Bible Study Series: The Life of David
1 Sam 30 David & Ziglag: From despair to victory
by F Gordon
David’s lapse of faith found him living in enemy land, even numbered at the rear of the Philistine army. How could the chosen king of Israel find himself there? Like David we all have times of unbelief, times of drifting. God will use the events of Ziklag to bring David back to Himself and back into fellowship.
The Discipline of the Lord
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?
In Hebrews 12 we see the discipline of the Lord is that of a father and son relationship. It is one of love. If we are a child of God then we should expect the discipline of God over our lives. Now this is not punishment for wrongdoing. God often allows the consequences of sin and departure from Him to bring us to a knowledge of that sin and a return to fellowship with Him. The discipline of God is always there to draw us back to Himself, not punish us.
10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.
God disciplines us for our profit so that we may be partakers of His holiness.
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discipline is painful but if we allow God to train us and not fight Him, it will bear much fruit in our lives. So too for David, he will taste the bitter fruit of his 1 year and 4 months stay in Ziklag.
1 Samuel 30.1-2
1 Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire,
2 and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way.
Once again we find that the old enemy, the Amalekites, are causing trouble. They are the descendents of Esau and the first nation that attacked Israel on their journey from Egypt to Canaan in Exodus 17.8-16. The Lord said He will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. They are a picture of the flesh and it has no time for God. They attacked God’s people and cut off those that were struggling on their journey and here, again, they come to cause ruin on David and his men.
3 So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4 Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
David and his men returned to the city. The first sight of smoke must have heightened their senses only to be replaced by panic as they realised that the very thing they had been doing in the south had been done to them. All their families and loved ones had been taken. This for David and his men was a time of great distress and they wept until they were exhausted and could weep no more.
Hope in God
Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
Usually when there is a loss of loved ones there is someone we can count on to comfort and care for us, but not so for David. The 600 men that were with him had lost all as well and they spoke of stoning him. David was left alone, and in that place of pressure and testing he fled to the God of Israel, the one who is always present and never leaves us. So David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. When Saul was abandoned and in trouble, he consulted a witch, but David strengthened himself in God.
How do we strengthen ourselves when it all goes wrong, in times of great pressure and distress? In Psalm 42 David shows how to hope in God when all seems lost.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.
In this Psalm David is speaking to his soul. Why are you cast down? Why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, David says to himself. There are many times in our walk with God when our faith is small and we seem to lose hope. God seems quiet and our gaze is inward and down instead of upward to Him. Just as David speaks to himself - to hope in God - we also in dark times need to speak to our soul to hope in God.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar.
In this Psalm David recognises that he is lacking faith and struggling in his walk, so he says to God that despite the way he feels, he will remember God from three places; the land of Jordan, the heights of Hermon, and the Hill Mizar.
The land of Jordan speaks of God’s promises to the nation of Israel. They were rescued out of Egypt so God could bring them into His plan and purpose as His redeemed people. Jordan also speaks of death and resurrection. The Ark of the Covenant carried by the priests went into the Jordan and the waters stood still so the nation of Israel went through on dry ground (Joshua 3.17). It also speaks of Christ going into the place of death first. We also are included in that death and resurrection that we might go into the land of promise of God’s blessing.
David had to remember God’s promises to him and the nation. How He was faithful and active to bring His people into their inheritance. So also for us in times of unbelief, we need to remember God’s promise to us, that He loves us and has a plan and purpose to conform us to the image of Christ. In Philippians 1.6 it says being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Next he will remember God from the heights of Hermon. Hermon was the mountain range in the north of Israel and was the highest point in the north. Psalm 133.3 says It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing-- Life forevermore. This scripture speaks of the dew of Hermon that flows down upon the mountains as a blessing from God. It is in this mountain range that Jesus went up and was transfigured before all in glory with Moses and Elijah appearing with Him (Matthew 17.1-3). This is a type of the rapture; that both the dead in Christ - Moses, and the raptured saints - Elijah, will all share in Christ’s glory. The heights of Hermon speak of God’s blessing and for David this place was significant as a place to remember God.
David also remembered God from the Hill Mizar. We are unsure as to its location but its name means little hill or small mountain. This may mean that we need to remember God’s faithfulness in the small things. He is not only faithful in the big situations like the Jordan or the heights of Hermon, but also the little blessings that He brings to us. This is how David strengthened himself in God, by remembering how great is our God and how great is His faithfulness to His people.
