1 Samuel 30:1-31 – David Saves Ziklag


1 Samuel 30:1-31


David and his forces save the residents of their Philistine town while the rest of the Philistine army is out in the field.


While David and his men were lining up to fight as part of the Philistine army, Amalekites attacked their temporary home in Ziklag, and kidnapped their wives and children, and took all their possessions and livestock. When David and his men returned, they wept and then set out to recover their loved ones and possessions. Eventually they overtook the Amalekites and slaughtered them. In the process they rescued their families and recovered their things. 

This episode is interesting for a couple reasons. First, David inquires of the LORD through Abiathar the priest, using the ephod and drawing divine lots to determine if their rescue mission would be successful or not.

Second, the conflict over Ziklag explained an ongoing practice of dividing equal shares after battle. One third of David’s force became too tired to pursue the Amalekites, and rested at a brook. After David and his remaining men captured their possessions back, and returned to the brook, some of the men said that those who did not fight should not receive a share of the plunder. David disagreed, and said that the payment for those who fight should be the same as those who guard the baggage. A parenthetical note tells the reader that this has been the practice in Israel from that day until today. 

Last, David gave some of the spoils of the battle to those in various towns who had supported him and would provide protection for him in the future. The close of this section acts as a sort of review of David’s experience fleeing from Saul, and details whom he trusted. The Amalekites unwittingly fund David’s rewards for the generosity of those who have helped him during his difficult exile from court.