go forth to do battle, because, two hundred men were so exhausted from other military encounters they were allowed to stay with the baggage while the others went off to war.
11 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;
12 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, or drunk any water, three days and three nights.
13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
16 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.
17 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.
18 And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.
19 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.
20 And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drove before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.
David Dispenses Grace
21 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.
After a tremendous victory on the field of battle whereby family members were rescued, those who had gone into harm’s way decided those who did not go to battle should not be given a part in the spoils of war. The situation became explosive. Both sides had a case to make.
22 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.
There was an argument to be made against equal sharing of the spoils of war. Should not those who risked their lives in combat have more of the booty?
23 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.
24 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.
The Response to the argument against sharing the spoils of war is this. The soldiers engaged in combat could not fight effectively unless they had a rear guard and were able to get supplies. Therefore, those who tarried “by the stuff” should be equally rewarded.
This was not an emotional decision, but a rational one based upon specific considerations.
All soldiers are worthy of honor, no matter how large or small a part they share in actual combat.
Since the soldiers in battle were really the object of God’s grace and protection, they can certainly be gracious in return.
In Matthew 7:12 Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” A fundamental sense of injustice would be felt if the spoils of war were not divided equally.
In all of this, there is a great lesson from the life of David. Those who have enjoyed the grace of God must show grace to others. The means of grace must not only be enjoyed, but also protected. The means of grace include prayer, communion, and the hearing of the Word of God. God will make certain there will be definite opportunities to demonstrate grace to the undeserving, as well as to those who are the special objects of favor and love.
Expressions of grace (undeserved favor and loving-kindness) are to be a normal part of the Christian way of life.
Christians can be gracious in their speech. Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
Christians can show loving-kindness in their thoughts. Love “thinketh no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5).
Christians can be gracious with their resources. “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Christians can be gracious with their prayers. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45).
25 And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.
Let the people of God learn to share with one another. Wicked men do not like to share with others. God’s people do.
26 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;
ZIKLAG (zik’-lag), was a city in the extreme S of Judah which was assigned to the tribe of Simeon (Josh. 15:31).
27 To them which were in Bethel, and to them which were in south Ramoth, and to them which were in Jattir,
BETHEL (beth’-el; house of God), refers to a town 12 miles N of Jerusalem. Following the death of Solomon and the division of the kingdom, Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom called Israel, established two calves of gold, one in Bethel and one in Dan for the people to worship (1 Kin. 12:29,32-33).
RAMOTH, RAMAH (ra’-moth; height), OF THE SOUTH, a town of Simeon of Judah (Josh. 19:8). The exact site is unknown. Joshua 19:8 identifies this town as BAALATH BEER.
JATTIR (jat’-tur; excelling), was a Levitical city SE of Hebron in the hill country of Judah (Josh. 15:48) to which David sent the spoils of war (1 Sam. 30:27).
28 And to them which were in Aroer, and to them which were in Siphmoth, and to them which were in Eshtemoa,
ESHTEMOH, ESHTEMOA (esh-te-mo’-ah; obedience), refers to a mountain town of Judah and later a Levitical town (Josh. 21:14; 1 Chron. 4:17, 19). While he was at Ziklag, David sent some of the spoils of battle to the elders of Eshtemoa.
29 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,
RACHAL (ray’-kall; trade), refers to a town in S Judah to which David sent some of the spoils of battle taken from the Amalekites. The location is uncertain.
JERAHMEELITE (je-rah’-me-el-ites), was the descendants of Jerahmeel, the firstborn son of Hezron. He was from the tribe of Judah (1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29).
KENITES (ken-ites; smith), was one of the ten tribes that was present in Canaan when Abraham arrived (Gen. 15:19). Hobab the Midianite, of the family of the Kenites, who knew the land well, journeyed with the Hebrews as they traveled from Mount Sinai to Canaan (Num. 10:29-32).
MELCHISHUA, MALCHISHUA (mel’-kishu’-ah), was the third son of king Saul (1 Sam. 14:49).
AROER (in Judah), (ar’-o-ur; naked, nakedness) was located in the southern most part of Israel 12 miles SE of Beer-sheba (1 Sam. 30:28).
SIPHMOTH (sif’ -moth; lips, languages), was a town in the S part of Judah where David took refuge from Saul.
30 And to them which were in Hormah, and to them which were in Chorashan, and to them which were in Athach,
HORMAH (hor’-ma; a devoted place; destruction), was a leading Canaanite town of a king in the S of Palestine (Josh. 12:14).
CHORASHAN (cor-a’-shan), refers to a place in the S of Judah to which David sent some of spoils of war taken from the Philistines.
ATHACH (a’-thak; a lodging place), refers to a city in Judah to which David sent the spoils of war taken from his enemies the Amalekites who had previously destroyed the city of Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:30).
31 And to them which were in Hebron, and to all the places where David himself and his men were wont to haunt.
HEBRON (he’-brun; alliance), was located 19 miles SW of Jerusalem. David moved his capital from Hebron to Jerusalem.