Freedom from an Old Master
1 Samuel 30.7-8
7 Then David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech's son, "Please bring the ephod here to me." And Abiathar brought the ephod to David.
8 So David inquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I pursue this troop? Shall I overtake them?" And He answered him, "Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all."
After strengthening himself in God David now seeks guidance and direction from Him. There is no record of David enquiring of the Lord to go to Ziklag but God used these events to bring David back into fellowship with Him. God reveals to David that he should pursue and without fail will recover all.
1 Samuel 30.9-15
9 So David went, he and the six hundred men who were with him, and came to the Brook Besor, where those stayed who were left behind.
10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men; for two hundred stayed behind, who were so weary that they could not cross the Brook Besor.
11 Then they found an Egyptian in the field, and brought him to David; and they gave him bread and he ate, and they let him drink water.
12 And they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. So when he had eaten, his strength came back to him; for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.
13 Then David said to him, "To whom do you belong, and where are you from?" And he said, "I am a young man from Egypt, servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind, because three days ago I fell sick.
14 We made an invasion of the southern area of the Cherethites, in the territory which belongs to Judah, and of the southern area of Caleb; and we burned Ziklag with fire."
15 And David said to him, "Can you take me down to this troop?" So he said, "Swear to me by God that you will neither kill me nor deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this troop."
In David’s pursuit, we are introduced to an Egyptian man that is sick and has been left behind by his old master, an Amalekite. This is a picture and type of Romans 6. A sick servant of an Amalekite, who is a type of the flesh, and David as a type of Christ, who has the ability to bring life and freedom. Before this servant would serve David he wanted to be assured of two things, that his life would be preserved, and there would be freedom from his old master. Saints this is the same for us. We have been a slave of the old master, the flesh. Romans 6 tells us that we are free from his dominion to rule over us because of our union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. We can now serve Christ because we are assured of life and freedom from our old master.
1 Samuel 30.16-19
16 And when he had brought him down, there they were, spread out over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil which they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah.
17 Then David attacked them from twilight until the evening of the next day. Not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.
18 So David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away, and David rescued his two wives.
19 And nothing of theirs was lacking, either small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything which they had taken from them; David recovered all.
David pursued and attacked them for a whole day and then it says twice, that they recovered all, nothing was missing, nothing lost that wasn’t returned. David pictures Christ for us in this as well. All was taken when Adam fell, all was lost, but Christ the second Adam recovered it all, the sin debt has been paid and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to all that believe. All was lost, but all was recovered through Christ.
They Shall All Share Alike
1 Samuel 30.20-24
20 Then David took all the flocks and herds they had driven before those other livestock, and said, "This is David's spoil."
21 Now David came to the two hundred men who had been so weary that they could not follow David, whom they also had made to stay at the Brook Besor. So they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near the people, he greeted them.
22 Then all the wicked and worthless men of those who went with David answered and said, "Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except for every man's wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart."
23 But David said, "My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us.
David started his pursuit with 600 men but he had to leave 200 behind (vs 9-10) because they were so weary at the brook Besor. This place means glad tidings and it is here that David returns with all the loved ones and much spoil that they had taken from the Amalekites. In these passages we have the difference between law and grace. The scriptures say the wicked and worthless men with David were prepared to give those that were tired only their families back, but none of the spoil. David however, realised that this victory was from God alone. I wonder if David looked at these events in Ziklag and thought, “I ran here to get away from Saul, I have been living with the enemy and yet still God has been gracious to me. He has recovered all our loved ones and given me spoils even though I don’t deserve it.” That is grace, getting blessed when we are not worthy and do not deserve His love.
24 For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike."
David realises that God’s grace is given without merit then utters these wonderful words; “they shall share alike”. All benefit under grace, for those that wield the sword and those that take care of the supplies at home, they all share alike in the spoils.
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.
8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men."
When Christ ascended on high he led captivity captive and gave gifts to men. Just as David after the victory shared the spoils with his men and also in the places he had been staying. This speaks to us of God’s grace, given to us. If we have any victory or God shows us something in His word it is always for others, that we may all share alike. Also, usually those with great exploits get all the glory and praise but this passage shows that whether we are great or small we will all share alike in the blessings of God’s victory through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Glad tidings indeed.